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Symmetry of War

I enjoy hunting through the Library of Congress’s online archives. It’s where I found the portraits that helped define the Eephus League, and there’s endless content there on countless subjects in American history. I can’t remember how I came across this image (I was probably searching for images of fighter planes, because I’m a 10 year old boy) and I was struck by its composition and it’s content. The title is “Japanese plane carrier circling to avoid attack by United States airmen at Midway, as seen from a B-17 American bomber” which is quite a mouthful but helpfully descriptive. The guesstimated date of origin is 1942. I had previously been unaware of the 1942 Battle of Midway, which took place a half a year after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Japanese lost, badly. I’ll spare you any more talk of battles for risk of spurring a conversation about WW2 in the comments. Seriously, guys, just because you took a history class and watched Saving Private Ryan doesn’t make all of you experts in World War 2. Is there any other topic that men of all stripes jump out of their seats to give their perceived expert opinion on? Digression over.

You’d have a hard time convincing me that this photograph isn’t a work of art. The fact that someone captured a photo at this exact moment, from this angle, is astonishing. You can overlay a circle over the path of the carrier and see just how perfect the maneuver was. I’ll admit to not knowing how or why there’s some sort of double frame going on here, but the imperfection of the inner frame only enhances the symmetry of the circular trail inside of it. The way the circle is nearly completed; the faded wake of his ship looming in front of him while the fresh and violent surf behind him glows.

I’m left with so many questions. How was this photograph taken? How did the carrier perform such a perfect turn? Was this tactic effective in evading bombers? Did this carrier survive the battle? If you’ve got answers, please let me know!