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Old December 7th, 2017, 04:19 PM   #1
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Thesis Paper Topics for Battle of Midway?


am doing my senior thesis for my school and I want to do it on the battle of midway but I am slightly torn on what my question and argument should be for the battle. I know a lot of the history about midway and the importance of it in the pacific war, but for some reason constructing an argument to make a 35 page paper out of it is slightly challenging and I am looking for some ideas.
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Old December 7th, 2017, 04:50 PM   #2
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Role of crypto in winning the battle.
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Old December 7th, 2017, 05:09 PM   #3

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That the US victory in the battle was not due to "lucky breaks" as described in the pop histories, but, rather, the overcoming of "unlucky breaks" through perseverance and adhering to doctrine and training on the parts of some really rather junior officers. And that the pilots and crews in the Yorktown and Enterprise air groups were not exactly what one would call green as grass, either.

The gents who made things happen for the most part were the squadron commanders, all lieutenants and lieutenant commanders, and the teams they trained. This can be illustrated by the Enterprise Air Group's performance and the same for the cobbled together Yorktown Air Group (which despite its somewhat ad hoc nature still had internal squadron cohesion).

Hornet Air Group had problems . . . starting at the top level; the VT, though, was led by the aggressive Waldron, to his everlasting credit; the VS and VB, with good CO's, were lacking in training and experience; and the VF, with some really savvy junior pilots, unfortunately had some real leadership problems.

Last edited by R Leonard; December 7th, 2017 at 05:12 PM.
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Old December 14th, 2017, 11:23 AM   #4
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What about Waldron breaking away from the rest of his air group, and air group commander Ring? Was it "mutiny" or just bad communications?

Why did Ring and, evidently, Captain Mitscher of Hornet decide on a Westerly course for the strike group, instead of Southwest? (the course Waldron took and which took him directly to the enemy). Though Hornets admittedly inexperienced air group bungled the whole operation, none of this has ever been explained, or even mentioned until recently. Nor has the performance of Ring and Mitscher ever excited any unfavorable comment.
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Old December 14th, 2017, 12:21 PM   #5
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What about the turn around time of the Yorktown?
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Old December 14th, 2017, 12:24 PM   #6
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Really any of the carriers involved could be their own topic.
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Old December 14th, 2017, 02:39 PM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by aggienation View Post
Role of crypto in winning the battle.
I think this is the best suggestion.
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Old December 14th, 2017, 04:47 PM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dentatus View Post
What about Waldron breaking away from the rest of his air group, and air group commander Ring? Was it "mutiny" or just bad communications?

Why did Ring and, evidently, Captain Mitscher of Hornet decide on a Westerly course for the strike group, instead of Southwest? (the course Waldron took and which took him directly to the enemy). Though Hornets admittedly inexperienced air group bungled the whole operation, none of this has ever been explained, or even mentioned until recently. Nor has the performance of Ring and Mitscher ever excited any unfavorable comment.
In RAdm Spruance's report to Nimitz on the battle he was careful to note that where his report and that of Mitscher might diverge, that his, Spruance's, report should be taken as more factual. Pretty damning in and of itself.

The USN commanders and, yes, even down to the squadron level, were all painfully aware of the shortcomings with Mitscher and Ring and the performance, more correctly, the lack thereof, of three out of four squadrons in the HAG. Not a secret, never was. Mitscher, of course, eventually commanded the 1st Fast Carrier Task Force under the umbrella of Spruance's 5th Fleet command. So, either his post-Midway performance rehabilitated his reputation or he was placed under a commander who was acquainted with his ways of doing business and could keep a firm hand on things.

Last edited by R Leonard; December 14th, 2017 at 04:49 PM.
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Old December 15th, 2017, 12:30 PM   #9
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Perhaps an assessment of Japanese tactics. The goal was to lure the US carriers into a battle to destroy them but the US carriers were already on station so the Japanese weren't ready for them. That seems a little brazen to attack Midway and not be prepared for an ambush. Also, the Japanese admiral that, upon realizing he was being attacked by carrier planes didn't launch his planes right away but rearmed the planes with different armaments losing precious hours. Yamamoto also had his battleships so far away from his air strike group they couldn't play a role, if they had been with the strike force perhaps they could have forced a surface action on the night of the first day.

I've read criticisms that the Japanese command was not very flexible in response to changing conditions and did everything by their book even when it wasn't working. There may have also been some arrogance in the command perhaps led to more cavalier dispositions of forces. Odd, as the US had just demonstrated that they could be lethal and dangerous in the Battle of the Coral Sea.

I think you could get 35 pages of analysis out of something along these lines...
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Old December 15th, 2017, 08:14 PM   #10

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Expanding on the IJN tactics - I've wondered what if their carriers
had strictly concentrated on being ready for the USN. Used a
force of battleships to neutralize Midway - they knocked out
the Guadalcanal airport for a few days IIRC, with a battleship
bombardment.

If the IJN had concentrated all their 8 (I think) carriers used
in the Midway op (including those at the Aleutians), would the
USN have offered battle? I saw a lecture online once where
the presenter said one USN option was to write off Midway.

Midway was useless to Japan, except as a lure for the USN.
The lecturer said the USN had an idea more or less what
the IJN deployment was. So did the USN know there were
facing a 3 vs. 4 carrier fight? If there had been more IJN
carriers would they have refused a fight?


On code breaking - there was a Chicago Tribune article after
the battle that strongly implied the US broke Japan's codes.
Evidently it was based on a reporter seeing a paper on
a ship far from the battle zone, with the paper not
marked as top secret. From the article I read (unfortunately,
I cannot find it now), this paper was sent to pretty much
all units in the USN.

That sounds like incredibly sloppy security to me. Perhaps
your paper could include something about this, and whether
my impression is correct.

Whatever you write, I hope you keep us updated with a
summary of your paper.
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