Roundtable Forum
Our 18th Year
January 2015

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
VT-8 Flight 4 June 1942
USN plane markings at Midway
Life Magazine SBD Photos
VMF-221 At Midway
Search for Japanese Fleet
John Ford's Whereabouts
Attack on Akagi
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

Thanks everyone for reading this issue of the RoundTable.  The New Year is here and along with it comes some interesting questions plus some comments on old posts.  Leading off we have more observations on Hornets attack on the morning of the 4th, some questions on markings of the US aircraft and a question on VMF-221 at Midway.  While the answer to the question might seem fairly obvious to most of us there are quite a few people that simply do not know exactly how strapped we were for modern aircraft when the war broke out.

Also Mr. Russell points out some interesting facts on the 'new' book coming out on Midway later this year and several other topics of interest.  Enjoy.

VT-8 Flight 4 June 1942

From Robert Morgan:

"A Glorious Page in Our History," gives an interesting anecdote on the issue of VT-8's course. In it, Cmdr. Waldron took Ens. Gay aside just before launch and told him:

" disregard the data previously given, and confided to the young pilot that he was convinced that Ring was taking the wrong course. He then told Gay to follow him, adding: "Just track me so if anything happens to me, the boys can count on you to bring them back."

Assuming this account is accurate, this indicates to me that Waldron intended to deviate from Ring's course from the beginning. It also suggests that Ring didn't simply get lost, but rather planned to fly a course at odds with where the Japanese were expected to be all along, and must have briefed his squadron commanders about it. Now, this combined with Waldron's on-air argument with Ring which broke radio silence about the CHAG's course suggests that VT-8 must have left the rest of the Hornet Air Group very quickly, probably mere minutes after its final forming up and departure. Otherwise, how would they have been around for VF-6 to spot and tag along with? Once Waldron realized that Ring was really adopting the "wrong" course, he argued with Ring and took his boys south, just in time to be spotted by a still slowly ascending VF-6, sluggishly climbing in their overweight Dash Fours. The slowness of the F4F-4 in the climb may also help explain why VF-6 was still near enough to spot VT-8; even on different initial courses, neither squadron of relatively slow aircraft had moved very far from the other.

"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."

I totally agree, with the caveat that there had to have been enough time for the radio argument. This suggests to me that the on-air argument must have occurred within or almost within sight of the task force before VT-8 pealed away southward.

Thoughts on this analysis?

Take care all, and a wonderful New Year.


Editor's Note:   I believe that Mr. Russell established that Ring flew a more northern course in his attempt to find the Japanese fleet.  Gray who was leading Fighting 6 said in his report that he spotted two torpedo squadrons and tried to cover both by flying between them but eventually had to choose to follow only one, which turned out to be Waldron's Torpedo 8, while the other disappeared to the south.  We do know that Torpedo 6 flew on a course of 240 so Torpedo 8 must have flown at least far enough to have Gray lose sight of the torpedo squadron he was supposed to cover.  So the on air conversation between Waldron and Ring might have been fairly soon after they left Hornet but probably not within sight of Hornet any longer.

USN plane markings at Midway

From Robert Morgan:

I'm curious about as aspect of US air group markings at Midway. By May, the red and white rudder stripes and the infamous read meatball had been done away with. However, were there any unrepainted planes at Midway? One spare TBD in old markings went down with Yorktown (, for example. Also, I've read where there is speculation that Waldron's 8-T-16 may still had the meatballs on the wing undersides. Were there any others?

Many thanks. I'm stuck in a walker and wheelchair after an accident, and I've decided to build some models of Midway-era aircraft and I'm admittedly looking for something unique and different.


SBD Photos appearing in Life Magazine

From Allan Ames:

Thom, the SBD photos were taken by Life photographer Frank Scherschel for a story titled Life on Midway. The story appears in the 23 November 1942 issue and states that Scherschel visited midway last month. One of his photos shows an army P-40 parked and another shows SBD’s in flight. On the web these photos are seen in color but for the magazine story they are printed in black and white. There are several websites that sell back issues of Life if anyone is interested in obtaining a copy. Please keep up the good work and a belated Happy New Year to you and all the members.

Allan Ames

VMF-221 at Midway

From Kim Whatley

I am doing some research on VMF-221 role at the BOM and have a couple questions:

1. What if the entire squadron was flying F4F-3 could they caused more losses on the Japanese carrier planes attacking Midway?

2. Would more of VMF-221 fighter planes and pilots survived flying F4F-3 instead of F2A-3?

Considering between VMF-221 and the Marine ground fire about 1/3 of the Japanese aircraft were shot down, forced to ditch, or declared out of commission when they got back to their carriers. I think VMF-221 could have done more damage if flying F4F-3s.

Editors Note:  Thank you for the questions. All good ones. I'll answer the question with an emphatic yes the damage inflicted on the Japanese attack on Midway would most certainly have been greater if the whole squadron was flying F4F-3's. Unfortunately for the pilots of VMF-221 the aircraft they had was all that was available. At this time most Marine squadrons were equipped with aircraft the Navy replaced with newer models as had been the tradition since before the war. Most Navy Carrier squadrons had just recently been outfitted with the new Wildcat fighters. But they were in short supply. When the war broke out the Lexington still had Buffalo's as their fighter squadrons and operated with them until Saratoga was torpedoed in January and the wildcats from Saratoga's fighter squadron could be transferred to Lexington. Another point of interest is that VMF-221 was originally being ferried to Wake Island in late December but was later sent to Midway after the rescue or reinforcement of Wake was called off. The squadron at that time consisted entirely of F2A-3's. When Midway was determined to be the Japanese's next target Nimitz sent reinforcements to the island including 7 F4F-3's. I'm sure if he had more he would have sent them. But it appears that was all he could scrape up. And even then the pilots were all fresh out of flight school so it was also not just a matter of material but qualified pilots as well. And we did not have an abundance of either at the time.

Search for Japanese Fleet by Jourdan

From Ron Russell:

The review of a new BOM book in the December newsletter struck a familiar chord. "The Search for the Japanese Fleet" by David W. Jourdan appears very much to be taken from a Discovery Channel documentary of the same title that was first aired in 2000.

I haven't seen the book, but the mention of USS Nautilus in the subtitle confirms my belief that this "new" book is pretty much a narrative version of the old Discovery Channel video. Unfortunately, my VHS copy got purged a couple years ago when I did a housecleaning of old home-recorded tapes, but I do recall the story line: the reason the expedition was able to find the site of Kaga's sinking was that they had the log of the Nautilus and knew where it was when it tried to attack the Kaga, then dead in the water from bomb hits.

The video was of high interest on the BOMRT when it first came out, for the obvious reason plus the fact that Jon Parshall appears in it toward the end. We've long had a review of it on the Roundtable website: go to References on the home page toolbar, then click The Midway Library and scroll down near the bottom of the list.

--Ron Russell

Editors Note: Thank you very much for the info. I am sure that you are correct. From the information I could gather it seems to be the same. One of my good friends is doing the artwork and cover for the book and from what he describes also confirms it. He says there is a lot of reference material so maybe unlike the documentary it might go into quite a bit more detail.

I contacted the publisher and they are sending a copy to me although they didn't say when or what version. They are happy to have us on board for the book and Roger says they were pretty excited to hear from us.

John Ford's Whereabouts-1941 Throughout WWII

From Charlie Gillman:

I am trying to get a grasp on John Ford's doings, personally and that of his film unit, during WWII. I am especially interested in the early phases of the Pacific War from September 1941 (or a year sooner) through the end of 1943 when his "Battle of Midway" was created and "December 7th" too.

I believe Mark E. Horan may have a grasp on this based on my scan of things here and on "Torpedo Squadron 8". But I would certainly appreciate any fleshed out knowledge and some back & forth dialog on the man and his photographic unit.

Thank you in advance,

Charlie Gillman
"Sid Vicious"
Captain, USN (ret)

Attack on the Akagi

From Marty Bunch:

In shattered sword Dusty Kleis not mentioned in Akagi attack. Why?

Editor's Note: Dusty Kleiss actually dived on Kaga and scored a bomb hit. I don't have the book handy to check whether he was mentioned on the attack on the Akagi but I don't see why he would be.  Here is the link to our bomb damage page for the Japanese carriers and you can see Dusty Kleiss is credited with a hit on Kaga.

From Marty Bunch:

Thanks for the quick response he mentioned the lead pilot hitting and other 2 guys following with them and hitting as well. must have been one of the other two guys.

Editor's Note:  Yes Dick Best changed his attack to Akagi after McClusky took Scouting 6 and most of Bombing 6 down on the attack on Kaga.

From Marty Bunch:

Page 234 of shattered sword is the attack on the Kaga by Gallaher and others. First 3 misses then Gallaher drew first blood then misses by 2 more and 7th hit.