Many seasoned WW2 observers would argue that, of all the individual conflicts which raged through the six long war years, there were only three battles which, in the end, counted. The three were El Alamein, which saw the first time that the ‘invincible’ Rommel was out-thought, out-manoeuvred and out-fought by Montgomery’s Allied forces; Stalingrad, where the Germans took on the newly-reinforced metal of the Soviet forces, and failed, thus giving impetus to Stalin’s march westwards: and Midway, where, due to America’s cryptographic success, the Japanese Navy’s moves were predicted by the Americans; allowing the massive loss of four fleet carriers to the one loss for the Americans.
Many times, Hollywood’s finest have attempted to portray various WW2 battle: and they have mostly failed. The original ‘Tora, Tora, Tora’ was, in my own opinion, about as honest as any in the portrayal of the Japanese planning, the Americans’ obstinacy and adoration of the ‘Big Gun Battlewagons’ as opposed to the newcomers of the aviation arm, where carriers ruled, and the main warships of each side never caught sight of each other. ‘Pearl Harbor’ was rightly dismissed as a simple waste of good photographers’ time.
I went to watch ‘Midway’, and I can honestly report that that was two hours and thirty-eight minutes wasted. The lead actors had obviously never heard of emotion, they seemed to be reading their lines off of storyboards held just outside the camera’s viewpoint. The CGI air and sea battles were well done, but the huge mistakes made by the Japanese in swapping their aerial bomber battle loads twice, once they learned that there were carrier-borne aircraft making the torpedo attacks, was given so little prominence that most people would have missed it, the ones who were still awake; that is. The success of the American cryptography and cipher crews was almost dismissed as ‘two-thirds guesswork’ in the scripts parroted by the alleged actors.
No mention of the sheer heroic bravery of those slow torpedo plane fliers, carrying torpedoes which did not work: who were literally decimated as they flew against the Jap carriers, decimated by a Japanese Combat Air Patrol who came down from up on high to slaughter those American heroes. It was that decision to attack the torpedo squadrons which gave the Enterprise’ dive bomber squadrons almost free rein to begin their attack runs, which took three of the four Fleet carriers out of the war, with the fourth sunk in a return flight off the remaining American carriers. For a first-class overview of the entire conflict, I recommend Herman Wouk’s ‘War and Remembrance. In this superb author’s view, Midway was fought in three phases. The first lasted all the morning of June 4th. The second, vital action lasted five minutes. The third lasted three days.