Japanese Attacks on USS Yorktown, 4 June 1942
Overview and Special Image Selection



After the 4 June mid-morning U.S. Navy attacks on the Japanese carrier force, only the Hiryu remained operational. Shortly before 1100 she launched eighteen dive bombers, escorted by six fighters, to strike a retaliatory blow. At about noon, as these planes approached USS Yorktown (CV-5), the most exposed of the three American aircraft carriers, they were intercepted by the U.S. combat air patrol, which shot down most of the bombers. Seven, however, survived to attack, hitting Yorktown with three bombs and stopping her.

While Yorktown's crew worked to repair damage and get their ship underway, a second force left Hiryu, this one consisting of ten torpedo planes and six fighters. Though the U.S. carrier was moving again by 1430, and even launched more fighters, the Japanese aircraft penetrated heavy air and gunfire opposition to hit Yorktown with two torpedoes, opening a huge hole on her midships port side. The stricken ship again went dead in the water and took on a severe list. Concerned that she was about to roll over, her Captain ordered his crew to abandon ship.

This page presents a special selection of views of the two Japanese air attacks on USS Yorktown, and of her subsequent abandonment. It also provides links to more pictures of these events.

For more comprehensive coverage of the air attacks on Yorktown, the ditching of some of her planes after she was bombed, and her abandonment, see:

Views of and on board USS Yorktown during the 4 June battle, prior to the Japanese air attacks on her

Images of other U.S. ships operating during 4 June, including photos of the recovery on board USS Enterprise of a plane and crew from Yorktown's Bombing Squadron Three (VB-3), U.S. Navy Ships in Action during the Battle, 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 #: 80-G-21641

Battle of Midway, June 1942


USS Yorktown (CV-5) under attack by Japanese dive bombers, shortly after noon on 4 June 1942, as seen from USS Portland (CA-35). She has been hit just aft of the midships elevator, with white smoke visible streaming from that area. This bomb exploded on the flight deck, causing many casualties in the vicinity. It also started fires in the hangar below, but these were quickly extinguished.
Foreground objects are the wing and tail of two of Portland's SOC floatplanes.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 94KB; 740 x 625

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-32301

Battle of Midway, June 1942


USS Yorktown (CV-5) dead in the water after being hit by Japanese bombs on 4 June 1942.
The ship was hit shortly after noon. This view was taken about an hour later, with fires still burning in her uptakes but other immediate repairs well advanced. F4F-4 fighters that had been parked at the forward end of the flight deck during the attack have been respotted aft, in take off position. Two SBD-3 scout bombers can be seen through the open sides of her after hangar bay.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives.

Online Image: 83KB; 740 x 595

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-312018

Battle of Midway, June 1942


Scene on board USS Yorktown (CV-5), shortly after she was hit by three Japanese bombs on 4 June 1942. Dense smoke is from fires in her uptakes, caused by a bomb that punctured them and knocked out her boilers.
Taken by Photographer 2rd Class William G. Roy from the starboard side of the flight deck, just in front of the forward 5"/38 gun gallery. Man with hammer at right is probably covering a bomb entry hole in the forward elevator.
Note arresting gear cables and forward palisade elements on the flight deck; CXAM radar antenna, large national ensign and YE homing beacon antenna atop the foremast; 5"/38, .50 caliber and 1.1" guns manned and ready at left.
This view forms a panorama with Photo # 80-G-312019.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 119KB; 700 x 645

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-312020

Battle of Midway, June 1942


Repairing bomb damage on board USS Yorktown (CV-5), shortly after the carrier was hit by Japanese bombs on 4 June 1942. This hole, about twelve feet in diameter, was caused by a 250 Kilogram bomb that exploded on contact with the flight deck. Its explosion killed and injured many men on nearby guns and set fires on the hangar deck. Two of the dead are under a cover in the top center, by a battery of .50 caliber machine guns.
Photograph looks aft and slightly to starboard from the rear edge of the midships aircraft elevator.
The hole was quickly repaired with a timber and steel plate cover, allowing resumption of flight deck activities. This hole, minus the repair, was clearly visible when Yorktown's wreck was examined in May 1998, and looked much as it does in this view.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 126KB; 700 x 675

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-11639

Battle of Midway, June 1942


Japanese Type 97 shipboard attack aircraft from the carrier Hiryu amid heavy anti-aircraft fire, during the torpedo attack on USS Yorktown (CV-5) in the mid-afternoon, 4 June 1942.
At least three planes are visible, the nearest clearly having already dropped its torpedo. The other two are lower and closer to the center, apparently withdrawing. Smoke on the horizon in right center is from a crashed plane. It is possible that the object very close to the horizon, in center, is another attacking aircraft.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 92KB; 740 x 610

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-414423

Battle of Midway, June 1942


USS Yorktown (CV-5) is hit on the port side, amidships, by a Japanese Type 91 aerial torpedo during the mid-afternoon attack by planes from the carrier Hiryu, 4 June 1942.
Photographed from USS Pensacola (CA-24).
Yorktown is heeling to port and is seen at a different aspect than in other views taken by Pensacola, indicating that this is the second of the two torpedo hits she received.
Note very heavy anti-aircraft fire.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 87KB; 740 x 620

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-14384

Battle of Midway, June 1942


Scene on the flight deck of USS Yorktown (CV-5) shortly after she was hit by two Japanese aerial torpedoes, 4 June 1942. Men are balancing themselves on the listing deck as they prepare to abandon ship.
This view looks aft from alongside the island. F4F-4 "Wildcat" fighter visible in the background is Fighting Squadron Three's Plane # 6 (Bureau # 5165), which had been flown by Ensign Brainard T. Macomber during the morning attacks on the Japanese carrier fleet. Insufficient fuel prevented it from being launched to defend Yorktown from the afternoon torpedo plane attack.
Note life jacket worn by man at right.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 79KB; 740 x 615

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-17061

Battle of Midway, June 1942


USS Yorktown (CV-5) being abandoned by her crew after she was hit by two Japanese Type 91 aerial torpedoes, 4 June 1942.
USS Balch (DD-363) is standing by at right.
Note oil slick surrounding the damaged carrier, and inflatable life raft being deployed off her stern.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 104KB; 740 x 615

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives.

 





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