Updates / Additions to the “Battle of Midway Group Build”
We have had some great responses and participation with our Midway Group Build so far. I would like to open it up for even more builds.
Chuck Villanueva and I have been talking about another part of the Battle that is often over looked. We both agreed that this area of action was lesser known about, but equally as important.
We were talking about the attack on the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.
Not everyone knows this, but the Japanese wanted to set up a “diversion” to draw the US aircraft carriers away from Midway Island prior to the attack. Luckily for the United States, the Japanese codes had been broken. US Naval Intelligence decoded intercepted messages that tipped off the Japanese intentions. The US Navy knew that an attack was coming. The only problem was that they didn’t know where it would happen…they only knew that the target was called “AF”.
So someone came up with the great idea to send an un-coded message in the clear stating that Midway Island had a problem with their water supply. Within a few minutes, Japanese messages were being intercepted that stated “AF” was having water problems.
Now the US Navy knew that Midway was the intended target…
Which brings us to the Aleutian Islands.
This is where the Japanese wanted The United States to believe the attack was coming.
I have done a little research about the Aleutians and the US Army had several garrisons and airfields there. They operated many type of planes from these forward bases.
I’m talking about planes like Douglas A-24 Banshee’s (the Army version of the SBD Dauntless), B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-24 Liberators, P-36 Hawks, P-38 Lightning’s, P-39 Airacobra’s, P-40 Warhawks, … and even a few B-18 Bolo’s.
On the Japanese side another very important thing happened here. That’s where the US got their hands on it’s first pretty much intact Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero. It was flown by a young 19 year old pilot named Petty Officer 1st Class Tadayoshi Koga. His Zero was hit by American anti aircraft fire, which caused an oil leak in the engine’s return oil line. Looking for a place to land, Koga lowered his landing gear and attempted to land his damaged Zero. What he didn’t know was that the area he was trying to land on was actually a marsh land.
His plane flipped over when the wheels made contact . He was killed.
The plane became known as the Akutan Zero when it was discovered a month later by a PBY Catalina crew as they were flying on patrol… and were actually lost !
Shortly after recovery, the “Akutan” or “Koga” Zero was restored to flight worthy status and evaluated against American planes. Later dogfighting tactics were developed to use against the Zero. Countless Allied airmen’s lives were saved by this first hand knowledge that was gained from the Zero.
Anyhow enough of the history lesson…
What I am going to do is open the Battle of Midway Group Build up to include things that were in the Aleutian diversionary attacks during the Battle of Midway.
The same rules will apply. The location change is the only difference.
Here are some pictures I found on the web to hopefully inspire someone for another build. The last group of photos show Koga’s Zero. Amazingly enough there is a picture of his plane as it is flying away trailing smoke… and I included a photo of the man himself.
Then there is a picture of a memorial service years later, followed by an artists rendition of a Midway B-17E “Old Maid” flown by Col. Sweeny in the “Hawaiian Depot” camouflage pattern.
Lastly I found some color pictures of Hawaiian Air Depot B-17’s…
As always, comments are encouraged.
26 additional images. Click to enlarge.