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Midway,island group (2 sq mi/5.2 sq km), central Pacific, c.1,150 mi (1,850 km) NW of Honolulu, comprising Sand and Eastern islands with the surrounding atoll. Discovered by Americans in 1859, Midway was annexed in 1867. A cable station was opened in 1903. In 1935, Midway became a commercial air station of Pan American Airways, and in 1941 a U.S. naval base was opened. The last navy facilities on the island closed in 1993. In 1996 the islands were transferred from the U.S. Navy to U.S. Dept. of the Interior, which manages them as a national wildlife refuge. The battle of Midway (June 3–6, 1942), one of the decisive Allied victories of World War II, involved the island but mainly occurred between opposing fleets at sea. Fought mostly with aircraft, it resulted in the destruction of four Japanese aircraft carriers, crippling the Japanese navy.
See C. L. Symonds, The Battle of Midway (2011).
a coral atoll in the Pacific Ocean, in the northwestern group of the Hawaiian Islands. It arose on the basalt foundation of an extinct volcano. The lagoon of the atoll contains several tiny islands; the two largest—Sand Island and Eastern Island—have an area of 5.2 sq km. Population, 2,000 (1968). Midway is a stopover point on the air route between the USA and the countries of Asia. Sand Island has a trans-Pacific cable station, an airfield, and a lighthouse.
During World War II a battle took place near Midway on June 4—6, 1942, between a large Japanese shock unit (including 11 battleships, six aircraft carriers with 293 planes, 16 cruisers, and 53 destroyers), which was attempting to capture the US base of operations at Midway, and an American fleet (three aircraft carriers with 243 planes, eight cruisers, and 14 destroyers). In fighting the American carrier aircraft, the Japanese lost four carriers, one cruiser, and 253 planes and were forced to retreat. As a result, the Japanese Navy lost its superiority in aircraft carriers. The Americans lost one carrier, one destroyer, and 150 planes.