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In our last blog post of the Road to Tokyo countdown, we covered the Submarine, Doolittle Raid, and Battle of Coral Sea exhibits within the New Naval Warfare gallery. Let us now examine the remaining two exhibits detailing naval warfare in the Pacific that will be unfolded in this immersive space.

Sinking of Japanese Cruiser Mikuma, June 6, 1942,  Battle of Midway.

Sinking of Japanese Cruiser Mikuma, June 6, 1942,
Battle of Midway.


Victory at the Battle of Midway was a decisive turning point for the United States. It was this battle that changed the balance of power in the Pacific. The exhibit will explain how the US gained an advantage by breaking Japanese diplomatic and naval codes, but sustained heavy casualties at the beginning of the battle. Victory seemed improbable. Then, within a four-minute period, the US turned the tide of the battle by destroying three Japanese aircraft carriers. With Midway secured, the US was positioned to project power throughout the Pacific. This exhibit will share the thrilling tale of the US military’s comeback at the Battle of Midway, which set the stage to push back across the vast Pacific.

The Battle of Midway Theater within the New Naval Warfare Gallery has been made possible through a generous gift by Tom & Gayle Benson.


Grumman Avengers aboard an aircraft carrier during heavy seas

Grumman Avengers aboard an aircraft carrier during heavy seas


The use of aircraft and aircraft carriers transformed naval warfare. With the transition from battleship to carrier-dominated warfare, opposing fleets launched aircraft from hundreds of miles away and delivered deadly blows without the ships ever coming within sight of one another. Naval aviators became decisive players in key battles. Carriers will detail carrier-based warfare and compare the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese Navy and the American Navy. It will also examine the particular hazards and perils of naval aviation, which included antiaircraft fire, crashes, getting lost at sea, and the difficulties of operating from aircraft carriers.

Join us next week as we take our first steps into the Guadalcanal.

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