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Midway Battle and Mission History

Midway Historical Images

These photos show scenes from the Battle of Midway and the ships and men that fought there.

Midway Atoll, 1941
Aerial photograph of Midway Atoll, 24 November 1941. Eastern Island is in the foreground. U.S. Navy.
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IJN Kaga
Carrier Kaga at Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, Japan, 20 Nov 1928Source: Maritime History and Science Museum, Kure, Japan
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USS Narwhal
USS Narwhal (SS-167), sister to Nautilus and nearly identical in appearance, early 1930‘s. . Photo courtesy of Hyperwar US Navy in WWII. navsource.orgEarly 1930’s photo of the Narwahl (SS-167). She was one of two crusier submarines inspired by the German U-cruisers of WW I, armed with 6in/53 guns. Her high freeboard reflects great reserve buoyancy.
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IJN Kaga, 1930
Kaga off Ikari, Japan, 1930. Note the truncated forward flight deck, which was extended in a 1937 modernization.Source: Maritime History and Science Museum, Kure, Japan
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USS Nautilus
USS Nautilus (SS 168) Taking on provissions for departing Pearl Harbor 11 December 1942The above activity was for her fourth war patrol. Part of which is excerpted here: “During her fourth patrol, conducted in the Solomons 13 December 1942–4 February 1943, NAUTILUS rescued 26 adults and 3 children from Toep Harbor (31 December-1 January), then added the cargo ship YOSINOGAWA MARU to her kills and damaged a tanker, a freighter and a destroyer. On 4 February, she arrived at Brisbane, disembarked her passengers, and sailed for Pearl Harbor.”US Navy Photo in the private collection of Ric Hedman
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IJN Kaga pilots
Japanese B5N “Kate” torpedo bomber crews posing before their aircraft aboard Kaga, 6 December 1941.
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IJN Arashi, 1940
Destroyer IJN Arashi, December 1940. Maritime History Museum, Kure, Japan.
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IJN Hiryu, 1939
IJN Hiryū shortly after commissioning at Yokosuka, Japan, 5 July 1939. Sōryū was of similar design. Maritime History Museum, Kure, Japan.
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IJN Akagi Island, 1942
IJN Akagi, Indian Ocean, 26 March 1942. Note the small island superstructure with little room for Admiral Nagumo’s command post. Maritime History Museum, Kure, Japan.
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IJN Akagi, 1942
Flight deck of Akagi as seen from an aircraft that just launched, April 1942. Maritime History Museum, Kure, Japan.
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Japanese Carriers
The ships of Kidō Butai: Akagi, Kaga, Sōryū, Hiryū, Shōkaku, and Zuikaku. Artwork and photo courtesy Tanner Simmons (
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USS Hornet, 1941
USS Hornet (CV-8), U.S. east coast, circa late 1941. U.S. Navy.
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USS Enterprise, 1939
USS Enterprise (CV-6), en-route to Pearl Harbor, 8 October 1939. U.S. Navy.
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USS Hornet aircraft
F-4F Wildcat fighters and SBD Dauntless dive bombers ready to launch from the flight deck of Hornet, off Midway, 4 June 1942. U.S. Navy.
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USS Yorktown, 1937
USS Yorktown (CV-5), anchored at Hampton Roads, Virginia, 30 October 1937. U.S. Navy.
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USS Hornet aircraft landing
SBD Dauntless aircraft landing aboard Hornet during the Battle of Midway, 4 June 1942; note the Landing Signal Officer just underneath the landing aircraft. U.S. Navy.
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Midway under attack
Oil tanks burning on Sand Island after Japanese bombing attack, 4 June 1942. Note the sea birds in the foreground who called Midway home in spite of the war. U.S. Navy.
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18 IJN Hiryu under B-17 attack
Hiryū gracefully dodges three sticks of B-17 bombs, 4 June 1942. U.S. Air Force.
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IJN Mikuma under attack
A classic Midway photo: SBDs from Hornet over the burning cruiser Mikuma, early afternoon, 6 June 1942. Note the unique perforated dive flaps on the Dauntless wing trailing edge. U.S. Navy.
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IJN Mikuma
IJN Mikuma burns, her topsides wrecked, 6 June 1942. She would sink by day’s end. U.S. Navy.
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IJN Hiryu survivors
Despondent Hiryū survivors on Midway Island. U.S. Navy.
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22 USS Yorktown under attack
Yorktown receiving the second torpedo hit, 4 June 1942. U.S. Navy.
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23 USS Yorktown evacuated
Yorktown tended by destroyer Balch as the carrier was evacuated, 4 June 1942. U.S. Navy.
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USS Yorktown abandoned
Yorktown after abandonment, 4 June 1942. U.S. Navy.
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25 USS Yorktown damage
Repairing bomb damage on Yorktown, 4 June 1942. U.S. Navy.
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USS Nautilus torpedoes IJN Yamakaze
Japanese destroyer Yamakaze photographed through the periscope of Nautilus by Ozzie Lynch, 25 June 1942. U.S. Navy.
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USS Nautilus Captain Brockman
Lieutenant Commander William Brockman as he received the Navy Cross for heroism at Midway, Pearl Harbor, 7 November 1942. U.S. Navy.
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Buzz Lee with Admiral NImitz
Radioman First Class Harold “Buzz” Lee is decorated by Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet, on the occasion of the award of the Presidential Unit Citation to USS Nautilus, December 1942. The citation read in part, “For outstanding performance in combat during three aggressive war patrols in enemy-controlled waters.” Courtesy Harold Lee.
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Midway 1999 Mission Images

These photos were taken during the May and September 1999 Nauticos/NAVO mission to the site of the Battle of Midway. They are included in the book The Search for the Japanese Fleet by David Jourdan.

This large section of hull, lying inverted on the bottom, once held batteries of anti-aircraft guns. A unique landing light array is visible in the upper left. Sea anemones, sprouting like flowers, are seen in the lower left and on many other pieces of wreckage. Nauticos.
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Pieces of wreckage, large and small, were scattered in profusion around the area as seen in this montage. Nauticos.
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A deep sea worm left a trail as it gathered sustenance from the muddy bottom, evidence of life at extreme depths. In contrast, the Japanese sailor’s boot, preserved for nearly seventy years, was evidence of the loss of life in battle. The seafloor was thickly sprinkled with nodules of pure manganese. Nauticos.
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The TOSS electronic still camera captured hundreds of images of wreckage on the seafloor. In this scene, a ship’s bell, probably from a launch or other small boat, rested quietly among rocks and scattered debris. Nauticos.
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Midway September expedition team
The successful Midway September expedition team. Standing, from left, John James, Capt. Fred Smallwood, Randy White, George Curvin, Corey Smith, Tom Bethge, Bruce Rumish, Kevin Alarie, author, Don Barilleaux, Carla Bowling, Dan McGovern, Devi Joseph, Grant Ingram, Dunny Green, and Aaron Kayes. Kneeling, from left, Spence King, Brian Campbell, and John Suslavage. From NAVO, not pictured: Dean Elko, and Leon Hubert. Photo by Dave Parks, courtesy Nauticos.
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Jeff and Carla practice celestial navigation techniques similar to those used by Nautilus in 1942. Understanding the accuracies and limitations imposed by old methods was an important element of Renav analysis. Photo by Jeff Burns, courtesy Nauticos.
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Jeff & Tom
Navigation analyst Jeff Palshook (right) discusses progress with operations manager Tom Bethge. Working with research gathered by Jeff Morris, Jeff used the Nauticos Renav system to reckon the location of Kaga. Photo by Jeff Burns, courtesy Nauticos
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Midway Island
One of the attractions of Midway: the ambitiously named Freddie’s Reef Hotel and Casino. Located at the far side of the lagoon, facilities consisted of simply a float with an awning, suitable for snorkeling and kayak launching. Photo by author, courtesy Nauticos.
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Grant Ingram represented his grandfather Carey as our student intern on the May, 1999 expedition. Photo by Jeff Burns, courtesy Nauticos.
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Midway Island
Midway Atoll is home to some 800,000 nesting seabirds. Photo by Carla Bowling, courtesy Nauticos.
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Devi & Carla
Devi and Carla enjoy a pleasant moment on deck. Nauticos.
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The Towed Optical Search System
The Towed Optical Search System, TOSS, is launched. Nauticos.
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Jeff briefs the results of the May, 1999 expedition. From left, Carey Ingram, Jeff Morris, author, and Lieutenant Commander Daniel Streed of the Navy Meteorology and Oceanography Command. Photo by Jeff Burns, courtesy Nauticos.
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USNS Sumner
Research vessel USNS Sumner awaiting the Nauticos/NAVO team in the Midway lagoon. Photo by author, courtesy Nauticos.
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Processing Lab
Jeff Morris and Bragg Sherrer pour over readouts as Tom Horton, Devi Joseph, and others look on. Standing, from left: Grant Ingram, Will Horton, and Matt Mayes (behind camera). Seated on left: Roy Burke. Photo by Jeff Burns, courtesy Nauticos.
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EG&G stuck
The EG&G sled unceremoniously stuck in its sheave. Photo by Carla Bowling, courtesy Nauticos.
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Carla & Jeff Arrival
Carla Bowling and Jeff Morris arrive on board. Photo by Jeff Burns, courtesy Nauticos.
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EG&G Launch
Launching the EG&G sidescan sonar sled. Photo by Jeff Burns, courtesy Nauticos.
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SeaMap on raised launcher
The Seamap wide-swath sonar system is launched. Nauticos.
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R/V Melville
The research vessel R/V Melville arrives Honolulu. Photo by Jeff Burns, courtesy Nauticos.
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CRADA Signing
Signing of the CRADA, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, 12 February 1998. Clockwise, standing from left: Carey Ingram, Captain Greg Peterson, Dr. D.L. Durham, Captain Larry Warrenfeltz (Commander, NAVOCEANO), George Rey (seated on right), Dr. Cecil Burge, Rear Admiral Kenneth Barbor, and author. U.S. Navy
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Carey Ingram
Carey Ingram in his office at the Naval Oceanographic Office, June 1997. Carey was “a big man, with florid visage, sandy, close-cropped hair and huge, meaty fists, who seemed out of place behind his desk, surrounded by untidy heaps of forms, folders, torn envelopes, and jotted notes. The wall behind him was unadorned, belying his decorated career and considerable influence.” Nauticos.
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Historical Sources & Links

The following is the webpage of the International Midway Memorial Foundation, dedicated to honoring and preserving the memory and values of the Battle of Midway.

International Midway Memorial Foundation

This is the Imperial Japanese Navy Page, an authoritative source of information on World War II Japanese navy ships.

Imperial Japanese Navy Page

The following is the website of the Historic Naval Sound and Video page of the Historic Navy Ship’s Association. Here one can listen to vintage recordings of sounds of the sea, Navy ships, depth charge explosions, and World War II battle action.

Historic Naval Sound and Video