Roundtable Forum
Our 26th Year
January 2024

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
Glenn Ford in Midway movie
Radar and Midway
Could Japan attack Midway again
Sun Setters of the Southwest Pacific
High Res Map
Images From the Battle of Midway
Library Link
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

Welcome to the Battle of Midway RoundTable Newsletter.  This issue we have a number of submissions on various topics.  First off an article by Ron Russell on Spruance, or more accurately the actor that portrayed him in the first movie.  Also included is a not often discussed topic about whether or not the Japanese could have launched another attack on Midway when the first one failed so spectacular.

We also have some questions and and updated page for a link.  This last one is much appreciated.  Over the years web pages come and go, are upgraded, moved, or rebuilt.  The end result is some of the links on our pages no longer work.  But in most cases the pages are still around.  If you see a link that doesn't work by all means send me a note.  If you happen to know the new link send that along as well as I might not find it.

Lastly hope everyone is doing well and the new year has treated you well and all resolutions are still going strong.

I have already started on the February newsletter so hope to have it out by the end of the month.  Till then sit back and enjoy the current issue.

Glenn Ford as Spruance in Midway (1976)

17 January 2024
From Ron Russell

In our July 2019 newsletter, I commented on how the producers of the 1976 Midway movie managed to get one thing remarkably right in their otherwise lamentable production: the choice of Glenn Ford as Admiral Spruance. Ford in ’76 bore a striking resemblance to Spruance in ’42, and delivered a portrayal that was true to what we’ve learned about the admiral’s personality. For an interesting comparison of the two in side-by-side portraits, click here.

But I’ve recently discovered that Ford had a particularly good reason to pull off the role of a senior naval officer especially well—he was a senior naval officer himself! Check this picture of Ford during his own USN service, and no, that’s not a theatrical costume:

The photo dates from the 1970s after Ford, a Navy Reserve officer, had served a tour on active duty in Vietnam in connection with a Defense Department training film project. Prior to that he’d been an enlisted Marine in World War II, rising to the rank of sergeant while working extensively on training films and war bond drives. He attended Officer Candidate School after the war and maintained reserve participation through the Vietnam era, never fully retiring from the military.

It's likely that other professional actors could have handled the Spruance role quite well; that’s expected of a pro. But in Ford’s case, he had a personal connection that brought a bit of refreshing authenticity to a movie that badly needed it.

(If you’re wondering what else the Midway-1976 producers managed to get right, click the Archives link on the toolbar above, then go to our newsletter #2009-16  and scroll down to “Return to Midway.”)

--Ron Russell

Radar and Midway

14 January 2024
From Clark Whelton

A recent article (Radar Boys) in the online magazine “Tablet” states that radar played a key role in winning the Battle of Midway.

Important as radar was in the Pacific, I can’t think of any ways that radar helped turn the tide of battle at Midway.

Am I forgetting something?

Clark Whelton
New York, NY

Radar contributed to winning the battle but not in a key role.  There are two instances I can think of where it played somewhat of a role. 

First was giving Midway warning of the approaching Japanese air strike.  However Midway had already been warned of the strike before radar picked up the approaching Japanese planes by Howard Ady at 5:45am with “Many planes heading Midway, bearing 320, distance 150.”  As it was by the time radar picked up the incoming air attack all Midway aircraft had already departed or were in the air waiting to intercept.  It had some but a very little role in defending Midway.

The second instance was the two strikes on Yorktown.  Radar did pick up the two Japanese strikes well in advance so fuel lines could be drained and ship at battle stations.  Given that Yorktown was crippled in both attacks the warning while welcome had little effect on avoiding the damage.  In fact by the time the first Japanese strike had arrived over Yorktown three of the four Japanese carriers were already out of the battle.  Shortly after the second strike on Yorktown her scout planes had sighted Hiryu and then her dive bombers helped destroy Hiryu shortly thereafter.  Again radar played a role in preparing the ship for battle but nowhere near a key role.


Could Japan have reattacked Midway - US/IJN pilot training

23 January 2024
From Barrett Tillman

I'd not seen the figures for Japanese pilot training, though no sources cited.

Let me supply some figures in addition to the ones Mr. Duncan gave in his excellent answer. At the time of the Battle of Midway, the U.S. was building 12 Essex class fleet carriers. Japan was building one, Taiho, and did not begin work on any more until after the Midway fiasco. During the year 1942, the U.S. produced just under 47,000 aircraft, versus about 8800 for Japan. The numbers are similarly disparate when you look at the number of pilots trained during the war; numbers I’ve seen are about 24,000 pilots trained for the IJN’s air component during the whole period 1941–5, versus about 21,000 pilots trained for the USN during the year 1943.

Also, "Jeff" cites SS.


2 February 2024
From Anthony Tully

Getting to this topic just wanted to remark how baffling it is. Not only would there be no way for Japan to win by going at Midway again (the purpose was to draw out carriers, we just got more added the further you get into 1943) , it would be worse than useless. Where it gets interesting is if you change some of the ways Japan responds to Guadalcanal (aside---readers are in for a treat when Jon's magnus opus on late '42 in the Pacific is reality on this score)

Things like the Taiho and other builds have little bearing on whether attacking Midway again would make any sense. It would just be folly.

- Tony

As pointed out above Yamamoto's only desire to attack Midway was to try to force the US to battle and destroy the carriers he missed at Pearl Harbor.  He knew he had a limited time to destroy or at least severely cripple the US fleet while leaving the bulk of his Navy intact.  If the US did not defend Midway then he had several other US possessions he could target and he figured one of them would bring out the US fleet.  The fact that Midway actually reversed the balance of power meant for all practical purposes Japan was done.

The fact that he had no real carrier based power left an immediate attack was out of the question.  In fact by the time the US had invaded Guadalcanal his two remaining fleet carriers were still training new pilots and replenishing aircraft.  By scarping the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, and by augmenting them with the two converted carriers and his remaining light carriers he was maybe breaking even.  And best an attack could even be mounted would be late fall.  And the battles around Guadalcanal showed how that might have went.

There is also some interesting aspects of Japan's plight in 1942 that rarely is mentioned.  When the war started the Army grabbed anyone they could which included many highly trained construction workers and whisked them away to some far away place.  This put a severe strain on any new construction or repairs of damaged ships.  When Shokaku was damaged at Coral Sea the only available workers were taken off the Taiho construction and sent to repair Shokaku.  So Taiho not only was delayed by the shortage of trained construction workers but also by the fact she sat idle while men that should have been working on her were repairing Shokaku.

The conversion of Ryuho was also delayed due to the same problems.  In December 1941 the conversion started and was to take only three months.  However when the war started there were not enough construction workers to complete the task in three months.  Still undergoing conversion when the Doolittle raid arrived she was damaged by a 500 lb bomb hit near the bow.  This further delayed conversion and matters only became worse over the course of the summer with the shortage of available workers.  Finally a year later conversion was finished on November 30, 1942.  I only bring this up to show how woefully unprepared Japan was to conduct a modern naval war.

After MIdway Japan had no real chance of attacking Midway or any other US possessions for that matter.  Only one carrier building and even then not in all that much of a hurry.


38th Bomb Group/Sun Setters of the Southwest Pacific

22 January 2024
From Matheus Geisel

My name is Matheus Geisel and I have spent the last 5 years researching the B-26 as a hobby. I'm very interested in the 69th and 70th Bombardment Squadrons and have read three of the books that cover them.

I'm sending this email because I was hoping to get in touch with William Longton about how to possibly get a copy of Sunsetters of the Southwest Pacific. I tried reaching out to the 38th Bomb Group association about this, but the email bounced and it seems the association closed down in 2012. I also tried IHRA but they were not able to give me any information about when they might publish it.

Best regards,

The book is extremely hard to find.  I have had good luck finding book with a few used book dealers by having them conduct a search for the book.  They might not find it right away but will add it to a list and if any of the various other book sellers list a copy they'll contact you. is very good at this and I've had good luck with them.


High Res Map

19 January 2024
From Paul Hildebrandt

I'm searching for a high resolution map of the Midway Atoll as it would have appeared in 1942. Specifically building placement, runways, etc. I found some broken links which led to a map on your site but i'm unable to find it. Might you have one you would be willing to share with me?

Thank you,
Paul Hildebrandt

First of all sorry about the broken links.  Websites update their pages and libraries and not all links here on the RoundTable get updated.  When a link is no longer valid I try to find the replacement but I'm not always successful.

The best images we have is on our Midway Maps page.  Midway Maps


Images From the Battle of Midway

17 January 2024
From Zsolt Szalanczi

The last picture on the page - USS Saratoga - is also available on the Naval HIstory and Heritage Command page, but the date is there June 6, 1942 (not June 5) Link to November issue

Well, one could argue with the international date line.

Interesting are definitely the dual purpose 5 inch gun turrets in the picture in place of the earlier 8-inch gun turrets. The turrets were replaced only during the February 1942 overhaul, after the torpedo damage on January 11 inflicted by IJN I-16 submarine. Sister Sara arrived indeed too late in Pearl to join the Battle of Midway, but the exhausted air contingents of Enterprise and Hornet could be replaced by her planes after the battle.

By the way, Lexington received only seven quadruple 1.1-inch gun mounts in place of the 8-inch turrets in March, just two months before her loss in the Coral Sea battle in May.

Best regards,

Thank you. Subtitle has been updated.  Unfortunately I fat fingered the photo name as "SaratogaArrivesatPearlJun51942.jpg" when saving it.

This also brings up an interesting bit of trivia. Many have speculated on the possible inclusion of Saratoga at the Battle of Midway and how that might have changed history. Hard to image how her presence would have changed the outcome but interesting to go through the exercise now and then. One must remember that most of her air group was transferred to Yorktown. Only Scouting 3 was retained. So likely her new air group would not have had a lot of experience, similar to Hornet. She would have been added to TF-17 and maybe Fletcher would have launched her air group earlier while still keeping Yorktown in reserve. So possibly Hiryu would have also been attacked. Interesting but maybe her presence would have also led to the discovery of the US forces earlier. Remember the Japanese aircraft that spotted TF-17 only reported 10 ships and didn't spot Yorktown till much later. Addition of another carrier in the group might have been spotted a good deal earlier with unfortunate results. As Ron Russell has said many times, and I paraphrase, 'its hard to imagine a better outcome than what actually happened'.

So why bring this up. As Mr. Szalanczi pointed out Lexington only received the 1.1-inch quad mounts in March while Saratoga arrived at Pearl Harbor on June 6th sporting the dual 5/38 mounts fore and aft of the island. And these same four dual mounts were the reason she missed the battle. Originally the refit was scheduled to be completed on May 13th. However when testing the mounts a 5 inch shell exploded in the left barrel of the number 4 mount. This damage was considered to be so severe that the gun had to be replaced. It took 9 days to complete the repairs to the mount so Saratoga left Puget Sound on May 22 rather than May 13 as scheduled. This 9 day delay meant she missed the Battle of Midway.

Source of this information is The Lexington Class Carriers by Robert C. Stern, 1993 Naval Institute Press.


Library Link

17 January 2024
From Mike Allen

As always, thanks for all you do in getting the latest issue out.

I appreciated the photos you included. I’m always interested in those.

Lastly, I was looking that the Library page on the website and clicked on the link for “The Japanese Story of The Battle of Midway” and the link didn’t work. I found the right link and wanted to send it to you. Hopefully it saves you a few seconds.


Thanks much.  I'll update the link.  Always a few that get moved each year.