Roundtable Forum
Our 25th Year
December 2021

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
Decoding the Flight To Nowhere
6-B-15 Flies Again
Why no Fighter Cover for Vt-8?
RoundTable Vets on YouTube
BOM Veteran Interviews wanted for NHK Documentary
New Monthly RoundTable Bulletin
Now Hear This
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

Welcome to the December issue of the Battle of Midway RoundTable.  First up we have a new feature for everyone to explore.  We have obtained the transcripts and audio files of the interviews that Bowen P.Weisheit did when doing research for his book.   The recordings and transcripts are quite lengthy so it may take some time to get through all of them. The first article this month has more info.

We also have some pictures of a Radio Controlled SBD Dauntless that one of our members built and flies.  As a Radio Control enthusiast myself I appreciate just how much fun this is, and moreso I'm sure if you have a model of an old warbird to fly.

As the 25th year of the Battle of Midway RoundTable is just beginning (I have the anniversay in October) I'd like to say thank you to all the members that read the newsletter each month and contribute when they can.  Interest in this battle started for me when I first saw a TV documentary on it when I was very young.  Everyone has their own moment when the battle first peaked their interest.  If you have a story of how you became interested in the battle by all means write up a short paragraph or two.

Welcome to the new year and another great year for the Battle of Midway RoundTable.


As mentioned in last month’s newsletter and in our December 15th bulletin, we now have a major addition to our website, thanks to the perseverance of a new member plus help from a few old hands: written transcripts with audio recordings of Bowen P. Weisheit’s interviews with Midway veterans of the “Flight to Nowhere” on 4 June 1942—the infamous sortie of the Hornet air group (HAG) that resulted in the loss of their entire fighter escort and many of their dive bombers without ever approaching an enemy ship or aircraft.

One of the fighter pilots, killed while trying to ditch his fuel-starved F4F, had been a college buddy of Weisheit, who set about to learn exactly what had happened to his friend at the Battle of Midway, and especially where it had actually happened. He detailed his findings in an 88-page book entitled The Last Flight of Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Junior, USNR, which managed to upend a significant piece of the battle’s history even though that was never the author’s intent.

There aren’t a lot of subjects that have captured and held the interest of the Roundtable over the years like the Flight to Nowhere. I’m reminded of the lengthy controversy over Robert Stinnett’s Pearl Harbor book that asserted FDR knew the attack was coming and let it happen, or the history-changing discoveries of Parshall and Tully regarding what was and wasn’t on the IJN flight decks when SBD bombs started scoring. The Flight to Nowhere is in that category, having been investigated, debated, and analyzed on the Roundtable and elsewhere pretty much non-stop since it first appeared in print.

Even after all of that, doubt still remains that the HAG actually flew the critically errant course outlined (above) by Weisheit. Anecdotes persist about aircrew who allegedly saw various indicators that the Hornet’s planes had to have gone southwest toward the Japanese fleet as reported by the ship’s C.O. Captain Marc Mitscher, rather than due west toward “nowhere” as you’ll read in the Kelly book. I harbored such a doubt myself, having been heavily influenced by the testimony of VB-8 pilot Clayton Fisher, one of those who thought he’d seen solid evidence that he’d flown Mitscher’s course that day. As you’ll see in our online synopsis of the Weisheit transcripts, I’ve lost all doubt thanks to a thorough study of their content.

Now, those transcripts are yours to read and the voices of those Midway veterans are yours to hear. Check them out yourself, and see if your view of the Flight to Nowhere is either revised or reinforced. The package starts with an overview of what you’ll find in the collection. To access it on our website, just hover “The Roundtable” on the top toolbar, then click “Special Features,” then link #10. Or you can bypass all that and just click here .



Kent Walters

The front cover photograph on Ron Russell's book No Right To Win was taken as I was flying a Dauntless in competition at the US Scale Masters Championships in 2004 near Kansas City. Also see attached photos of that same model in Arizona where I reside. It is a precision RC scale model of an SBD-3 marked with B15 from Bombing Group 6 flown by ENS George H. Goldsmith during the BOM from the USS Enterprise. Also see Ron's Acknowledgements on page xvi in his book.

Kent Walters

It was a pleasure to receive these additional photos of Kent’s remarkable flying scale Dauntless. The mechanical detail is really impressive; notice for instance the extended flaps in the 3rd picture (and for that matter, the working bomb release in the photo on the cover of No Right to Win). Many thanks Kent, and all future shots of your 6-B-15 in action will be welcome here.

Kent also sent us an interesting study of an excerpt from an old TV documentary that appears to show Dick Best landing on Enterprise—his aircraft identified by the unique color of the extended landing gear struts. We’ll try to work that into a future newsletter.


Martin Bunch

Here’s a question for the group… I have read most of the usual BOM books but started a book on Pacific air war and in a part on Midway the author mentions Mitscher not allowing air cover to VT8, never heard this… Not sure if its accurate but interesting.. I just thought the fighters stay high and poorly planned to protect the torpedo planes..

Marty, good question, although the rationale for VF-8 not remaining at low altitude with VT-8 is well known. John Lundstrom explains it well in The First Team (first edition, p. 324). Basically, Mitscher pointed out that the primary mission of the fighters was to protect the ship, so no more than 10 of the squadron’s 27 F4Fs could be spared as escort for the strike. Also, experience at Coral Sea had shown how vulnerable the F4F was against the Zero; they needed every possible advantage to have a chance of surviving a dogfight. Altitude was their chief advantage, and that was a key reason for keeping them with the SBDs at 18 to 20 thousand feet. Putting any of them much lower with the TBDs would only increase the odds against them.

Waldron expressed the hope that the faster dive bombers would get to the target first and largely occupy the Zeros at high altitude, like at Coral Sea. Of course, that idea became moot when he found it necessary to find and attack the enemy ships himself.

Of course, the Yorktown air group had a different philosophy, sending 6 fighters at medium altitude to cover VT-3, but VF-3/42 had the talent of Jimmy Thach on its side, giving those pilots an extraordinary advantage even at a lower altitude. The Hornet’s VF-8 pilots couldn’t call on that level of experience, and sad as it is to admit, they actually may have been lucky to have 8 out of 10 survive the day. Had they tangled with Zeros at any altitude, betting on their 80% survival rate might have been a stretch.



Here are a couple of short YouTube videos featuring Midway veterans who are very familiar here: Ed Fox and Dusty Kleiss. The first is a brief promotion for the 2019 Midway movie, including commentary by Fox and also Midway PBY veteran Robert Taylor (with thanks to Taylor’s son Mark for bringing this video to our attention).

By now we’re probably more amused than annoyed at film producers who inject badly mismatched stock footage of aircraft having no connection to the Battle of Midway into their Battle of Midway productions, but this first video may have the all-time prizewinner. Note the opening scene, an OS2U Kingfisher (cruiser scout, normally with floats) in a 70 degree Dauntless-style dive as the video opens. This Kingfisher has fixed landing gear, for use when flying from a runway, and is masquerading as an SBD in possibly the worst miscast aircraft scene ever captured on film. (Thanks to Barrett Tillman for identifying the OS2U for us.)

But never mind that, focus on the comments by Fox and Taylor plus two other Midway vets who give brief reminisces on their perspectives of the battle; the kind that you only get from the guys who were there. Here’s the link:

I stumbled upon the second video while reviewing the first one above; sometimes you get lucky. This one is all about Dusty Kleiss and his runs on Kaga and Hiryu. Once again, just smile knowingly as you watch a G4M Betty impossibly flying by the U.S. ships at Midway. But after that opener, we get to watch and hear Dusty give one of his last interviews in November 2015, just five months before his final muster. The video is only two minutes long, but it’s a rather thorough capsule of Dusty’s sharp recollections of his remarkable experience on that fateful day, and a wonderful opportunity to hear one of the principal enablers of the victory at Midway in his own words. The link:



Jon Parshall was approached by Japanese broadcasting network NHK, seeking help in communicating with U.S. Midway veterans for a documentary that they will produce next year. Jon referred their representative to the Roundtable for possible contact with any available BOM veterans, or their families or other associates who might be able to tell their stories. The representative, Mr. Kojiro Yamada at the network’s New York office would like to hear from such persons, first by email. After initial contact, further correspondence will follow concerning an interview at some convenient date.

On December 14th we forwarded Mr. Yamada’s request to 58 current and former Roundtable members who are either BOM vets or their family members, plus to a few others who have a strong connection to the veterans of Midway. To date, we’re aware that Ed Fox (Midway Marine) has made contact with Mr. Yamada as well as the families of VS-6 pilot Richard Jaccard, VB-6 R/G Ed Anderson, Yorktown pharmacist’s mate Warren Heller, and Hammann machinist’s mate Joseph Sanes. There may be others who contacted Mr. Yamada directly.

Anyone else who is willing to assist NHK with their project is invited to contact the Roundtable via  with your name, email address, and an explanation of your connection to a Midway veteran, if it’s not obvious. Your information will be forwarded to Mr. Yamada who will then email you to arrange an interview.

(Side note: NHK has a rather good English language TV channel with some interesting content that you may have available via your cable or streaming system.)


On December 15th we launched a new member service, a short mid-month bulletin describing the content of the upcoming newsletter, other news regarding our website, and whatever else we’ve learned concerning the BOM that merits a timely comment since the last newsletter. If you’re interested enough in the Midway Roundtable to read our monthly issues like this one, you won’t want to miss our supplementary mid-month bulletins.

If you normally receive our announcements concerning a new issue of the newsletter but didn’t see the December 15th bulletin in your inbox, the problem lies in your email service. However, the fix should be simple—the bulletin is sent from Ron Russell’s old Roundtable account,  instead of our usual account, and you may have that old one blocked without knowing it, or the message may have been trapped by your spam filter as coming from an unrecognized originator. In either case, unblocking Ron’s ID or moving the December bulletin out of spam and into your inbox should resolve the problem.

For some reason, it seems that IDs at are particularly susceptible to the above issues, so members with Yahoo email accounts may especially want to do a maintenance check to ensure you can receive messages from

The next bulletin can be expected in mid-January. If you don’t receive it, contact Ron directly and he will help you get it into your inbox. You can email him as shown above or feel free to call or text: 209-712-6200.


In closing our December newsletter, we would like to sincerely thank Kent Walters, Martin Bunch, and Mark Taylor for contributing to the content of this month’s issue. Also a special BZ goes out to Robert Mrazek, Jim Sawruk, Elliot Carlson, Craig Symonds, and Jon Parshall for contributing everything from encouragement to solid assistance with our Weisheit Transcripts project, and especially to new Roundtable member Haakon Barman-Poppy in the U.K., who reignited our curiosity about the Flight to Nowhere long after it was thought to have been stowed in the hangar. And as always we are grateful for all of our subscribers around the world who continue to stick around with us year after year.

You can expect more of the same each month in the new year, commencing with our new mid-month bulletin around January 15th. Be sure to let us know if you’re receiving our newsletter email announcement okay but not the new bulletin, as we suspect there is some work to do on our member address lists. For more about that, see the short article above.

As for the new year, 2021 was clearly better for just about everyone than 2020. Here’s hoping that 2022 will continue the trend. Best wishes to all.

—Thom Walla
—Ron Russell