Roundtable Forum
Our 17th Year
November 2013

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
Nagumo's Turn
Norton Bombsight/Rear Seat Guns
Japanese Dive Bombers
IJN Wargames
US Navy Bombs
The Ragged Rugged Warriors
Battle of Midway Interest
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

The November issue has Mr. Ron Russell's analysis of Nagumo's decision and how it affected the battle along with Yu Lu pointing out that the course Nagumo took on the morning of the battle was pretty much pre-determined depending on the wind direction and possible contact with US Naval Forces.

Several other questions and comments came in, one I found particularly interesting about the Norton Bombsight along with a question on Rear Seat Guns.

The real truth about the IJN wargames prior to Midway are likely to never be known for sure as Mr. Yu Lu points out and a question on what bombs the US Navy used on the dive bombers.

The RoundTable continues to be a great source of information and I have been getting a number of information requests and questions throughout the month.  I know each month we get new people finding our site and reading the discussions and articles.  Some send comments while I'm sure many others don't.

I hope everyone has a great holiday season and celebration.

Would the YAG have found KIDO BUTAI because of Nagumo's Turn?

From: Ron Russell

That was a postulation in the October newsletter. The premise offered in No Right to Win that the Yorktown Air Group (YAG) only found Kido Butai because of a chain of events initiated by Waldron has a solid foundation--we can still talk today with guy who spotted the smoke to starboard from his TBD's heading and alerted his pilot, who then alerted Massey. Lloyd Childers tells me that to best of his recollection, no other aircraft were seen to react to the sight of the smoke generated from the VT-8 and -6 attacks. That leaves us with a strong possibility that had Lloyd's attention been elsewhere, VT-3 and therefore the entire YAG would have missed the target altogether.

But yes, it's also fair to imagine that KB's course after the turn might have ultimately met the YAG head-on, absent the interference from TF-16's Devastators. But what then? For one thing, the Japanese CAP would have been in far better shape, both in terms of numbers in the air and in altitude stacking--no annoying torpedo planes to suck them downward. And two, where are the Enterprise SBDs in this scenario? Remember that McClusky spotted KB at a time and at a location that was dictated in large measure by the earlier VT attacks. While wildly maneuvering to avoid the dreaded torpedoes during two prolonged episodes, KB made little or no progress along Nagumo's intended track. Where would they have been had nothing interfered with his chosen course and speed for nearly an hour after the turn?

The obvious answer is somewhere else, which means that McClusky either doesn't find KB at all, or possibly that he does at a later time, after KB had advanced northeast maybe another 30 miles or so. And that puts him over the enemy at some time other than simultaneous with the YAG--not at all good, because the arrival of both air groups over the target at the fantastically coincidental same moment is one of the principal reasons for the Miracle at Midway.

So to be sure, the YAG *might* have found KB without help from VT-8 and VT-6, but does that change anything? We'll never know, but the facts of the matter don't budge me from my long-held conclusion concerning *any* alternative history at Midway: just about anything you can come up with other than what actually happened would have turned out worse for our side.

--Ron Russell


From:  Lu Yu

One more thing about Nagumo's choice of course at Midway. Nagumo clearly stated his intended course, if no U.S. fleet appeared (this is what he expected), for June 4th in Nagumo Report:

1025 Signal message from Comdr. Mobile Force to Mobile Force: "Mobile Force SigOrd #100. Movements of the fleet subsequent to the take-off of the attack units tomorrow, will be as follows:

"1. For three hours and 30 minutes following the first wave's take-off, the fleet will proceed on course 135 degrees, speed, 24 knots. Thereafter, if the prevailing winds are from the east, course will be 45 degrees, speed 20; if west winds prevail, course will be 270 degrees, speed, 20 knots. ..."

0032 Signal message from Comdr. Mobile Force to Mobile Force: "#1. Plan movements for west winds."


Norton Bombsight and Rear Seat guns.

From: Tom Galbraith

I've really been enjoying the BOMRT and I have been doing a LOT of reading about the battle lately (Thanks to your book reviews, and also the great No Right To Win work).  I recently read a remark in one of the books (Can't remember which??) that I'd like to "re-locate."  It's a remark by one of the PBY pilots regarding the Norden Bombsight.  He mentioned that they didn't actually use it for bombing, but they did use the autopilot feature all the time.  Can you steer me to that reference?  Book, page, etc?

Something else that I've always wondered about and haven't ever really heard addressed was: how effective were the rear seat guns in the dive and torpedo bombers? Thanks, for all you do with the BOMRT, it's a wonderful tribute to the veterans, living and passed.

Tom Galbraith
Springfield, MO
Editors Note:

One reference that I have bookmarked might be the one you're looking for. Scroll all the way down the page and read the comment from Walt Augustyniak who flew in PBY's during the war.

The comment or perhaps other recollections might have been published in some of the books but I don't remember specifically which one. If anyone on the RoundTable can recall a book with a similar reference let me know and I'll pass it on. Hope this at least helps a little.

As for Rear Seat guns in the Dive and Torpedo bombers I'm really not qualified to say with any certainty.  I suppose there are quite a few factors that go into making a statement one way or another, like the aircraft, tactical situation, guns (30 cal vs 50 cal) etc.  Perhaps a member on our Roundtable that actually used the weapons would have a better answer.  Or perhaps a member that researched the question has an answer.

Japanese Dive Bombers at Midway

From: Andries Visser

Many thanks for another interesting newsletter. The Japanese dive bombing attack on CV-5 at Midway was text book stuff, looking at the three hits and one near miss, almost in a straight line.

Andries Visser


Editor's Note: The pilots from the dive bomber squadrons of Hiryu and Soryu were considered the best in the Japanese Navy at the time if not maybe the world, although several of our own would certainly contest that.  One of the reasons Nagumo held them in reserve on the morning of the 4th was so they'd be available should any US naval forces appear. 

IJN Wargames prior to Midway

From:  Lu Yu

Just a few thoughts on IJN wargames. As far as I know, documents of Midway wargame in detail didn't survive the war. This comes from several standard Japanese books on Midway, including the latest one by Mori published last year and the most comprehensive work Senshi Sosho Volumes 43 and 80. Most details regarding the Midway wargame are from recollections, personal notes and diaries, which inevitably lead to some confusions and conflicts.

The only detailed wargames I have seen so far (my interests are mainly from Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal) is in BKS Volume 80 about Invasion of Ceylon in late February. Ironically, the source is business notes of an Army officer who attended that wargame. This suggests that most, if not all, wargame documents by the Navy didn't survive the war. So they were not cited when Senshi Sosho was written.


Editor's Note:  This unfortunately is why a few different versions have surfaced.  I found no primary source for any wargames conducted prior to the Midway operation.  What has appeared in books to date are probably all we're ever going to know for sure.

US Navy bombs used at Midway by our Dive Bombers

From:  Mark Meredith IS1 (SW) Ret

I ran across your web site while doing research on the Battle of Midway. BZ Great site! I could not find any reference to the type of bombs used by our dive bombers during the battle. Have you run accross anything? Were they High Explosive GP bombs, or armor piercing/Semi-armor piercing bombs? I am building 1/32 aircraft models of the particpants and want them to be accurate.


Editor's Note:  I don't have a bomb designation or pictures for you but perhaps one of our members will have a more specific answer. However to give your question a bit of an answer the Dauntless was armed with a General Purpose High Explosive Bomb with a 1/4 second delayed fuse. The basic rational was that it would penetrate the flight deck of the Japanese carriers and explode in the hanger deck. This produced a twofold purpose. One, it wrecked the flight deck thus even one bomb most likely would render the carrier inoperable for the rest of the battle while possibly also destroying some aircraft that were stored in the hanger. And two while not doing enough damage to cause the carrier to sink it might if lucky start fires from fuel lines or detonate ordinance from armed aircraft, which is exactly what happened at Midway. But more to the second point it would require the carrier to undergo repairs for months which was more in line with the American plan to simply overwhelm the Japanese with more carriers and any delay was good for us and bad for them. Interestingly enough the 4 Japanese carriers at Midway were not the most effective in damage control as the Shokaku which was bombed at Coral Sea (3 bombs) and at Santa Cruz (4 bombs) but did not sink. Mostly this was due to the superior damage control and really the overall design of the carrier which allowed for the force of the blast to be expelled from the ship due to the hanger doors and below deck armor protection something the Akagi and Kaga did not have designed as they were as modifications and not purpose built.

Look forward to having pictures of your models if you decide to share them. I'm sure our members would enjoy them.

The Ragged Rugged Warriors

From: Thom Walla
First of all one might wonder what this book has to do with Midway.  Written by Martin Caidin it is a very well researched book detailing the early struggle against Japan by not only the United States but also China, The Dutch, English, and even the Soviet Union.  Starting before the United States and Japan were at war he details the early battles when the Japanese Zero Fighter first made it's appearance and how information and warnings sent to the United States armed forces were dismissed only to be discovered as true in the first year of the war.

But the real gem of this book is the last chapter entitled 'The Other Midway' where he tells the story of the 4 B-26 Marauder's armed with torpedoes that attacked the Japanese Carriers on the morning of June 4th.  Mr. Caidin's works are well known and always a pleasure to read.  If you read nothing else of this book the last chapter is worth the time.

While not my first introduction to the Battle of Midway it was one of the first and ultimately along with others before and after contributed to my interest in studying the battle for most of my life.

How did you become interested in the Battle of Midway?

My own journey to a lifelong interest in The Battle of Midway is a long story I'll put together later.  While a unique set of circumstances led to my discovery and ultimate fascination with the battle I'm curious how others became interested.  I read quite a bit when I was growing up on many topics including the Pacific war.  My father certainly had a great deal to do with my interest as he was aboard a Destroyer in the Pacific during WWII and would talk about it and even wrote stories of his service and brought back many pictures.  Exactly how he got those pictures home when I think it was against regulations to even have a camera is a story perhaps better left to another time.

During the holiday season if anyone gets the inclination it would be great to hear from our members on how they became interested in the Battle of Midway and maybe found the RoundTable and became members.  For our veterans of the battle we appreciate how you have contributed over the years to the RoundTable, really your RoundTable, and if you want to write anything at all please do so.  We can include any stories in our next newsletter.  Until then have a great holiday season.