5 Things You Might Not Know About the Battle of Midway

The mighty clash between Japanese and U.S. naval forces in June 1942 ended in a stunningand surprisingAllied victory.

In May 1942, things were going Japan’s way. Since their surprise attack on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor the previous December, the Japanese had struck Allied targets across the Pacific and Far East, seizing Burma (Myanmar), the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and the Philippines, as well as Guam and Wake Island.

As a knockout blow, the Imperial Japanese Navy, led by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, plotted a large-scale attack on the strategically important U.S. naval and air base on Midway Atoll, two tiny islands in the central Pacific. If successful, Yamamoto believed, the Midway attack would crush the U.S. fleet, winning the Pacific War for Japan.

Things didn’t turn out that way.

Instead, it was the Japanese who were caught off guard on June 4, 1942, and the Americans who would go on to score a momentous victory in the Pacific theater. Here are five little-known facts about the Battle of Midway, and its impact on World War II in the Pacific.

Radar gave the U.S. forces a huge advantage.

A torpedoed Japanese destroyer photographed through the periscope of the U.S.S. Wahoo.

The National Archives

In addition to naval codebreaking that gave Admiral Chester Nimitz advance warning of Japan’s plan of attack, the U.S. fleet benefited from another key technological advance at Midway: radar. The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) had developed t....

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