I want to see Midway.
The decisive naval battle (June 3-6, 1942) turned the tide in the Pacific Theatre, as Japan lost her best naval pilots and four crucial aircraft carriers and never quite recovered from the blow.
At this point in the Second World War, the Japanese were determined to continue their domination of the Pacific and push for what was known as the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.
Midway itself isn’t much more than a speck in the ocean, a coral atoll at the western tip of the Hawaiian archipelago.
It is, however, in a crucial location; the Japanese intended to mount a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base on Midway, believing the Americans would work hard to defend the place — so hard that their aircraft carriers would eventually come out from Pearl Harbour to join the battle.
Then, hidden Japanese naval forces would pounce.
Admiral Isaroku Yamamoto created a complicated attack scheme organized to finish off the U.S. Pacific fleet once and for all.
It might have worked, too, except that American cryptanalysts had already broken Japanese communication codes and they knew an ambush was being planned.
Advance knowledge of the Japanese scheme permitted the Americans to plan an ambush of their own.
It also allowed them to get the aircraft carrier Yorktown repaired and back in action in time for Midway; Yorktown was so badly damaged in the battle of the Coral Sea that the Japanese assumed the carrier could not possibly be part of the American force at Midway — one more unpleasant surprise for them.
And so it happened that instead of being ambushed by the Japanese, the Americans were lying in wait for them near Midway.
Japanese Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo was in charge of the carrier force that represented the first arm of the Japanese attack.
He sent planes from the four aircraft carriers to attack the U.S. naval base on Midway, where they did extensive damage.
Still, they did not finish the job, and Nagumo decided to launch a second airstrike against Midway.
At about the same time, the Japanese became aware that carriers from the U.S. fleet were already in the vicinity of Midway. Nagumo then cancelled the second attack on Midway, ordering an attack of the U.S. ships instead.
The first wave of American planes had had little success in their attempts to bomb the Japanese carriers.
But then three American dive-bomber squadrons arrived at the same time and place to attack, and their timing was optimal.
The Japanese planes were being refuelled and rearmed, which meant gas lines were exposed and bombs were out in the open on the hangar decks.
The Americans only needed to get close enough to hit anything and the gas and weapons on the Japanese carriers would do the rest. Sure enough, three of the four carriers ( Akagi, Kaga and Soryu) were hit and quickly engulfed by fire.
The last remaining carrier, Hiryu, was able to cripple the Yorktown before U.S. bombers came back and lit it up as well.
Yamamoto told his ships to retreat on June 6. When it was all over, the Japanese losses were intense: 3,057 men, four carriers and a heavy cruiser.
The U.S. lost 307 men, one carrier and a destroyer.
Anyone interested in military history can tell you that Midway is considered one of the most crucial naval battles extant. It was also the beginning of the end for the Japanese in the Pacific Theatre; two years later, their defeat in the Battle of the Philippine Sea was the last gasp.
A must see.