The myth of armed planes crowding the decks has been convincingly put to rest.
Apologies if this has been discussed in depth already, but most things I have heard indicate that the carriers (at least one anyways) were more vulnerable due to being more exposed with fuel lines.
Are you saying it's overstated (i.e. it likely helped add to the damage, but ultimately several 1000 lb bombs would still have taken her out regardless) or that it's actually incorrect? Feel free to link as I gobble this stuff up (while letting turns do their thing in the background haha).
Although you could argue the indecisively of which type of armaments to use just delayed the planes which is a gaffe big enough in and of itself.
I was responding to your comment about the 1,000 pounders being ineffective (which I think others have addressed very well in their posts) and that the damage was caused by the carriers' own planes and bombs. Basically, it was most widely believed in the west that the 4 IJN carriers were seconds away from launching full deck-loads of planes when they (3 of them) were struck, and that damage from those planes, fully armed with ordnance, is what did in the carriers. I forget the exact timeline, but IIRC certainly after the mid-1990s Japanese language sources became available to western historians, including many primary sources. Those sources debunked that long-held myth of the full decks. If you have seen the movie Midway, made in the 1970s, then you are familiar with the myth I am referring to.
Certainly planes in the hanger decks plus any openly stacked ordnance there must have contributed to the disaster. You mention "...more vulnerable due to being more exposed with fuel lines", which certainly also was a factor and I think a major one. The USN learned that lesson earlier and had changed procedures to account for it. But the real point is that the 1,000 pound bombs did the damage. All weapons do damage by destroying things themselves and by causing secondary effects. A bullet might destroy the brain and kill directly, or it might rupture an artery and bleeding causes death. The same with ships, no matter the weapon, it's just perspective on how you are counting things. Those 1,000 pound - and 500 pound and 250 pound IIRC - bombs caused some damage directly (see the photo posted above showing just what they can do without secondary effects!), and the massive fires that ensued (secondary effects) simply destroyed those ships insofar as any practical future use of them.
I am no expert on this subject and there are plenty of people on this forum who know far more about Midway than I know. Some of them have commented already and maybe more will. Beyond that, I most highly recommend that you read Shattered Sword by Parshall and Tully. Even if you presume that they might be mistaken on some point or other here or there (because who isn't?), it will really open your eyes. They take great pains to back up their analysis and the book is a whopping good read even though you already know the ending!
To elaborate on this a bit: the Japanese carriers had all either launched or recovered CAP fighters since 1000, while the dive bomber attack occurred at 1025. Spotting a deckload would have required about 45 minutes, and would not have been attempted at the same time as launching or recovering fighters (it was theoretically possible to do so, but wasn’t something the Japanese had previously attempted or trained for). This is also confirmed by the official Japanese history of the battle, which states that none of the strike aircraft were on deck. So the any aircraft on the flight decks would have been CAP fighters. There were aircraft in the hanger deck, which would have been fueled, and (except for possibly the Vals on Soryu), armed. However, the damage suffered by Kaga and Soryu would probably have been fatal even with empty hangers; the bomb hits occurred in areas that likely ignited the fuel mains and flak ammunition. Akagi, on the other hand, might have survived (at least temporarily). She was only hit once, almost directly on the midship elevator, which apparently ignited the nearest aircraft and spread from there. A near miss had destroyed her rudder and bent the aft flight deck though, so even without the catastrophic fires she would have been vulnerable follow-up strikes.
(All of this is from Shattered Sword, which I second as being great, for whatever my three post recommendation is worth).
< Message edited by Terrion -- 2/27/2013 10:12:51 AM >