Image of 'Interrogations of Japanese Officials' cover.




Battle of Midway
Interrogations of Japanese Officials





Captain


Date


Ship


*USSBS No.
Amagi, Takahisa 6 October 1945 Hiryu 6
Aoki, Taijiro 9 October 1945 Akagi 23
Kawaguchi, Susumu 10 October 1945 Hiryu 11
Ohara, H. 25 October 1945 Soryu 165

* US Strategic Bombing Survey




Interrogation NAV No.1
USSBS No. 6

The Battle of Midway

TOKYO 6 October 1945

Interrogation of: Captain AMAGI, Takahisa, IJN, Naval Aviator, Air Commander (observer) on CV Hiryu at PEARL HARBOR, Air Officer on CV Kaga at Battle of MIDWAY, 3, 4, 5 June 42.

Interrogated by: Captain C. Shands, USN.

Allied Officers Present: Captain S. Teller, USN; Captain J.S. Russel, USN; Lt. Col. Parry, USA; Comdr. J.T. Hayward, USN; Comdr. T.H. Moorer, USN; Lt. Comdr. J.A. Field, Jr., USNR.

SUMMARY

The Kaga (CV) in company with the CV's Hiryu, Soryu and Akagi, and BB's Kirishima and Haruna and DD's composed the Air Striking Force approaching MIDWAY ISLAND from the West in support of an occupation force. This force had expected contact and attack by long range United States aircraft when between 500-1000 miles of MIDWAY and attack by short range aircraft from MIDWAY when within 300 miles. No attacks were made on the Carrier Force prior to the dive bombing attack the morning of 4 June. The presence of the United States Carrier was not known to this officer. Dive bombing attacks were most feared.

Several hours after sunrise on 4 June (Plus 12) dive bombers attacked that Japanese Carrier Group. Four direct hits were received by the Kaga from the dive bombers just prior to turning into the wind to launch the Kaga's air group (6 VF had been launched two hours before as CAP). The fires as a result of the attack ignited planes and ammunition which resulted in the sinking of the Kaga during the afternoon with the loss of 800, saving 1000 personnel. No other bomb hits were made on the Kaga. No horizontal bomb hits were received or observed on other ships of the formation, but it was reported the Haruna (BB) just astern of the Kaga had also been hit by dive bombers. Captain Amagai stated that as a result of the damage to the aircraft carriers with consequent loss of air power, the decision was made to abandon the attempt to seize MIDWAY. The remainder of the Task Force returned to JAPAN.

TRANSCRIPT

Q. What aircraft carrier divisions were present at MIDWAY?
A. The Third Fleet or Third Task Force, commanded by Vice Admiral NAGUMO. Rear Admiral KUSAKA was Chief of Staff.

Q. Who were Captains of the Carriers at MIDWAY?
A. Captain Okada of the Kaga, Captain Kaka of the Hiryu, Captain Yanagimoto of the Soryu and Captain Aoki of Akagi. The first three were killed at MIDWAY.

Q. Were there any other forces such as Support Force or Occupation Force?
A. Believe there were two other forces for occupation, but am not sure of composition or relative location.

Q. Do you know what Force made simultaneous attack in ALEUTIANS?
A. Junyo Aircraft Carrier No. 4 Squadron.

Q. What was purpose of ALEUTIAN attack?
A. It was a feint.

Q. Draw a diagram of the cruising disposition of the Aircraft Carriers.

( ) Kirishima (BB)
Hiryu (F)
( )
Akagi (F)
( )
Soryu
( )
Kaga
( )
( ) Haruna (BB)

--1--

In daytime a circular formation was used, but at night a column was formed. Believe the Task Force Commander was on the Soryu.

Q. What was the composition of the Kaga's Air Group?
A. It was composed of 21 fighters (0) Type: 27 VB (99 Type); 18 VT (97 Type); same as all other carriers.

Q. What was the mission of the Carrier Task Group?
A. To attack MIDWAY, to help occupation.

Q. During your approach to MIDWAY did you expect to be attacked by American planes?
A. We had expected an attack by scouting planes at 1000 miles, and by bombing planes at 700 miles and by small planes at 300 miles.

Q. Did you see any planes during the approach to MIDWAY prior to the battle of 4 June?
A. No, but it was reported that an American plane was heard over the carrier formation at night, one or two days before the battle.

Q. Was the carrier formation attacked by long range bombers about 600 miles from MIDWAY, or were any air attacks made on the carrier force prior to the day of the battle (4 June, plus 12; 5 June, TOKYO time)?
A. No.

Q. Were any submarine attacks made on the carrier force during the approach?
A. No.

Q. When was the Kaga first hit?
A. It was hit by dive bombers two or three hours after sunrise, 4 June (5 June Tokyo time).

Q. How many bombs hit the Kaga?
A. There were four hits on the Kaga. The first bomb hit the forward elevator. The second bomb went through the deck at the starboard side of the after elevator. The third bomb went through the deck on the port side abreast of the island. The fourth bomb hit the port side aft. When the bombs hit, big fires started. Unable to see much because of smoke.

Q. Did any of the American bombers dive into the deck?
A. No, not on Kaga. Did not hear that any had dived on other carriers.

Q. Were any other ships hit by bombs at same time?
A. It was hard to see because of smoke, but I believe that the Battleship Hyei just astern of the Kaga was hit by dive bombers and a fire started on the stern of the Hyei.

Q. Was the Kaga attacked by horizontal bombers?
A. No.

Q. Was the Kaga attacked by torpedo planes?
A. I saw torpedo planes but do not think Kaga was attacked. No torpedo hits were made. However, while swimming in water several hours after attack saw a torpedo apparently fired from submarine strike side of ship at angle and bounce off. Didn't explode. Torpedo went bad.

Q. Were any other ships attacked by horizontal bombers?
A. Did not see any hit. Saw some pattern of bombs fall in water during day.

Q. Which type of attack most feared - torpedo plane, dive bomber, or horizontal bomber?
A. Dive bomber, cannot dodge.

Q. Were planes on board when ship was hit?
A. Yes, about 30 planes in hangar loaded and fueled, remainder on deck, six VF in air.

Q. Did bombs sink the ship?
A. Yes, gasoline and bombs caught fire. Ship sank itself, Japanese no need sink with torpedo.

Q. Was Kaga strafed by planes?
A. Was done during diving, one or two personnel and planes on deck were injured.

Q. When did it sink?
A. Same afternoon.

Q. What kind of planes made the attack - torpedo planes, dive bombers or horizontal bombers?
A. Dive bombers.

--2--

Q. In what order was attack made?
A. I think first high horizontal bombers, no hits. Then torpedo attack. Was dodged, no hits. Then dive bombers, 4 hits. Then more horizontal bombing about 400 meters away. No hits. Most attack all the same time.

Q. How many personnel lost when ship sunk?
A. About 800 lost. About 1000 saved.

Q. How many pilots saved?
A. About 40 pilots. About 50% pilots saved.

Q. How were the personnel rescued?
A. By cruisers and destroyers.

Q. How many airplanes did you expect to lose in the attack on MIDWAY?
A. It all depends upon Captain of ship. He expects about 1/3 do not come back.

Q. Were any Kaga planes launched to attack MIDWAY?
A. No, all planes on board except six fighters overhead. I heard that they landed on other ships. Other ships had launched planes to attack MIDWAY but Kaga planes were waiting for orders to launch and attack.

Q. How many protective fighters (CAP) were over carrier formation?
A. Normally 28. Two carriers supplied eight each, the other two carriers provided six each. This was normal patrol. If attacked, other planes rose to meet opposition.

Q. How long did fighters stay in air, and how were planes in air relieved?
A. Two hours. When the waiting planes get in air up high, then the former patrolling plane comes down and lands.

Q. When the carrier launched the patrol did it turn into the wind alone, or did all ships turn?
A. All turn in same formation. We use 14 meters wind over deck for landing and launching. If only few planes launched individual carrier turns into wind. If many planes launched or landed entire formation turns. When over 300 miles from target, carriers operate independently. When within 300 miles of target, all ships maneuver together.

Q. About how far apart were the ships in the formation?
A. A square formation about 4000 meters apart. When need much speed and wind, distance large. When wind and sea strong, the distance diminishes.

Q. Did the formation zigzag?
A. Yes.

Q. Were destroyers employed with the carriers when operating the planes?
A. Yes, sometimes, one, sometimes two destroyers would come from outside circular screen. They take station about 700 meters astern.

Q. How are fighter planes controlled in the air?
A. By wireles. A special officer controls the planes. He is a pilot, in his absence the anti-aircraft commander takes his place.

Q. How did the control officer know where to send the fighters?
A. By radar. It was an experiment at MIDWAY. Not too good.

Q. Did the Kaga have it?
A. No, island too small.

Q. What ships in the formation had radar?
A. Hiryu, maybe Soryu. Not sure of Akagi, it is rather old ship. (Junyo did not have it because it was a small converted merchant ship.)

Q. What did the radar look like?
A. It was a big wire grid. Kept rotating. Didn't work very well. Destroyers act as pickets and advise by voice radio if planes are coming. More radars put on ships middle of 1942 and used in SOLOMON ISLANDS operations.

--3--


Interrogation NAV No.2
USSBS No. 11

Hiryu (CV) at the Battle of Midway

TOKYO 10 October 1945

Interrogation of: Captain KAWAGUCHI, Susumu, IJN, Air Officer on the HIRYU (CV) at MIDWAY.

Interrogated by: Captain C. Shands, USN.

Allied Officers Present: Brig. Gen. G. Gardner, USA; Lt. Paine Paul, USNR.

SUMMARY

The HIRYU was one of four aircraft carriers in the Japanese Striking Force supporting the planned occupation of MIDWAY Island, June 1942. when about 600 miles from MIDWAY a U.S. plane passed overhead but did not observe ships due to high fog. No aircraft attacks were made on the carrier group until about an hour after sunrise on 4 June when the formation was attacked by torpedo planes (B-26’s and TBF’s). No hits were made since the long dropping range permitted torpedoes to be easily avoided. A little later, the formation was attacked by high (approximately 18000’) horizontal bombers but no hits were made. The HIRYU launched planes against MIDWAY about sunrise then later against the U.S. Carrier Force. Although the KAGA, AKAGI, and SORYU had received damage during the day, the HIRYU was not hit until late afternoon when she received six hits from dive bombers setting her afire. Still later the same afternoon an unsuccessful bombing attack was made on the HIRYU by horizontal bombers at medium altitude. The fires resulting from the dive-bombing attack spread to the engine room during the night, rendering the ship helpless. She was sunk by torpedoes from a Japanese destroyer the next morning.

About sixty pilots were lost in the battle. About 500 out of the 1500 men on the ship were lost. This group of ships was not attacked during retirement, although search planes were seen. Visibility was poor. Surviving pilots of the battle were distributed between the ZUIKAKU, SHOKAKU, and SOLOMON Islands. These pilots later participated in the battle of SANTA CRUZ, 26 October 1945. As the war progressed the quality of pilots deteriorated due to insufficient training facilities, great attrition, and a shortage of fuel for training with the consequent necessity of using inadequately trained replacements.

TRANSCRIPT

Q. What was the number of the air fleet at MIDWAY?
A. It was of the Second Air Attack Force of the First Air Fleet.

Q. What ships were present in Carrier Force at MIDWAY?
A.

1st Div (CV) 2nd Div (CV)
AKAGI (F) HIRYU (F)
KAGA SORYU

BB CA CL
KIRISHIMA TONE NAGARA
HARUNA CHIKUMA
About ten DD’s.

Disposition

( ) Kirishima
( ) ( ) Nagara
( ) Hiryu (F)
( )
Akagi (FF)
( )
( )
( ) ( )
Tone ( ) Soryu
( )
Kaga
( )
( ) Chikuma
( ) ( ) Haruna ( )
( )
( ) ( )

Q. When you left JAPAN what was the mission of the air fleet at MIDWAY?
A. It was to seize MIDWAY.

Q. What plans were made for the employment of MIDWAY following the seizure? Did they expect to run searches, go to PEARL HARBOR and the ALEUTIANS or to stop at MIDWAY?
A. Just to defend Midway. Heard of no other plans other than to seize and protect MIDWAY.

Q. What carriers were in the ALEUTIANS?
A. RYUHO and JUNYO; there was no 3rd division, the first and second divisions are in the attack body, the 4th at DUTCH HARBOR, the third did not exist.

Q. During the approach to MIDWAY did you expect an attack; if so, about how far out?
A. Think a two-engined scout plane looked us over once about 500-600 miles from MIDWAY the day before the battle; but the weather was so bad, we still didn’t expect an attack.

Q. Was your formation attacked by submarines at any time during the approach?
A. No, the first submarine attack was on the KAGA after the battle opened.

Q. When was the HIRYU first attacked?
A. On the 4th of June, two hours before sunset. (5 June Tokyo time.)

Q. Were you attacked by a B-17 formation (Four engined bombers) the day before the battle?
A. No, we didn’t get anything the day before but we were attacked by Boeings on the day of big battle and didn’t get hit. There was no attack on 3rd of June.

Q. Do you know of any ships that may have been hit by torpedoes from B-26’ or PBY’s?
A. Not a hit in those days of the battle on the carrier formation.

Q. Were you attacked with torpedoes in the morning of the battle of 4 June?
A. About an hour after sunrise, we were attacked by torpedo bombers.

Q. Were they single or twin-engined?
A. Mostly they were twin-engine, none of them hit. They were dropped at very great range and we were able to avoid them.

Q. Do you know if one of the twin-engined planes, after dropping the torpedo, flew into the deck of one of the carriers?
A. No, I was observing and know that did not happen.

Q. In the early morning of the 4th of June (5 June Tokyo time) did you receive an attack from high level horizontal bombers?
A. About two hours after sunrise some very high four engine planes attacked, maybe 5,000-6,000 meters, but did not hit anything.

Q. How and when was the HIRYU hit?
A. The HIRYU was hit six times during the fourth attack by dive bombers. One on forward elevator. Two just forward aft elevator. Lifts damaged. Fire. Many engineering personnel killed. The floor of the lift flopped against the bridge. We were unable to navigate.

Q. When the HIRYU was hit were any planes on board?
A. Very few about 20 planes had come back. They had been launched to attack American carriers after they returned from MIDWAY.

Q. Will you confirm the position of the island in relation to bow of ship?
A. AKAGI – port, SORYU – starboard, KAGA - starboard.

Q. Did any planes deliver an attack on the ENTERPRISE?
A. Yes, they did attack.

Q. How did they locate the ENTERPRISE?
A. From scout planes about 200 miles off to the east.

Q. Were you attacked by horizontal- bombers later that day?
A. It was about sunset the same day after the dive-bombers gave us six hits that we got about ten misses from Boeings. I think it was B-17’s or something else. It was medium altitude horizontal–bombing. I don’t think they were very high and was astonished at the distance away from the ship when they released bombs.

Q. How many bombs dropped?
A. About ten bunches.

Q. Where did they hit?
A. They didn’t hit – bombs landed about 500 meters away.

Q. Were any of the battleships hit at that time?
A. I think that something touched the KIRISHIMA or HARUNA in the stern, didn’t do much, no difficulty in navigation as a result.

Q. Was that a result of the horizontal-bombers?
A. No, this was the dive-bombing attack. One of them dived and dropped a bomb on the KIRISHIMA but horizontal bombs didn’t hit the KIRISHIMA.

Q. How were the other carriers hit?
A. All got hit from the dive-bombers.

Q. How were our torpedo planes shot down?
A. I think it was fighter planes in the main.

Q. How was your ship finally sunk?
A. The fire got to the engine rooms by the next morning and stopped the ship, whereupon a Japanese destroyer was called to sink it with torpedoes.

Q. How many men and pilots were lost on the HIRYU?
A. About sixty pilots and a total of 500 men of the crew of 1500.

Q. Why didn’t the occupation force and Grand Fleet continue on to MIDWAY?
A. Because we could not occupy the island having lost our air attack force.

Q. During your retreat did you sight any of our reconnaissance planes?
A. We saw five or six of your planes, on the morning of the 5th, but they didn’t attack us.

Q. Did the HIRYU or any of the other carriers or ships have radar?
A. No, not any. As soon as we got back they put them on the carriers. July 1942 both battleships and carriers received them.

A. At first at MIDWAY we set the courses on the ships and turned them loose on the first attack. No radio.

Q. Which kind of attack did you most fear, dive-bombing, torpedo or horizontal-bombing?
A. The worst is dive-bombing.

Q. Why?
A. You can’t avoid it, but you can avoid torpedoes at long range.

Q. Do you know if they intended to attack MIDWAY again?
A. All hands thought it was no use.

Q. Do you know if the attack on MIDWAY was instigated by the Army or Navy Command?
A. I believe it was a combined general staff decision.

Q. Did the loss of these carriers result in sending their pilots and aircraft into the SOLOMONS as land based planes?
A. Some of the pilots went back to JAPAN, some went to bases in the SOLOMONS, and some were assigned to the SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU in the SOLOMONS Area.

Q. Do you know why they continued to send troops, planes and ships into the SOLOMONS in little groups instead of one big group?
A. There were not enough personnel and equipment at home to throw a big bunch in there, therefore they had to go in small increments.

Q. Do you know what influenced the decision to withdraw from the SOLOMONS?
A. I heard it was because we couldn’t supply them. I got very little on plans. Personally thought that Americans were landing too much around us and we should have to give up what we had and go on the defensive. I thought that because we had insufficient number of planes, we couldn’t hope to take offensive action. I thought it was defensive holding from that time on.

Q. Do you know if the Navy had planned for a short war or a long war?
A. We all thought that if it was a long war, the Navy would be finished, and we thought it would be a long war.

Q. What did you consider a long war?
A. If it was short it would be less than two years, something over five years if it were long.

Q. Was there any improvements in aircraft material or personnel during the war?
A. The pilots got worse but the planes got better.


Interrogation NAV No.4
USSBS No. 23

Battle of Midway

TOKYO 9 October 1945

Interrogation of: Captain AOKI, Taijiro, IJN. Commanding Officer of AKAGI (CV) at Battle of MIDWAY. He was not a pilot.

Interrogated by: Captain C. SHANDS, USN.

Allied Officers present: Brig. Gen. G. GARDNER, USA; Cmdr. T. H. MOORER, USN; Lt. Cmdr. J. A. FIELD, Jr., USNR.

SUMMARY

The AKAGI was one of four aircraft carriers comprising the Eleventh Air Fleet, in the striking force at the planned occupation of MIDWAY ISLAND, June 1942. The CV’s were first attacked about 200 miles from MIDWAY, 2 hours after sunrise, 4 June by many planes carrying torpedoes, all of which were avoided. The first indication of the presence of the United States carriers was the dive bombing attack which scored two hits on the AKAGI. The AKAGI had launched half of her planes to bomb MIDWAY but forty were still being serviced when hit. No more were launched. 200 were lost and 100 wounded, out of a total complement of 1400. On the morning of the 5th a Japanese DD torpedoed and sank the AKAGI. The KAGA, SORYU, and HIRYU were sunk due to damage inflicted by dive bombers. No other damage was sustained from air attack by ships in the striking force except possible damage to one battleship’s superstructure. No planes seen on the 5th or later during retirement.

The loss of the CV’s caused plans for the occupation to be abandoned.

TRANSCRIPT

Q. What ships were present in the carrier force at MIDWAY?
A. AKAGI, KAGA, HIRYU and SORYU (all CV’s) HIYEI or HARUNA and KIRISHIMA (BB), TONE and CHIKUMA (CA), NAGARA (CL), about ten or twelve destroyers. AKAGI was in the Eleventh Air Fleet.

Disposition

( )
( ) DD ( ) DD
( ) Kirishima (BB)
( ) DD ( ) Hiryu (CV) ( )Akagi (CV) ( ) DD
( ) (DD) ( ) Soryu (CV) ( )Kaga (CV) ( ) (DD)
( )Hiyei (BB)
( ) (DD) (Haruna) ( ) (DD)
( ) (DD) ( ) (DD)

Q. What were the other three units?
A. The Grand Fleet was there to act as support, commanded by Admiral YAMAMOTO.

Q. What was the mission of the Eleventh Air Fleet?
A. Simply to bombard MIDWAY by planes.

Q. What was the mission of the entire fleet?
A. That was to help. Entirely separate from this was the occupation force.

Q. Was the Air Fleet separate from the Grand Fleet?
A. Yes, of course it was under the Grand Fleet, but was a separate force.

Q. During the approach to MIDWAY when did you expect the first air attack?
A. About 500 miles from MIDWAY, but our carriers were first attacked in the morning about two hours after sunrise, about 200 miles from MIDWAY.

Q. What type planes made the first attack?
A. Torpedo planes, then dive bombers. First a great many torpedoes were dropped from planes, then dive bombers hit.

Q. Were any attacks made on the carrier force during the approach by B-17’s or PBY’s?
A. There were none. Torpedo planes in the morning of attack but no four engine bombers.

Q. Were any planes seen or heard during the approach the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of June?
A. There was a high fog and the day before the action opened they heard one above the clouds in the day time.

Q. Was the AKAGI hit by any four-engined or horizontal bombers?
A. Not once.

Q. Were any ships hit by horizontal bombers?
A. I think all ships were hit by dive bombers.

Q. Did you lose any ships to submarines during approach?
A. No, none at all.

Q. On the day before the main action about 600 miles from MIDWAY, was the formation attacked by long range planes?
A. No.

Q. How was the AKAGI damaged?
A. Fire; two bombs by dive bombing about two hours after sunrise, (one started a fire at after elevator). Planes were loaded up with bombs inside the hanger and caught fire.

Q. Did you see any horizontal bombers over the formation at the time?
A. KIRISHIMA was under attack by horizontal bombing. It was not hit. Near misses.

Q. Were the AKAGI’s planes in the air?
A. About half of them were up attacking MIDWAY. We were servicing others in the hanger, about forty on board. We had high cover of 6 Zero Type fighters in addition.

Q. Was this the first group launched from AKAGI?
A. This was the first group launched from all the ships.

Q. Were any other planes launched from AKAGI to attack our carriers?
A. There was no second flight from the AKAGI.

Q. Which type of attack was most feared – horizontal, dive bombing or torpedo?
A. Diving, you can swing away from torpedoes, but the worst is dive bombing.

Q. Was AKAGI sunk as a result of those two bomb hits or was she sunk later by Japanese destroyers?
A. It did not sink by bombs. She was sunk by a Japanese destroyer’s torpedoes during the next morning. Engines were helpless, fire damage, could not navigate so gave up the ship; many engineers were killed. 200 were lost, 100 were wounded out of 1400 on board.

Q. How many pilots were saved; how many lost?
A. Six pilots were lost. Others landed and were picked up by destroyers.

Q. Why didn’t the task force continue to MIDWAY?
A. Too much damage to aircraft carriers, lost control of air.

Q. What other carriers or ships were lost?
A. KAGA, SORYU, HIRYU. No damage to battleships or serious damage to any other ships in our group.

Q. In what other operations was the AKAGI?
A. PERAL HARBOR was the first, she attacked at CEYLON and TRIMCOMALEE, next MIDWAY. MIDWAY was the only action in which I was aboard.

Q. Did our aircraft carrier raids on JAPAN affect the training of pilots during the war?
A. When your planes were attacking we had to stop training and so lost time besides training planes. However, we didn’t suffer much from the loss of training planes.

Q. Had the Navy planned on a war of long duration?
A. They were all talking that it would be long, but nobody hazarded a guess as to duration. As soon as it began we though it would be a long war.

Q. About how many planes or pilots did you expect to loose at MIDWAY, that is from anti-aircraft and attack?
A. Because we had suffered so little at PEARL HARBOR at the beginning of the war, we though we would get away with the same thing at MIDWAY. I think that other ships in the task force lost a good many pilots, but as far as my ship was concerned, we got off very easily.

Q. Did you have radar on the AKAGI?
A. No.

Q. Did any ships at MIDWAY have radar?
A. YAMATO, MUTSU and NAGATO in the Grand Fleet may have had it. There was no ship at MIDWAY or carrier which had it.

Q. Do you know when they were first installed and first used?
A. I don’t know but when I went to the arsenal at KURE, I saw the grids on the ISE and HYUGA. It was August 1942 after MIDWAY. I supposed that they must have been installed on better ships by then.

Q. While cruising to MIDWAY was radio silence observed?
A. There was radio silence.

Q. Was an interpreter radio guard stood on CW or voice frequency?
A. There was nothing but curiosity, but there was not a real guard.

Q. During passage to MIDWAY, were flight operations conducted or carried out?
A. Training flights for about two days (Weather bad); anti-submarine patrols every day. No combat air patrols.

Q. What number and types of planes were used for anti-submarine patrols?
A. 97 Type attack planes. Four planes were used for anti-submarine patrol, searching out at a distance of about 40,000 meters.

Q. In the operations at night did the carriers form a column?
A. At night it was the same ring formation.

Q. Were the destroyers stationed astern of the carriers in cruising formation?
A. All outside the circle.

Q. When landing and launching planes also?
A. They were 500 or 600 meters astern at time of recovery of planes.

Q. When you launched or recovered planes did all ships turn into the wind or just the carrier that was landing planes?
A. It was all at the same time if it was a long operation. Otherwise in short operation the single carrier maneuvered.

Q. Did it make any difference how far they were from the enemy?
A. It had nothing to do with that distance.

Q. How did the planes find their way back to the ship, did you have radio homing device?
A. Only radio. As soon as the planes made their attack, they were to come back without radio help. Only on request from the pilot would ship send message.


Interrogation NAV No.39
USSBS No. 165

Battle of Midway

TOKYO 25 October 1945

Interrogation of: Capt. OHARA, H., Executive Officer of SORYU (CV) at Battle of MIDWAY, 4-6 June 1942.

Interrogated by: Captain C. Shands, USN.

SUMMARY

The First Air Fleet, CinC Vice Admiral NAGUMO, departed HIROSHIMA Bay on 27 May 1942 for MIDWAY Island to provide air support during the planned Japanese occupation about 6 June 1942. The loss of all aircraft carriers forced the plan to be abandoned. This deficiency was also felt in the subsequent SOLOMON Campaign. The SORYU received three hits from dive-bombers during the morning, 4 June, which set planes and fuel tanks afire. While trying to escape at reduced speed later in the morning, it was sunk by torpedoes from a submarine. No aircraft torpedo or horizontal-bomb hits received. Dive-bombers considered most effective attack against ships, horizontal-bombers against land areas. Definite turning point of the war considered SAIPAN.

TRANSCRIPT

Q. What ships were present in your force?
A. Flagship AKAGI with Vice Admiral NAGUMO, Rear Admiral YAMAGUCHI was on the HIRYU. KAGA and SORYU were the other two aircraft carriers. Battleships KIRISHIMA and HARUNA. Heavy cruisers CHIKUMA and TONE. The light cruiser NAGARA with about eleven destroyers. About four tankers were also present. Admiral YAMAGUCHI was killed. He was so outstanding from the time he was a captain that many thought he would have succeeded Admiral YAMAMOTO.

Composition of Force

( ) Nagara
( ) Kirishima
( ) Haruna
( ) ( )
( ) Asagi (F)
CinC Flag Ship
( ) Hiryu,/i>
Squadron Flag Ship
( ) ( )
( ) Naga ( ) Soryu
( ) ( )
( )
( ) Tankers
( ) ( ) ( )
( )

Q. What was your navigational track?
A. The First Air Fleet left HASHIRA anchorage in HIROSHIMA Bay on 27 May passing through the BUNGO Straits torward MARCUS Island, then easterly to about 32 N 179 E, then southeast towards MIDWAY until the day of the battle. We refueled every third day from the tankers. Anti-submarine aircraft patrols were maintained, but that was all due to the bad weather.

Q. What was the mission of your air fleet?
A. We were to bomb MIDWAY in preparation for a landing operation to be made by transports approaching from the southwest. The JUNYO and maybe the HIYO were to bomb and maybe occupy KISKA and DUTCH HARBOR. The ZUIKAKU and SHOKAKU were being repaired in JAPAN.

Q. What effect did the loss of your carriers have upon the completion of your future plans?
A. The loss of the carriers meant loss of control of the air. We did not think that we could capture MIDWAY after we lost air control, so returned to JAPAN. The loss of the carriers also slowed up the occupation of the SOLOMONS. If we had been stronger in the air, maybe we could have stopped some of your convoys to the SOLOMONS.

Q. When did you receive your first attack?
A. About two hours after sunrise, we were attacked by torpedo planes. They looked like small twin engine flying boats and single-engine carrier planes. No hits were made. The torpedoes were dropped too far away and were slow enough for us to avoid them.

Q. Did you know of the American carriers.
A. No, we had no information until we were attacked by dive-bombers. Then we thought that they had come from MIDWAY. It was about two hours after sunrise. About the middle of the morning, we were attacked by everything. Our planes returning from the attack on MIDWAY reported carrier air groups in the area so we knew your carriers were there. A little later one of our scout planes gave a definite location.

Q. How many hits did you receive?
A. About twelve planes divided into three groups dove upon us at the same time. One group on each bow and one from astern. We received three hits. The first hit in the middle of the flight deck between the two elevators. It went through and exploded in the lower hanger deck, setting planes on fire which had returned from MIDWAY and were refueled and rearmed. The second hit in the center just forward of the forward elevator, starting a fire on the flight deck and hanger deck. The third hit was near the after elevator.

Q. Did you receive any torpedo hits or hits from high horizontal-bombers?
A. No torpedo hits from airplanes. In the middle of the afternoon, we had a big explosion which set more gasoline tanks afire and sank the ship. It was torpedoes from a submarine. We did not receive any hits from horizontal-bombers. The formation was very high. It was just after we had been attacked the first time by dive-bombers. The bombs fell someplace near the battleships, but I do not think that they were hit. In the afternoon late, we were also attacked by horizontal-bombers but no hits. We were already sinking.

Q. Did any of the American planes dive into the decks of the carriers?
A. None on the SORYU. I did not hear of any on the other carriers.

Q. Where were you standing during the battle?
A. I was on the bridge all day. After we left the ship, I was picked up by a destroyer. Two or three destroyers rescued about 600 men. About 700 were lost including about 30 pilots.

Q. When the U.S. torpedo planes attacked, how were they shot down?
A. The fighter plane patrol from the AKAGI and the HIRYU shot down most of them down. Guns may have hit some. They came in very low and straight and were easy for our planes to hit. Most were hit before they dropped the torpedoes, but a few were able to drop before being hit.

Q. Were the battleships KIRISHIMA and HARUNA attacked?
A. They may have been attacked but they were not hit.

Q. Were any other ships attacked?
A. No other ships in our force were hit. The MOGAMI and MIKUMA were attacked and the MIKUMA sunk. They were in the main body.

Q. Were any transports attacked?
A. I heard that the transports were attacked, but none were sunk.

Q. How many planes did you lose at MIDWAY?
A. About 250 planes were lost. Some were lost in the attack on the island, some at the American carriers, the remainder were lost on the Japanese carriers.

Q. As a result of your experience in this war, what type of aircraft attack did you consider the most effective?
A. In the Navy against ships, the dive-bomber was most effective because it was much more accurate and hard to hit by gun fire because of the speed and high angle of fire. Because they came very low, it was difficult to avoid the bombs. We did not fear the high horizontal-bombers because we could watch the bombs fall and avoid them. They never hit targets except against the land. The fire raids were very bad. They also made landing strips useless for one or two days. We feared the torpedo attacks though they did not do much damage, but we had to maneuver to miss them.

Q. Did the planes from the SORYU attack the U.S. carriers?
A. No, they attacked MIDWAY. Then while they were being refueled to attack the American carriers, the SORYU was attacked and damaged so the flight of planes could not be launched. The planes were delayed while changing bombs to attack the carriers.

Q. When did you think that the turning point of the war occurred?
A. It was the opinion of most of the officers that the loss of the aircraft carriers during the summer of 1942 stopped the expansion because we did not have air cover. However, we thought that we could hold the area that we had occupied. When we lost SAIPAN, we felt very bad because we did not expect to lose it. I think that was the main turning point.

Q. Were you present during any of the carrier attacks against land targets?
A. Yes, I was present at YOKOSUKA on 18 July. Not much damage done. One bomb hit the battleship FUJI. One or two hangers caught fire. Most damage was to airplanes. They were all shot down or landed someplace else, because they did not come back.

Q. Were you in any other battles?
A. I was in the INDIAN OCEAN when the HERMES and the CORNWALL were sunk by our dive-bombers using 250kg. bombs, but that is all. I was in TOKYO when the REPULSE and the PRINCE OF WALES were sunk.


Source: United States. Strategic Bombing Survey. Naval Analysis Division. United States Strategic Bombing Survey [Pacific], Volume 1, Interrogations of Japanese Officials, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1946.