Roundtable Forum
Our 26th Year
March 2024

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
SBD dive bombing procedures
High Res Map of Midway
Radar at BOM
Sunsetters of the South Pacific
USS Hornet-VT8 baseball cap
Asheville and Yorktown
Books for the Roundtable
Color SBD from BOM?
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

Welcome to the March issue of the Battle of Midway RoundTable.  We have a variety of interesting submissions this month as well as some follow up answers to previous submissions and questions.  I do find one of particular interest, that being the baseball cap someone found with VT-8 from Hornet. 

VT-8 was split with Swede Larsen leading half the squadron to train on the new TBF Avengers in the US while John Waldron led the other half to the Battle of Midway.  After Midway VT-8 was assigned to the Saratoga and participated in the Battle of Eastern Solomons and was partially credited with the sinking of the Ryujo.  When Saratoga was torpedoed VT-8 was transferred to Guadalcanal and was involved in the subsequent battles often being reduced to only one aircraft put together from parts of other TBF's that were too damaged to fly again.  Many of the men were also involved in the land battles having no aircraft to fly.  The last mission VT-8 officially flew was on November 15th attacking some transports after the second naval night battle of Guadalcanal where the Washington sank the Kirishima.

A new Carrier Air Group 8 was formed around November of 1943.  The new group was assigned to Intrepid for training.  When Intrepid arrived at Pearl Harbor in January VT-8 was left on Hawaii.  Intrepid then departed to join the Fast Carriers in the Pacific.  When Bunker Hill arrived in March VT-8 was assigned to her air group and served on board till Bunker Hill till November 21, 1944 when they were sent to the US to reform.  After reforming they were assigned to the Saratoga for training in the summer of 1945 but did not deploy again to active duty.  After the war Carrier Air Group 8 was disbanded for a final time.

Now why this short history of the squadron.  Well I had to find out if VT-8 ever served on board the new Hornet CV-12 so I figured I might as well share what I found.  VT-8 was never assigned to CV-12 so the cap most certainly had some connection to the original squadron.  Guess if anyone has any info we might find out who it belonged to.

Quite a few more articles and Ron Russell has a generous offer to our members.  Be sure to check that out.

In the mean time enjoy the newsletter.  The 82nd anniversary of the Battle of Midway is less than a month away.  Anyone having info on any celebrations let me know and I'll add them to the next newsetter.

SBD dive bombing procedures

10 March 2024
From Barrett Tillman

Lots of detail with comments by a USMC attack aviator.
Cites Shattered Sword among others.

10 March 2024
From Ron Russell

Clay Fisher gave us a detailed treatise on that back in '01. Here's the link on the BOMRT website:

11 March 2024
From Barrett Tillman

Dive bomber accuracy in perspective

In researching the SBD book in a previous century I found a 4th MAW study comparing SBD and F4U dive bombing accuracy. The Corsair was surprisingly close to the Dauntless, though I'd have to look for the numbers. Of course, the CentPac targets usually involved a Permissive Environment.

I do remember a quote from Fletcher Pratt's USMC aviation history: "Dive bombing is like playing the violin. Everybody knows the basics but you (have to?) find your own way of doing it."

My VB experience was limited to a couple of sorties in a friend's armed T-34 with a bomblet dispenser for Mk 76s. A highly efficient operation: the target was the airstrip's wind sock! I was a much better strafer than bomber.


High Res Map of Midway   Link to January Article

19 March 2024
From Jon Parshall

Regarding Paul Hildebrandt’s quest for a detailed map of Midway in 1942, the Park Service is in charge of maintaining the island now (although they don’t have the funds for it), and are charged, I’m pretty sure, with making sure that at least some of the buildings there are maintained to period standards. My guess is that the Park Service in Hawaii *must* have detailed maps of the island during the war, which would doubtless have come originally from the Navy as a result of the construction work the Navy put in to enlarge the seaplane ramp and that sort of thing. So, if I were you, I would start with the Park Service and see what you can get from them. If you’re serious about doing archival work to find those plans, I could ask Mike Wenger, whose done much the same thing in terms of finding Navy construction plans in the National Archives for things like the mooring caissons at Pearl Harbor. That’s not my cup of tea, but apparently there’s a lot out there.

Good luck!
Best Wishes,
Jon Parshall

Radar at BOM

19 March 2024
From Warren Heller

Following up on the discussion in this month's newsletter, while it seems clear that this particular technical advantage enjoyed by U.S. forces was not pivotal, there were likely more ramifications than stated. The 20 minutes or so of warning that allowed the Yorktown's crew to prepare (especially clearing the gas lines and stowing ordnance) stands in sharp contrast with the fate of the IJN carriers who received no advance warning at all. It is easy to imagine, if the first Japanese sortie against Yorktown had been a complete surprise, that its operational status would not have been recovered by the time of the second Japanese attack -- which mistook Yorktown for a different carrier than the one they thought they had put out of action earlier. Had they not made that mistake and pressed on to find nearby Enterprise and Hornet, the IJN fliers probably would not have been able to change the ultimate outcome of the battle at that stage, but they might of kept it from ending up as lopsided in our favor as it did.

Warren Heller

Sunsetters of the South Pacific

19 March 2024
From William Longton

Sunsetters of the South Pacific came about as a result of surviving members from the 69th and 70th Bomb Squadrons meeting and corrolating their experiences that took place during the war. I came to know the son of one of the members, a Mr Thomas Behrens through a complicated path. Mr Behrens informed me that SSOTSP was printed at the insistance of its members following years of negotiating and compromise with the publishing group. Part of the agreement reached was that a strictly limited number of copies would be made available to only the members of the two bomb squadrons who requested a copy at the time of the final agreement....which from what Mr Behrens told me was less than 500 copies. Since he was working with his father and the group on the project, Mr Behrens ordered one for himself as well as his father. Sadly, Thom Behrens father passed away before he received his copy. So, to honor his father, Thom donated his fathers' copy to the Library of Congress in Washington, DC where it rests today. Why am I telling you all of this? It is because I do not want anyone to waste their time trying to find where they could purchase a copy, when it most likely will not be found. "Most likely", but not impossible. There is always the chance that a copy could turn up in a private collection or one that has been donated to a library or something like that. Mr Behrens graciously photo-copied several pages for me from his copy which I shared with the BOMRT, and I found it to be chock filled with previously unknown details about the groups. So my advice to you is this: if your interest is in the 38th Bomb Group, and the 69th & 70th Bomb Squadrons and you HAPPEN to find a copy to purchase, no matter the condition, BUY IT!


USS Hornet-VT8 baseball cap

20 March 2024
From M Simonis

I have a bit of a mystery I am hoping you or the Roundtable can help with.

In the fall of 2023 I found a used USS Hornet-VT8 baseball cap with some medal pins attached for sale on EBay, and I purchased it, as it seemed to deserve better than that.

I will include pictures.

Per the seller, he purchased it in the summer of 2023 from a thrift store in Wasilla Alaska.

It appears the pins on it are

-Air Medal with gold star
-Combat Action Ribbon USN-USMC
-Asiatic Pacific Campaign
-Sea Service Commerative.
in the front center Wings with "AirCrew"
-2 USN fouled Anchor with gold star.

I am hoping to identify the past owner, or at least thoughts on who the past owner was, pilot, gunner, bombardier, or service crew. I am thinking it was likely an air crew member who settled in Alaska, who possibly was a Roundtable contributor. Possibly there may even be a photo of him wearing this hat with the specific arrangement of pins. Thoughts?


Asheville and Yorktown

31 March 2024
From Clark Whelton

A text forwarded to me by my son-in-law, Adm. C.D. Becker, USN (Ret.), contains an interesting sidelight on the Battle of Midway.

The text was delivered by Rear Admiral Sam Cox, U.S. Navy (Retired) on the occasion of the dedication of a monument to the 166 crewmen of Patrol Gunboat USS ASHEVILLE (PG-21,) in Riverside Cemetery, Asheville, North Carolina on 3 March 2024. ASHEVILLE was lost in action with all hands on 3 March 1942 south of Java.

In his speech, Admiral Cox, who is Director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, said: “The patrol gunboat ASHEVILLE was authorized in 1916, before the U.S. entered World War 1, but because building destroyers was the priority once the war started, ASHEVILLE was not completed and commissioned until after the war, in July 1920. “Of note, ASHEVILLE’s first Commanding Officer was Lieutenant Commander Elliot Buckmaster, who would become an early aviator and would be in command of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) at the Battle of Midway, where his skillful leadership kept the ship afloat despite grievous damage from Japanese aircraft, and would have saved the ship but for the late arrival of a Japanese submarine. Buckmaster would retire as a Vice Admiral. In fact, of ASHEVILLE’s 16 Commanding Officers, six of them would make flag rank, including two four-stars and two three-stars.”

Admiral Cox reminded his audience that in the dark months following Pearl Harbor “The Allied effort in the Dutch East Indies quickly collapsed in an utter rout in the face of the Japanese onslaught. On 27-28 February 1942, a combined U.S., British, Dutch and Australian force was decisively defeated in the Battle of the Java Sea. On 1 March, surviving U.S. forces were ordered to withdraw from the Dutch East Indies (including Java) to Australia.

On 3 March, ASHEVILLE, transiting alone, was sighted by a Japanese scout plane, and then intercepted by two Japanese destroyers, backed up by the heavy cruiser MAYA. The ARASHI and NOWAKI were among the most modern in the Japanese Navy, each armed with six 5-inch guns and powerful torpedoes, compared to the elderly ASHEVILLE, armed with three antiquated 4-inch guns. Admiral Hart had once described the ASHEVILLE as “lacking the speed to run and lacking the guns to fight.”

Running was not an option. Surrender was an option, but ASHEVILLE’s Commanding Officer, LCDR Jacob “Jake” Britt (USNA ’29) chose to fight. From the Japanese perspective, the battle that followed was a total fiasco. It took the two Japanese destroyers over 300-rounds to get the ASHEVILLE to stop shooting back and to finally sink her, a ship that was not deemed worthy of expending a torpedo.

As ASHEVILLE began to sink, Sailors from the engineering spaces came on deck to find the bridge and forecastle mostly blown away, and most everyone who was topside was already dead. Once in the water, a Japanese destroyer rescued one survivor, Fireman Second Class Fred Brown (later promoted to First Class while missing in action status,) presumably so they could positively identify the ship they had just sunk. The other survivors were left behind, and all perished along with those who went down with the ship. Brown was treated decently on the destroyer, but would ultimately die in a Japanese prison camp from the combined effects of beatings and disease. Brown related his limited view of the battle to a survivor of the heavy cruiser USS HOUSTON (CA-30,) that would become the only account of the battle from the U.S. side, and would not be known until after the war.

There is no way of knowing what LCDR Britt did, other than choosing to fight, or how long he even survived the onslaught of Japanese shellfire. But as an Academy graduate of the interwar years he was steeped in the tradition of John Paul Jones (“I have not yet begun to fight,”) as well as the immortal dying words of Captain James Lawrence in the War of 1812, “Don’t give up the ship!” Jake Britt was true to those words.”

PS The heroic stand of the US Navy in the East Indies in early 1942 has been preserved in a true Hollywood film by Cecil B. DeMille, called “The Story of Dr. Wassell.” Corydon M. Wassell was a USN medical officer on Java. When American military personnel were ordered to leave, Dr. Wassell chose to remain, providing care for dozens of wounded sailors. As Japanese forces approached, Dr. Wassell decided to make one last effort to save his patients by moving them over wartime jungle roads to the south side of the island, in hopes of catching a boat to Australia. The true “Story of Dr. Wassell” can still be seen on television. Be sure to watch for it.

Books for the Roundtable

26 April 2024
From Ron Russell

Free books (almost)

For many of the Roundtable's earlier years, Ted Kraver in Arizona generously offered military history books free to our members. He'd buy them at low-cost book auctions, then send them to anyone who asked, postage-paid. For an example, check issue 2011-05 in our Archives.

I am now required to do about the same thing due to relocating to downsized quarters—a lot of my books can't go with me. So, they’re available to any of our Roundtable readers who would like them. I'm almost as generous as Ted, but would appreciate being reimbursed for the postage, which won't be much—around $7.00 for 5 pounds of books via Media Mail, coast-to-coast.

(For anyone near enough for an in-person delivery, I’d be happy to hand them to you at my front door. I’m in northern California, about 30 miles south of Sacramento.)

First come, first served. Email your request to me at Include your complete U.S. mail address and your phone number, and I'll get back to you with shipment confirmation. Regretfully, I must limit this offer to U.S. postal addresses only.

All of the BOM-related books, plus a few others have been reviewed in past issues of our newsletters. Most of them are also detailed on our website: click References on the toolbar at the top, then The Midway Library.

All books are in decent to "like new" condition. All are hardback unless marked as "P" for paperback. "LF" means large format, 10 to 12 inches tall.

--Ron Russell

- - - - - - - - - -


A Dawn Like Thunder (Mrazek)
The Defense of Wake and Marines at Midway (LF) (Heinl)
A Glorious Page In Our History (P, LF) (Cressman, et al)
Double-Edged Secrets (Holmes)
The Man Who Won World War II (P) (James)
Midway 1942 (P) (Stille)
Midway Dauntless Victory (Smith)
Midway Inquest (Isom)
Never Call Me a Hero (Kleiss)
Return to Midway (LF) (Ballard)
Sole Survivor (Gay)
Stanley Johnston's Blunder (Carlson)
That Gallant Ship [re Yorktown](P, LF) (Cressman)
The Unknown Battle of Midway (Kirnan)

- - - - - - - - - -


And I Was There (Layton)
Attack on Pearl Harbor (Zimm)
Beyond Pearl Harbor (LF) (Werneth)
Black Shoe Carrier Admiral (Lundstrom)
Bluejacket (Hutchinson)
Carrier Air War (LF) (Tillman & Lawson)
The Carrier War (LF) (Reynolds)
Clash of the Carriers (Tillman)
Crossing the Line (P) (Kirnan)
Enterprise (Tillman)
Fateful Rendezvous (P) (Ewing & Lundstrom)
The First Team [original 1984 issue] (Lundstrom)
The First Team and the Guadacanal Campaign (Lundstrom)
Hawaii Under the Rising Sun (Stephan)
Hell in the Pacific (McEnerny)
Iwo (Wheeler)
The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors (P) (Hornfischer)
Lonely Vigil (Lord)
Neptune's Inferno (Hornfischer)
Nimitz at War (Symonds)
The "On the Roof" Gang (P, 2 volumes) (Zullo)
Pacific Payback (P) (Moore)
Refighting the Pacific War (Bresnahan)
Wake Island (Schultz)
Whirlwind (Tillman)

- - - - - - - - - -


The American Heritage History of the American Revolution (LF) (Lancaster)
The Battle of the Generals [re Patton] (Blumenson)
Citizen Soldiers (Ambrose)
The Longest Day (Ryan)
Patton (Blumenson)
Patton, a Study In Command (Essame)
Patton's Best (Frankel & Smith)
Patton's Third Army at War (LF) (Forty)

If you want to download a Word document of the book list click here .

Color SBD from BOM?

21 March 2024
From Marty Bunch

I don’t recall ever seeing this pic unless it was colorized from an older one.


It was colorized from a black and white. The deck color is wrong. Decks were stained blue when the war started. I've seen this picture several times in the past few days on various groups. But I'll add it to the newsletter.

Here is the original black and white photo.

True, I didn’t notice the deck wrong color but still don’t remember seeing it.. Maybe some others will say the same thing..



Its becomine more and more popular for people to colorized old black and white photos.  Thanks to a variety of programs on the market almost anyone can do it.  The tools included in the programs make the job fairly easy.  I find some of these interesting although hard telling if the 'artist' got the colors correct.  In this case he missed a number of actual colors including the deck.  I have always found this new found interest in colorizing old photos similar to building models.  Some do a good job of research and get the details right while others treat the black and white photo or model more like a coloring book.