Emmons Report on Battle of Midway

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General Emmons Report to
War Department on
Battle of Midway
June 3-5, 1942

(AG, 7AF, 370.24 Battle of Midway)


12 June 1942

Secret                    Priority

WD CSA (By Cable)

Army part in Midway Battle reurad 185/9 was as follows:

  1. 1623/3d-Nine (9) B-17's attacked enemy vessels including 5 BB or CA - with bombs 24x600 lb - 12x500b - five known hits - one probable - one near - altitude 8 to 12,000 ft - observed results: first BB hit, second BB or CA and one larg transport afire. Water line hit amidships on large AP or AK - Own losses none.
  2. 0710/4th - Four (4) B-26's attacked enemy group of CV, BB, CA, DD with torpedoes - three hits - one CV hit twice, another CV hit once - intense small calibre AA fire from side of hangar deck - Zeros intercepted - two B-26's lost in attack - another two crash landed at Midway - two Zeros shot down.
  3. 1810/4th - Fourteen (14) B-17's bombed same target - altitude 20,000 - 44x500 lb and 72x600 lb bombs - five hits - two probable - eleven near hits - three CV hit and set afire- one Zero shot down - own losses none.
  4. 1830/4th - Six (6) B-17's bombed target - altitude 3600 feet - 3x500 lb, 5x600 lb bombs - two hits, two near hits - DD sunk - hit on CV already afire - four Zeros shot down - one Zero damaged - own loss none.
  5. 1830/4th - Four (4) B-17's bombed same target - altitude 25,000 - 28x500 lb - one hit, one probable, one near - CA set afire - own losses none.
  6. 0830/5th - Eight (8) B-17's bombed two BB or CA altitude 20,000 feet - 39x500 lb bombs - one hit, two probable, seven near - own losses none.
  7. 1815/5th - Seven (7) B-17's - 56x500 lb bombs on CA - altitude 15,000 - Three hits, four near hits, own losses none.
  8. 1825/5th - Five (5) B-17 - 8x300 lb and 15x600 lb bombs on CA - results not observed - one B-17 missing - one B-17 landed in water off Midway out of gas - one crew lost.

Totals: 9 attacks - 22 hits - 6 probable and 46 near hits - 10 Zeros shot down, 2 Zeros damaged - 1 BB hit, 2 BB or CA, 3 CV, and 1 large AK or AP set afire, 1 large AK hit - 1 DD sunk by bombs - 2 CV hit with 3 torpedoes. These are army plane results and entirely independent of Navy action. Results will show some duplication because at different times same ship was attacked by both Army and Navy. Part two figures given are later and modify those contained in my personal letter of 7 June.

My comments follow:
  1. Navy assuemd command of the Army bombers prior to Battle of Midway. All Army units based at Midway came under the direct command of the senior Naval air officer at Midway. This command set up has the disadvantage that Naval air commanders do not know the capabilities of Army equipment and personnel.
  2. Some of the lessons learned follow:
    1. We were not reinforced with heavy bombers from the mainland as soon as expected. A special situation existed, but such may always be the case. We should have on hand ample bombers and pursuit planes to meet our tactical requirements.
    2. At our air bases scattered throughout the Pacific we must have an ample supply of fuel, bombs, and ammunition, as well as a supply of fuel, bombs, and ammunition, as well as a supply of spare parts, special equipment, and sufficient maintenance personnel to take care of the equipment likely to be based there until reinforcements can be brought in. There must also be available equipment for clearing and repairing runways rapidly. The supplies and personnel should be sent from mainland as our assets are limited.
    3. Fuel lines, tanks electric pumps, etc., are vulnerable. There must always be an alterate means of rapid re-fueling. We should have ample reserve of bomb and torpedo loading equipment.
    4. The B-25's and B-26's are effective torpedo aircraft. Ample supply of re-inforced torpedoes, however, must be made available, our crews trained in their use, and our ordnance personnel trained and equipped to maintain these torpedoes.
    5. Torpedo attacks against Jap carriers approach suicide unless other forms of attack are made simultaneously in order to diperse the carrier's heavy defensive fire.
    6. More training is badly needed by our gunners. Tow target airplanes and reels for aerial and anti-aircraft gunnery training are badly needed.
    7. Value of near bomb misses has been greatly exaggerated. Effort should be made to hit the ship.
    8. In Army and Navy there is uncertainty as to the correct type of fuze to use against various types of ships. Recommend Chief of Army Air Force make careful study and inform all bombardment units as to fuzes. This matter should be coordinated with the Navy.
    9. Reconnaissance agencies should be used fully. Combat crews at Midway were nearly exhausted when the battle opened because of fruitless sweeps in formation.
    10. All heavy bombers should be provided with two combat and two maintenance crews to get the full value out of the airplane.
    11. Army and Navy must both develop better fighter and pursuit aircraft. Both the P-39 and the P-40 types are deficient in performance at high altitudes.
    12. Much radio deception used by Japs. Authentication of tactical messages is essential.
    13. Jap fighters do not like to attack B-17's while in close formation.
    14. That heavy bombers stationed in Hawaii are not immobilized but can be used effectively in support of the fleet and outlying bases was again proved by this battle.
    15. B-17's are too short ranged for operations in this area. Every effort should be made to produce and deliver the B-29 and B-32 types to this area.
    16. It must be realized that it is no disgrace to have aircraft caught on the ground under certain circumstances. To avoid the stigma commanders are exhausting crews and equipment and may enter combat low on fuel.
    17. There is a tendency to rush attacks on surface vessels at long ranges at the expense of planning and coordination. In many instances a few additional minutes expended for proper preparation may mean the difference between success and failure.
    18. High level bombing is an effective means of destroying warships, but enough airplanes must be used to insure sufficient hits.
    19. In execution the Jap attack on Midway resembled the attack on Oahu.
    20. Jap carriers take lots of punishment. Two experienced American carrier commanders state that one 1,000 lb bomb hit is worth much more than two 500 lb hits.
    21. Vital installations must be well protected against air attacks where dispersion and concealment are impracticable.
    22. Many tires were blown out and damaged by anti-aircraft shell fragments on runway at Midway. Runways must be kept clear of these fragments.


(Lt. Gen. Delos C. Emmons, CG, Hawaiian Dept., Fort Shafter, T.H.)


1st Lt., Air Corps ww2dbase

United States Army Air Corps

Added By:
C. Peter Chen

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