Alaska- Japanese occupy Kiska and Attu in the Aleutians.
Preliminary action begins in the Battle of Midway …
PACIFIC OCEAN AREA (POA, 7th Air Force):
As alluded to above, the distances in this theater of battle were huge – how each side developed and implemented their search surveillance plan would be critical. At this stage of the war, radar was not available for use in search aircraft with large, ungainly sets and antennas being the province of ships. Even then, the limitations of the radar horizon (straight-line distance to the Earths horizon. Below which surface and low flying targets could not be seen) which was approximately 30 -40 miles, severely constrained the employment of radar for now. Instead, scouting was to be carried out by land- and ship-based aircraft (ship-based only for
The scouting aircraft used by the Japanese were either the Type 95 float plane (a range-limited bi-plane) or the fewer in number Aichi E31A Jake Type 0 float plane. Commonly found on heavy cruisers and battle ships, the former was found in far greater numbers the morning of 3 June. As such, because of the range demands, the limited numbers of Jakes were pressed into service. With a crew of three (pilot, bombardier and gunner) the Jake had a combat/search radius of about 600-650 nm. The search plan for Kido Butai had Jakes launching from Akagi, Kaga, Tone (2) and Chikuma (2). Flying out on assigned radials originating from Kido Butai’s center, each plane would fan out to 300 nm, turn left for 60 nm and then fly back to the origin point (see illustration below). At the patrol altitude of 1200-2000 ft, an optical search swath of about 25 nm, centered on the plane’s ground track could be maintained. Absent any other factors or tipper information, it was a chancy plan at best. Tipper information would come from tripwire notification passed by the submarine pickets as they picked up the carriers leaving
Contrast that search plan with the American plan – with 127 search aircraft (primarily PBYs backed up by thirty plus Marine SBDs as well as the B-17’s) on Midway, the Americans already had a more robust search capability. The PBY’s range was double that of the Japanese scouts and with a crew of 9, able to cover a search area. The American subs were also on station as well. But perhaps the most important distinction was the difference in employment of carrier air for scouting/search. Unlike the
Later that evening, PBYs carrying jury-rigged torpedoes conduct a night attack on the supporting forces. One torpedo finds a target, impacting and detonating on the bow of a fleet oiler. Though slowed by the damage, it manages to rejoin the supporting fleet. Ironically, this would be the only successful airborne torpedo attack of the coming battle...