15. Damage control led the Japanese to believe they had sunk two American carriers
After the American dive bombers from Yorktown and Enterprise wrecked three Japanese carriers, (Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu), the sole remaining Japanese carrier counterattacked. Hiryu launched two waves of planes directed at Yorktown, which had been spotted by a scout plane from the cruiser Tone. The first wave hit the American carrier with three bombs, creating large fires and shutting down all but one of the ships’ boilers. They reported their success to Hiryu. By the time the second wave arrived, American damage control efforts had restored the boilers, controlled the fires, and repaired the flight deck. The second wave saw what appeared to be a fully operational American aircraft carrier. They attacked and succeeded in severely damaging the ship with torpedoes.
Reporting their success to Hiryu, Japanese commanders believed that their counterattacks had sunk one carrier and left another in a sinking state. Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, commanding from Hiryu (Nagumo had evacuated the burning Akagi) reported that two American carriers had been destroyed. Several of Yorktown’s returning bombers landed on Enterprise, which prepared them to turn around and launch another assault on the remaining Japanese carrier. Late in the afternoon of June 4, 24 bombers were launched from Enterprise. The attack led to at least four and probably five bombs hitting the Japanese carrier, destroying the ship and the aircraft it carried.