Welcome to the New Battle of Midway Roundtable.

As I write this opening dialog I am reminded just how special the roundtable has been over the years.  I doubt that any veterans have shared their experiences in quite the same way outside of their own families in such a personal level.  As an interested party I was privy to 'listen in' on the discussions taking place here every week.  Every once in a while I added my own comments to the discussions if I thought what I had to offer was worthwhile or relevant.  As such I gained an understanding of the men who participated in the battle and in some cases learned far more than any history book ever taught me.

Earlier this year Mr. Ron Russell who was the host since 2004 decided to step down and offered to pass the roundtable on to anyone interested in carrying on the tradition.  I was, I am sure, one of many that 'volunteered' to accept that role.  I am indebted to Mr. Russell in way too many ways to count, not only because he chose me to be the new host but for all the work he did in the past years.  Having written a book, No Right to Win, from the roundtables discussions, he has and always will have my utmost respect.

The website he put together over the years has invaluable information in that it has all the roundtable discussions included in the archives as well as many individual stories of the roundtable veterans.  Plus it has many things he wished to put in the book but was limited by the publisher or information that came about after the book went press.  It was a big project to update the pages from the old format to the new.  As time went on I realized I could not update everything.  So after figuring that the pace I was on I would get the site done in 2017 I eventually settled on giving a lot of pages only a quick update to make sure the links worked and that they were readable.  They all seem to be fine.  But depending on the browser you're using a few have some minor formatting problems still.  They will be fixed as I have time.

So what is he new roundtable?  First and foremost it still includes it's most valuable asset the roundtable archives of all the newsletters.  They have the same path and name as the previous roundtable website so search engines and links all work.  In the end I decided to not update the old newsletters even though many have broken links or old information.  They are after all history.  In the future I may update links or references but for the time being they are staying as published.

As for the new look and feel I did attempt to update the pages to a new format so many of the old pages have changed.  A link to an old html page will not work, at least for a while.  In the future I will include the old pages in their original locations only slightly edited to help guide others that link to the old page to our new site.

One of the things that was important to me was to make sure that pages displayed as links to another website would show up inside our frame so to speak.  Meaning if a person wanted to browse our site they wouldn't actually leave.  The other web page, picture, pdf, etc. would always be displayed inside our site leaving the top navigation always within reach.  As such all the archived newsletters also show up in our frame as well.

My apologies for the delay in getting the new site done.  Mr. Russell did a great job putting a fantastic site together and I did not want to leave anything that he did out.  The site had far more information and pages on it than I realized but in the end it is all back here for your enjoyment and for anyone else that happens to find us.

I hope you all like the new look and feel.  Please be aware that this is only a first pass.  It will get a little polish every week.  If you find an error or anything that doesn't work, please let me know.  Any suggestions for improvements are always welcome.

Thom Walla

Why did Waldron Break Radio Silence

Alvin Kernan:
AOM 3/c at Midway, in VT-6 on Enterprise

Recent books on Midway have, despite some persistent contrary evidence, accepted 265 rather than 245 as the course flown by Air Group 8 at Midway. It has followed that about 15 to 30 minutes out, around 0830, Waldron, the commander of Torpedo 8, came on the air and argued with the group commander, Stanhope Ring, about the course, and when Ring commanded him to continue with him on 265, Waldron took his 15 planes off to the left to find Kido Butai and death. I have been looking at the personalities of the actors in the “flight to nowhere” and have difficulty believing that Waldron, a hitherto well trained and responsible naval officer, would have broken radio silence, on which the success of the Midway ambush depended. Nagumo could have been aware some time after 0747 that “enemy surface ships” were operating on his northeast flank, but could not have known that a carrier was present until 0820 at the soonest. Add time for message to reach the bridge and thing sorted out. Since no American officer, including Waldron, knew this at the time, breaking radio silence at 0830 would have been tantamount to giving the whole battle plan away.

I have less trouble believing that Waldron would have disobeyed orders and flown off on his own to attack the enemy without breaking radio silence, but even here there would be complications. From the time the Hornet left Pearl for the Midway battle Waldron had been arguing that the 10 fighters that would accompany the Hornet strike should be all or partly close support for the torpedo planes. Mitscher and Ring turned him down, even when he pleaded for only one fighter to use as a decoy, and kept the fighters above 20,000 feet with the dive bombers. Waldron obviously knew that his green squadron with its obsolete equipment to survive would need what he called a “break” to his pilots and in a last letter to his wife. If he believed that 265 was the wrong track to Kido Butai, he knew too that all he had to do to save the pilots he had trained in their obsolete planes and dud torpedoes was to continue to follow Ring on 265 until the Devastators ran out of gas or turned back to the ship. Instead he disobeyed direct orders and flew to the destruction that he had earlier most feared and tried to prevent. One can say that his Indian heritage sent him on the warpath, that he went ballistic after sitting, smoldering for half an hour, in the cockpit, but his record from the academy on suggests a much cooler and more logical man. Can anyone shed any light on how this fine officer would have endangered his navy's battle plan and have passed by an opportunity to with honor save his squadron?

Craig Symonds (author, The Battle of Midway)

First, thanks for renewing the Round Table site. I look forward to following more conversation and discussion. It is not surprising that the "Flight To Nowhere" seems destined to be the first discussion topic.

Al Kernan, whose work I have used and respect, has asked an important question. We will probably never know with absolute certainty what happened on the morning of June 4, and we certainly will never know the internal motivations of all those who participated in this epochal event. In the end, it is the historian's duty to sift all the evidence, weigh it, judge it, and then determine what happened and what it means. Assessing the motivations, psychological and professional, of the participants is more dicey.

As to why Waldron broke radio silence, it is important to remember that we do not have official radio transcripts from the flight, only the memories of the pilots who recalled hearing snatches of radio conversations--and in some cases those memories were decades old by the time they were written down. All this makes reconstructing the radio chatter on June 4 (if there WAS radio chatter) very problematical. In my book, I quoted only those pieces of radio conversation that were remembered by two or more individuals. Even then, we cannot be sure that this is what was said. It does seem pretty clear, given the number of people who claimed to remember it, that Waldron DID break radio silence. Al Kernan asks why he would do that.

We can only guess, of course. But I concluded that Waldron saw this battle as quite literally a history-changing opportunity. That he was willing to put the lives of his command in jeopardy to contribute to a successful outcome is evident form his pre-battle note to his pilots. ("If there is only one plane left to make the final run-in, I want that man to go in and get a hit.") Given that mind set, he was simply unable to keep silent and fly off on what he knew to be the wrong course, even if that meant his pilots would survive, because it would also mean that the enemy escaped. It was more important to him, I believe, to strike the enemy than to preserve his command. Of course he could have maintained radio silence and simply gone off on his new course without telling Ring, but what he really wanted was for the whole air group to go. So he broke radio silence to give Ring a chance to change course. Very likely he calculated that one brief snatch of radio communication did not put the mission in as much jeopardy as going the wrong way. We will never how how he rationalized it, but somehow he did.

Barrett Tillman - Author - Enterprise (2012)

Am reading Tom Hone's BOM anthology with Bruce Linder's contribution about SCR's Lost Letter. Ring contended (versus believed?) that CV6 had more recent/better intel, hence the better results, but he stuck to the southwesterly course version that appeared in the CV8 report. Linder accepted the story at face value, stating that HAG's track met KB's "at nearly a perpendicular angle." Is it possible that Ring believed he'd flown c. 240 v. 265? IIRC he got the formation lost in a group grope during the shakedown...

Whether or not Waldron engaged in a radio dispute with Ring, CO VT8 clearly knew (A) where he was and (B) where he was going. AS I RECALL, Waldron was in line for CHAG but of course Mitscher preferred his (BuAer?) crony, apparently also Mitchell from the DC crowd for VF CO. Purely speculation but maybe it's not much of a stretch to conclude that Waldron simply had enough of the whole Hornet lashup: he knew where KB would be found and could not abide 1/3 of the US task force being sidelined by ineptitude or poor headwork.

Related subject: In my correspondence with Moe Vose of VB-8, he said the SBDs flew "parade formation" outbound. No reason to doubt him, especially since he was a Ring admirer (there were such critters.) Obviously that ate fuel at a prodigious rate.

The other item of concern is HAG's launch sequence. Haven't looked at 1st Team in quite awhile, but I thought the VF launched first, which of course makes no operational sense at all. Linder seems uncertain on that point, when presumably it's not in doubt. IMO the Yorktowners did it right: a running RV which saved time, fuel, and airplanes.

Summary: for all his storied rep, Marc Mitscher badly needed hand holding. The deeper I got into Clash of the CVs, the more I realized that his success as a TF commander was due to Arleigh Burke and Gus Widhelm.

Jon Parshall - Author - Shattered Sword

Air Group 8's course is one of those controversies that will probably never end completely. However, I am very comfortable with Lundstrom's interpretation that HAG was steering 265. To me, the differences in some of the recollections of some of the surviving American aviators are absolutely irrelevant. The Japanese sources make it clear that VT-8 approached from almost dead ahead, fine on the port bow. That only works if Waldron splits off of HAG by banking to *his* left, and then starts steering a course to the southwest. So, the Japanese records, in this case, are the tie-breaker. THEY know how their ships were attacked. And as such, the various American accounts sort of boil down to a "he-said, she-said" that I'm actually not all that interested in.

As to why Waldron didn't take the honorable way out, I think that, yes, he certainly would have wanted to give his men every edge in combat that he could give them. But he also understand that an attack squadron's role is to *attack*. If he didn't get the edge he wanted in terms of fighter support, well, that sucked, but he was still obligated to attack. And he did.

Ron Russell - Author - No Right to Win
Editor Battle of Midway Roundtable 2004-2012

Two points in response. One, there should be no question about Waldron breaking radio silence, since an enlisted HAG aircrewman who heard and reported it had his testimony included in Mitscher's after-action report (see Appendix H if you have a copy). Yes, there's reason to doubt an unrelated element of Mitchers' report, but not this one. A third-class petty officer is not about to concoct a detailed fabrication about hearing a lieutenant commander on the radio and then report it to his superiors who will then document it for the record. The guy heard what he said he heard, and he wasn't the only one.

Number two, Waldron had a second reason not to follow Ring's wild goose chase besides no IJN carriers being in that direction. He'd been on Hornet's bridge when the chosen course and strategy were decided. Being the TBD expert that he was (and arguably the only one present at that moment) he knew that there was no way his squadron could follow that lengthy course, out and back and have enough fuel to make it on board. He had a choice of guaranteeing a mass ditching with no enemy contact to show for it, or a likely attack upon the enemy with still enough fuel to get home. (Browning almost made the same error on June 5th when he tried to send the SBDs out too far with 1000 pound bombs.)

This is not new on the Roundtable--I first posted it in 2007, with some key input from John Lundstrom. Check this link and scroll down almost to the bottom under "Waldron Finds His Way"....

The Flight To Nowhere

Editor's Note:  All authors above have studied the battle extensively and make excellent points.  Plus the veterans on the Roundtable for support the conclusions drawn with eyewitness testimony.  I don't think there is any doubt that Waldron broke radio silence.  Mr. Kernan does ask if anyone knows why he did and that cannot really ever be determined for sure.   There are a couple other factors that might have contributed to his decision to break radio silence.

The launch of Hornet's strike took a long time.  US carrier doctrine was to launch a full strike and by the time Waldron's plane took off (he was last) it was already over an hour late and they were further away than planned.  He might have been convinced that the element of surprise was already lost.  The original plan was to strike the Japanese fleet when they were recovering aircraft from the morning strike on Midway.  But that would have been at about 0800.  Hornet's strike was just finishing up launching at this point and most likely would not contact the Japanese fleet for at least another hour and a half.  Plenty of time for the Japanese carriers to have found and launched their own strike at TF16 & 17.

Given that he believed the element of surprise was lost or at least the battle plan was already jeopardized because of the delay, he might have felt one last plead for Ring to change his course and follow him would at least somewhat negate the counter strike the Japanese fleet might already be launching.  At this point the only basis for this type of battle was Coral Sea where both sides aircraft found and hit the other side at approximately the same time.  Given that the Midway plan should have been an ambush that possibility was fading with each passing minute.  A short radio transmission might not be picked up or at least it was worth the risk if it meant convincing Ring and possibly destroying the Japanese carriers even if they had already launched a strike.

And finally, my opinion, is that it was because of his training and level head that prompted him to make that decision.  He couldn't see the endless months of training, let alone his career, end ingloriously as his planes ran out of fuel and ditched with nothing to show for his effort if he continued to follow Ring.  It did take him a half hour to act so it was not done without considerable thought.

Rear Seat Gunners at Midway

The current issue of Naval History magazine has an excellent article that originated entirely from the Roundtable.  I've always felt that the aerial radioman-gunners of Midway deserved more acclaim than they've generally received in the history books, and we were fortunate to have such vets from all three of the U.S. carriers on our roster.  That seemed like a book or at least a major magazine article that someone ought to write, so I approached a few of our noted authors with the idea.  Ian Toll (Six Frigates; Pacific Crucible) accepted the challenge, and his fine story in the June Naval History is the result.

For those who don't regularly get the magazine, you can read the article for free online if you're a USNI member.  Just click the link below and log in with your USNI member number.  However, doing that doesn't get you one the article's best features, the outstanding painting by John Greaves of Lloyd Childers dueling with Zeros over Kido Butai, armed only with his .45.  John worked for months on that one, and it's worth the cover price by itself.

Ian, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, interviewed three BOM rear-seaters who by coincidence also live nearby: Childers of VT-3, and Ed Anderson who flew behind Lew Hopkins in VB-6 (Roundtable members all).  The third vet is well known on the Roundtable for his unique experience in the Mogami-Mikuma strikes, but was never on our roster due to being computerless:  Oral "Slim" Moore, of VB-8.  It's a great article, the kind the Roundtable would produce itself...which we did, actually.  Here's the link for USNI members:

Rear seat Armament of the 3 Torpedo Squadrons

Editors Note:  As a sidebar to the article on Rear Seat Gunners at Midway as referenced in the above article there was a brief discussion on which Devastator squadrons had twin 30 mounts and which ones only had a single 30.  The best information I had was from the production records of all 129 Devastators produced which showed that all 15 VT-8 Devastators were retro-fitted with twin 30's before Midway but did not show that the Devastators from VT-6 were also retro-fitted.  Luckily we had two veterans on our roster and both remembered that VT-6 did indeed have twin 30's when the Enterprise participated in the Battle of Midway.  This shows how important it is to use a Primary source.
From: Ian Toll

I believe Ron Russell told me that the enterprise and hornet had twin 30s And the Yorktown had one. Ron, could you confirm that?  The photograph on the second page is of Anderson, I believe. I wanted to be sure the caption was correct.
From: Ronald Russell

Correct, the Hornet and Enterprise air groups got the twin thirties.  Yorktown planes had the single gun, as in John's painting.

Remember that Yorktown had been in combat longer (Coral Sea, etc.), and also had taken aboard the older squadrons from the Saratoga, including Childers' VT-3.  Although this is a bit of an assumption on my part, I think that explains, at least partially, why VT-3 didn't have the newer twin gun. --Ron
From: Ronald Russell
To: Al Kernan, Ron Graetz
Subject: VT6 TBD rear guns at Midway

Al & Ron: Can you recall whether the TBDs aboard the Enterprise at Midway had the twin-.30 cal. guns for the radioman-gunner, or just the single gun? Many thanks, --Ron Russell
From: Ronald Graetz
Subject: VT6 TBD rear guns at Midway

Yes, I remember; - we had Twin 30s; - it seems that we got them about in April of that year.
From: Al Kernan
Subject: Re: VT6 TBD rear guns at Midway

ron--they had dual .30 mounts. i helped change them before the battle.
From: Ronald Russell
To: Ron Graetz

Okay, thanks. We knew VT-3 had the single gun at Midway and that VT-8 had the twins. We weren't certain about your squadron. Best wishes, --Ron Russell
From: Ronald Russell
To: Al Kernan

Thanks for your reply. Ron Graetz remembered them being installed around April '42, possibly before the Doolittle mission. Maybe that's what you remember.

My best resource on the conversation on the Hornet before the June 4th launch is from "A Glorious Page In Our History," authored in part by Mark Horan, one of the most meticulous and thorough Midway researchers I've ever come across. If there's anything more of substance to be found on that subject, I wouldn't know where to look. Best wishes, --Ron
Editor's Note: My own responses to the exchange are edited somewhat but here is a summary of my remarks and relevant information pertaining to the discussion.

The best information I have in my files the VT-8 aircraft were the only ones retrofitted with the twin 30's from Enterprise's Dauntless squadron's spares.  It makes no particular sense that spare mounts from the Enterprise were used to outfit the Hornet Devastators while not retrofitting their own squadron but such is the info I have.  All retrofitting was done prior to Midway although I don't have the exact date this was performed.  Photos or film taken as early as May 15th seem to show twin 30's on the Hornet Squadron.  Perhaps they started on Hornet's Squadron after arriving at Pearl post the Coral Sea excursion and did not have any more time before the ships sailed for Midway.  I find pictures of VT-8 with the twin 30's but I have no clear picture of an Enterprise Devastator at Midway showing the gun mounts.  Perhaps someone else does or has a reference listing them as being retrofitted.  The most common photos showing the deck load of aircraft on the morning of June 4th at the rear of the flight deck of the Enterprise make details difficult.  At any rate here is the list of Bureau numbers and corresponding Devastators retrofitted with the twin 30's.  All are Torpedo 8 aircraft.

0276    T2
0284    T7
0293    T6
0295    T9
0297    T3
0308    T5
0311    T12
0321    T4
0324    T8
0329    T15
0364    T11
0372    T13
1506    T16
1509    T10
1518    T14

Info taken from the history and fate of each of the 129 Devastators produced.  (Link further down)

Here is a picture of Waldron's Devastator (T16) taking off from Hornet during the morning of the Battle of Midway showing the twin 30's. Admiral Mitscher had the Hornet flight operations filmed and later this footage was presented to Ford for his movie on Midway. Enterprise (as well as Yorktown) had Navy photographers onboard but I have no photos of the morning of the battle from either Carrier showing a clear shot of the rear of the Devastators.

Devastator Launching from Hornet

The only clear picture I can find of VT6 at Midway is the most famous one from the deck of the Enterprise on the morning of June 4th.  If VT6 had the twin 30's certainly no evidence of them show up on the picture.

VT6 spotted on Enterprise Deck morning of 4 June 1942

Here is a drawing showing the retro-fitted twin 30's as well as the single mount.  It also includes a picture of a VT6 Devastator landing on Enterprise after the strike.

Twin 30 Mounts

Here is a list of all the Devastators produced, a short history, and their ultimate fate.  This information was compiled around the year 2000 by Lynn Ritger but the last update was in 2001 according to the note on the page.  I tried to contact Mr. Ritger a few years back but found no information on him or his site so not sure what happened.  But credit where credit is due.  It looks like he also did many other pages on aircraft including all the Vindicator's history by individual aircraft like the Devastator page.  However the page remains unfinished.  I downloaded the Devastator page many years ago and edited it a bit to make it readable.  A lot of the print was very tiny.  Page still exists along with some other pages he did but they are hard to find as he never provided a home page and the host pages appear to be abandoned as well.  Note that many links do not work anymore unfortunately. I am working to restore some of them but most have disappeared and I have yet to locate an alternate location for the information.

TBD Devastator History by Aircraft

Last but not least is another page from Mr. Ritger with some Devastator details and pictures.  The website was devoted to modeling but the pictures are interesting and the descriptions fairly accurate as far as i can tell.  I had to update the page to a newer format to get the pictures to load properly but it is presented as published.

Devastator Photo Page

Could the Hiryu have been attacked at 10:30 the morning of the 4th.

I am curious as to whether any of the dive bombers could have reach the 4th carrier (Hiryu) during the raid at about 10:25 that morning. I get the sense that it was too far away on the Northern horizon for the dive bombers to attack the Hiryu given their fuel.
   Thanks again for your time.
All the best
John Smith
Wilmette, Illinois

Striking the Hiryu during the initial sorties on the morning of June 4, 1942, has always been a matter of interesting speculation, but either it wasn't going to happen, or if it did, it might have caused a worse outcome for the U.S. side than what actually occurred.  The only other strike group who could have attacked the Hiryu then would have been the dive bombers from the Hornet, but they would have done so an hour earlier, around 0930 Midway time when VT-8 got there.
Had that happened, some troubling questions arise.  One, the Hornet air group (HAG) was the least experienced of the three; none of the pilots had any combat experience, and the dive bomber crews were the least-trained of all the carriers.  Would they alone (remember, the other high-altitude bombers don't show up for another hour) have attacked the Hiryu with any success, in the face of the entire Japanese CAP?  Worse, had they tried, would that not have alerted the Japanese to the threat of high-altitude dive bombers far earlier than what really happened?  Would the Japanese then have given the Enterprise and Yorktown dive bombers a much hotter reception than they got?  The fatal damage to Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu was due in large measure to the fact that no Japanese fighters were at high altitude when the attack began.  The earlier presence of the HAG could have altered that circumstance, possibly resulting in something less than 3 enemy carriers taken out of action that morning--maybe none at all.
I've pointed out many times that just about any scenario you can imagine other than what actually happened at Midway would almost certainly have turned out better for the enemy and worse for us.
--Ronald W. Russell

Recent books released on the Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway
Naval Institute Press June 2013  - 284 pages

This book is a compilation of articles published in the Naval Institute's Proceedings Magazine and Naval History Magazine.  There is really no new information here but it is a convenience to have all the articles in one place.  I am not sure it has every possible article ever published on Midway but certainly every significant article published.

From the publisher:  This Naval Institute guide includes some of the most vibrant and informed accounts by individuals who fought on both sides of the June 1942 battle. The anthology pulls together memoirs, articles, excerpts from other Naval Institute books, and relevant government documents to help readers understand what happened and explain why the battle was so significant to the naval service. The core of the book focuses on events leading up to the battle and the battle itself, with a separate section examining how others have interpreted the battle’s often desperate engagements. 
Midway Submerged
iUniverse Inc.  October 2011 - 256 pages

Although published almost 2 years ago this is a book that deals with a subject that gets only brief attention in most books on the Battle of Midway.  Couple that with the fact that it's probably the only book published specifically on the submarine operations of the battle and it's a worthwhile read.

From the Publisher: Scholarly studies on the Battle of Midway are prolific, yet few have examined the pivotal role American and Japanese submarines played. Fewer still have challenged the prevailing wisdom held among historians that US airstrikes on vulnerable Japanese fleet carriers marked a turning point in the war, essentially prohibiting Japan from further major naval operations.Midway Submerged presents detailed arguments regarding the tactics employed in the US strategy for the Battle of Midway and effectively argues that submarine warfare played a greater role in the battle’s outcome than previously thought.
Exploding Fuel Tanks
Richard L. Dunn 2011 - 190 Pages

A self-published book that brings to light some interesting aspects of the Naval War in the Pacific.  Interesting to our members will be the chapter titled Midway, a Case Study where the author examines how each side's aircraft performed and how the design of each side affected their effectiveness.

From the Publisher: Exploding Fuel Tanks tells the story of air war over the Pacific in World War Two from the perspective of aircraft vulnerability. The result is surprising history with many oft repeated but inaccurate characterizations of the combatants debunked. In addition to a story about technology this book sheds new light on combat operations and the actual losses (not just claims) each side suffered.

Links to other Battle of Midway Websites
USS Yorktown CV5 This site is devoted to the USS Yorktown CV5.  It is a very good site with a lot of information specific to the ship and her place in history.  The site was launched in May of 2013 so pages and pictures are being added constantly.
The Battle of Midway: An Unexpected Turning Point The Battle of Midway: An Unexpected Turning Point is a website done by an 8th grader and is very good.  A well- researched and excellently sourced history of the Battle including interviews with several members of the Roundtable.  Only two students worked on the project and they won 1st place in their district competition.

Harold F. Littlefield and questions.


I have a couple of questions to pose to the BOMRT, some simple some maybe not.

I am preparing a paper for the Littlefield Family Newsletter on ARM 2/c Harold F. Littlefield, who was a participant and was killed at BOM. He was radioman-gunner on Lt.(jg) Lloyd Thomas' VT-6 in 6-T-7, part of the second division attack on Kaga, I believe.

1. from ship muster rolls for the Lexington (CV-2) he is listed on such on sail dates 30 June 1941 and 14 December 1941. It is not know to me if he was an ARM and flying in TBD's at the time of those sail dates. Since the Lexington was sunk 8 May, 1942, what became of the 'Lex's' air groups? Were they transferred "in toto" to another ship, or used as individual replacements as needed in other air groups? It would seem Enterprise's air groups were well formed by early 1942 and certainly before. So, I wonder when ARM Littlefield joined the Enterprise and Torpedo 6?

2. Several sources suggest the Devastator carried a crew of three: pilot, bombadier, gunner/radioman. Yet all of the TBD's listed in BOM seemed to have only two crewmen, pilot and radioman/gunner. When and why was the crew reduced to two, and I presume the pilot became the bombadier.

3. On the first page of the BOM Rountable web site there is a color illustration of TBD's going in for their "drops" with Zero's circling 'round. The lagest plane in the foreground has a number 7 on the fusilage. Do you think this plane is/was part of Torpedo 3, 6 or 8? I realize the artist may have only had a general represenation in mind of the planes involved, but maybe it could have been 6-T-7?

4. I believe that all of the pilots of the TBD's were recommended for and received Navy Crosses, and such also recommended for the gunner/radiomen, but my limited evidence suggests the latter received DFC's. Any thoughts on this?

5. USS Enterprise (CV-6) had Torpedo 6, Bomber 6, Figher 6 etc. and USS Hornet (CV-8) had Torpedo 8, Bomber 8, etc. BUT USS Yorktown (CV-5) had VS 5, but VT 3, VF 3 and VB 3. Since the Saratoga (CV-3) was returning from repairs from the torpedo attack in January, and arriving in Pearl on June 6th, and had taken on new planes, what were Saratoga's new air groups named?? AND presumably VT 3, VF 3 and VB 3 were originally on the Saratoga. True?

6. And why didn't Nimitz tell Captain Ramsey to get his ship up to Point Luck in a hurry? I realize that Nimitz had been CICPAC only since the end of December, but didn't they think the Saratoga would be a needed fourth fleet carrier against Nagumo's four? After all, they got the Yorktown up there in a hurry. Maybe it was being kept in reserve in case things didn't work out as well as they did. With thanx for your consideration.

Regards, James L. Littlefield, MD
St. Louis, MO
(no relation to Harold F. that I am aware of).
Answer to Question 1.

I cannot say that Littlefield was not on the Lexington, at any time, BUT, I joined Torpedo Six in August of 1941 and I am fairly sure that he was in VT-6 at that time; - first, let me state that the Enterprise left San Diego in early May, of 1941, for what was to be a period of approximately eight (8) months of training, for wartime conditions, in the area of Hawaii.  Littlefield had been given the nickname of "Feets" by someone, because he had big feet, and the name stuck; - we all called him "Feets" - anyway, by sometime around late October, or November, we had a couple or three periods where the "Scuttlebutt" was being passed around that we were going back to the states, in a week or so.  Littlefield's wife was pregnant when we left San Diego and she gave birth to a boy some time while we were out in Hawaiian Territory; - I heard "Feets", at least one time, if not more, say something about sure wanting to get back there so he could see that boy!!  It has always been one of the outstanding memories, with me, that we never got back there and "Feets" never got to see that boy!!!  And, yes, I do remember Mr.Thomas, his pilot.  I guess I have told many, many people about "Feets" not getting to see his Son!!  --beyond this, I cannot give you any definitely known information on Littlefield.
Ron Graetz

Answer to Question 2.

The Devastator carried a third crewman only when the aircraft was used as a level bomber.  When the aircraft was deployed as a torpedo bomber the bombadier was left behind and the pilot released the torpedo.

Answer to Question 3.

The painting is of one of the Torpedo Squadron's attacking the Japanese fleet.  I believe that it is Torpedo 8 but cannot be sure.

Answer to Question 4.

I believe all the pilots received the Navy Cross for their action at Midway.  The Rear Seat Gunners received the DFC for their actions as near as I can tell.

Answer to Question 5.

All pre-war US air groups were formed around the Carrier they operated from.  Thus you are correct in that VT-3 would be the Torpedo Squadron for the Saratoga.  However Yorktown's air group was somewhat beat up at Coral Sea.  When she returned to Pearl Harbor it was reformed from the air group that Saratoga left on Oahu when she went for repairs after being struck by a Japanese Submarine in January.  Yorktown's own VB-5 was renamed VS-5 and VB-3 was taken aboard to replace the original VS-5.  VT-5 was rotated out and VT-3 from the Sarataga air group was aboard in their place.  VF-3 is another matter.  Many pilots were aboard Lexington's VF-2 at Coral Sea 'on loan' from VF-3, but not Jimmy Thach.  VF-3 operated from Lexington for much of the early part of 1942.  VF-2 was the last Squadron to convert from Buffalo's to Wildcats and they did so early in the war.  VF-3 just happened to be available to fill their spot on Lexington as Saratoga was undergoing repairs.  After that battle VF-3 was reformed from Yorktown's own VF-42 and VF-3 pilots but named VF-3 as Jimmy Thach was the leader and he came from VF-3.  16 of the 27 pilots fought at Coral Sea in either VF-2 or VF-42.  Others had combat experience in VF-3 early in the war.  Midway was when the new Wildcat (F4F-4) with folding wings arrived so the squadron went from 18 to 27 aircraft so more pilots were needed than the 18 attached to a squadron before Midway.  Confusing, yes,  but such was the need at the time.

Answer to Question 6.

While I'm sure Nimitz would have been happy to have Saratoga at Midway you have to remember that until mid-May Nimitz and his staff were not even sure what the next Japanese target was, let alone what the situation would be.  He ordered repairs speeded up on May 12th and then on May 30, Nimitz ordered the Saratoga to depart for Pearl Harbor immediately based on the intercept on May 22nd that confirmed that the Japanese reference to AF was indeed Midway.  Her departure was so hurried she left San Diego without the task force commander, Rear Admiral Aubrey Fitch on June 1st.

The Saratoga had left the most of her air group, VF-3, VB-3, & VT-3 at Oahu. The Yorktown had these squadrons onboard already.  When Saratoga left San Diego she had onboard VS-3, VF-5, VF-72, VS-5, VT-5, a detachment of both VF-2 and VF-8 plus a large batch of replacement pilots & aircraft. The Saratoga arrived at Pearl Harbor on June 6th, left on June 7th and rendevoused with TF16 with 45 F4F's, 47 SBD's, and 15 TBF's on June 11th.  However 15 pilots and aircraft went to the Enterprise and 19 to Hornet to replace their losses.

So Nimitz did try to get Saratoga to the battle but did not have enough time.