Roundtable Forum
Our 18th Year
December 2014

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
Another Painting
Model of Best's SBD
VT-8 Flight 4 June 1942
IJN destroyer Arashi, VS-6 and VB-6
The Search for the Japanese Fleet
RoundTable Notes and Announcements
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

The Battle of Midway RoundTable is celebrating 18 years.  Well October 2014 was actually the anniversary month but I hadn't quite kept track of that date like I should have.  But despite missing the actual anniversary it's still a pretty special achievement.  For those that don't know the story of how the RoundTable came to be there is a brief synopsis here: RoundTable History .  If you already know the story and wish to add anything by all means chime in.

I'd like to take the time to thank all the people that make this possible each and every day.  I'd also like to thank our veterans for their unselfish replies to our questions in the past, the present, and hopefully for many years into the future as well.  Much appreciated.

I'm also considering putting the newsletter together with the idea of a more interactive format.  Wouldn't be any more emails from me but rather I'd publish the newsletter as emails come in from members.  That way everyone could be more involved with replies or comments rather than waiting for the newsletter to be published once a month.  Course that would require you to check the web site for recent contributions.  But you could do it at your convenience and respond if you wanted.  Any comments one way or the other send them in.

This month we have more on the various Battle of Midway Models, comments on the color photo's of the SBD's, a question on Waldron's course for VT-8, another question on Arashi, and a new book being published later this year on the Nautilus and the Battle of Midway.


From Bob Morgan:

Regarding the color photos of SBDs at Midway. When these photos surfaced on the Life Archive, there was a general consensus that these dated to later than the Battle of Midway, as debated on internet modeling sites like The idea that there was color photography just before the battle on the island, let alone that anyone had the time for it, seemed implausible. However, it was pointed out to me recently that these are SBD-2s, not the -3s that one would expect to see later in 1942 or 1943. Several have the ghosts of their red and white painted rudders showing through their blue gray paintwork. While hard to tell, a few seem - seem - to show scuffing on their wing walkways and leading edges, revealing prewar yellow wings paint. This would dovetail with the Midway SBD-2 at Pensacola, BuNo 2106, a VMSB-241 bird originally assigned to Lexington, if memory serves. She still carries her Yellow Wings paint underneath her blue grey scheme.

Now, if these are SBD-2s, and these photos were taken at Midway, then they are likely of VMSB-241 just before the battle, although the side number styles admittedly do not match known photos of their Midway Dauntlesses. Another slender possibility is that they are indeed SBD-3s, as the first few did come off the line with Yellow Wings paintwork. However, a search of the applicable bureau numbers suggests that these planes could not be any of those, as they remained primarily carrier based and a few did fly at Midway, including a couple from Enterprise. Others may well know more than I.


You're just going to have to take my word for this. In the late 1980s, I worked for the National Archives branch here in Southern California as a lowly GS2 earning college money. While doing some basic document preservation work on a box of naval documents, I came across a trove of war preparation photos and directives. It turns out that in 1940 or 1941, the Navy did wargame a Japanese carrier strike on the US west coast. There were photos of anti-torpedo nets in Long Beach and San Pedro, tie ins with the Coast Artillery, etc. I always intended to go back and write a paper on that document set, but they soon packed nearly everything up and sent it back to DC. NARA Southern California now mainly holds federal court records and the like, plus a small genealogical reading room. If someone could locate that particular box of documents, it would make for interesting reading. They're somewhere in the stacks, just on the other side of the continent.

What always amazed me was that a Japanese carrier raid on the west coast was clearly envisioned and even planned for, but apparently no one thought about Pearl. Strange...

Bob Morgan

Another Painting

From Bill Vickrey:

You are doing a great job!! Keep up the good work.

I have a painting called MIDWAY – THE TURNING POINT by Captain Rasmussen (not sure about the spelling). Around the perimeter I have been fortunate enough to get some 25 autographs of pilots who flew at Midway. Upon my death, it will be sent to the Museum at Pensacola.

Dick Best was a dear friend and I spent many nights in his home.

I was once at a Pensacola symposium where Dick was a panelist. I was seated with Bud Kroeger. At the break, Bud went up to Dick...saluted and said “hello Skipper!” They had not seen each other since Dick went to sick bay on 04 June 1942.

Editor's Note:  Thank you very much for the kind words.  Interesting painting.  Would be something to maybe take a picture of and post here on the site for others to see.

And also got me thinking more about my fathers wartime items I'm still trying to find appropriate places to donate.  Many of the items he earmarked for particular museums were closed or are suffering from lack of funds and may close.  Sad really.

Model of Best's SBD

From Tom Matlosz:

Check out my model of Best's SBD.

There are links below the group photo to detail photos of each of the three midway birds.

Feel free to share the link with the group. I haven't been heavily involved in the BOM Roundtable ever since Bill Price gave up the reins.

I have quite a collection of BOM memorabilia having corresponded in the 90s with over 60 of the Navy and Marine airmen who flew on 6/4/42. One of these days I need to figure out what to do with all of it.

I did recently contact Senator McCain regarding the TBD in the water off Miami. He forwarded my inquiry off to the Navy Department which gave me a less than favorable response regarding its salvage. I'll share those with you. Maybe the group would be interested. Barrett told me to expect a negative response and he was correct. What a shame that we don't have one example of a TBD restored anywhere.

Tom Matlosz

Editor's Note:  Thanks very much for the pictures.  Make sure you click on the individual links to all three aircraft.  Quite remarkable reproductions.

I think the RoundTable would be interested in information on the TBD correspondence. I know that there are 4 potential Devastators located including the one off Miami. However the last I heard it was tied up in a legal battle. One off San Diego I haven't heard much since 2011 so I think it stalled. Also the two off Jaluit Lagoon that ditched when Yorktown raided the Marshalls have gathered some interest but so far nothing as the recovery expense is substantial I'm sure.

As for the memorabilia the museum on the USS Midway might be interested as they were in the painting. I'm still keeping in touch with them as they build the display. So if you want a contact let me know.

VT-8 Flight 4 June 1942

From Brian Anderson:

Cdr Waldron was certain he new where the Japanese carriers would be on the morning of 4 June 1942. He also knew the TBD Devastor had limited fuel capacity. I think he led his squadron directly to them from the start, while the rest of the air group led by CHAG went either west or south west. Why would he tag along just to turn off at a later stage? Walter Lord says this is what he did. Afterall the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

VF- 6 inadvertently followed them at 20,000 ft most of the way. There is no mention of them being intermingled with the rest of the air group led by CHAG which was supposedly doing the same.

As every one says, no one is ever going to know now what really occured then, but I would appreciate any comments/observations you have.

Keep up the good work!
Very Best Wishes
Brian Anderson
Editor's Note:  The information we have is substantial but the information is also conflicted in many ways.  I for one am still not sure how Waldron 'knew' where the Japanese carriers were located but he did.  The more interesting debate has been on what heading the Hornet airgroup originally took.  Regardless it appeared that Waldron argued for a different heading and eventually veered off in the direction he wanted the airgroup to follow taking of all things VF-6 with him.  And yes I have always found it strange that no mention from either fighter group of seeing the other was ever made.  May have something to do with the fact that Gray did try to stay between the two torpedo squadrons for as long as he could until he could no longer cover both and the one further south disappeared.

IJN destroyer Arashi, VS-6 and VB-6

From John M. Rasor:

What are the chances that somebody on Arashi saw Best's and McClusky's squadrons at around 0945 on June 4? Had somebody done so, there may have been time to radio a warning to Kido Butai.

Editor's Note:  I think there has been discussion on the board and in books about the likelihood of the squadrons being seen by the destroyer. Since there is no record of any communications from Arashi either being sent or for that matter any message received on Akagi's bridge it is probably safe to say they didn't spot the two dive bomber squadrons. No mention by any surviving staff on Akagi that Nagumo received such a message. And hard to envision that message was not important to Nagumo or that he ignored it or that the staff completely forgot a message like that and so never reported it or wrote about it and never mentioned it in post war interviews.

The Search for the Japanese Fleet: USS Nautilus and the Battle of Midway

Editor's Note:  A new book on the Battle of Midway is to be released later this year, June 28, 2015 to be exact.

I don't have much on the book at the moment other than what is on the publisher's site or Amazon.  But it appears to make the Submarine Nautilus the focal point of the book and subsequent underwater search for the Japanese Fleet Carriers lost at Midway.  Lt. Cdr. William Brockman was the captain of the Nautilus during the battle and using records from the submarines' war patrol as well as interviews with the men who were there attempts to locate the resting spots of the Japanese Carriers.

However it appears to also be written as a parallel history following the movements and actions of the Nautilus and the search for the sunken vessels.  The book traces the attempts to locate the Kaga and the ultimate success.

I have a good friend who is doing the artwork for the book and in his words, "It has the biggest appendix I've ever seen. Basically a minute by minute account of the battle! Madness. Lots of maps. Don't let me go down that road about the maps. And don't get me started on the cover either." 

As you can see, he has lots of work to do.

The book can be pre-ordered at Amazon  or Barnes and Noble .

RoundTable Notes and Announcements

Regarding the USS Midway Museum

From Martin Bunch:

Regarding the museum painting for the Midway. I live in San Diego and can help if needed in any way you need. I am a personal family friend of Roy Gee an SBD pilot and Grandfather of a good childhood friend. Roy would always tell me stories of the attack on the Carriers and we shared our love of aviation. He was a big part of me becoming a pilot today.

I'm here to help
Martin Bunch

Regarding More on the Captured Zero

From Greg Finnegan:

Thanks, Thom, for passing it along (and for another great issue!) Thanks also to Mr. Vickrey for his thoughtful comments. Much appreciated! And always good to be reminded of that war and its heroes. My father-in-law died at 93 last Sat. He was an army capt. at Sicily and D-Day (Omaha Beach) in command ship USS ANCON both places--handling army-navy communications. He landed on D+3 and ended the war w/ Patton's 3rd Army in Pilsner. And a former colleague of my wife reported today that her father died this morning--he had been an army combat photographer w/ a unit that liberated one of the concentration camps.

Again, thanks to you both! Have a good holiday season!
Greg Finnegan