Roundtable Forum
Our 20th Year

Current Discussions

SDB Pilot Robert K. Campbell
Tone Scout Plane #4
Lessons From the Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway Roundtable Current Discussions

SBD Pilot Robert K. Campbell

From Chris Carola
5 June, 2017

Editors Note:  Last month I posted a link from a member about an SBD pilot who claimed to have fought in the battle.  I took down the post because the gentleman in the interview was not a pilot at Midway despite his claim.  Mark Horan pointed this out to me and I should have checked my sources first but did not and that's my failing regardless of the circumstances.

However on June 5th Chris Carola was kind enough to send a link to a real veteran of the battle and one who did participate in the morning attack on the Japanese fleet, Robert K. Campbell.  He was in VB3 and flew in the first division.  The link below is about him and what he did in the battle.

Tone Scout Plane #4

From Jon Parshall:
4 June, 2017

Couple of points:

1) Actually, Nagumo did not trust the sighting position that was given to him by Tone #4. It was apparent to 1st Air Fleet staff that the position made no sense—it was way out of #4’s territory, and should have been in Chikuma #1’s search pattern. This is one reason Nagumo launched Sōryū’s D4Y around 0800—to go out and verify that location.

2) I pulled out my master maps file for Shattered Sword, and took a look at the relative positions of the carrier forces at 0730, which is when Amari first sighted TF 16. At that point, TF 16 was 173nm from KdB; TF 17 was 191nm; the contact report placed the Americans at 195nm. So, in fact, the error in range was only about 20nm at most, but the error in bearing was considerable (about 16 degrees). So, yes, Nagumo would have assumed that the Americans were currently out of range, even though unbeknownst to him, TF 16 was actually in the process of launching on him (and were themselves under the misapprehension that the range was only about 150nm.)

3) From everything we know, Nagumo’s decision to wait to counterattack was more heavily influenced by the fact that his torpedo planes were by 0745 now partially armed with land attack weapons. Until he was able to re-arm those aircraft correctly, the doctrinally correct solution was to wait and then hit the Americans with a full-constituted combined-arms attack with both torpedo planes and dive-bombers.

4) The more Tony Tully and I have learned about the state of the hangar decks on CarDiv 1 at this time, the more confused and chaotic the situation down there looks. Isom was right in saying that even as late as 0900, the torpedo planes probably weren’t ready to go, and probably wouldn’t have been until much later than that.

5) Likewise, Nagumo was cognizant of the fact that his morning strike force would need to come down relatively shortly after they returned, as there would be damaged aircraft, with wounded aviators, and everybody would be low on fuel.

6) Bear in mind, Nagumo *had no ability to launch immediately.* There were *no* reserve strike aircraft on any of his flight decks at *any time* during the entire morning. Fuchida’s account in Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan is a fairy tale in this respect, and is contradicted by the primary source information, as well as by Japan’s official war history series. So, even if Nagumo had decided to strike only with CarDiv 2’s dive-bombers, and given the orders immediately at 0745, he still could not have had that strike ready to go any sooner than about, oh, 0825 or so. And even *that* would have necessitated spotting the decks during the very time that Henderson, and Norris, and the B-17s were all attacking. There’s just no way in hell that was going to happen—no hikōcho in his right mind is going to tell his captain, “So, yeah, let’s spot the decks while the B-17s are attacking—that’ll be a winner.”

Jon Parshall

Lessons From the Battle of Midway

From Robert Jones:
4 June, 2017

Any serious student of the battle is somewhat disappointed by the simplicity of Prof. Hansen's article. Cut him some slack, he was not writing it for us; he was writing it for products of an American educational system which doesn't even teach that the battle occurred.

That said, when I read the article I wrote a few paragraphs to add to it and sent it to some friends. Pardon the poetic license, I do understand every -- every -- qualification you can make about this, but the base point is still accurate:

Every Japanese sailor and airman in the Kido Butai who woke up on the morning of 4 June 1942 knew two things:

1. This was going to be the biggest day of his life.

2. If he died, it would be an honorable death under the code of bushido.

Every American who woke up on Midway and at Point Luck on 4 June 1942 knew two things:

1. This was going to be the biggest day of his life.

2. America was going to win. Because that's what we do.

Push all the chips into the pot and show your cards, Americans are going to win! That's what the 20th Maine and the First Minnesota did on day 2, Gettysburg, what the Navy did at Coral Sea, Midway, and Leyte Gulf, Eisenhower did at D-Day, the Marines at Chosin; pick your crisis and bet on the Americans. From birth we are taught to play to win, nothing else is acceptable. The Japanese were willing to die honorable deaths, and we were unwilling to accept anything other than victory. It really was that simple.

No Japanese was any braver than the pilots of VT-8 that day, but Waldron and his men did their duty. They did not shirk from that duty even though it was suicidal, and so doing they bought their part of the great victory every American at least half believed in. We do not choose moral victories, we fight to win!

So when the search plane found the Japanese invasion fleet on the afternoon of 3 June and radioed "Sighted main body", Nimitz immediately corrected him that it was not the main force. Because Nimitz had already bet the farm and did not want there to be any confusion. Midway was for all the marbles, and we were not going to let them off.

Bob Jones