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Monday, June 04, 2007

"The most decisive five minutes in the history of naval warfare."

--John Keegan.
June 4, 1942.

Dauntless dive bombers at Midway, attacking a Japanese cruiser.

At shortly after noon, local time, Lt. Cmdr. C. Wade McClusky's Dauntless dive bomber squadron from the U.S.S. Enterprise began its run at the Japanese armada during the Battle of Midway. In five minutes of combat, three of the four Japanese carriers present would be destroyed, and the fourth would be sunk two days later.

McClusky in January 1942. He would retire from the Navy as a Rear Admiral.

The reason the Japanese were surprised? The suicidal heroism of the American torpedo bomber squadrons, whose unsupported attack runs in obsolete aircraft failed utterly with great loss--and focused the attention of the Japanese fighter squadrons and anti-aircraft batteries down at sea level.

Ensign George Gay (right), on June 4, 1942, just before going into combat. He was the sole survivor of the U.S.S. Hornet's torpedo squadron, and won the Navy Cross for heroism that day. He was picked up by an American submarine afte his plane was shot down.

By the time the IJN looked up from the torpedo attacks, the Dauntless squadrons had started their attack runs. They would not miss.

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