Pre-battle Documents
CinCPac. Operation Plan 29-42 CinCPac. Letter. May 28, 1942 Cmdr PatWing 2. Memorandum Cmdr VP-44. Operation Plan CO 6th Def. Bn. Instruction
Action Reports
CinCPac. June 28, 1942 Cmdr TF 16. June 16, 1942 Cmdr TF 17. June 14, 1942 CO CV-5. June 18, 1942 CO CV-6. June 8,  1942 CO CV-6. June 13, 1942 CO CV-8. June 13, 1942 Cmdr VB-3. June 10, 1942 Cmdr VS-5. June 7,  1942 Cmdr VB-6. June 10, 1942 Cmdr VS-6. June 20, 1942 CO NAS Midway. June 18, 1942 OO NAS Midway. June 15, 1942 CO 6th Def.Bn. June 13, 1942 CO MAG-22. June 7, 1942 XO MAG-22. June 7, 1942 CO VMF-221. June 6, 1942 CO VMSB-241. June 12, 1942
War Diaries, Logs
NAS Midway. May 1942 NAS Midway. June 1942 CV-6 War Diary. June 1942 CV-8 Deck Logs. June 1942
Early Researches
ONI Combat Narratives, 1943 The Japanese Story, 1947 Naval War College, 1948
  Commander Patrol Wing Two. Memorandum. May 23, 1942
 
  PATROL WING TWO Or 
PW2/A16-3/A4-3/VZ/
        (020)

S E C R E T

May 23, 1942.

MEMORANDUM

From:
To:

Subject:     


Enclosure:
The Commander Patrol Wing TWO.
The Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet.

Employment of Aircraft in Connection with Enemy Attack
on Midway.

(A) Diagram.

 

1.      The following plan is presented for consideration as a means of employing available aircraft in the Hawaiian Area to assist Midway in event of an attack.

 

2. Discussion

 

        The problem at Midway is one of hitting before we are hit. The great danger is for our aircraft to be surprised on the ground and destroyed, and our runways immobilized by bombs, before they can do any damage to the enemy. To prevent this there are required two essentials: effective search, and long range air striking power.

 

3.      Examining search requirements first, the ideal search is one which will insure contact before the enemy takes off to attack, i.e., each day's search must cover enemy movements to such distance that the next day's search will reach the enemy carrier's probable launching radius before he can reach it. Assuming that the enemy will not launch at greater distance than 200 miles, that he will not use more than 27 knots speed for the run in, and that PBY search planes take off at dawn daily, a 700 mile search will accomplish this. This is shown diagrammatrically on enclosure (A). Search planes take off daily at dawn, proceed on outbound legs at 100 knots and return at 111 knots to arrive before dark. If the coverage is effective the enemy will be contacted at a distance greater than 200 miles, the actual distance depending upon the timing of his attack and upon his speed. Assuming the enemy intended to make an attack on Midway at dawn, he would have to launch his aircraft about two hours before dawn at a distance of about 300 miles to avoid discovery on the afternoon before his attack.

 

4.      It is believed that a 25 mile visibility can be reasonably expected in the Midway area this time of year, especially for such a large striking force or for any ship proceeding at such speed that she leaves a highly visible wake. At 25 miles visibility

 

-1-

  PATROL WING TWO  
PW2/A16-3/A4-3/VZ/
        (020)

S E C R E T

Subject:     Employment of Aircraft in Connection with Enemy Attack
             on Midway.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


each PBY can cover an 8 degree sector. It would seem desirable to cover at least 180 degrees of arc. This would require about 23 planes. (It is assumed that our own CV groups will cover the flanks in the eastern semi-circle.)

 

5.      Even if the enemy is located the day before his attack, there is no long range air striking force at Midway with which to hit him. The PBY's are ineffective against fighter opposition and cannot attack during daylight. They may be used effectively as torpedo planes at night, particularly in bright moonlight. But the chances of making contact after dark at long range are meagre.

 

6.      Recommendations

 

 (a) That PBY aircraft at Midway be increased at once by 8 PBY-5 seaplanes, total 24, 12 of which will operate from the water.

 

 (b) That these PBY's be utilized to search a sector of 180 degrees, radius 700 miles; search to start at dawn daily, and proceed out at an average speed of 100 knots, returning at 111 knots or better to get back before dark.

 

 (c) That our own CV groups be disposed so as to cover the flanks of the Midway search - or at least one flank; the other may be covered by PBY-5's operating from Johnston.

 

 (d) That an AVD be sent to cruise in the vicinity of French Frigate Shoals (mine field permitting her entrance) to serve as a refueling station for PBY's, or rescue vessel along the line of retirement towards Oahu.

 

 (e) That PBY's after locating the enemy and executing night attacks, if opportunity presents, be withdrawn to Pearl, via French Frigate Shoals if necessary, before attack on Midway is imminent. These planes could conduct a reduced search, taking off before dawn, if the enemy has been located the afternoon before, and withdraw to French Frigate Shoals, after developing the enemy disposition, without returning to Midway.

 

 (f) That at least six B-26 and six B-17 aircraft be sent to Midway prior to 29 May as a long range striking group; the B-26

 

-2-

  PATROL WING TWO  
PW2/A16-3/A4-3/VZ/
        (020)

S E C R E T

 
Subject:     Employment of Aircraft in Connection with Enemy Attack
             on Midway.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


aircraft to operate as torpedo planes (radius 525 miles with torpedo) and the B-17 aircraft as long range bombers. These aircraft should make long range attacks day and night, if practicable, but should retire before the enemy comes within range such that air attack on Midway is imminent.

 

 (g) That 12 aircraft torpedoes (modified for high speed drops) be transported to Midway by patrol planes for the use of the B-26's.

 

 (h) That at least six B-17's with extra tanks and 1/2 bomb load (4-600 lb.) be maintained in readiness at Barking Sands. These aircraft can deliver their bomb loads at a radius of 1200 miles and return to base, or, if the field at Midway is intact, they can land there, rearm, refuel and make several attacks before returning to Oahu.

 

 (i) That as many more B-17's as practicable be converted for such long range bombing missions.

 

 (j) That if the field at Midway is intact, additional B-17's with full bomb loads (8-600 lb) can fly to Midway from the Hawaiian Area, refuel and attack, and return to base.

 

 (k) That arrangements for loading and servicing Army aircraft at Midway be perfected and that the Army send a small liaison detachment to Midway to assist in this work.

 

 (1) That all Army and Navy planes which land at Midway to operate, report for duty and for assignment and coordination of missions, to the Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station, Midway. That the Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station, Midway, keep all planes which land at Midway informed as to the location of own forces in so far as practicable.

 

 (l) That all long range air attacks be directed against enemy carriers as primary objectives.

 

 (m) That, in as much as our own submarines will be operating in the area and their positions will be difficult to define, no air attacks be made on submarines unless definitely identified as hostile and in a threatening position with respect to our own surface forces. This restriction should also extend to PT boats.

 

-3-

  PATROL WING TWO  
PW2/A16-3/A4-3/VZ/
        (020)

S E C R E T

May 23, 1942.

Subject:     Employment of Aircraft in Connection with Enemy Attack
             on Midway.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

 (n) That horizontal bombing attacks be conducted at relatively low altitudes to insure hits.

 

 (o) That torpedo attacks be driven home with determination to close range - every torpedo drop a hit.

 

 (p) That Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station, Midway, and Commander Naval Base Air Defense, before dispatching aircraft to attack surface forces in an area near one that our own surface forces may be in, broadcast the information as to the area in which the objective is located so that our own forces, if inadvertently chosen as objectives, may pipe up to prevent attack on them by our own aircraft.

 

 (q) That all pilots review and be thoroughly familiar with ship silhouettes (particularly our own) and with approach and recognition signal procedures.

 

 (r) All of our aircraft must be on special guard not to give away presence or location of our own carriers. This will require careful study of silhouettes of ships involved, comprehension of the situation and careful navigation.

 

 (s) All search, combat and tracking information of enemy should be broadcast for benefit of our carriers.

 

 (t) That the torpedo practice scheduled for CarDiv and PatWing aircraft for 29 May in this area be cancelled, since it will reduce the number of ready torpedoes in this area at a critical period.

 

7.      The above recommendations are made with the concurrence of the Commanding General, Seventh Air Force.

 

 

 


P. N. L. BELLINGER.