THE ROUNDTABLE FORUM

 

Official newsletter of the Battle of Midway Roundtable

 

http://www.midway42.org

 

"To preserve an awareness and understanding of the great battle and to honor the men who fought and won it."

 

16 January 2005....................Issue No. 2005-03....................Our 8th Year

 

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.............................................. AROUND THE TABLE ...............................................

 

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MEMBERS' TOPICS IN THIS ISSUE

 

1.  Jim Forbes, Final Sortie

2.  TBD Propellers

3.  Aircraft that Won the War

4.  The Military Channel

5.  Ed Fox, Essay Winner

6.  Archive Disk, Second Edition

 

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"Jim Forbes, Final Sortie"

 

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15 January 2005

From:  The Family of Jim Forbes

 

    James M. Forbes, CAPT, USN (Ret), took his final flight on 10 Jan 2005 following a stroke two days earlier.  A celebration of life memorial service is scheduled for 10:00 AM Wednesday 19 January at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, at 11100 East Alameda in Aurora, CO.  Tel: (303) 690-6187.  Following the service there will be a brief social hour at the church before proceeding to Ft Logan for interment with military honors at 1:00 PM.

    Per Jim's wishes, the service will not be long, only about 45 minutes.  The family would be pleased to have his friends share a memory or anecdote to help celebrate his life in an upbeat way.

    Jim served as Flight Captain of Mile High Flight 18 in 1985, the first representative of the Navy to do so. He was also a Daedalian Life Member.  In WWII, he was an SBD Dauntless pilot aboard USS Hornet when that ship transported the Doolittle Raiders to their launch point on 18 April 1942.  Subsequently, he took part in the Battle of Midway and in the Guadalcanal Campaign, during which the Hornet was sunk.  Last August, Jim and his wife Claire traveled to Chicago to participate in the dedication of an SBD at Midway Airport in honor of the veterans of the Battle of Midway.

    Jim's obituary will appear in the Denver Post on Sunday 16 January.

    We know some of you have heard the news, but the simplest way for us was to do a mass e-mailing.  Thanks for your support.  In lieu of flowers, we are asking that donations be made in the name of Jim Forbes to the Daedalion Mile High Flight 18 Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 47014  Aurora, CO  80047.

Sincerely,

Jim's Family

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    For a recent photo of Jim with the other BOM vets at the Chicago Midway Airport dedication in September, click the following URL or go to our web site, select "The Image Board," and click Link 10.

 

    http://www.midway42.org/temp/MidwayAirport-Sep04.jpg

 

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"TBD Propellers"    (see Chris Bucholtz, issue 5-02)

 

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9 January 2005

From:  Robert Holzer   holzerrobert@web.de   (Germany)

 

    Russ & Chris:  I checked my copy of "Duels in the Sky" by Captain Eric M. Brown (a RN test pilot who flew a large number of WW2 aircraft) and he mentions a "full-feathering Hamilton Standard airscrew" for both; a SBD-3 Dauntless and a TBD-1 Devastator.  He flew both.  I hope that helps.

    Best,

    --Robert

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"Aircraft that Won the War"   (see Patricia Sanchez, issue 5-02)

 

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9 January 2004

From:  Mac Showers   macrain@att.net   (BOM vet, CIU/Station HYPO, Pearl Harbor)

 

    Regarding the query by Patricia Sanchez on Japanese intentions for the capture of Midway, I think the following is pertinent in addition to the Japanese quest for a "decisive battle."

    Much as I dislike engaging in "what if" speculation, there is no question that the Japanese came fully prepared to invade and capture Midway Island had there been no interference in their operations.  Admiral Nimitz commented after the battle that, "had it not been for the good intelligence we had, we would have read about the capture of Midway in the morning newspaper."

Thus, given that the Japanese MIGHT have captured the island, there can be no question that they would have used it as a base to interdict U.S. activities and operations from Hawaii.  Their intent was to force the U.S. Pacific Fleet to abandon Hawaii as its forward base and force it back to the west coast of the U.S.   The war would have been drastically different had this happened. 

    But, it DIDN'T happen.  End of "WHAT IF."

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9 January 2005

From:  Barrett Tillman   btillman3@cox.net

 

    In my Naval Institute Hellcat book (1979), I opined that three aircraft contributed most to victory in the Pacific.  Chronologically they were the SBD, F6F, and B-29.  I get A LOT of grief from P-38 drivers, but hey, it's my list!
    The SBD is obvious: no discussion needed.
    The F6F was largely responsible for destroying Japanese airpower.  Hellcats were credited with very nearly as many shootdowns as the AAF in the Pacific and CBI combined.  Nothing else came close.  Additionally, F6s won the battle that gave the Superforts their Marianas bases.

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10 January 2005

From:  Ron Nunez   CV5RON@aol.com

   

    Two items:  First, for Patricia Sanchez, regarding her question about aircraft development:  I believe the most important development was not with American aircraft technology per se, but a little-known event that occurred in the Aleutians during the Battle of Midway.  During the battle, an A6M2 Zero crash-landed in Akutan island.  This aircraft was recovered by the Americans, repaired and evaluated against current and upcoming fighter models.  This helped immensely in the development of future fighters and tactics.  Also, although not pertaining to aircraft development, pilot skill in the subsequent years had much to do with our gaining complete control of the air and aiding in the defeat of Japan.  The Japanese were not able to replace the skilled pilots lost in combat, and the skill level of her replacements decreased as the war continued.  Americans, on the other hand, rotated many veterans to their training bases, who imparted their invaluable combat knowledge to scores of new pilots.

    Second, for the roundtable in general:  Is Marston steel matting (the kind used for airfield construction in WWII) at all common here in the states?  The reason I ask is that during my last visit to the Philippines, I saw that many homes use Marston steel mats as fences in the yards.  Obviously, I subsequently found out that these are plentiful over there, and all date back to WWII.  I want to ship some of these mats over to California as sort of "souvenirs", but wonder if it's worth it, because each mat is heavy.

Thanks!

Ron N.

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    If you have an answer for Ron's Marston mating question, please respond to him directly via his e-mail address above.  --RR

 

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10 January 2005

From:  Paul Turner   turnerpd@optusnet.com.au   (Australia)

 

    You mentioned the B-29.  I would like to add two:  the F4U Corsair and the proximity fuse.

    Regards,

    --Paul

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10 January 2005

From:  Jon Parshall   jparshall@mn.rr.com

 

    In answer to Patriciaís question regarding advances in aviation technology over the next few years that proved crucial, Russ hints towards the range and payload of the B-29.  I would suggest that the performance of that particular plane was really an outgrowth of a more primary causeóAmerican advances in large radial aircraft engine technology, as well as superchargers.  The reason that Zero was superior to our aircraft at the beginning of the war was that Japanese designers took great pains to design a plane that would maximize its maneuverability and climb rate while being powered by a relatively small (940 horsepower) engine.  They did this by cutting down the weight of the airplane by every possible means.  So the Zero was very lightly builtóno armor, no self-sealing fuel tanks, and very light structural members.  The Zero was fabulously maneuverable, but if it took a hit, it had a tendency to burn quite easily and/or simply fold up as its structural members failed.  It could dish it out, but it couldnít take it.

    Early war American fighters didnít have the same performance as the Zero, because they were built more heavily, had better armor, carried more guns, and had self-sealing fuel tanks.  A self-sealing fuel tank has a layer of rubber sandwiched in between the inner and outer walls of the fuel tank. When it gets pierced by a bullet, the interaction of the gasoline with the rubber makes the rubber spongy and expandable, and it then covers the hole.  As you can imagine, pilots are rather fond of this design feature because it keeps their plane from catching on fire.  But that sort of a tank design means extra weight, and requires larger tanks to carry the same amount of fuel.  So, with a plane like a Wildcat that also had a smaller engine, you had a very rugged aircraft that could get its pilot home in one piece a higher percentage of the time, but it just didnít have the performance needed to be able to put that pilot in a position to attack a Zero, in many cases.

    However, what changed in the equation in late 1942-mid 1943 was that the Americans were able to develop very large, powerful aircraft engines that put out 2,000 h.p. or more.  Not only that, but since our manufacturing and metallurgical sciences were quite advanced, we could build better superchargers as well.  A supercharger is nothing more than a high speed fan that blows more oxygen into the engine.  The higher the altitude, the thinner the air, and if you donít have enough oxygen in the engine cylinders, your engine doesnít do so well in terms of performance.  So having a good supercharger was crucial to keeping the plane nice and zippy above, say, 20,000 feet.  The net result of this was that we could produce big, beefy fighters like the F6F Hellcat, P-38 Lightning, and F4U Corsair that retained all the benefits of heavy armor, weapons, and protection and still have high horsepower so that the thing would perform well, too.  Our big late-war fighters could still never outmaneuver a Zero in a dogfight, but they were much faster, climbed better, dove better, and had superior firepower.  Used correctly, they were very, very difficult for a Zero to beat.

    Meanwhile, the Japanese had very little luck in producing a follow-on aircraft to the Zero.  They never did build very good superchargers, partly because their metallurgical sciences werenít up to it, and partly because some of the alloys they needed for the superchargers werenít available.  Likewise, their attempts to build larger radial engines in the 2,000 h.p. range resulted in some big engines, but they turned out to be very unreliable.  Not only that, but they werenít able to produce them in large numbers.  So, while Japan was able to build some pretty good fighters later the war, they were always in the shop, and they never had enough of them.  The result was that the Zero remained the mainstay of Japanís fighter force throughout the war.  The Zero was a world-class fighter in 1941, but it was already showing its age by 1943, and by 1944 it was really second-rate.  Against the newer U.S. aircraft, unless you were a very, very good pilot, it was pretty darned tough to stay alive.  Combine that with the poor quality of Japanese pilots late in the war (most of the good ones had been killed, and they werenít doing a good job of training replacements), and you can see why their aviator fatalities were very heavy indeed.

    This same U.S. superiority in aircraft engine design allowed us to create a plane like the B-29, which had the speed, payload, and range to bring an unprecedented weight of ordnance to bear against the Japanese Home Islands.  It flew high enough (over 30,000 feet) that many Japanese fighters (the Zero included) couldnít even touch it.  Put a thousand of them on Saipan and Guam, load Ďem up with incendiary weapons, use them against Japanese cities which had lots of wood and paper houses, and you can imagine what happened.  Whether "The Bomb" had been dropped or not, by mid-1945 B-29s (in combination with submarines) had ruined the Japanese economy.  B-29 attacks killed hundreds of thousands of their civilians, and made millions more homeless.  Without access to Korean and Chinese produce, the agricultural output of the home islands was insufficient, and the population was becoming severely malnourished.  They were going to have to surrender at some point in any case, although it would have taken a ground invasion to probably make their military leadership see that.

    Cheers,

     -Jon Parshall-

    http://www.combinedfleet.com

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"The Military Channel" 

 

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14 January 2005

From:  Barrett Tillman   btillman3@cox.net 

 

    I notice that "Discovery Wings" [on cable TV] has become "The Military Channel," with some half-hour "battle reports" including the BOM.  The segment I saw is fairly old but features Bob Elder and Hiryu's Maruyama, a VT guy of considerable experience.  The script is "B-" since (among others things) it places Midway 625 miles from Japan!

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"Ed Fox, Essay Winner"   (see Ed Fox, issue 5-02)

 

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9 January 2004

From:  Mac Showers   macrain@att.net   (BOM vet, CIU/Station HYPO, Pearl Harbor)

 

    My congratulations to Ed Fox.  As a full-time volunteer myself, I deeply appreciate what he's doing and he really deserves the reward he has received for his school.  Bravo Zulu.

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"Archive Disk, Second Edition"   (see Now Hear This, issue 5-02)

 

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8 January 2005

From:  Don McDonald   (via U.S. mail)

 

    Thanks for the new 2nd edition of your excellent CD.  It's beautifully organized.  Well done!

--Don

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    44 copies have been requested so far, and 15 have been shipped.  The archive CD is available to all current members at no cost--see last week's issue of The Roundtable Forum for details.  Resends upon request.

 

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................................................. NOW HEAR THIS! ..................................................

 

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NEWS & INFO IN THIS ISSUE

 

-- Book Review:  Love and Glory

-- Computer Ups & Downs

 

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BOOK REVIEW:  LOVE AND GLORY

 

    Roundtable member Alvin Kernan was an aviation ordnanceman (AOM3/c) aboard the Enterprise during the BOM.  After the war he commenced a long career as a college professor at both Yale and Princeton, and thus is uniquely qualified to write about the battle.  Love and Glory is his latest work.  It tells the whole story of the first day of the BOM, 4 June 1942, focusing mainly on the Hornet air group and the saga of Torpedo Squadron 8.

    Love and Glory, as you might deduce from the title, is not another history book about  the Battle of Midway.  Instead, it's a novel with the battle as its setting.  It's a work of fiction, but it's authentic historical fiction.  The protagonist is one Ensign Clay Hunt, a brand new naval aviator assigned to VT-8 aboard the Hornet.  We follow the experiences of ENS Hunt as he qualifies in the TBD and assimilates into the squadron, under the leadership of its colorful commander.  We then ride with him as the air group launches on its errant course on the morning of 4 June.  We hear the argument over the radio between VT-8's skipper and the CHAG, then continue with Hunt as the squadron veers away on its own course toward a bitter destiny.

    Kernan pulls no punches in his dialogue--he is unmerciful toward the Hornet's air group commander before, during, and especially after the battle.  He also gives no slack to the ship's captain, having him deliberately conspire to falsify Hornet's after-action report in order to save his own hide as well as that of his buddy, the CHAG.  This is the sort of thing we've all been talking about for years, and it's highly interesting to see it played out rather accurately in a novel.

    The book is not without flaws, but they're not too significant.  Professor Kernan didn't use an independent editor in preparing his manuscript, so you'll find a few glitches that should have been fixed before publication.  There's a couple instances where proper naval terminology is not used, although it won't stand out if you've never been summoned to chow by a bos'n's whistle.  And I think many readers will be taken aback by Alvin's choices for the names of some of his characters.  I thought "Lancing Colt" for the TF-16 chief of staff (Miles Browning) was a little clever, but some of the other fictitious names struck me as odd.  If I were writing this same novel, I'd have used the actual historical names, as was done in the 1976 "Midway" movie (which had a lot more fiction in it than this book).

    But don't get lost in such minor quibbles--the value of this book is its realistic dialogue, written by one who was there at the time and is therefore intimately familiar with such dialogue.  It's a very entertaining read despite the flaws.

    Love and Glory is currently listed on Amazon for $14.99.  Also, Alvin has generously contributed a signed copy to our Roundtable library, and I'll be happy to loan that copy to anyone who asks.  --RR

 

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COMPUTER UPS & DOWNS

 

    As announced in a special e-mail to all hands last Tuesday, my aged Windows 98 PC finally decided to go into cardiac arrest after five years of grueling service.  To make a long story short, the only viable fix was to format the hard drive (wipe it clean) and reload all programs, drivers, and files.  That's a daunting task if you don't have Windows XP.  XP does most of that stuff automatically, but Win 98 is more of a one-at-a-time manual operation.

    Anyway, after four full days of effort, I've got it back in service with almost everything working okay.  I hope to be 100% within a couple days.

    And as soon as that happens, another big change will occur:  I've committed to converting to broadband internet and will be hooking up to the local TV cable after this PC is fully healed.  Since that's another opportunity to crash an old system like Win 98, there could be another delay in getting the Forum out to you while I work through that process.  If I seem to be mysteriously absent for a while, that's what's happening--rest assured I'm working on it and will be back on line as soon as feasible.

    For you computer experts who are thinking I should just upgrade to XP and be done with it, you have a point--I'm trying to accomplish all of this for free, but if all else fails I'll invest in the upgrade disk.  I noticed it for sale at about $99 at our local base exchange--anyone know of a cheaper (and reliable) source?  --RR

 

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    For a glossary of abbreviations, acronyms, and terms used in The Roundtable Forum, click the following URL or go to our home page and click "The Roundtable Glossary" link.

 

    http://www.midway42.org/glossary.htm

 

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