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TheGreatBlasto

Battle of Midway Yo!

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What happened to all the aircraft from Soryu, Kaga, and Akagi after they were sunk?  Did they try to go to the Hiryu?

That must have been a lot of planes and veteran pilots in need of a new home.

Edited by TheGreatBlasto

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25 minutes ago, TheGreatBlasto said:

What happened to all the aircraft from Soryu, Kaga, and Akagi after they were sunk?  Did they try to go to the Hiryu?

That must have been a lot of planes and veteran pilots in need of a new home.

https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/b/battle-of-midway-interrogation-of-japanese-officials.html

Some aircraft did indeed land on Hiryu.

The link provided gives an idea of the individual losses in planes and pilots for each Japanese carrier present.

Overall the battle was one of many in 1942-43 that proved to be a drastic drain on Japanese naval aviation personnel and material, one that they never recovered from.

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3 hours ago, TheGreatBlasto said:

 

Most of the strike aircraft were on the hangar decks being prepped for a counter strike and therefore did not make it off the stricken carriers. Some zeros made it over to hiryu as they were up providing CAP. As far as I remember one TB from Akagi made it to hiryu and participated in the 2nd counter strike that hit Yorktown. If you want some detailed accounts of the battle check out Shattered Sword as it goes over the battle in fascinating depth from the japanese side of things.

Edited by RipNuN2
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On 7/19/2020 at 3:12 AM, Avenge_December_7 said:

Overall the battle was one of many in 1942-43 that proved to be a drastic drain on Japanese naval aviation personnel and material, one that they never recovered from.

Midway set in motion the chain of events that would strip the IJN of its once powerful cadre of well trained, experienced naval aviators.

 

Midway was a big loss of aviators for the IJN but the true bloodletting would really start in the long fighting of 1942-1943 for Guadalcanal and the subsequent Solomon Islands chain.  In the fighting for Guadalcanal, you had Shokaku & Zuikaku committed.  Eventually it came to an engagement where Shokaku got badly damaged and the two CVs were sent back to Japan.  But before they left the area, they were instructed to detach their air groups to be rebased at the major base at Rabaul.  From Rabaul these aviators would make these long, long flights to fight at Guadalcanal, and eventually over the Solomons.  Attrition took their toll.

 

By the end of 1943, the army and navy had lost about 10,000 pilots. As American Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney reported to Washington, “Japan’s originally highly trained crews were superb but they are dead.” When matched to pilot production of 5,400 army and 5,000 navy in the same period, and when one considers the expansion in units, missions, tempo and geographical separation, it is clear that Japan’s pilot strength had not increased at all. Worse, the vast majority of prewar and even 1942-43 veterans were dead or wounded, and their replacements had none of the veterans’ experience.

Japan's Fatally Flawed Air Forces of World War II

 

This was a severe problem.  This thread made me remember a somewhat similar thread regarding Carriers and aviators months back, and a reply I had there I think is still pertinent to this:

On 3/16/2020 at 11:00 PM, HazeGrayUnderway said:

No Pacific CV duels in 1943?  Easy.  The early half of 1943, Shokaku was still being repaired and wouldn't link up with her sister until mid-1943.  But the real damage was the lost aircrews.

 

First and foremost, Battle of Midway was June 1942.  This event left the two "Cranes" of the Shokaku-class as the last two Fleet CVs of the IJN.  The Allies surprise the Japanese with an offensive soon after Midway, i.e. Guadalcanal in August 1942, which set into motion the hotly contested campaign surrounding that island and its airfield.

 

Secondly, the last CV clash of 1942 was the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands in October.  USS Hornet was lost while Shokaku was severely damaged.  The damage was so severe that on the way home to Japan she almost sank again (much respect to the damage control of Shokaku, saving the ship from disaster multiple times until her luck finally ran out in 1944).  The effects of this battle were extensive, but specifically for Japan's Carriers, Zuikaku was undamaged and Shokaku would get fixed up by March 1943.  Wikipedia says they link up again by mid-1943, yet there were no attempts by the IJN Carrier forces to fight again.  Why's that?

Lack of trained aircrews for their Carriers.

After the two "Cranes" were sent back to Japan due to the effects of the Battle of Santa Cruz, one of the things the Japanese did was send their trained naval aircrews to shore, i.e. the big base at Rabaul, and continue to fight the Allies from there.  These veteran, irreplaceable aircrews suffered high attrition during the long campaign to contest Guadalcanal.

By the time Shokaku was fixed up and ready to rejoin her sister Zuikaku in mid-1943, there were no aircrews for them.  That's why there were no Carrier clashes in the Pacific during 1943.

 

The aircrew loss was severe and it would take the IJN until mid-1944 before they had Carriers filled with trained naval aircrews again to send against the Allies.  They would do so to contest the American landings for Saipan and the resulting naval battle of the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944.  Better known as the Marianas Turkey Shoot where the large USN Carrier force with now experienced aircrews slaughtered the totally inexperienced IJN aircrews.

 

But back to 1943... The USN expected the IJN to use Shokaku and Zuikaku again.  If you check the link earlier in the thread for "USS Robin" / HMS Victorious, when the US asked the UK "hey bro, can you loan me a carrier for a bit?" and the UK obliged.  When "USS Robin" operated with Saratoga and North Carolina, they were specifically looking to get into a Carrier duel again.  But the IJN couldn't... They no longer had aircrews for Shokaku & Zuikaku in 1943 despite their fleet carriers being fully functional by that time.

 

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On 7/19/2020 at 2:42 AM, TheGreatBlasto said:

What happened to all the aircraft from Soryu, Kaga, and Akagi after they were sunk?  Did they try to go to the Hiryu?

There's no way any of the Japanese planes from the CVs had the fuel to stay in the air long enough for the Soryu, Kaga or Akagi to sink.  All IJN Carriers at Midway were scuttled during the evening/night although Hiryū took until the next morning to finally sink.  All of the CV aircraft were left behind when the CVs were evacuated and scuttled, there would be no point in transferring planes to the Hiryu given she was also scuttled.

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On 7/26/2020 at 1:44 AM, HazeGrayUnderway said:

Midway set in motion the chain of events that would strip the IJN of its once powerful cadre of well trained, experienced naval aviators.

 

Midway was a big loss of aviators for the IJN but the true bloodletting would really start in the long fighting of 1942-1943 for Guadalcanal and the subsequent Solomon Islands chain.  In the fighting for Guadalcanal, you had Shokaku & Zuikaku committed.  Eventually it came to an engagement where Shokaku got badly damaged and the two CVs were sent back to Japan.  But before they left the area, they were instructed to detach their air groups to be rebased at the major base at Rabaul.  From Rabaul these aviators would make these long, long flights to fight at Guadalcanal, and eventually over the Solomons.  Attrition took their toll.

 

By the end of 1943, the army and navy had lost about 10,000 pilots. As American Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney reported to Washington, “Japan’s originally highly trained crews were superb but they are dead.” When matched to pilot production of 5,400 army and 5,000 navy in the same period, and when one considers the expansion in units, missions, tempo and geographical separation, it is clear that Japan’s pilot strength had not increased at all. Worse, the vast majority of prewar and even 1942-43 veterans were dead or wounded, and their replacements had none of the veterans’ experience.

Japan's Fatally Flawed Air Forces of World War II

 

This was a severe problem.  This thread made me remember a somewhat similar thread regarding Carriers and aviators months back, and a reply I had there I think is still pertinent to this:

 

That's not the only reason. In Neptune's Inferno, James Hornfischer attributes much of the Japanese losses of aircraft and pilots at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands to the radar-guided AA of American ships, especially from ships like the AtlantaJuneau, and the San Juan.

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47 minutes ago, 1Sherman said:

That's not the only reason. In Neptune's Inferno, James Hornfischer attributes much of the Japanese losses of aircraft and pilots at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands to the radar-guided AA of American ships, especially from ships like the AtlantaJuneau, and the San Juan.

I remember reading years ago from a Japanese perspective about their aviators dealing with the USN's AA even in 1942.  It was either Coral Sea or one of those CV duels for Guadalcanal, all in 1942.  Some of Zuikaku's bombers returned from an attack against the USN and one of the surviving pilots had a nervous breakdown after he landed and had to be carried off the plane.  He wasn't injured but he and other pilots relayed the terror of running through the AA gauntlet.

 

Remember, that's 1942.  We haven't even gotten into the AA madness that the USN would really get into for 1943 and beyond with increasingly better Fighter Caps (more proficient, experienced pilots as the war went on, now add in F6F Hellcats and later even F4U Corsairs).  Proximity Fused shells for USN 127mm dual purpose guns haven't entered service in 1942.  So imagine those poor guys that had to deal with that, on top of more 40mm Bofors.

 

From 1944:

Or at 1:25 timestamp.

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

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8 hours ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

I remember reading years ago from a Japanese perspective about their aviators dealing with the USN's AA even in 1942.  It was either Coral Sea or one of those CV duels for Guadalcanal, all in 1942.  Some of Zuikaku's bombers returned from an attack against the USN and one of the surviving pilots had a nervous breakdown after he landed and had to be carried off the plane.  He wasn't injured but he and other pilots relayed the terror of running through the AA gauntlet.

 

Remember, that's 1942.  We haven't even gotten into the AA madness that the USN would really get into for 1943 and beyond with increasingly better Fighter Caps (more proficient, experienced pilots as the war went on, now add in F6F Hellcats and later even F4U Corsairs).  Proximity Fused shells for USN 127mm dual purpose guns haven't entered service in 1942.  So imagine those poor guys that had to deal with that, on top of more 40mm Bofors.

 

From 1944:

Or at 1:25 timestamp.

I can only imagine the horror stories that the 30-odd survivors of the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot would have had (The IJN had only about 30 or so CV-based aircraft left afterwards).

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2 hours ago, 1Sherman said:

I can only imagine the horror stories that the 30-odd survivors of the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot would have had (The IJN had only about 30 or so CV-based aircraft left afterwards).

The sad part for the IJN was that battle finally snapped the back of their naval aviation for good.

 

It took the IJN one year to recover their naval aviation losses of 1942-43.  Even then they lost the old proficiency.  Brand new armored CV Taiho was lost on her first combat sortie.  Veteran CV Shokaku could no longer cheat death.

 

Months after this engagement we got Leyte Gulf and the last fleet cv, Zuikaku, would sortie merely as a decoy with barely a token air group.

 

The IJN would complete 3 more Fleet CVs, the Unryu-class.  The 2nd one was just completing just as Zuikaku sortied for Leyte Gulf.  But none of the Unryu-class ever got an air group for the rest of the war.  They simply no longer had the time and resources to make more naval aviators.

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