Roundtable Forum
Our 23rd Year
September 2020

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
USS Saratoga
Clay Fisher Observation
New VT-8 Questions
Air Search Efforts
Chiyoda and Nisshin
Various Notes
Announcements and Questions
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

Welcome to the September issue of the Battle of Midway RoundTable.  This month we have several contributions to the discussion on how I-168 found and successfully attacked Yorktown.  An article written for the Naval Proceedings magazine in 1963 titled 'I Sank the Yorktown at Midway' by Yahachi Tanabe is perhaps the best account of the attack.  I have that particular magazine in my library specifically because of the article.  Bought it second hand from a bookstore many years ago.  Daniel Wenk reminded me of it by sending the article but unfortunately he, and I, don't feel it can be included here due to the copyright.  Maybe it would be fine but I'm not sure I want to find out without a note from the Naval Institute that it was okay.  At any rate one should be able to find a copy of the article in most libraries I would think.

We also have some further discussions on the smoke from Midway in regards to Clay Fisher's observation.  Seems the flight to nowhere continues to crop up.  Probably will for many more years to come.  But that's okay.  One thing it got me to thinking about is how long did the fire from the oil tanks on Midway burn?  If not that long then it is unlikely he saw it another day when flying other missions.  But I don't know despite researching it for a few days this week.

There was also a link error in last months newsletter where the file might not have been uploaded properly and did not work.  If you missed reading his account of his time on the Yorktown please go back and you'll find the link now works.  Here is a direct link just below his picture to the article.

There are many other things to ponder with the issue this month.  So enjoy.


From Martin Bunch
September 10, 2020

There is a very detailed account of the I168 attack on the Yorktown in the Hammann book “Screened her going down” its very interesting, the escorting DD’s didn’t have their Sonar on.. The Sub Commander took his time, went under the Yorktown, turned around and set himself up for a perfect attack on Hammann and Yorktown.. The chase from the DD’s against the I168 right after is another very interesting read. The Sub was on surface and DD’s taking long range shots actually did some minor damage on I168 before he lost them.. Later the I168 shelled Midway at night while waiting for orders.. Screened her going down is a very good read.

Editors Note:  The book is very good.  Number 46 in the Midway Library.

From Mike Maule
September 13, 2020

In the August 2020 Roundtable. Mr. Spiros Koliopoulos asked a question about how I-168 was able to get close enough to torpedo Yorktown when she was surrounded by destroyers intent on preventing that type of attack. I may be able to provide an answer to that question as I spent a lot of time in the Navy chasing submarines. First...the state of the art in destroyer sensors (sonar) in 1942 was fairly primitive. Basically, there are two "types" of sonar. Active sonar (pinging) is similar in concept to radar in that the sonar transmits a signal and listens for an echo (signal bounced off the target). Passive sonar is used to listen for noises coming from the target, such as machinery, propellers, people hammering on the hull, etc. If the destroyers were pinging, they were putting a lot of sound in the water in a fairly small area. The problem is that an active sonar can be heard by the submarine a lot farther than the active sonar operator can detect an echo from the target. The submarine (using its' passive sonar) can use the pinging to obtain a bearing to the target, and by using target locating/tracking techniques, can very quickly identify the approximate range and bearing to the active sonar. If the destroyers were using passive sonar and listening for sounds from the submarine...they're going to have another problem since all of the surface ships in the area are putting their own sounds (machinery, propellor, people hammering on the hull, etc.) in the water. The likelihood of detecting a submarine running on battery power (which ALL submarines did until the invention of the snorkel and nuclear power) is just about nil. An example I've always used is... listening for a submarine on batteries is like listening to a flashlight. It can be done...but it isn't easy. The other problem is the medium (sea water) being used to transmit the sound. Different factors affect the transmission of sound...I don't think they all need to be discussed...but the main takeaway is that sound in the ocean doesn't usually travel in a straight line because seawater isn't a homogenous medium...there are layers in the water at different depths based on the different factors which cause sounds waves to bend (up and down) which drastically affect the detection range. These factors were probably not known or understood in 1942. The bottom line is that in this situation, the submarine commander has many advantages (he's quiet, he knows where his adversary's are, he knows where his target is and it isn't going anywhere, and he has the best torpedoes on the planet) and only one disadvantage (the ability to outrun any pursuit).

The best chance the destroyer's had to detect the submarine was when/if the submarine captain exposed himself to detection by the Mark 8 Eyeball and put up his periscope. From the pictures I've seen, the sea state was fairly calm and a periscope "feather" would be relatively easy to see...if you happened to be looking at the right spot at the right time. Of course, the visual detection chances would be hampered by any debris floating in the water...and the fact that your lookouts are probably all young and excited seamen who just been exposed to a stressful combat situation.

I hope this answers the question.
Mike Maule

USS Saratoga

From Chuck Wohlrab
September 11, 2020

For those interested, when USS Saratoga arrived at Pearl Harbor she carried the following aircraft:

F4F Wildcats 47
SBD Dauntlesses 45
TBD Devastators 5
TBF Avengers 10
Total: 107

There were two squadrons aboard, the rest were deck cargo.

VF-2 F4F Wildcats 14
VS-3 SBD Dauntlesses 23

USS Saratoga sailed from Pearl and rendezvoused with Enterprise and Hornet she transferred 19 Dauntlesses, 5 TBDs and all 10 avengers to them. She returned to Pearl, then picked up VMSB 231 (19 Dauntlesses) and a squadron of 25 P-40s to Midway.

Chuck Wohlrab

Clay Fisher Observation

From Den Reilly
September 12, 2020

I concur with John Pooler's 8-18-20 opinion. In court, eye-witness testimony is considered to be the least reliable evidence. The problem is exacerbated when: a long time has elapsed, the observation was made under stress, and when other resources have been consulted by the witness. Flying wing on CHAG may have been stressful, requiring Clay Fisher's full attention. Most believed (& wrote) for decades that the HAG (less VT-8) flew 240 deg. all the way from HORNET.

SMOKE: When ships are making radical maneuvers (under attack), those with oil-fired boilers commonly emit black smoke. The Kido Butai may also have been making smoke screens. It had been firing its AA batteries. Army B-26s, VT-8 (Det. Mid.) and VMSB aircraft must have been burning on the surface of the water. The HAG was "VFR On Top," when near the target. Whether enough heat was generated to carry that smoke to the HAG altitude in time for Clay Fisher to see it, I don't know. If so, we would have to wonder why it apparently failed to attract the attention of CDR Ring. Again, I don't know. The Flight To Nowhere is a compelling mystery.

Best Regards,
Den Reilly

From Bill Vickrey,
September 16, 2020

Over the years I spent a lot of time with Clayton…played golf, dined with him and his wife and I am certain that his memory was 100%.


Editors Note:  I agree with Mr. Vickrey.  I  think Clayton Fisher's observation on the morning of the 4th is accurate.  A plume of smoke from burning oil is distinctly different than smoke from ships laying a smoke screen or smoke from running at speed.  As to the note that it failed to be seen by Ring, we are not certain that is true.  Everyone was aware the Japanese had struck Midway.  Perhaps he did see it.  Logically nobody would have any reason to note it in any report.  We also have to remember the sequence of events.  For instance how long did the oil tanks burn on Midway after the attack.  I don't remember reading and can't find anything in my library that even hints at the time after the attack the tanks burned.  So given the fire was probably somewhat contained later that day the smoke may have been minimal in the afternoon when Hornet's Dive Bombers went after Hiryu.

New VT-8 Questions

From William Longton
September 12, 2020

I stumbled across what is reported to be a ships manifest of the USS Chaumet (AP-5) for when she sailed from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor departing date 5/21/42 and arriving at Pearl Harbor on 5/31/42. Contained in the list of transported personnel was a section marked as "VT-8". Everyone who was attached to Lt Harold "Swede" Larsens squadron was there (and I eliminated them) as well as the list of following names which could not be verified, and I am wondering if anyone can tell if these names were definitely assigned to VT-8.

Lt Dewitt Peterkin
Lt Bruce Harwood
Lt(jg) Lafayette Ronald Hubbard
Ens Aaron Katz
Ens Everett Paul Weaver
CPO Clayton Phillip Boorem
PO1 Lee Roy Jennings
PO2 Gail Woodrow Graber
PO2 Douglas Holcomb Tew
PO2 William Clifton Brannum
PO3 Newton Delchamps
PO3 Darrel Dean Rector
Sea2 Howard Joseph Amann

(BTW: yes this is the SAME "L. Ron Hubbard" who created the Church of Scientology. Now THERE is a bit of trivia for you!)

Any help in confirming the names would be greatly appreciated.
Bill Longton

Air Search Efforts of the Americans on June 4

From Warren Child
September 15, 2020

First and foremost, allow me to compliment you on the high quality of your Midway RoundTable Newsletter. I look forward to receiving it each month and always spend many thoughtful hours reading each article and then pulling from my shelves additional information to take one of your topics a bit further. Year after year, edition after edition, you continue to impress all of your readers. Thank you

I am writing you only to expand a bit on one small fact related to your article on “Air Search Efforts of the Americans on June 4” from the last August 2020 edition. In the article you list the planes both from both VP-44 and VP-23 based at Midway as well as specifics on each PBY. At the top of your list for VP-23 you cite the plane commanded by Ens “Swede” Theuson and that the plane was forced to land after running out of fuel. That is true, but since my father, Ens. Gerald F. Child was the co-pilot I feel a bit obliged to clarify what occurred on their mission that day. Their plane did not spot the Japanese fleet within the area they were ordered to search. But after the enemy fleet was spotted their plane was vectored to the known location of the Japanese carriers and ordered to maintain contact and report back accordingly. This they did for 3 1/2 hours before they were jumped by a Japanese Zero. After the zero’s third pass their port engine was set afire. The zero fortunately left, presumably thinking the he had a kill. Instead Theusen and my dad purged the fire in the fuel tank with the CO2 fire suppression system and ultimately were forced to land on the open sea at night. Purging the tank left the plane virtually out of fuel as your article states. They spent 17 1/2 hours patching 25 cal holes in the fuselage left from the Zero and trying to stay afoot. Ultimately they were rescued by the USS Managhan. None of their crew was injured and they all continued in their service in other battles against the Japanese in the South Pacific during 1942.

Gerry Child

Editors Note:  Thank you very much.  However I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the hosts of the Battle of Midway RoundTable that came before me.  Mr. Price through a chance meeting with Howard Ady's son led to the start of an email conversation with his father that brought more and more veterans into the email group.  He was the person who stuck with an email chain that provided a discussion group for Midway veterans for several years in the late 90's and early 2000's.  Mr. Price eventually passed the torch to Mr. Ron Russell who guided the RoundTable till 2013 when I took over.  Mr. Ron Russell moved the email chain to the web as well as writing a book, 'No Right to Win', containing many stories about the battles directly from the veterans.

And the most appreciation to our veterans who unselfishly continued to discuss and provide information to us.  To this I say thank you, Mr. Price, Mr. Russell, and all the veterans of the Battle of Midway.

From Dany Wenk
September 25, 2020

To Mark Horan:

Thank you very much for your prompt explanation about how the PBY’s on Midway were organized as well as for your detailled list of planes involved in the air search early in the morning of June 4. This is great info which I appreciate really very much!  I assume both entities were under the direct command of CO Cptn Cyril Simard and CX Cdr Logan Ramsey? Does there exist an after action report from Patrol Wing 2 or did you find this info from the individual logbooks?

I am curious concerning Yorktown’s exact air search sector early in the moring of June 4 and how the PBY crews tried to give each other cover against enemy air attacks?

Kind regards,
Dany Wenk

Seaplane Tenders CHIYODA & NISSHIN's main arms at the BOM

From Daniel Wenk
September 26, 2020

Yamamoto’s Main Body at the BOM included a «Special Group» consisting of the seaplane tenders CHIYODA & NISSHIN.

At its launch in November 1937, CHIYODA had 4 catapults and a capacity of 24 seaplanes which is said to be cut in half after its first rebuilding in May & June 1940. Instead, it could now carry 12 midget submarines. The launch of the NISSHIN was delayed until November 1939 because of its advancement to a multi purpose vessel. It had 2 catapults only and a capacity of 12 seaplanes. But, it could carry 12 midget subs or 700 mines, instead.

The sparse info I could find about these ships led me to the assumption that both vessels could carry 12 seaplanes and 12 midget subs at the same time. But, I am not sure about. Does anybody know?

In „The Barrier and the Javelin“ on page 110 Willmott says that neither of these seaplane tenders carried any aircraft at the BOM. Instead, CHIYODA had 8 midget subs and NISSHIN 5 motor boats with them. They were supposed to support the garrison in defending Midway against the US after the island has been captured.

The Troms of confirm the 8 midget subs of CHIYODA, but talk about 2 motor boats only on NISSHIN. On the other hand, they claim that (at least) NISSHIN had 1 operational F1M „Pete“ aircraft on board.

In „Midway“ Fuchida said that both tenders had 6 midget subs on board, whereas Stille claims in „Midway 1942“ that CHIYODA carried 6 midget subs and NISSHIN 5 motor torpedo boats…

Does anybody of the Roundtable’s experts actually know what these 2 seaplane tenders carried with them at the BOM?

It is very hard for me to believe that a seaplane carrier would leave its home port in order to attack the enemy without any aircraft with it?!


From Thomas Rychlik
September 11, 2020

I would highly recommend readers subscribe to the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. They have some great videos commemorating VJ Day that include several of PBYs taking off and landing in the water. The Virginia Beach Military Aviation Museum has a PBY too but watching it land on grass isn’t as cool as that.

According to Wikipedia the Mark 13 torpedo only had a maximum speed of 33.5 knots. The Japanese carriers had max speeds of: Hiryu/Soryu 34, Akagi 31.5, Kaga 28. The deficiencies of the Mark 13 included circular or erratic runs, broaching or running too deep, and failure to detonate. The requirements for a successful drop in 1942 limited the height and speed of the aircraft to 120 feet and 100 mph. This torpedo, matched to an obsolete delivery mechanism (the TBD), the lack of combat experience for most of the crews, the lack of direct fighter protection for VT 6 and 8, and the fact that none of the established doctrine associated with air group strikes was employed at Midway, contributed to the lack of success and high losses.

I just finished Dusty Kleiss’ book and he discusses his parting meeting with his Naval Academy classmate Tom Eversole of Torpedo 6 on the hangar deck before the launch on June 4. The problems with this weapon delivery system seemed to be well known from the most junior to the most senior officers. However, none of the commanders decided to spare the VT squadrons; it was all hands on deck. I contacted Dr Orr to express my appreciation to him and his wife for helping Dusty write his book. He was very gracious and sent me several articles he had accumulated on participants in the battle. We had a lively exchange on exactly which heading the HAG took. He made some very good points. Dr Orr is a history professor at ODU, the school I received my MSME from and where I was an All But Dissertation (ABD) Doctoral Candidate in Mechanical Engineering.

In a battle where Nimitz had done almost everything he could do to set his subordinate commanders up for success, he still could have done more. Despite the losses to the Yorktown and Lexington Air Groups and their need for some R&R, he could have done more to “leaven” the squadrons at Midway with experienced crews. This was the penultimate battle! It might have been difficult, or even ultimately impossible to redistribute some of the pilots from the Lexington squadrons since many of them were spread over a number of ships after Lexington sank, but it did not seem like any effort was made to do this. A similar leavening could have made use of VT5 and VB5 much like how VF 42 reinforced VF3. The Admiral who controlled the distribution of aircraft and personnel for the Pacific Fleet did not understand the importance of combat experience when he rearranged squadrons on Yorktown. Reminds one of similar thinking on the part of the Japanese when they decided not to reorganize the Shokaku and Zuikaku air groups into one group to allow Zuikaku to participate in AO.

Something that has always bothered me was the fact that the least experienced Air Group (Hornet) was used in the manner it was. Hornet should have played the role that Yorktown played. Using Hornet’s scouting squadrons instead of Yorktown’s would have freed up Yorktown’s squadrons for the initial strike. Bombing 8, instead of Bombing 3 should have been the reserve. I know this was probably because of the fact that Fletcher was on Yorktown and that Hornet was in TF16 but again there seemed to be a lack of situational awareness of the experience levels of all the squadrons on the part of the Admirals. The carrier CO’s would have been proud of their own squadrons, would have lacked the ability to see the weaknesses in their air groups, and would not have been the correct level of leadership to make hard decisions such as which squadrons should have been prioritized for strike, search, and reserve.

Due to Covid I started reading through back issues of the RT. Lots of good information in those issues. One of them pointed me to the Bates report. I recommend it.

After reading through the Navy’s Awards Manual I have determined that the only way to propose upgrades of the Medal of Honor for the VT squadron commanders is to find a sponsor in Congress who would support this. Consequently I intend to initially focus on LtCdr Waldron and the South Dakota delegation. If any BOMRT members know of any other members of Congress who might also be supportive of this project please let me know. In support of this effort I have read “The Magnificent Mitscher.” There are a number of passages in the book that show how much regard Admiral Mitscher had for John Waldron, how the loss of VT8 affected him, and how Admiral Mitscher spent the next three years trying to get the MOH for all of VT8. My guess is that if Admiral Mitscher hadn’t been so involved in the conduct of the war and that the stress of his positions hadn’t wrecked his health, Admiral Mitscher would have eventually succeeded. The fact that Admiral Mitscher felt so strongly about this has provided an additional reason for me to work on this project.

I’ll leave you with a couple quotes from this book. In a letter that Admiral Mitscher wrote to Adelaide Waldron he said: “I am convinced that your husband, together with his entire squadron, will prove to be one of the greatest heroes of the war. His gallant conduct, and that of the squadron under him, leaves him outstandingly the inspiration for all America.” Frances Mitscher (his wife) said: “Admiral Mitscher was convinced that the squadron commander knew he was going to die. The tragedy of this brought him great personal grief.” Clearly Admiral Mitscher, like the other carrier commanders, knew that the torpedo squadrons were likely to endure high casualties but the situation demanded that they be included in the strike aircraft.

Hopefully I have provided some grist for the mill with this email.
Tom Rychlik

Announcements and Questions

Note of Flight to Nowhere

From Tom Ballou
September 13, 2020

Once again, it’s back to the Roundtable archives! With regard to the seemingly never ending mystery of “The Flight to Nowhere” and John Poole’s question: several years ago Wolfram Computing did a fascinating analysis of this flight based on the reported times, tracks and observed positions of the sun and moon (Yes, June 4, 1942 was one of those days with the moon high in the daytime sky!) which was published here, at least the results were. Wolfram concluded that the HAG’s initial course took them north of the Japanese carriers, but south of the Japanese main body (Yamato carrying Yamamoto), when they finally turned south, they flew between Midway and the Japanese invasion force, after which they finally turned ESE passing south of Midway (When Clay Fisher apparently saw the smoke plume from Midway to his North causing all the later confusion. The upshot is that the HAG managed to fly completely around the actual battle without ever seeing or engaging any of the three Japanese task groups. How they did the analysis is interesting and worth going back and reading. It was interesting enough that it caused me to buy Wolfram’s book, A New Kind of Math.

Thanks to all for the continued interest in the great battle!

Tom Ballou, Jr.
CAPT USN(ret.)

Thank you Note

From Jeffrey McMeans
September 15, 2020

I don't say thank you enough.

And always thanks to those on Midway Island, the Yorktown, the Enterprise and the Hornet.

Thanks for Nimitz believing and thanks for Joe Rochefort's team and the 1500 ship workers who put the Yorktown in sailing shape!

Lest I forget, thanks for Admiral Halsey suggesting Admiral Raymond Spruance who also always needs to be thanked for his timing.

And thanks to Admiral Yamamoto for coming up with such a complicated plan and sending those carriers up to Alaska!

And Nagumo on December 7th for not hitting the oil storage and the machine shops and for sinking those battleships in Pearl Harbor instead of out in the ocean.

Jeffrey McMeans,
E-3 USS Ponchatoula (AO-148) 1961-63

Editors Note:  Well said.  Thanks much.

Cruiser Aircraft at Midway

From Bill Vickrey
September 16, 2020

I communicated with 3-4 pilots who flew off cruisers at Midway. It would take me an hour or two to come up with their names.


Editors Note:  Thank you as always.  If you happen to come up with them as well as any notes about them we always appreciate it very much.

Bruno Guido photos

From William Longton
October 6, 2020

I am sending two other photographs of Bruno Guido's SBD Dauntless taken shortly after his encounter that day in February 1942 aboard ENTERPRISE. They are both US Navy photos, just not the more popular ones seen following his "encounter" that day.