A strange coincidence of
is that when the Japanese army broke through all the resistance and seemed to have mastered all the chips to win the war, their victory wave suddenly began to decline; As in the western front, when the German army seemed to trample on the whole of Europe, it also encountered Waterloo. More strangely, the reversal of the wave of conquest of both is related to the same factor. For Germany, it is the fighter that overwhelms the bomber, thus safeguarding the power of sea power; For Japan, it was bombers who defeated warships and paralyzed land rights. Therefore, on both fronts, it was air power that changed the course of the war.
but before we continue to discuss this topic, let’s take a look at the problems faced by the United States after the catastrophe of Pearl Harbor: it is very different from the problems faced by Britain after the fall of France. Because in 1940, it was a matter of life and death to stick to and preserve Egypt as an overseas base for future counter offensive. At this time, it is also very important to preserve Australia for similar reasons. In the former battlefield, in order to ensure security, a route through the Cape of good hope must be established, while in the latter battlefield, a route through the South Pacific must be established: because the Egyptian Garrison has been unable to use the Mediterranean to a great extent, and Australia has lost the possibility of using the Indian Ocean to a great extent. In order to ensure the supply line in the South Pacific, the U.S. military first launched a series of attacks to control the islands that can be used as a foothold between Hawaii and Australia. On February 1, 1942, an American aircraft carrier task force attacked the Marshall and Gilbert Islands; On February 20, the US army attacked Rabaul on the new British island; February 24 is Wake Island; March 4 is Marcus Island, 1200 miles southeast of Tokyo; On March 10, the US army bombed the cities of salamawa and Lai; On April 8, general Doolittle attacked Tokyo with an aircraft taking off from an aircraft carrier. Under the cover of these operations, the supply line to Australia was consolidated. In January, the US military established an air station on Johnston island and strengthened the existing air station on Palmyra island; At the end of the month, the US army occupied the Fiji Islands. In February, they occupied Christmas Island and fanning islands, and took over Canton island. The US military has also stationed in New Caledonia and Efate island in the New Hebrides, and the US naval base in Solomon Islands has been strengthened; On March 28, the US military began to build a new base in Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. At the same time, the Japanese army strengthened their bases in New Guinea, New Britain and Solomon Islands. On March 8, when they began to occupy the small island of Tulagi near Florida island in the Solomon Islands, general F.J. Fletcher was cruising in the coral sea with the aircraft carrier Yorktown, three cruisers and six destroyers. The coral sea battle broke out on May 4. The Japanese army lost one aircraft carrier, three heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, two destroyers and several transport ships in the battle of Coral Sea, and more than 20 ships were damaged. Although it was not a decisive battle because the loss of the US Navy was roughly the same as that of the Japanese army, it marked the peak of Japan’s conquest wave in the southwest Pacific. However, in the history books, it occupies a place with its characteristics: This is the first battle in the history of naval warfare in which there was no exchange of fire between surface ships. After the setback in the South Pacific, the Japanese Navy shifted the direction of operations to the north and Central Pacific. On June 3, they launched an air strike on Dutch harbour, a US naval base on Unalaska island in the Aleutian chain. Although the scale of this operation is large enough, it may also be a feint; At the same time, the Japanese army launched a larger operation in the central Pacific, which triggered the midway naval battle. We do not know the purpose of this operation. Just occupying Midway Island is not worth the Japanese taking such a big risk, because the island is too small to build a strong aviation base. Therefore, the goal of the Japanese army may be to lure the weaker U.S. fleet into a trap, or it is more likely that it is just a prelude to a larger scale operation (occupation of Oahu Island). If we can achieve the goal of occupying Oahu Island, we can cut off the communication line between the United States and Australia at the most critical position, because Oahu Island is the port of Aden in the Pacific Ocean. Once the Japanese occupied the place, Australia would be isolated, just as if the port of Aden fell into the hands of the Italian army after Italy entered the war, so would Egypt. In addition, it will buy Japan time to consolidate its island defense line. The United States guessed that the Japanese army would turn to the central Pacific after losing the coral sea battle, so it sent aircraft carriers and support forces north. After emergency repair, York City entered the war under the command of lieutenant general Fletcher, which increased the strength of the US fleet in the central Pacific to three aircraft carriers – enterprise, hornet and York City – and seven heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, 14 destroyers and 20 submarines. The Marine Corps Aviation unit on Midway Island will also provide support. On the morning of June 3, a US Navy plane found a Japanese fleet sailing eastward 470 miles southwest of Midway. In the afternoon, the fleet was bombed by a team of heavy bombers taking off from Midway Island. The next day, the US military observed another fleet 180 miles north of Midway. At this time, “the largest naval force assembled by the enemy so far for the Pacific War is moving eastward, and its main goal is to seize Midway Island”. The US military immediately used all naval aircraft carrier based aircraft and land-based land and Navy aircraft that could be dispatched to attack the Japanese army. Three Japanese aircraft carriers were attacked, one of them