The Battle of Midway occurred in 1942 and was a crucial component in the allied victory in the pacific. The main target for the Japanese was the American carriers, which were seen as signs of hope for the American populace. In turn, if destroyed, the US morale would drop significantly and cause a hard blow to the US Navy.
The Japanese put their best carriers, the Kido Butai, up to the task. The four usable carriers, the Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu were directed by Admiral Nagumo, the most experienced carrier commander at the time. The two other carriers were low on fighters and in repair docks. The remaining carriers began moving towards the Midway Atoll, a small collection of islands between America and Japan. It was both a strategic target and a good bait. The plan was to draw the US Carriers out of their safety in Pearl Harbor and sink them in deep water where they could never be retrieved. A line of submarines would watch and warn when the carriers left. However, the American code breakers managed to decipher enough snippets of radio communication to have a good guess of where and when the Japanese would attack, allowing them to leave before the submarines could detect them.
As the Japanese carriers approached the islands, they were spotted by a plane, and were attacked constantly by planes from midway. Sadly, none of the bombs or torpedoes did any damage, and almost all of these had their squadrons nearly wiped out. At this stage, a spotter plane for the Japanese spotted unidentified naval vessels, resulting in Nagumo’s dilemma. He had sent out a strike force to attack midway, and these planes would need to land. However, he could also seize the initiative and attack the spotted vessels without knowing what they were. This would result in losing over 70 planes through ditching, however. Nagumo had the planes land, which is what any Japanese admiral would’ve done. This decision, however, was a mistake. A few hours later, carrier planes from the USS Hornet, USS Enterprise, and USS Yorktown were buzzing the decks of the Kido Butai. Then, in a short 5 minute period, two squadrons from two different carriers convened on the carriers out of pure coincidence. Three of the four carriers were disabled, and the last one, the Hiyru, was the last hope for the Japanese. They planned and executed a counter-attack on the American carriers, almost sinking the USS Yorktown twice with two different raids on the same vessel.
In the end, the Hiryu was sunk by US planes. The rest of the Japanese carriers were scuttled and sunk by torpedoes. The Battle of Midway was a decisive US victory, for the Japanese would be on the defensive for the rest of the war, and they had lost 4 of their best carriers. It wasn’t the planes that were irreplaceable- it was the trained personnel and carriers.