How the Battle of Midway changed the Pacific War

USS Nautilus was one of the few submarines to distinguish itself during the battle. US Navy

3. American submarines suffered from faulty torpedoes as well

USS Nautilus, (SS 168) was on its first war patrol at the time of the Battle of Midway. Tasked with locating the Japanese fleet, Nautilus was in the midst of it during the battle. The submarine launched multiple torpedo attacks on the damaged Japanese carrier Kaga, only to watch the torpedoes fail. One clearly struck the hull of the Japanese ship, only to break in half. An earlier attack on a Japanese cruiser provided the same result. Following the attack on the cruiser (misreported by Nautilus, it was actually a fast battleship) Nautilus endured a brutal depth charge attack from an escorting destroyer. When the depth charging ended the submarine returned to periscope depth, having survived a total of 42 depth charges.

The destroyer which failed to sink Nautilus raced back to the Japanese formation, which was over the horizon. It was IJN Arashi, and it was spotted from the air by Lieutenant Commander Wade McClusky, who led a formation of Dauntless dive bombers searching for the Japanese aircraft carriers. McClusky made the decision to follow the course on which the destroyer was moving at high speed, believing the ship to be returning to the Japanese fleet. He was correct. The dive bombers led by McClusky attacked the Japanese carriers Akagi and Kaga, leaving both flaming wrecks in a matter of a few minutes. Nautilus’s failed attack and subsequent pounding thus directly contributed to the successful attack on the Japanese carriers, though its crew did not learn of their contribution until much later.