Roundtable Forum
Our 22nd Year
June 2019

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
77th Anniversay Celebration
Midway Movie
Dauntless Movie
1976 Midway Movie
The Heroes of Midway
Cleo Dobson biography

Annoucements and Questions
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

Welcome to the June issue of the Battle of Midway RoundTable.  This month we have a tale of two movies.  Two movies about The Battle of Midway released in the same year.  A year ago when I was contacted by the Midway movie people to help with some equipment and story lines I did not know a second movie was in the works.  Dauntless kind of came out of nowhere.  In the past month we got a first glimpse of both movies as they both released trailers.   I don't know much about Dauntless but having read the script for Midway I can say the script for Midway is pretty good.

A few have criticized the CGI in both movies.  On the good news front what we have now is considerably better than what anyone could have done just a few years ago.  I can live with it.  As for the CGI artists kind of taking liberty with getting some aircraft and ships a little too close together consider the source.  Most are younger artists that grew up playing video games.  So it's going to look like that.  The one thing I wish I could have seen in production would have been the CGI battle scenes.  Not sure I could have convinced them to do it any different but it would have been interesting discussions.

But on to more.  This month Sgt. Ed Fox returned to Midway Island for the 77th year celebration and provided some pictures of the event.  We have of course much discussion of the two movies, a new book about a BOM Enterprise pilot.  You do notice one slot missing on the list of topics on the left hand navigation.  I had some news on the Midway movie that unfortunately I did not get permission to release.  I waited till Friday but didn't hear back.  I'm going to tag them again and hope to get permission by next issue.  So until next month.


Battle of Midway 77th Anniversay Celebration

From Ed Fox
June 10, 2019

Editors Note:  Sgt Ed Fox once again made the trip out to Midway Island for the 77th Anniversary Celebration of the battle.  He was the only veteran of the battle to make the trip this year.  He sent a couple links on the celebration for us as well as the Friends of Midway facebook page.  For those of you with Facebook I suggest you scoll down the page a bit till you come across the picture of Mr. Fox having his first lesson in snorkeling.

Battle of Midway Movie

Editors Note:  Last month I published the first official poster for the new movie and it produced some comments.   Shortly before the end of June the first trailer for the movie was released.  For those of you who have not seen it:


Some of it I like, some is way too video game like for me.  Comments from members that have seen it are varied as one might expect.  I think we all agree that Hollywood often times has battle scenes that basically have combatants way too close together.  But I am fairly impressed with the CGI effort.  After all we can't really shoot scenes with real airplanes and ships so we have what we have.   However one must remember that CGI is done mostly by people who grew up playing video games.  So they are going to produce CGI that looks like a video game.  Unfortunate but it is what it is.  Plus to depicte accurate battles scenes while satisfying the bulk of us will probably not sell tickets.  Today's audience wants to be entertained not watch a documentary.

So am I defending the CGI.  Not by any stretch.  I have sent several comments to people in charge of the movie on some corrections I spotted in the trailer to consider correcting as far as historical accuracy is concerned.  Not sure if some of it can be redone but they at least listened and sent it up to the top.  Here is the response I received

Linking in Kirk: Kirk, you know better than me who to forward this to. Mr Walla, you must have the keenest hawk eyes!  I’ve said it before Mr. Walla, thank you so much for your precious information. Do not hesitate to send me emails. Best regards, Lise

I decided not to point out what I sent but several members chimed in with a couple points so I'll let them chime in.  As far as how much they redo.  See what happens.

Editors Note:  Several people sent  in the link to this article published shortly after the official poster was released, Jeff Lund, Barrett Tillman, John Lawson, Christopher Braund, Ronald Russell, Chuck W, and maybe a few others that also sent me the link.  All appreciated very much and sorry if I missed someone.

Take a First Look at This Fall's WWII Epic 'Midway'

From Scott Kair
June 28, 2019

The production company has set up a Twitter account.

Midway Trailer
From Chris Braund
June 27, 2019

I'm sure you've been hit with some of this already. However, you and I have conversed about this as we were both approached to conduct research for the move. My contacts have moved on to other movies but I am not sure if you are still in contact with anyone currently working on Midway that can look into this.

While the visual effects look amazing, I noticed some visual errors with aircraft, especially the B-25s. As historians we want to see it right. I noticed the B-25s on the Hornet had the wrong national marking roundels on the wings. They seem to have mixed the early war with the late war markings. In addition, they added the glass bubble to the tail section that was not on the B-25B model that flew on the raid. I know the Army Aviation Branch historian and I painstakingly provided with them with narratives and pictures of the aircraft.

I will not comment on the naval aircraft as I am not sure, based on the trailer editing, what time frame some of the shots were supposed to depict. However, one of the last shots in the trailer, with the TBDs flying towards a target, looks to me that it is clearly one of the early raids prior to Coral Sea. If so, the aircraft roundels are incorrect.

Anyway, just an historians rant, but I am sure you want this as accurate as I do. I understand they have a story to tell and I am okay with a little Hollywood creativity, but I want it to look right. Moreover, I also understand the movie is still five months away and this could be a rough edit with changes happening daily.

Regardless, I think this is going to be a great movie covering the pivotal moments of Midway and the events leading up to it.

All the best,

From Tom Matlosz
June 6, 2019

Thanks for providing your review of the script, it will help make the film more enjoyable for all of us. I’m anxious to see an accurate depiction of BOM using today’s CGI technology. The graphics should be fantastic. I also hope they get the coloring and markings of the Japanese aircraft accurate. I’m sure Mark Horan and Jon Parshall we’re involved in that regard. It’s a shame that my friend and IJN aircraft expert, Jim Lansdale is no longer with us. He would have loved to see the finished product.


Editors Note: To be clear the review of the script was to the movie director and his staff.  Basically it was going over the script and correcting any historical errors.  As can be seen in the trailer the markings are for the most part accurate.  However the script did not provide me with any details on what the CGI was portraying.  The corrections and suggestions I sent were strickly on what was written in the script.

As for the equipment I did help them identify and find original equipment for the cockpit scenes.  Most of what you see in those scenes are authentic.  Some were purchases, and some borrowed but for the most part authentic.  The person I worked most with at the movie company was an 'ace' in every sense of the word.  She tracked down many items after we identified what would have been used at the time.

Dauntless Movie

From Barrett Tillman
June 11, 2019

Dauntless Trailer

Editors Note:  The second movie on the Battle of Midway is due to be released in September now and it seems to be more about Midway than I had at first thought.  The crewmen that ditched their Dauntless and then survived till picked up later is certainly the focal point but maybe not the entire story.  According to the trailer it continues past the decisive day of June 4th and continues into the following days which now that I put that on paper and read it back to myself I guess that is rather obvious if your going to depict a rescue several days later.

From Ron Russell
June 28, 2019

In my June 4th email I mentioned the new "Dauntless" movie that was scheduled for release on June 29th. It was first noted in your February newsletter. The release date has now been changed to September 1st:

Apart from the trailer, there is little additional info available on this production. One thing I notice: the trailer suggests it's mainly about an SBD crew struggling in the sea after ditching at the BOM, but there is a whole lot of other Midway content, as evidenced by the cast list. The named actors are playing the parts of Spruance, Browning, Murray, and McClusky; the entire Enterprise & TF-16 command team. Interesting that it should come out shortly before the new "Midway" movie scheduled for November.

Another thing unclear in the available info: will this flick be released to theaters, or will it only arrive via a streaming service, like Amazon Prime? I guess we'll find out in September.

--Ron Russell


From Ron Russell
June 4, 2019

Regarding the jabs in the May newsletter against the 1976 "Midway" movie, old-timers here know that I led the charge in castigating it during the Roundtable's earliest days. See page 315 in "No Right to Win" for an example, and there are many more. But our focus on what the movie got wrong overshadowed some things that they got right, amazingly so in a few instances. I summarized them in a Roundtable Forum article in 2009, and you can find it on our website here:

Scroll down to "Now Hear This" and check the article entitled "Return to Midway," with Midway in this case referring to the '76 movie. As an ol' USN radioman, I especially liked the one about Akagi's radioman telling the Tone 4 scout to "identify ships" in Morse code. Nicely done, even though the Morse was in English.

Side note: June 29th is the scheduled release date for a related movie of very high interest, "Dauntless." No, this isn't Barrett Tillman's novel by the same name, although that would also be a great flick. This one is mainly about an SBD crew (hence the title) that ditched and endured a lengthy ordeal before being rescued by a PBY. The trailer shows some really good CGI of BOM scenes, the sort of thing we can hope for in the upcoming "Midway" remake. Check it out here:

Same Dauntless link as previous article

--Ron Russell

Luck and Guts: The Heroes of Midway

From Barrett Tillman
June 5, 2019

Cleo Dobson biography

From Barrett Tillman
June 12, 2019

How in the world-wide world did I miss THIS? From last year.

Cleo J. Dobson.  US Navy Carrier Pilot was at Pearl Harbor on December 7th and served aboard Enterprise during most of 1942 including Midway.  He also claimed half of the last aerial victory of WWII.

From John Lundstrom
June 13, 2019

Thanks for this. On order. Wasn't Dobson the recon pilot that took the famous photo of the Mikuma and reported to Spruyance? I recall that Spruance was irritated by his colorful report.

Best wishes,

From Barrett Tillman
June 13, 2019

Yes, I'm pretty sure that Dobson was the photo aviator.

I interviewed Mrs. D in San Diego late 80s. She said that she'd observed EAG SBDs and noted that on 7 December the Vals dived much shallower (IIRC it was usually 55 deg v. 70.) Upon hearing that, Cleo hugged her and bragged about his dive-bomber's wife.


Editors Note:  Indeed Cleo Dobson was piloting the second plane in the two plane recon that Spruance sent to film and photo the damaged ships.  The first plane piloted by Edwin Kroeger from VB-6 with A. D. Brick of Fox Movietime News in the rear seat with a movie camera.  Cleo Dobson piloted the second plane with the senior photographer on Enterprise to take shots of the two ships.  Spruance's pilots had been harrassing the two ships, Mogami and Mikuma, in the afternoon and most pilots reported that they had attacked and disabled a battleship which Spruance reported to Nimitz.  When the pilots got back and all four were questioned by Spruance as to identify the two ships Dobson replied 'I don't know sir, but it was a hell of a big one' at which point Spruance became annoyed with him as well as one other who insisted the two ships were cruisers of the Mogami Class.  Later when the photos and movie film was developed and viewed it was clear the two ships were cruisers.  I know the photos survived or at least a few of them but I have not heard or don't remember what happened to the film.

Cleo Dodson was according to my information the Assistant LSO on Enterprise during the battle.

I missed it too and I usually spend a few minutes a month looking for recently published kindle books as more and more are being available due to the low cost of publishing on Kindle.  Ordered a copy and have read a bit.  Worth the read so far.

Announcements and Questions

Lecture on the Battle of Midway

From Chris Braund
June 4, 2019

Fantastic issue again! I wanted to submit this to the group for viewing, comments, and critique. It some self-promoting, but that's what historians do. I recently gave a lunchtime lecture on the Battle of Midway and the link provided takes you to the YouTube video.

All the best,

Note of Thanks

From Brock Howe
June 4, 2019

Just a quick note of thanks to you and all the members of the round table. This group has really helped me learn more about the battle and better prepare me for being a docent at the museum. So on this 77th anniversary of the battle, I spent the afternoon doing some hangar talks for the visitors describing the battle and the role of the SBD. I consider it quite an privilege and responsibility to be able to work on, talk about, and I’m honored to be the plane captain for the Lone Star Flight Museum’s SBD. The information y’all put together really helps me sharpen my knowledge of the events of that battle and thus allowing me to pass that information on to others. Thank you and keep up the great work!

PS: In case you’re wondering, the small SBD in the corner is who I call #MiniSBD and I use her in my explanation of the SBD tactics and also for my social media posts about activities of our SBD.

We'll be Back for you

From Bill Vickrey
June 23, 2019

This is perhaps the most heroic military action of our time. (Copied from THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE of January 2016.)


We'll be Back for you

From Barrett Tillman
June 23, 2019

When I wrote Tom Hudner's chapter in my aviation Medals of Honor book, I told Tom that I did not plan to mention Jesse Brown's race. It's been a featured portion of absolutely every other account, but it seemed irrelevant. JB was a shipmate in trouble--to me that's what seemed to matter.

Tom agreed.


Editors Note:  While not about Midway I thought this was perhaps worth including in the issue.