THE SEEDS OF VICTORY ARE SOWN
BY BARRE T T TILLMAN
Seventy-five years ago, the
battles of Coral Sea and
Midway not only blunted
Japan’s unbroken string of
victories after Pearl Harbor
but also changed the very nature of naval
warfare. These clashes were the result of
20 years of innovation by the U.S. and Imperial
As winter’s strategic chill gradually warmed
the Second World War, the spring of 1942
began melting some of the global Axis ice. Allied
fortunes continued ebbing, especially in Asia
and the Pacific, but as summer approached,
Tokyo’s imperial sun reached its apogee. From
April to June, the global conflagration was fought
on three continents and over the world’s oceans.
;e War in Europe Intensifies
In the first quarter of 1942, some of the largest bombing missions of the Royal Air Force (RAF) against Germany committed
fewer than 300 aircraft. That changed—literally overnight—on
the evening of May 30. Operation Millennium at Cologne produced the first of many thousand-plane raids.
It was a massive effort, considering that Bomber Command’s
nominal strength still ran about 400 planes. But the one-night
surge brought in bombers from operational training units and
even Coastal Command.
The Rhine port city of Cologne was selected in part because
it lay within range of Britain’s “Gee” radio navigation network.
When used for electronic control of bombing, Gee could deliver
bomb patterns of a few hundred yards up to 350 miles from Britain. Cologne, some 300 miles from London, was already a known
quantity, having received a Gee attack in March.