The U.S. Navy on Tuesday released a video to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, the 1942 battle that marked a huge turning point in World War II.
Watch the Navy’s incredible video here:
Six months after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, the day of June 4, 1942 began with a Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which Japan believed to be on the brink of collapse. They planned an attack on a strategic outpost on Midway Island, which would’ve enabled a direct threat on Hawaii, which they hoped would encourage the U.S. to surrender.
The events did not go according to Japan’s plan, however, and ultimately it became known as “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare,” as military historian John Keegan called it, according to Penn Live.
U.S. Marines on Midway fought back fiercely while American aircraft began launching from their carriers in the Pacific. They began aiming for the Japanese carriers.
Despite Japan’s attack on Midway, U.S. defenses persisted. The Japanese fighter aircraft returned to their carriers to refuel and replenish their weapons so they could launch another attack on Midway.
In doing so, however, they were sitting ducks on their carriers, unaware that U.S. aircraft were closing in for their own attack.
U.S. torpedo bombers appeared low and slow, dropping their munitions while drawing the attention of the Japanese fighters. Meanwhile, dive bombers high above were drawing closer, unnoticed, as Japanese aircraft continued refueling and rearming operations.
The dive bombers began launching their assaults, dropping devastating bombs on Japan’s Akagi, Kaga and Soryu carriers in a span of five minutes. It was a crippling blow to Japan’s forces.
With only one carrier left, Japan launched aircraft from the Hiryu carrier to carry out another attack on the USS Yorktown carrier.
The USS Yorktown was heavily damaged, but kept fighting. Another attack was launched, this time the USS Enterprise targeting the Hiryu.
Just four bombs destroyed and sank the carrier.
U.S. forces pressed on, continuing their attack for two more days and forcing the Japanese fighters to retreat. The attacks cost Japan four aircraft carriers, one heavy cruiser, 275 aircraft and 4,800 fighters.
A Japanese submarine launched a torpedo attack on the Yorktown three days later, sinking it along with 150 aircraft and 307 crew members.
The engagement served as a significant U.S. victory, despite the odds stacked against them. It was also a huge blow to Japan’s naval power, which it would never again regain.