An oral historian and former editor-in-chief of Naval History magazine takes us back seven decades, when U.S. Navy cryptanalysts had cracked the code of the enemy’s radio traffic, resulting in one of the most decisive victories in military history.
Navy attack aircraft ambushed the Imperial Japanese Navy’s aircraft carrier force 70 years ago and thus helped shape the rest of World War II in the Pacific. Many factors affected the operation. An indispensable one was the ability of U.S. communications-intelligence officers to decrypt Japanese radio messages. The information they provided enabled carrier-based dive-bombers to be in position northwest of Midway Atoll to deliver a devastating attack and sink all four enemy aircraft carriers. The rest of the Japanese force, part of which was intended to invade Midway itself, slunk home in defeat.