Roundtable Forum
Our 26th Year
April 2024

In this issue.

Roundtable Opening Remarks
Bowen Weisheit’s Book
More Free Books (almost)
VT-3 Attack
A couple of thoughts
Screenplay on Waldron. Lindsey and Massey
Interrogations of Japanese Officials
Dick Best's oxygen bottles
..... And More
The Battle of Midway Roundtable Opening Remarks

Welcome to the Battle of Midway RoundTable Newsletter.  This month we have quite a number of articles.  I'll call this the April issue but there are some recent articles in May that I wanted to get out.  There are quite a bit more in May so will look to get that out just after the June 4th Celebrations.

June 3rd, 1942 the war in the Pacific was going pretty much as the Japanese had planned.  By the evening of the 4th that plan was done.  The debate has always been what was the turning point in the Pacific War.  Was it the Battle of Midway or the Guadalcanal campaign?  Both sides have arguments to support their view.  For me there has never been a doubt.  Without the result of the Battle of Midway the Guadalcanal campaign would certainly have never happened, at least not as soon as August 1942.  The landing on Guadalcanal was risky even with the elimination of 4 of Japan's first line carriers.  With those 4 carriers and their air groups intact any attempt to take Guadalcanal would certainly become even more risky.  Plus whether Yamamoto got his result at Midway that he hoped or given the US refused to engage it was likely he would push even further to attempt to bring the US fleet to battle.  In a way that would have kept the US fleet on the defensive for much of the rest of 1942.

Ironically Yamamoto got his battle due to the US being able to read the Japanese code.  Possibly without the code breaking an attack on Midway would probably have gone according to plan.  But depending on the whereabouts of the US carriers would the US have offered battle like Yamamoto envisioned.  I don't really see that happening.  Midway was an opportunity that Nimitz saw as a way to strike back while the Japanese carriers were distracted by the attack on Midway.  If the Japanese had successfully captured Midway the US would have treated it much like Wake.  Yes it was another blow but the Japanese could not mount much of a threat to Hawaii as the distance from Midway was just too great.

The Battle of Midway was 82 years ago and we continue to celebrate the great victory as well as honor the men who fought in that battle.  That is the Battle of Midway RoundTable.

This month we have a number of submissions that follow up articles from last month or earlier this year.  Ron Russell has an updated list of books and for anyone interested just pay the shipping and he'll send the book to you.   There are still some really good books available.  Make sure you check them out.

Thomas Rychlik has a very detailed follow up to the VT-8 attack question from last month.  Well worth the time to read.  Ron Russell has some thoughts on Bowen Weisheit's book, Barrett Tillman has a number of articles including some info on the oxygen bottles that ended Dick Best's Naval career.

The last article is a bit of a surprise.  The unfortunate part of the submission is that it was posted on Facebook but I can't find the origin so had to link to Facebook.  If you have a Facebook account you should be able to view the video.  If you do not have an account I don't know if it's going to show up for you.  But its some footage I had not seen before so passing it along.  Kind of fun to see the old film.

So as this is the 82nd year celebration if anyone is attending any events and can write up a report I'll put them in the next newsletter.

In the meantime enjoy the lastest.

Bowen Weisheit’s Book

2024 May 17
From Ron Russell

Navy Ensign C. Markland Kelly made history in an inauspicious manner, by failing to safely ditch his Wildcat fighter when he ran out of fuel during the Battle of Midway. According to witnesses, the young pilot defied convention by gliding downwind onto the water instead of upwind, preserving some lift. The result was more of a crash than a ditching, and it cost Kelly his life.

How did he thereby make history? Had Kelly followed the example of other VF-8 pilots who safely ditched and were rescued, his close friend Bowen Weisheit would have had little reason 40 years later to investigate the track of the USS Hornet air group at Midway. That investigation led to the stunning realization that Kelly and VF-8 went into the water very far from the location reported in the official record, revealing that something was quite wrong with the Navy’s account of the HAG during the battle.

Weisheit compiled his findings into a book, The Last Flight of Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Junior, USNR, which ultimately turned a fundamental piece of the battle’s history on its head. You probably know that story well, but on the chance that someone out there is new to this subject, check our review of the Kelly book here....   (scroll down to #6)

....then, review the book’s impact upon the accepted history of the Battle of Midway here....

All of that understandably generated huge interest in Weisheit’s book, especially after it became a key feature on the Roundtable. The demand for copies exceeded the author’s expectations, exhausting his inventory before he could get around to a second printing. Since the book had been privately published by Weisheit himself, his passing in 2009 effectively ended the book’s availability. Today you will be hard pressed to find a copy for sale, and any that turn up can be prohibitively expensive. (One of our members recently spotted it on eBay for $150.)

So, for those who have told us they’d like a copy of the book, there’s bad news and good news. The bad part you know: you’re not likely to find one any time soon, or ever.

The good news? This may come as a surprise, but the book itself is overrated. If you don’t have it, you’re not missing much, given that the heart of Weisheit’s thesis is fully covered in the above links plus numerous works by top tier historians like Lundstrom, Cressman, Parshall-Tully, Symonds, Toll, and others. Weisheit made his point (the “flight to nowhere”) via his veteran interviews and his well-crafted chart showing the actual tracks of the HAG’s four squadrons on the morning of 4 June 1942. Those comprise relatively few pages in his book; the rest is largely irrelevant, arguable, or simply wrong.

The book’s problems are covered in depth in our online review, above. Too much print is devoted to Kelly’s college days and the Hornet’s history after Midway, and multiple pages are wasted on Weisheit’s fixation with an alleged fault in the YE homing transmitter—disproven by numerous HAG pilots who found it consistently reliable.

So, if you’ve been searching in vain for the book, relax. Be satisfied with the facts of the Flight to Nowhere as related by those eminent authors (Lundstrom, et al) who have Weisheit’s thesis fully covered in their own works. Owning the book itself won’t tell you anything that hasn’t been told as well or better elsewhere, especially here.

--Ron Russell

If you wish to download a copy of the above article in a Word document click the link below.

Bowen Weisheit’s Book

More Free Books (almost)

2024 May 27
From Ron Russell

Thanks to everyone who responded to my (nearly) free book offer in the March newsletter. Many were spoken for on the first day, and they’ve all gone to new homes.

The following list is the remainder, plus a few that escaped our tally in March. Same deal as before—free to whomever asks, except that I’ll appreciate being reimbursed for the shipping expense. They go via USPS Media Mail, so it isn’t much.

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.

Except as noted, all books are hardbacks and in decent to "like new" condition.

P = paperback
LF = large format, 10 to 12 inches tall.

In this revised list, I’ve added a brief description of each volume for those who may not be familiar.

--Ron Russell

- - - - - - - - - -


A Dawn Like Thunder (Mrazek) – VT8 at Midway and Guadalcanal.
The Man Who Won World War II (P) (James) – Joe Rochefort changed world history.
Return to Midway (LF) (Ballard) – undersea explorer finds the Yorktown.
Stanley Johnston's Blunder (Carlson) – Rochefort’s secret spilled in the press!

- - - - - - - - - -


Attack on Pearl Harbor (Zimm) – how they planned it, and how they botched it.
Bluejacket (Hutchinson) – excellent account of a Pacific War sailor.
Clash of the Carriers (Tillman) – the Marianas Turkey Shoot.
Double-Edged Secrets (Holmes) – inside Hypo with Rochefort & company.
Hell in the Pacific (McEnerny) – Marines in the worst of it, especially Peleliu.
Iwo (Wheeler) – concise history of the Iwo Jima campaign.
Lonely Vigil (Lord) – the Solomons coastwatchers, by the author of Incredible Victory.
Pacific Payback (P) (Moore) – the Enterprise air group from Pearl Harbor to victory.
Wake Island (Schultz) – the battle and its survivors.
Whirlwind (Tillman) – bombing Japan, from Doolittle to the A-bombs.

- - - - - - - - - -


The American Heritage History of the American Revolution (LF) (Lancaster)
Citizen Soldiers (Ambrose) – the U.S. Army in Europe in WWII.
The Longest Day (Ryan) – basis for the 1963 movie re Normandy.

- - - - - - - - - -

FICTION (new on this list)

Dauntless (Tillman)
The Silver Waterfall (Miller)

(Comment on the above 2 fiction books: these are, hands down, the two best real-time versions of the BOM in print, bringing you the battle in the present tense.)

- - - - - - - - - -

If you want to download a copy of the above article in a word Document click the link below.

More Free Books (almost)

VT-3 Attack

2024 April 2
From Maj Thomas Rychlik

In response to William Longton’s post on VT-3’s attack. Here are some thoughts and an analysis I recently completed on this issue. I have not read anything that said that that Yorktown’s Air Group found Hiryu so well protected that Leslie and Massey moved on to attack Soryu. Although Leslie did attack Soryu, it is pretty well documented that Massey attacked Hiryu.

During my research into the YAG’s actions on the morning of June 4, 1942, I discovered a number of perspectives on this topic. Eventually I came to the conclusion that although Bombing Squadron Three (VB-3) and Torpedo Squadron Three (VT-3) initially began their approach to Kido Butai (KB) together, things didn’t stay that way for long.

On page 221 of “Shattered Sword” Parshall and Tully (P&T) state: “It has been commonly supposed the VT-3’s attack preceded that of the Yorktown dive bombers by a good bit. However, more recent scholarship on the American side of the battle has confirmed that VT-3’s assault lasted longer than previously thought and culminated after the dive bomber attack. Like all the American torpedo attacks this morning, the fact that the TBDs were so slow meant that the attack took a while to develop. Not only that, but VT-3 would subsequently switch targets during its run in, lengthening the overall engagement. Indeed, some of the American dive bomber pilots stated that after bombing Kaga and Akagi they witnessed aircraft from VT-3 still heading northward to attack their target. For their part the Japanese also saw the torpedo aircraft as part of a nearly simultaneous, continuous attack.” So why is this quote important? What light can an analysis of time and distance bring to the discussion?

As an engineer equations and formulas are second nature to me but in all the books and papers, I have read I have yet to see any kind of mathematical analysis of the various aviation attacks on KB. Figure 11-3 on Page 218 of Shattered Sword (SS) depicts the derived Akagi Course track compared to the Nagumo Report Course Track and superimposes the attacks of the three Navy Air Groups from 0920 to 1020. No additional details on how this figure was constructed are provided. The relative locations of the other three Japanese carriers are not shown. The scale is one-inch equals four nautical miles. SS page 222, Figure 11-5, depicts KB directly before the attack of the Enterprise dive bombers and YAG, about 1000. The inner screen in which the four carriers, two battleships and three cruisers maneuvered is a circle 9 miles in radius with an outer screen depth of 4.3 miles, total radius of 13.3 miles which covered an area of 555.7 square miles. That’s a lot of water!

A few givens. Estimating distances from aircraft to ships and from ships to aircraft is not an exact science. Atmospheric conditions, clouds, and perspective all factor into the accuracy of the estimate. Even trained aviators or seamen can only estimate distance, some level of inaccuracy has to be expected. With a task force spread out over 556 square miles, what reference point does an aviator use to estimate a distance? Is the distance measured to the closest ship or the perceived middle of all the ships? Such tools as modern-day laser range finders are very precise but WWII versions were not nearly so. Additionally, the exact timing of an event is subject to slight differences. The SBD had a time clock mounted in the cockpit. Pictures of the cockpit of the TBD do not clearly show one. These devices and the watches from various participants were not likely synchronized and memorializing the exact time of an event is difficult to do in the heat of battle. That is why we usually have fairly accurate times for sighting reports but once a unit gets into the close battle things are happening too fast for a combatant to check the time on his watch. A minute or two difference is easily possible and even likely. Add to this the confusion that event times are sometimes given in the Honolulu time zone which is 2.0 hours later than actual local time. Finally, exact speeds of the aircraft during the attack were not provided, although we have some data on what they were capable of, and some participants provided that information.

On June 4, 1942, at 0917 local time KB had turned to the NE (course 030), speed 28 knots to close with a reported US carrier. Ensign Gay stated that Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) was at 1500 feet and cruising at 110 knots enroute to KB. At 0920 Lieutenant Commander Waldron sighted KB and they him. No estimated distance was provided by Gay. Waldron reported the sighting to the Hornet Air Group (HAG) Commander and this communication was overheard by other pilots in the HAG. Fuchida says VT-8s aircraft came in from Akagi’s starboard bow or from the northeast (confirmation that the HAG departed on course 265). KB then turned their sterns to VT-8 by heading roughly west (course 270). VT-8’s attack ended at approximately 0937 after Gay launched his torpedo at Soryu and was shot down shortly thereafter by five Zeros launched at 0932 by Akagi. Did the first Zero launch at 0932 or the last? The accounts are not that specific. From sighting to Gay’s shoot down, approximately 17 minutes elapsed. KB was initially closing VT-8 at 28 knots so it took a few minutes to nearly reverse course and get to maximum speed for Soryu (Waldron’s target), capable of 35 knots, to run away from VT-8. If KB was able to steady up on course 270 for 15 of these 17 minutes, it would have put an additional 10 miles of distance between it and VT-8. A TBD traveling at 110 knots can travel 36 miles in 17 minutes in a straight line. If we subtract 10 miles from 36 miles that would indicate that VT-8 started their approach from approximately 26 miles away which, with weather conditions being what they were, is easily possible and fits with other reported sighting distances for ships from this altitude. If VT-8 could cruise at 110 knots, it is likely that in the attack, with the aircraft running at full throttle and in a slight descent the aircraft could have slightly exceeded 110 knots. However, for every 5 mph faster the aircraft would only gain 0.083 miles per minute. At 10 mph faster the aircraft would only gain 0.163 miles per minute or only 2.83 miles in distance over the 17 minutes of the attack. So, considering time, distance and the given inaccuracies in paragraph six, the timeline and distances of VT-8’s attack fit easily within this approach. VT-8’s attack and KB’s reaction is depicted in P&T’s Figure 11-3 below.

At 0930 Torpedo Squadron Six (VT-6) is on course 240, also at 1500 feet. Lieutenant Commander Lindsey sights smoke, not ships, off to the northwest and alters course in that direction. As the senior member of the squadron to survive the engagement LT(jg) Laub’s After Action report says they sighted KB at 1000 bearing 320 at a distance of approximately 30 miles. The 1000 time does not fit with any other eyewitness accounts as all agree the attack began earlier than that and ended by 1000. Furthermore, sighting KB at 1000 followed by a stern chase exceeding at least 30 miles would have had the VT-6 attack last well through the arrival of the Enterprise dive bombers, which we know today didn’t happen. However, Laub’s sighting time was accepted by Captain Murray when he wrote the Enterprise’s After Action report and it factored into the prevailing thinking of what happened at the time. After the war ended accounts from the Japanese became available and they stated that at 0938, eight minutes later than Lindsey sighting smoke, Akagi sighted VT-6 at approximately 31 miles and that KB changed course to 300 to put their sterns to the threat. This is also depicted in P&T’s Figure 11-3.

Logically Lindsey picked the closest carrier to attack: Kaga, which was the southernmost carrier. Kaga is at his 1 o’clock position. At 0940 Tone fires warning rounds to direct the Combat Aircraft Patrol (CAP) at VT-6. VT-6 is then attacked by dozens of Zeros and continues its approach to Kaga. At 1000 the five surviving TBDs from two divisions drop their torpedoes. The threat eliminated, KB returns to a base course of 030 as depicted in Figure 11-3. By 1010 the remnants of the VT-6 survivors are outboard of the screen being pursued by some Zeros. Kaga was steady on course 300 from close to 0938 and we can assume she was making her best speed of 28 knots. Kaga would have traveled 11.8 miles in the 22 minutes from 0938 to 1000 but it took a little time to change course from 270 to 300 and also would have lost ground to VT-6 when in the final minutes of the attack she would have turned to port, then to starboard, and then back to port to avoid the five torpedoes fired by the remnants of both divisions of VT-6.

A TBD traveling at 110 knots can travel 46.4 miles in 22 minutes in a straight line. However, as in the case of VT-8, it is hard to know the actual ground speed of VT-6 as it dropped from 1500 to 100 feet for the torpedo release and maneuvered for the final attack. Assuming Akagi was approximately correct in its distance estimation of 31 miles and we add the 11.8 miles Kaga would have steamed in 22 minutes, that is 42.8 miles and the approximate distance VT-6 would have had to cover in, wait for it, 22 minutes! The difference between VT-6’s flight time distance in 22 minutes (46.4 miles) and Kaga’s steaming distance (42.8 miles) is only 3.6 miles or about 1.7 minutes at 110 knots. If the TBDs were going slightly faster than 110 knots in their shallow dive the flight time distance would be less than the 46.4 mile distance and even closer to the ship time distance of 42.8 miles. So, unlike VT-8’s attack where no initial sighting distance was reported, in the case of VT-6’s attack, there was an approximate distance given and as I have shown this estimated distance fits pretty well within the parameters of a time and distance analysis.

Looking at Figure 11-3 we note that if we put a ruler on the Derived Akagi course track she traveled roughly 9 miles from 0938 to 1000, which is 4.3 miles fewer than the calculated distance of 13.3 miles for a carrier making 31.5 knots for 22 minutes. Parshall and Tully do not provide specifics on how the Derived Akagi course track was calculated. Because each Japanese aircraft carrier’s maximum speed was different from the others, the nice box formation KB had started with was nonexistent at this point. Kaga and Akagi were much further south than Hiryu and Soryu since the latter were much faster.

Based upon various accounts VT-3 launches between 0830 and 0845 and departs on course 239. VB-3 launches next and Thatch and his six fighters by 0905. The Air Group does a running rendezvous enroute and is completely formed by 0945. For the next 18 minutes we can assume VB-3 and VF-3 were able to slow down enough to stay with the 110 knot VT-3. VT-3 is initially at 1500 feet. VB-3 is at 16,000 feet. According to ARMC3 Childers at 1003 he sighted smoke, not ships, 30 miles to his right. VT-3 turns toward it, followed by VF-3 and VB-3. At 110 knots VT-3 has flown approximately 164 miles at this point. Lieutenant Commander Massey begins a slow climb to 2600 feet to gain a better view and to prepare for his high attack approach, likely losing some air speed in the process and probably falling slightly behind VB-3 which maintained either 110 knots or likely accelerated a bit as it descended from 16,000 feet to 14,500 feet for its pushover point. Later on, VT-3 regains some of this speed when the TBDs dive to 100 feet for the final run in.

After conforming to VT-3’s movements at 1005 ARM1C Gallagher, Lieutenant Commander Leslie’s rear gunner sighted the wakes of ships 35 miles away. Some other accounts say 30 miles. The white wakes on a deep blue sea were easier to see than the ships at this distance. Leslie could see three carriers and picked out one for his squadron. In the various accounts written on this selection some say Leslie thought VS-5 was behind him so he would have selected the carrier furthest away to allow VS-5 to take the nearest carrier. But what does time and distance tell us about the carrier he chose? At 110 knots, the speed he was traveling with VT-3, it would have taken the YAG 16.6 minutes to travel 35 miles if KB was stationary, arriving at 1021. However, KB was not stationery. According to Figure 11-3 KB changes course to the east at 1010 and then, reacting to the sighting of VT-3, steadies on a northwest heading by 1014. Radio transmissions show that Leslie and Massey were trying to coordinate their attacks when VT-3 was inundated with attacking Zeros. Were they coordinating their attacks on the same carrier or on multiple carriers? We do know this. Leslie said he began his dive at 1025. At their maximum speed of 35 knots between 1014 and 1025 both Soryu and Hiryu would have traveled 7.4 miles or a total of 42.4 miles from Gallagher’s initial sighting. If VB-3, or for that matter VT-3, stays at 110 knots, it takes almost exactly 20.1 minutes for VB-3 to travel 42.4 miles and catch up to the closest and eastern most carrier, Soryu! 20.1 minutes after 1005 is 1025, an exact match with what Leslie reported! Soryu is dead in the water by 1030. But where is VT-3 at this point?

Lieutenant Best attacked Akagi within minutes after McClusky attacked Kaga at 1020. Best stated that on his retrograde after attacking Akagi he sighted VT-3 still closing on their target which he estimated was well after 1030. If VT-3 and VB-3 had both gone after Soryu they would have both arrived at 1025. But we know they didn’t, only VB-3 attacked Soryu at 1025. This has to mean that Massey saw that Leslie was going after Soryu and he made the decision to redirect VT-3 to attack the untended to Hiryu, even if it meant he had to modify his approach. This would take time. He would have likely diverted to the north before heading back northwest. That is what CAP Esder’s diagram in his after-action report depicts. VT-3’s approach is from north of Soryu and attacking almost directly west. From P&T Hiryu turned east into the wind and started launching her first strike on Yorktown at 1054. In order to do that she would have needed approximately 15 minutes to move the strike aircraft to the flight deck, if as P&T say is true of all the Japanese carriers. It’s unlikely this movement would have occurred until VT-3’s attack had ended and there was no longer an immediate need to service the CAP. This 15-minute gap fits with P&T having VT-3’s attack ending around 1040.

Returning to the math. As we have shown it would take SBDs or TBDs at 110 knots exactly 20.1 minutes to travel 42.4 miles to attack Soryu. But Hiryu was not attacked at 1025. At 35 knots Hiryu would have moved 7.4 miles NW in the 11 minutes between 1014 and 1025. However, the attack on Hiryu continued until 1040 so between 1014 and 1040, approximately 26 minutes, Hiryu would have traveled 17.4 instead of 7.4 miles. If we add 17.4 miles to the 35 miles KB was distant from VB-3/VT-3 at 1005 that is 52.4 miles. It takes a TBD at 110 knots 25 minutes (1005-1030) to travel 52.4 miles but it took them another 10 minutes, till 1040, before the attack was over. This means the diversion VT-3 took added another 10 minutes or 21.1 miles at 110 knots to their attack. This clearly demonstrates that, although Massey may have initially headed for the nearest carrier, he modified his approach to attack the last remaining untended to carrier, Hiryu, which was clearly further away than Soryu, both in Esder’s diagram and from a time and distance calculation.

Orienting CAP Esders depiction to reflect true north in a similar orientation as Figure 11-3 it would indicate VT-3 attacked a carrier that had not already been attacked and that was approximately 1 mile Northwest of the eastern most carrier. The eastern most carrier already had a “dense cloud of smoke above and around it” indicating it had already been attacked. Esder’s diagram also depicts a “second carrier a solid sheet of flames” 10 to 12 miles southwest of the carrier VT-3 attacked. We know that a gap had opened up between Carrier Division 1 (Akagi and Kaga) and Carrier Division 2 (Soryu and Hiryu) due to the differences in their maximum speeds and maneuvering due to the previous two torpedo squadron attacks. We also know that the Enterprise dive bombers approached KB from the southwest and that placed Kaga directly in front of them with Akagi slightly to the east. McClusky, VS-6, and most of VB-6 dove on Kaga at 1022. Best and his section of VB-6 pulled up and flew east to attack Akagi. At 1019 Kaga’s senior lookout, a sailor by the name of Yoshida, spotted dive bombers to port at 13,000 feet. American records indicate McClusky began his dive between 1020 and 1025 with Best diving on Akagi slightly later. According to Walter Lord, as Best prepared to dive on Akagi he could see a third carrier and well north of that a fourth carrier too. Best had a fleeting impression that that the closer carrier was just coming under attack. All of this would corroborate that in Esder’s drawing the burning carrier 10 to 12 miles away was either Kaga and Akagi and the much closer carrier with a dense cloud of smoke around it was Soryu, which had been attacked by VB-3 well in advance of VT-3’s approach to Hiryu. Why Esders did not see a fourth carrier at a distance which was also on fire could easily be chalked up to the fact that he was pretty busy flying wing on Massey, dodging anti-aircraft fire and Zeros, and had eventually had to assume the lead of VT-3 after Massey had been shot down. One of the most important aspects of his diagram, and Best’s recollections, was that it is clear VT-3 was committed to attacking Hiryu and that Soryu had already been attacked by VB-3. Although not really discussed by P&T, Esder’s diagram supports their discussion on Page 221 which was mentioned in paragraph four but conflicts with the relative locations of Soryu and Hiryu in their Figure 11.4 on page 220 and Figure 13-1 on page 233.

Then we have Machinist Corl’s statement of the attack which he wrote shortly after the battle. Corl used GMT time which I will convert to local. Corl says VT-3 reached the outer screen which was 10 to 15 miles from the carriers at 1025. This estimate fits well with the 13.3 miles from SS Fig 11-5. Exactly where they entered the outer screen in relation to Hiryu matters. At this point Hiryu is racing away from VT-3 at 35 knots and VT-3 started their shallow descent from 2600 to 100 feet, gaining some speed over the 110 knots they were making earlier. P&T state that VT-3’s attack ended at 1040 according to a statement given by Esders, Corl, and Childers to Mark Horan and then passed to P&T in 2002.

Returning to the math, between 1025 and 1040 Hiryu would have advanced 10 miles. If we replace Soryu with Hiryu in P&Ts Figure 11-5 and measure the distance from the outer screen to Hiryu that distance is about 13 miles. Adding 13 to 10 miles meant that between 1025 and 1040, VT-3 would have had to cover only 23 miles if they had flown a direct course. It would only require a speed of 80 knots to fly 23 miles in 15 minutes but it is unlikely that they would have slowed down at this point. However, a TBD at 110 knots can travel 31.6 miles in 15 minutes, which would indicate that they had to fly 8.6 miles further in order to get at Hiryu. If VT-3 averaged 120 knots in their shallow descent over 15 minutes they would have travelled 34.5 miles instead of 23 miles. It would seem to me that there might be a flight simulation program available where it might be possible to conduct simulations of these attacks to see what light those programs could shed on this issue.

In summation both Esders and Corl’s statements combined with my time and distance analysis support P&T’s opinion that that it took more time for VT-3 to get at Hiryu than if they had taken a more direct approach. However, these same statements and analyses would also indicate that Hiryu was north of Soryu instead of what is depicted in SS. With the need for bow shots in order for the slower Mark 13 torpedoes to hit the faster Hiryu, Massey had two possible routes to do this. Either go south of Hiryu, which would have forced VT-3 to go through the center of KB or divert north of Hiryu which was an area either barely inside or outside the screen. The problem was that it didn’t matter where they were once the CAP got to him. Massey is to be lauded for his adroit decision to divert from a coordinated attack on a clearly wounded Soryu and to attack the unattended Hiryu, no matter what it meant to his or his squadron’s survival. He is a hero.


A couple of thoughts

2024 April 4
From Barrett Tillman

Kleiss' gunner, S1/c John W. Snowden reportedly with several victories: according to Frank Olynyk's encyclopedic listing of USN aerial victory claims, Snowden was credited with one "Type 97 VF" 1 February 42 over Roi. One of four claimed by VB/VS-6.

From my Osprey SBD Units volume:
Leading SBD gunners:
ARM2/c John Liska (VS-2, VS-10)   - 4
Sgt. Wallace Read (VMSB-231)        - 3
Sgt. Virgil S. Byrd (VMSB-231)         - 3
ARM2/c WC Colley (VS-10)              - 2

Medal of Honor for VT-8....

As Tom notes, previously I raised the philosophical/practical question: What IS Above & Beyond?

In a BOM context, as I recall, Mitscher recommended all VT-8 pilots for The Big One, which Spruance properly denied. How could the Navy honor all the pilots of one squadron but not the other two? (Rhetorical inquiry only: the Navy could not. Furthermore, the Navy already had been through Medal Inflation with the absurd 53 presented for the 1914 Vera Cruz landing.)

And how to distinguish between the VT pilots KIA and those who survived?

BOMers will remember George Walsh's persistent claim that Wade McClusky deserved the MoH for his 4 June leadership. Far as I recall, GW never explained how the CAG deserved the MoH for...being CAG.

I've written two MoH books and probably knew or was acquainted with about a dozen recipients including Joe Foss, Ken Walsh Jim Howard, and Jim Stockdale. The Medal has been extremely political since inception (first award was for an Arizona army officer) and that hasn't changed much. Yes, standards evolved but Politics Uber Alles with extreme swings of exceptions and outright violations of the warrant. (Exhibit A: Gen. Adolphus Greeley "for a lifetime of splendid service." Exhibit B: Lindbergh who contrary to Army regs was not on active duty and was not in combat.)

Political Exhibits C and D: Both Roosevelts. Teddy Sr's was practically the only Spanish-American War MoH awarded for combat rather than life saving—after about a century of politicking. Teddy Jr's was essentially for Distinguished Map Reading ("We'll start the war from here.") What they had in common: both led their commands because they were paid to command their commands.


Screenplay on Waldron. Lindsey and Massey

2024 April 5
From Charles Race

I enclose for possible publication in the Roundtable a letter regarding a screenplay on Waldron. Lindsey and Massey. Have enjoyed the “No Right to Win” book which was one of our sources in developing the screenplay.

All the best,
Charles Race

Midway Roundtable Members:

In your February newsletter, my new best friend and colleague Tom Rychlik was kind enough to mention my name as author of a recently completed screenplay focused primarily on John Waldron but also Gene Lindsey and L.E.M. “Lem” Massey. In keeping with his good manners, Tom was too humble in giving me sole credit for authoring the screenplay (more below).

“Johnny One”
Charles A. Race
Thomas Rychlik, Major USMC (ret.)
  September, 2023
WGA# 2243312
Tom’s inspiration for seeking the Medal of Honor for Waldron, Lindsey and Massey was Lord’s Incredible Victory. My inspiration was Victor Davis Hanson’s Carnage and Culture specifically the Midway chapter containing the passage “Annihilation of the Devastators”. Its focus on Waldron’s exploits, initiative and sacrifice moved me to tears. So motivated, I then began the screenplay with the working title of “Johnny One”, focusing on Waldron’s early life, career and courageous attack on June 4, intending it to be a dramatic action film for the big screen. Written based mostly on secondary sources, a few primary sources, personal interviews with Waldron grandson Tom LeDew in Pensacola, and most importantly, my dog-leafed, extensively-highlighted copy of “No Right to Win”. After many fruitless attempts to market “Johnny One” to screenplay agents, I paused my efforts. Then in Spring of last year, in a happy case of serendipity, LeDew mentioned his discussions with Tom Rychlik, and with our first conversation, we became fast friends and crusaders in our cause to give these martyred commanders their due. Tom made so many important and constructive revisions to “Johnny One,” that I now credit him as co-author of the screenplay. We like the screenplay, but the rubber starts to meet the road in April when it competes in a national screenplay competition, with feedback to be provided from producers and agents. Color us ‘excited but nervous’.

Mention was made by Tom R. of the Avalon Hill game “Midway” first produced in 1962. As it turns out, we avidly played this game during our formative years. Fun double-blind game, easy to play. But in the last 60 years, the board war game market (not including the video market)-- like histories of Midway-- has exploded with numerous games on the campaign and battle. Curious to how many, I checked the game site “Board Game Geek” and found to my amazement that there are 17 games on Midway! I venture to say, having played these games for 60 years, that it is the most gamed subject in board game history (not counting Yamamoto’s rigged game on the eve of the campaign!). Go to and search “Midway” for titles, descriptions, photos, ratings and player feedback.

Charles Race

I have commented a number of times that the TV show on Midway and then finding the AH game Midway in a local Drug Store started my interest in the Battle of Midway.  And yes there are a lot of games on the Battle of Midway of which I'm sure I have the majority and have played most of them.  There are quite a few other games that don't have Midway in the title but include the battle as part of a larger study on the subject such as The Fast Carriers by SPI or CV by Battleline which is the sister game to Flattop and is specifically on the Battle of Midway.

If you would like a Word Document of the article click on the link below.

Johnny One

Interrogations of Japanese Officials, 2 volumes via NHHC

2024 April 6
From Barrett Tillman

In case any CCs have not seen this online collection. Contains considerable Midway material including Hiryu. Docs appear to be searchable.

Dick Best's oxygen bottles

2024 April 8
From Barrett Tillman

Contains the most detailed description of the SBD-3 system I've seen.

..... And More

Bombing Eight Midway Report

2024 April 8
From Tom Rychlik

On page 17 of Weisheit’s interview with Troy Guillory they talk about a Bombing Eight after action report that was written three weeks after the battle. It’s not in Weisheit’s book and until now I had never seen a copy of it at the various Midway report sites. The report doesn’t show up in the Roundtable’s reports section but I was wondering if you asked the members if anyone had access to a copy. It’s understandable there was no report from VT-8 but Rodee could have written one and so could have the senior pilot left in VF-8 (It took a little while for Mitchell to reunite with his squadron).

Tom Rychlik

As far as I know there is no record of any air group commanders writing or filing any AAR. What did exist or was written was likely destroyed or filed in Marc Mitscher's personal papers. The only official AAR from Hornet came on June 13th and was signed by Marc Mitscher.

So if Stanhope Ring did write an AAR no record of it exists.  He did write his version of the events but they were only discovered in his papers after he passed away.  We have published this on the RoundTable and if you have not read it I can find it for you.

One written three weeks after the battle, if one did exist, might have likely been turned in to Mitscher with predictable results.


USS Midway museum update

2024 April 16
From Barrett Tillman

Thanks. I've been meaning to get out there since the movie came out to see the TBD. Used to go out to SD when a GF lived there and we'd always get a bucket of clams and couple beers at the Fish Market and sit on the deck just across from the Midway. Went onboard a few times.

Looks like they updated a lot. Also since Bill Vickrey donated his papers to them would be interesting to look through them.


2024 April 19
From Barrett Tillman

Thom, that sounds (reads) like a loverly time!

Don't recall if I mentioned that I donated over 500 cu. ft. of books & docs to the CV41 library and archive a few years ago. (My main bookshelf suffered structural failure, which spurred the donations.) Plan is/was to scan the material for research access but have not heard how that's going. Between Bill V's and my stuff, that's gotta be a b-i-g project.

As ever

500 Cu. Ft. is a lot of books and papers. I know they have not had a lot of time scanning the documents as someone on the RoundTable asked about some of Bill's papers a while ago. Probably gonna take some time.

When I make the trip maybe I'll get a chance to look through some of the papers. They said it was an option.


2024 April 22
From Barrett Tillman

Hey, that would be a hit with BOMers, Thom. Looking forward to a debrief.


USS Hornet - VT8 Baseball Cap

2024 May 30
From Ron Russell

I meant to research that cap in depth for the Roundtable, but couldn't devote the time this month. In brief, it looks a lot more like a commemorative creation than anything directly relevant to the BOM or its veterans. The fouled anchor with the star above is the insignia for a Navy senior chief petty officer, E-8 in the modern rank structure, which didn't exist in WW2.

Of course, it's possible that a VT-8 flight deck seaman, like some we've known here, could have advanced to that rank in later years, then assembled the cap after retirement. Or, even more likely, a surviving family member did that to honor the veteran upon his passing--I did something like that for my own WW2 vet father, a display of his medals and unit insignias that he never saw.

So the cap is interesting, but more like memorabilia than anything directly related to the actual VT-8 or CV-8.

--Ron Russell

USS Yorktown (CV-5) Pearl Harbor May 27, 1942

Found this on Facebook.  I've tried to find a more general link to the film but cannot locate the file anywhere.  So if you have a Facebook account you should be able to see the film.

Fascinating footage from the National Archives of the USS Yorktown returning to Pearl Harbor on May 27, 1942. The film was taken from Ford Island and follows the ship through the channel, past Hospital Point and USS Hornet (CV-8) docked at Ford Island.

Click here to link to Facebook and watch the film.