The Battle of Midway 1942: Told from the Japanese Perspective (1/2)

  • Published: 27 April 2019
  • (Animated Battle Map)

    This is part one of a planned two-part video covering Operation MI. As you can see I spent a considerable amount of time covering Nagumo’s Dilemma. To me it's one of most striking examples of how tough it can be for a commander to make a decision based on the information at hand. I found that to be the most interesting aspect of the battle.

    I don’t have a Patreon but if you want to show appreciation for my work feel free to donate.
    » patreon


    "Strength" , "Auxiliary", and "unknown" are misspelled in the video.

    At 22:55 I should have stated “North of Midway” instead of Northeast of Midway. The illustration shows a 10 degree 240 nm from midway location. Not so Northeast as I audibly stated.

    At 23:43 I should have stated 79 aircraft instead of 78 and I should have displayed 35 instead of 34 torpedo bombers. the “mistake” came about because sources still differ on whether there were 27 or 26 Carrier attack planes (Kates). If it was 27 it would have been 79 Planes. if it was 26 it would have been 78. During the recording I somehow mixed up the numbers.

    Additional Notes:
    notice that the carriers started off the battle in a box formation. This provided further mutual support for their rather weak AA fire. however, due to the incessant air attacks from VT-8, VT-6 and VT-3, the carriers were never able to reform in a box formation, instead they were in a ragged line which further worsened their AA capabilities.

    -----------------------------------------Spoiler Below regarding Nagumo's Dilemma---------------------------------------------

    So what was the answer to Nagumo’s Dilemma?

    “Taking all together, and admittedly operating with the benefit of hindsight, the “right” answer to Nagumo’s conundrum probably should have emphasized maneuver, offensive speed in preference to mass, and passive damage control. With fifteen minutes in which to act, he didn’t really have time to implement anything terribly fancy. But he could have helped himself immensely by immediately spotting every strike airplane in his hangars, whether they were armed or not, and launching them at the Americans. The sixty-four armed aircraft he had in had were perfectly capable of doing enormous damage to his enemy. And by emptying his hangars, he removed the single greatest danger to his carriers --- the presence of fueled and armed aircraft within them.”

    Parshall, Jonathan B.; Tully, Anthony P.: Shattered Sword. The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. Potomac Books: United States, 2007 : p. 170

    Music :
    Ride of the Valkyries - Wagner

    Isom, D. W. (2007). Midway inquest: Why the Japanese lost the Battle of Midway. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

    Lundstrom, J. B. (2013). The First Team Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway. New York: Naval Institute Press.

    Parshall, Jonathan B.; Tully, Anthony P.: Shattered Sword. The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. Potomac Books: United States, 2007.

    Stille, M. (2010). Midway 1942: Turning-point in the Pacific(Vol. 226, Campaign). Oxford: Osprey Publishing.

    Toll, I. W. (2012). Pacific crucible: War at sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942. New York: W.W. Norton.

    Willmott, H. P. (2008). The barrier and the javelin: Japanese and Allied Pacific strategies, February to June 1942. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.

    And of course:

Comments • 9 217

  • ironknuckle143
    ironknuckle143  2 hours back

    Oh this is GOOD!

    • misy4ru3
      misy4ru3  3 hours back

      um... where is second episode ?

      • Astran
        Astran  7 hours back

        It looks to me as if the US just dedicated themselves to throw bodies at the japanese until they were able to overwhelm them with numbers. Considering their streak of losses it makes sense that they were desperate at the time to achieve a victory, but still I wonder if all those VT pilots knew that they were expected to fail.

        • plgplgplg
          plgplgplg  11 hours back

          Well put together

          • vaughn 15203
            vaughn 15203  11 hours back

            WOW never expected to be entertained like this. Amazing please do more videos like this. You have just earned a new subscriber.

            • Zack Harlow
              Zack Harlow  12 hours back

              Ultimately i really believe both theatres of WW2 were won by the mindset of the Axis powers after the US entered in. Both Germany and Japan believed that the mental toughness of the US were inferior to their own and they were underestimated. Japan should have never attacked Pearl Harbor cuz it brought a state of mind in a country that no other country will ever see again. The fortitude and determination we showed to win the war at all cost was greatly underestimated. And they didnt realize it till it was too late

              • Martin Bunch
                Martin Bunch  12 hours back

                Im a Midway buff and on the BOM private site for serious historians, I gave them this video and all were very impressed.. My family friend and pilot mentor Roy P Gee an SBD pilot used to tell me about the battle.. Good job! I love your work! Barrett Tilman as seen it as well..

                • Mark Nichols
                  Mark Nichols  15 hours back

                  Very well done, great detail. It's nice to be able to back up and repeat spots. The only detail I wished you had covered was how the Americans had figured out the enemy codes and tricked them to reveal that Midway was the next target. Maybe in the next video? I'll watch for more

                  • terranova22
                    terranova22  16 hours back

                    When is Part 2/2 going to come out?

                    • Glenn Heinle
                      Glenn Heinle  17 hours back

                      Excellent work. I can't wait for part 2. Like many others, I love the repeated reference back to the timeline, the presentation from the Japanese point of view, and the interspersing of big-picture information. Great job!! (And get part 2 out)

                      • Wilco Van Der Sluis
                        Wilco Van Der Sluis  20 hours back

                        Very enjoyable, looking forward to part 2 if you ever get around to making it.
                        It is very refreshing getting to hear these events from another perspective then the American POV

                        • Voracious Reader
                          Voracious Reader  21 hours back

                          So, right in the first minute of this documentary, I can’t believe what I’m hearing....after only 6 months after Pearl Harbor, the narrator says that the Japanese leaders thought they could bomb the US’s aircraft carriers, and THIS would be the action that would “....demoralize the Americans and bring them to the negotiating table”?!?? This shows you that they had to be completely delusional! Did they not understand how huge this country is?? Yamamoto was the only person in the top command structure who had firsthand knowledge of of the US after attending Harvard for a few years, working as a naval attaché in Washington, and touring extensively throughout the country, and he strongly disagreed.

                          The Japanese leadership should have listened to Yamamoto, who reportedly believed the attack on Pearl Harbor was a strategic, moral, and political mistake, even though he came up with the idea. He felt that a surprise attack when the two countries were at peace would enrage the American public, which would result in a hardened resolve to quickly mobilize and to dig in until victory could be achieved. Obviously, we had so many more resources at our command than did Japan. As Yamamoto wrote to a friend, “A military man can scarcely pride himself on having smitten a sleeping enemy; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one is certain that, angered and outraged, [the enemy] will soon launch an a determined counterattack.” He also let it be known that the US had such advantages over Japan in terms of our large population and industrial resources that it was impossible for Japan to win a prolonged war against us, and he also thought his colleagues were extremely foolish to believe that the results of one battle would induce a surrender.

                          They should have listened to Yamamoto.

                          • Tina Werner
                            Tina Werner  21 hours back

                            Your Graphics are very informative. I wrongly judged your narrative thinking you would be speaking hostilities about U. S. Americans. You are very much a great presenter.
                            During most "documentaries" about this event, language still contains horrible epithets about Japanese warriors, followed by real footage of the event. Most USA productions will alternately show a contingent of USA Americans and Japanese, ate the battle. They all seem to say either spontaneously or coaxed verbiage praising the once "enemy" apologizing for the hate levied then ( even I hear such horrific phrases 20 years after the battle. The narrator still uses cruel and prejudicial verbiage describing our fellow humans.

                            Thanks for your informative and judgment free video.

                            • lars burkhardt
                              lars burkhardt  23 hours back

                              > "the Japanese Perspective"
                              > plays epic music when the US attacks
                              > suicidal US attack where everyone except one dies = "heroic"
                              > "with pure skill a bomb was dropped in its (Akagi's) hangar". yeah, sure.


                              • Rohan Ghosh
                                Rohan Ghosh  1 days back

                                14:11 when those U.S planes crashed or got show down - would the crews have any hope of being rescued or would that be 100% chance of no rescue and death?

                                • Jack Wheeler
                                  Jack Wheeler  1 days back

                                  Absolutely amazing! Great work

                                  • Glen Maskerine
                                    Glen Maskerine  1 days back

                                    Excellent account of one of the most pivotal battles in history. Anxiously waiting for Part 2

                                    • Green Andy
                                      Green Andy  1 days back

                                      USA USA USA!!!

                                      • Green Andy
                                        Green Andy  1 days back

                                        Oh boy i didnt launched hoi4 this quickly in months.

                                        • Mazda rx7
                                          Mazda rx7  1 days back

                                          Biggest mistake Japan made was not capturing Hawaii after the attacked Pearl harbour. If the Japanese took Hawaii, the US would have had to operate out of Alaska, which would have been very difficult. It's the same as in Europe. If Germany took Britain before going after Russia, Russia would not have been able to get supplies from the US.

                                          • Bob Belson
                                            Bob Belson  1 days back

                                            I could not find part 2

                                            • TigerBloodMan
                                              TigerBloodMan  1 days back

                                              One thing people should realize as well when the 3 carriers and later the 4th so many elite and experienced pilots and officers were killed this was a HUGE AND DEVASTATING loss to the Japanese Navy and Military. Midway (the movie the older one not the shitty remake) and Tora Tora Tora! are excellant movies so check them out. Later!!

                                              • wenhao li
                                                wenhao li  1 days back

                                                It's American productivity and speed of producing new fighting strategy that defeated the Japanese.

                                                • 西村賢治
                                                  西村賢治  1 days back

                                                  Japanese are not good for soccer.

                                                  • Kevin Zhao
                                                    Kevin Zhao  1 days back

                                                    Season 2 when?

                                                    • Morris X
                                                      Morris X  2 days back

                                                      Great video I watched the hold thing..

                                                      • Tristen Neat
                                                        Tristen Neat  2 days back

                                                        Why haven't you made more videos?

                                                        • Daniel Ortiz
                                                          Daniel Ortiz  2 days back

                                                          IM STILL WAITING

                                                          • Charlie In A Box
                                                            Charlie In A Box  2 days back

                                                            Can't wait for part two!!

                                                            • onlythewise1
                                                              onlythewise1  2 days back

                                                              back then  the saying was tight lips save lives

                                                              • onlythewise1
                                                                onlythewise1  2 days back

                                                                japan had more modern equipment until USA got going

                                                                • Mann Tau
                                                                  Mann Tau  2 days back

                                                                  I DESIRE MORE!!!

                                                                  • Moofassa Swoboda
                                                                    Moofassa Swoboda  2 days back

                                                                    I understand that making videos is hard work but PLEASE get that second part out. This video was so well made I still think about it a lot even months later.

                                                                    • Bad Hombre
                                                                      Bad Hombre  2 days back

                                                                      Beautiful! Thanks! Hope you get to do Part 2 soon! :)

                                                                      • Emil Marinov
                                                                        Emil Marinov  2 days back

                                                                        Onion cutting ninjas entered my room at the last minutes... They were really good...

                                                                        • HappyandAtheist
                                                                          HappyandAtheist  2 days back

                                                                          can you imagine today's "woke" generation fighting this battle ?

                                                                          • David Mccann
                                                                            David Mccann  2 days back

                                                                            I want that fourth carrier !!

                                                                            • Axel Andersson
                                                                              Axel Andersson  2 days back

                                                                              If they launched all of their planes stationed at 2 of the carriers, while prepared the others for an anti ship strike, then they should have been able to deal with the landing of planes on half of the carriers while launching a strike with the other half.

                                                                              • Deathmachinept
                                                                                Deathmachinept  2 days back

                                                                                I see the documentary in the history channel.. And get the notion Japan was clueless about navy and carrier operations and were lucky not to face US carriers before.. After seeing it here the Japanese seemed really skilled despite having no radar, they had no surprise factor and were still able to defeat hordes of fighters with almost no losses or damage. The final strike was simply unavoidable.

                                                                                • v44n
                                                                                  v44n  14 hours back

                                                                                  This new perspective really shows up. Same as you all documentaries before always showed a side of which japanese made tons of mistakes... but watching this video really looks like the japanase really did their best

                                                                              • Walt Hodgson
                                                                                Walt Hodgson  2 days back

                                                                                Yer killin' us! Where's Pt 2?????

                                                                                • Ken Bailey
                                                                                  Ken Bailey  2 days back

                                                                                  Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II Part II SOON?

                                                                                  • Trinidad Martinez
                                                                                    Trinidad Martinez  2 days back

                                                                                    Beautful Animation, Extraordinary Fact checks and historically accurate. Bravo good sir

                                                                                    • Big Skid Media
                                                                                      Big Skid Media  2 days back

                                                                                      Part 2 please.

                                                                                      • Sam pimentel
                                                                                        Sam pimentel  3 days back

                                                                                        Give the ppl what they want........Part Dos.......

                                                                                        • Sam pimentel
                                                                                          Sam pimentel  3 days back

                                                                                          I tip my hat to you speak through the eyes of a tenured warrior.......nicely done .....bravo!
                                                                                          Long live the USN!

                                                                                          • Andrew Rei
                                                                                            Andrew Rei  3 days back

                                                                                            As someone who has researched/studied the Pacific Theater of World War II extensively, this video is a fair representation of the Japanese perspective. But, it's far from perfect.
                                                                                            The first part of the video is correct: since the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) had not done what it was supposed to do at Pearl Harbor (only three US battleships were lost and the three aircraft carriers weren't even in port), the Midway battle was the Japanese's last chance.
                                                                                            However, the video does not take into account two events that occurred within two months of the Midway operation, the Doolittle Raid in April and the Battle of the Coral Sea in May. The General Staff in Hiroshima were bickering as to whether the Midway strike was even necessary. But, the Doolittle Raid on 18 April convinced the IJN that they needed to lure the US carriers away from Hawai'i and to defeat them. Then, the Battle of the Coral Sea was supposed to pave the way for the invasion and occupation of both New Zealand and Australia. But, thanks to the Black Chamber Code Crackers in Hawai'i, led by Cmdr. Joseph Rochefort, the US knew about the Coral Sea mission AND the Midway strike. And, in the Coral Sea, the IJN lost one light carrier, one big carrier and the other big carrier was damaged so badly that it limped back to Hiroshima to be repaired and didn't rejoin the fight for several months.
                                                                                            The Japanese, in their arrogance, believed that they could achieve surprise when the opposite was true: the US knew exactly what they were planning. It should have been a bad sign that the Coral Sea operation went so badly, but, again, the IJN's arrogance allowed them to ignore that and soldier on to the fateful Midway operation.
                                                                                            The video does mention that Operation K, which was to determine whether the US carriers were in port, was canceled because the two scout planes could not be refueled by tanker submarine at the rendezvous point. But, there was a good reason for that: Rochefort and his men had already cracked the JN-25 code and it gave the US ALL of the plans, from Operation K to the "feint" to the north and the Midway attack itself.
                                                                                            Because Operation K was canceled, it put the IJN at a HUGE disadvantage... they had no idea where or even IF there were US carriers close (because the Aleutians attack was supposed to draw the carriers to it). What followed could be called a "comedy of errors" and just plain bad luck.

                                                                                            • Andrew Rei
                                                                                              Andrew Rei  1 days back

                                                                                              @mako88sb True.... the subs were quite effective. There were some other technical issues that plagued the US Navy for the first year or so of the war and, once those were figured out, it just added to the IJN's misery.

                                                                                            • mako88sb
                                                                                              mako88sb  1 days back

                                                                                              @Andrew Rei Yes, but don't forget to mention the effect the submarines had once the torpedo issues gradually were figured out. One of the what-if's you don't see asked much is how quickly Japan could have been brought to her knees if the USA torpedo's didn't have so many faults or they were figured out much sooner then historically. Submarines only made up 2% of the US Navy but sunk over 30% of enemy ships.

                                                                                            • Andrew Rei
                                                                                              Andrew Rei  3 days back

                                                                                              As for part 2, if you don't want to know what happened, avert your eyes because I'm about to give the "spoiler".....
                                                                                              The US Navy would launch an attack that took out the final IJN carrier while just one of the three US aircraft carriers, the Yorktown, was taken out. But, it took TWO attacks before the Yorktown had been lost. Also remember that the Japanese didn't know that the Yorktown had survived the Battle of the Coral Sea (they believed it had been sunk), limped back to Pearl and was repaired to full combat readiness in just 72 hours. The Hornet and the Enterprise weren't scratched at all. After Midway, the IJN spent the rest of the war on the run and trying to defend what they had taken over. Four of their six frontline carriers, the six that attacked Pearl Harbor, were gone in one fell swoop. Things got much worse for them as the US began building more carriers and planes and that led to a lot of lopsided battles in the US' favor, most notably, the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" in 1944.

                                                                                            • Andrew Rei
                                                                                              Andrew Rei  3 days back

                                                                                              On an online question-and-answer forum known as Quora, I've answered more than a dozen questions explaining how and why the Axis Powers lost World War II. All of my answers have the same basic premise: Authoritarian arrogance and cognitive dissonance. In the case of all three of the biggest countries that made up the Axis, Germany, Italy and Japan (for a short period of time, Romania was a member of it), the Authoritarian arrogance and cognitive dissonance of the countries' ruling politicians was its biggest disadvantage. The government officials, especially Adolf Hitler, were terrible war managers. It didn't help that those government officials refused to listen to the military leaders when the military leaders told them that the prosecution of war was going to be difficult. In the case of the Japanese, Adm. Yamamoto tried to warn those warmongering government officials that the Japanese's chances of victory were very slim and that their best chance for victory was to "annihilate the Pacific fleet at the outset", at Pearl Harbor, especially taking out the three US aircraft carriers in the Pacific at the time. When the Pearl Harbor attack failed to achieve that objective, it was only a matter of time before the Japanese would lose.
                                                                                              The Allies, on the other hand, had the advantage of the government leaders, especially Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the US, and Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England, knowing that most to nearly all of the military decisions needed to be made by the military commanders.

                                                                                          • terry waller
                                                                                            terry waller  3 days back

                                                                                            Japanese indecision probably cost the Japanese the battle at Midway.

                                                                                            • Judess 69er
                                                                                              Judess 69er  3 days back

                                                                                              yep would have attacked immediately, never smart to have your entire air force on the carrier when you've got a possible hostile within your range, once the other half of strike force is in the air you've got enough cover for your pilots that are running on fumes to land in the middle of an attack