The Battle of Midway

TOKYO 6 October 1945

Interrogation of: Captain AMAGI, Takahisa, IJN, Naval Aviator, Air Commander (observer) on CV Hiryu at PEARL HARBOR, Air Officer on CV Kaga at Battle of MIDWAY, 3, 4, 5 June 42.

Interrogated by: Captain C. Shands, USN.

Allied Officers Present: Captain S. Teller, USN; Captain J.S. Russel, USN; Lt. Col. Parry, USA; Comdr. J.T. Hayward, USN; Comdr. T.H. Moorer, USN; Lt. Comdr. J.A. Field, Jr., USNR.


The Kaga (CV) in company with the CV's Hiryu, Soryu and Akagi, and BB's Kirishima and Haruna and DD's composed the Air Striking Force approaching MIDWAY ISLAND from the West in support of an occupation force. This force had expected contact and attack by long range United States aircraft when between 500-1000 miles of MIDWAY and attack by short range aircraft from MIDWAY when within 300 miles. No attacks were made on the Carrier Force prior to the dive bombing attack the morning of 4 June. The presence of the United States Carrier was not known to this officer. Dive bombing attacks were most feared.

Several hours after sunrise on 4 June (Plus 12) dive bombers attacked that Japanese Carrier Group. Four direct hits were received by the Kaga from the dive bombers just prior to turning into the wind to launch the Kaga's air group (6 VF had been launched two hours before as CAP). The fires as a result of the attack ignited planes and ammunition which resulted in the sinking of the Kaga during the afternoon with the loss of 800, saving 1000 personnel. No other bomb hits were made on the Kaga. No horizontal bomb hits were received or observed on other ships of the formation, but it was reported the Haruna (BB) just astern of the Kaga had also been hit by dive bombers. Captain Amagai stated that as a result of the damage to the aircraft carriers with consequent loss of air power, the decision was made to abandon the attempt to seize MIDWAY. The remainder of the Task Force returned to JAPAN.


Q. What aircraft carrier divisions were present at MIDWAY?
A. The Third Fleet or Third Task Force, commanded by Vice Admiral NAGUMO. Rear Admiral KUSAKA was Chief of Staff.

Q. Who were Captains of the Carriers at MIDWAY?
A. Captain Okada of the Kaga, Captain Kaka of the Hiryu, Captain Yanagimoto of the Soryu and Captain Aoki of Akagi. The first three were killed at MIDWAY.

Q. Were there any other forces such as Support Force or Occupation Force?
A. Believe there were two other forces for occupation, but am not sure of composition or relative location.

Q. Do you know what Force made simultaneous attack in ALEUTIANS?
A. Junyo Aircraft Carrier No. 4 Squadron.

Q. What was purpose of ALEUTIAN attack?
A. It was a feint.

Q. Draw a diagram of the cruising disposition of the Aircraft Carriers.

Kirishima (BB)
Hiryu (F)
Akagi (F)
Haruna (BB)


In daytime a circular formation was used, but at night a column was formed. Believe the Task Force Commander was on the Soryu.

Q. What was the composition of the Kaga's Air Group?
A. It was composed of 21 fighters (0) Type: 27 VB (99 Type); 18 VT (97 Type); same as all other carriers.

Q. What was the mission of the Carrier Task Group?
A. To attack MIDWAY, to help occupation.

Q. During your approach to MIDWAY did you expect to be attacked by American planes?
We had expected an attack by scouting planes at 1000 miles, and by bombing planes at 700 miles and by small planes at 300 miles.

Q. Did you see any planes during the approach to MIDWAY prior to the battle of 4 June?
A. No, but it was reported that an American plane was heard over the carrier formation at night, one or two days before the battle.

Q. Was the carrier formation attacked by long range bombers about 600 miles from MIDWAY, or were any air attacks made on the carrier force prior to the day of the battle (4 June, plus 12; 5 June, TOKYO time)?
A. No.

Q. Were any submarine attacks made on the carrier force during the approach?
A. No.

Q. When was the Kaga first hit?
A. It was hit by dive bombers two or three hours after sunrise, 4 June (5 June Tokyo time).

Q. How many bombs hit the Kaga?
A. There were four hits on the Kaga. The first bomb hit the forward elevator. The second bomb went through the deck at the starboard side of the after elevator. The third bomb went through the deck on the port side abreast of the island. The fourth bomb hit the port side aft. When the bombs hit, big fires started. Unable to see much because of smoke.

Q. Did any of the American bombers dive into the deck?
A. No, not on Kaga. Did not hear that any had dived on other carriers.

Q. Were any other ships hit by bombs at same time?
A. It was hard to see because of smoke, but I believe that the Battleship Hyei just astern of the kaga was hit by dive bombers and a fire started on the stern of the Hyei.

Q. Was the Kaga attacked by horizontal bombers?
A. No.

Q. Was the Kaga attacked by torpedo planes?
A. I saw torpedo planes but do not think Kaga was attacked. No torpedo hits were made. However, while swimming in water several hours after attack saw a torpedo apparently fired from submarine strike side of ship at angle and bounce off. Didn't explode. Torpedo went bad.

Q. Were any other ships attacked by horizontal bombers?
A. Did not see any hit. Saw some pattern of bombs fall in water during day.

Q. Which type of attack most feared--torpedo plane, dive bomber, or horizontal bomber?
A. Dive bomber, cannot dodge.

Q. Were planes on board when ship was hit?
A. Yes, about 30 planes in hangar loaded and fueled, remainder on deck, six VF in air.

Q. Did bombs sink the ship?
A. Yes, gasoline and bombs caught fire. Ship sank itself, Japanese no need sink with torpedo.

Q. Was Kaga strafed by planes?
A. Was done during diving, one or two personnel and planes on deck were injured.

Q. When did it sink?
A. Same afternoon.

Q. What kind of planes made the attack--torpedo planes, dive bombers or horizontal bombers?
A. Dive bombers.


Q. In what order was attack made?
A. I think first high horizontal bombers, no hits. Then torpedo attack. Was dodged, no hits. Then dove bombers, 4 hits. Then more horizontal bombing about 400 meters away. No hits. most attack all the same time.

Q. How many personnel lost when ship sunk?
A. About 800 lost. About 1000 saved.

Q. How many pilots saved?
A. About 40 pilots. About 50% pilots saved.

Q. How were the personnel rescued?
A. By cruisers and destroyers.

Q. How many airplanes did you expect to lose in the attack on MIDWAY?
A. It all depends upon Captain of ship. He expects about 1/3 do not come back.

Q. Were any Kaga planes launched to attack MIDWAY?
A. No, all planes on board except six fighters overhead. I heard that they landed on other ships. Other ships had launched planes to attack MIDWAY but Kaga planes were waiting for orders to launch and attack.

Q. How many protective fighters (CAP) were over carrier formation?
A. Normally 28. Two carriers supplied eight each, the other two carriers provided six each. This was normal patrol. If attacked, other planes rose to meet opposition.

Q. How long did fighters stay in air, and how were planes in air relieved? ,br> A. Two hours. When the waiting planes get in air up high, then the former patrolling plane comes down and lands.

Q. When the carrier launched the patrol did it turn into the wind alone, or did all ships turn?
A. All turn in same formation. We use 14 meters wind over deck for landing and launching. If only few planes launched individual carrier turns into wind. if many planes launched or landed entire formation turns. When over 300 miles from target, carriers operate independently. When within 300 miles of target, all ships maneuver together.

Q. About how far apart were the ships in the formation?
A. A square formation about 4000 meters apart. When need much speed and wind, distance large. When wind and sea strong, the distance diminishes.

Q. Did the formation zigzag?
A. Yes.

Q. Were destroyers employed with the carriers when operating the planes?
A. Yes, sometimes, one, sometimes two destroyers would come from outside circular screen. They take station about 700 meters astern.

Q. How are fighter planes controlled in the air?
A. By wireles., A special officer controls the planes. He is a pilot, in his absence the anti-aircraft commander takes his place.

Q. How did the control officer know where to send the fighters?
A. By radar. It was an experiment at MIDWAY. Not too good.

Q. Did the Kaga have it?
A. No, island too small.

Q. What ships in the formation had radar?
A. Hiryu, mabye Soryu. Not sure of Akagi, it is rather old ship. (Junyo did not have it because it was a small converted merchant ship.)

Q. What did the radar look like?
A. It was a big wire grid. Kept rotating. Didn't work very well. Destroyers act as pickets and advise by voice radio if planes are coming. More radars put on ships middle of 1942 and used in SOLOMON ISLANDS operations.


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Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation