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The War


Bustling with activity, the main seaplane hangar provided shelter to the Patrol Bomber Consolidated - PBY Catalinas, which received maintenance patches and engine repairs. The eyes and ears of the U.S. Navy at Midway in 1942, PBY seaplanes flew around the clock and seaplane ramps were used to launch and retrieve PBYs.

The enormous seaplane hangar was an easy target. Six shells from the Japanese destroyer attack smashed the hangar and PBY inside, but the civilian contractors quickly rebuilt the structure. During the Battle of Midway, less than six months later, a Japanese pilot dropped a 500-pound bomb, hitting the same side of the hangar. The shrapnel holes in the metal beams stand as evidence of the destruction wrought upon Midway during the shelling of December 7, 1941, and the bombing of June 4, 1942.

During World War II, the U.S. utilized a great military intelligence advantage over the Japanese, in both their radar capabilities and code breaking. The radar on Midway gave position, bearing, and altitude. Intelligence experts discovered that the Japanese planned to attack an unknown site referred to as "AF." To test the theory that Midway was the target, a disinformation message regarding Midway's freshwater supply was sent out over open communication channels. The Japanese intercepted the message and redistributed it in their JN 25 code, saying that "AF" needed fresh water. This strengthened intelligence allowed Admiral Nimitz to reinforce Midway's defenses and station additional bombers, fighters, and torpedo aircraft on Eastern Island in preparation for the suspected attack.
Last Updated: Apr 29, 2013
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