Online Library of Selected Images:
-- EVENTS -- World War II in the Pacific -- Battle of Midway

Midway-based Bomber Attacks on the Japanese Carrier Striking Force
4 June 1942



Less than an hour behind Midway's torpedo planes were sixteen Marine Scouting Squadron 241 (VMSB-241) SBD-2 bombers. They attacked the Japanese carrier Hiryu, scoring a near miss and causing a few casualties with machinegun fire. Again, the Japanese combat air patrol handled the attackers roughly. Only eight of the Marine SBDs returned to Midway, of which but two were fit for further service.

Then, somewhat after 0800, fifteen Army B-17s struck, raining down sticks of bombs from high altitude. Much was expected of this kind of attack, but no hits were scored, a result that further war experience would demonstrate was all-too-typical. On the other hand, the "Flying Fortresses" were little damaged by Japanese anti-aircraft fire and fighters. They made several fine photographs of the Japanese carriers maneuvering far below, an indication of the true role of these heavy bombers in contemporary maritime warfare: long-distance reconnaissance by aircraft capable of defending themselves.

Last of the Midway attack force were eleven Marine SB2U dive bombers, which came on the scene some minutes after the B-17s. These older planes attacked the battleship Haruna. They, too, made no hits, but most of them survived.

While all this was taking place, the Japanese also had to contend with the stealthy presence of the submarine Nautilus (SS-168), which poked up her periscope in the middle of their formation and fired a torpedo that missed. That provoked a series of depth charge attacks, some by the destroyer Arashi that lasted until after 0900 and had far-reaching consequences.

Midway's air strikes were over, and the submarine was left behind. The Japanese carriers recovered the planes returning from hitting the U.S. base and began preparing a second attack, this one targeting a U.S. Navy task force that had been unexpectedly discovered to the east. As he was dealing with the last of the Midway planes, Vice Admiral Nagumo was informed that an aircraft carrier was among the U.S. ships.

This page presents views of three Japanese carriers, taken from attacking B-17s on 4 June 1942.

Links to pictures relating the other attacks on the Japanese carriers:

  • U.S. Attacks on the Japanese Carrier Striking Force, 4 June 1942.
  • Links to views of other aspects of the Battle of Midway:

  • Battle of Midway, Overview and Special Image Selection.

  • Click photograph for a larger image.

    Photo #: USAF 57576

    Battle of Midway, June 1942


    Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi and a destroyer maneuvering below thin clouds while under high-level bombing attack by USAAF B-17 bombers, shortly after 8AM, 4 June 1942.

    U.S. Air Force Photograph.

    Online Image: 140KB; 740 x 620 pixels

    Reproductions may also be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: USAF ID 4845

    Battle of Midway, June 1942


    Japanese aircraft carrier Soryu circles while under high-level bombing attack by USAAF B-17 bombers from the Midway base, shortly after 8AM, 4 June 1942. This attack produced near misses, but no hits.

    U.S. Air Force Photograph.

    Online Image: 86KB; 740 x 615 pixels

    Reproductions may also be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: USAF 3725 AC

    Battle of Midway, June 1942


    Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu maneuvers to avoid three sticks of bombs dropped during a high-level attack by USAAF B-17 bombers, shortly after 8AM, 4 June 1942.

    U.S. Air Force Photograph.

    Online Image: 86KB; 740 x 625 pixels

    Reproductions may also be available through the National Archives.

     
    Photo #: USAF 75712 AC

    Battle of Midway, June 1942


    Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu maneuvering during a high-level bombing attack by USAAF B-17 bombers, shortly after 8AM, 4 June 1942.
    Note ship's flight deck markings, including Katakana identification character "hi" on her after flight deck.
    This image is cropped from USAF Photo # 3725 AC.

    U.S. Air Force Photograph.

    Online Image: 108KB; 595 x 765 pixels

    Reproductions may also be available through the National Archives.

     




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