The Roundtable Forum

Official Newsletter of the Battle of Midway Roundtable


12 December 2010

Issue Number:  2010-40

Our 14th Year








1.  Getting the Details Right

2.  Japanese CAP vs. Japanese AA?



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1.  GETTING THE DETAILS RIGHT   ( See issue #37, 38, 39 )



4 December 2010

From:  Mark Horan


co-author, A Glorious Page In Our History


In regard to the following comment in the most recent Roundtable Forum:


"Another is the lack of a red center in the American insignia on the bottom of the wing.  It is not widely known, but the Hornet’s TBDs did not get around to having their red centers purged from the underwing insignia.  Everything else was done, but not those."

This is not true.  While the footage taken on or about 15 May 1942 that was used in the movie Torpedo Squadron Eight shows under-wing stars with red dots, that fact was what allowed me to date the movie footage to the period 14-15 May.  Orders had been received to delete the red centers of the national stars effective 15 May.  Personnel of VT-8 could not, however, paint out the centers on the lower wing stars on the folded wings in the confined area on the hanger deck.  That is one of the reasons that the aircraft were then brought up to the flight deck as soon as time allowed: so the wings could be unfolded to allow access to those stars.  It is untrue that the red centers remained for any period after 15-16 May, let alone by the time the ship reached Pearl prior to sailing for the Midway operation.

By the way, I corresponded with a number of folks in all of the ship’s squadrons, but in particular with two of the VT-8 plane captains that distinctly recalled the need to bring the aircraft up to the flight deck to repaint the stars.  It was done as part of a scheduled squadron exercise, which is also why the aircrews were all involved and why the group photos were taken.



5 December 2010

From:  Kent Walters



Evidence would suggest there were "field modifications" or updates between Coral Sea and Midway including the markings where the red-roundel centers of the white star insignias were painted with white to avoid confusion with the Japanese reddish meatball.  Also, the red and white rudder stripes were deleted to remove any notable red colors on these aircraft.  I have not previously heard of TBD aircraft missing those marking changes on the bottom of the wings for the BOM, particularly since that surface would have likely gotten priority for change if the logic for making those changes was valid. 


Perhaps there are other photos specific to Ens. George Gay's aircraft for the recent art work renditions by Konley Kelly being discussed, but the aircraft in the color photos of Torpedo 8 (T-3 and T-5) indicate the outer wing panels on the lower sides should be light gray in color (just like all the other lower surfaces) whereas the T-14 model rendition by Kelley portrays a darker color such as the upper blue.  Kelley has chosen to delete any red roundel in the center of the star on those same lower wing panels.  That aspect would appear to be correct.  In my experience with scale RC competition with a vintage aircraft, it is always best to use available photos for a particular aircraft and moment in time (particularly color if available).  Often a problem starts because only one photo exists and there is no proof of specific color and makings on various hidden surfaces not captured by the photo.  In the early part of WW2, that problem is compounded by often not having color photos.  The "Torpedo 8 in Color" photos presented in the last Roundtable Forum issue is certainly a valuable tool for modelers and hopefully serves to resolve questions like this.



Ed. note:  Kent is the builder and pilot of the flying scale SBD that graces the cover of No Right to Win—see below.  (And if you’re among those who thought that was an actual full-size Dauntless, you have a lot of company.)



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6 December 2010

From:  Jim Osowski

New Jersey


About the TBD torpedo attacks during the BOM: I have a picture in my mind of Devastators coming in low, dodging flak and Zeros at the same time.  How did the Japanese AA gunners not shoot down their own planes?  Did the Zeros pull back after their runs and the let the AA take over at a certain point or did they go all the way and hope for the best?  Was an operational procedure followed or was it a free for all?  Whatever happens, happens?


In Europe, B-17s would face fighters that would pull away as soon as the flak took over.  Was something like this done during attacks on Japanese ships, either torpedo or dive bombing?











-  Book Review: Midway 1942

-  Link of the Week

-  Editor’s Notes



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by Mark Stille (Osprey, 2010)


I’ve become dubious about any new book related to the BOM.  With all of the outstanding latter-day references by the likes of Lundstrom, Parshall, Cressman and their various co-authors, it seems unlikely that there would be anything more for anyone to say.  But I still try to maintain an open mind because a new book occasionally comes along that brings a pleasant surprise.  A Dawn Like Thunder is an example, which at first looked like the much-told tale of VT-8, but which expanded that story long past Midway to a level not previously seen.  Midway Inquest and Midway Dauntless Victory, despite their many flaws, also brought important new insight to various aspects of the battle not fleshed out by other authors.


So when Commander Mark Stille’s Midway 1942 was announced on Amazon, I ordered a copy on the chance it might contain yet another pleasant surprise.  It did, albeit to a minor degree.


Stille relies heavily on the aforementioned first-line BOM authors, as evidenced by his “Further Reading” list at the end of the book.  The influence of Parshall-Tully is evident throughout, with heavy emphasis on the re-thinking of the BOM found in Shattered Sword.  In fact, one Roundtable member told me that this book’s title should have been Shattered Sword Extra Light.


The “extra light” part comes from the book’s size and structure: paperback, 7.25 x 9.75 inches, and only 96 pages between the covers.  But that’s not bad—the limited format forced the author to condense the battle into is salient facts, and he did a credible job of that.  But for those well-versed in the BOM (especially if you’ve read The First Team, Shattered Sword, and A Glorious Page In Our History) there is nothing in the text that’s new.  However, the book does excel in one important regard: its graphics.  Most prominent are the dazzling original paintings by Howard Gerrard, especially the close-up on the cover of Tomonaga’s bullet-riddled Kate lining up on Yorktown amid a hail of AA.  The dramatic image is repeated in a two-page spread inside, as are scenes of the attacks on Hiryu and Mikuma.  In addition, full-page color charts nicely detail the battle’s progress, and full color three-dimensional drawings illustrate the air attacks like you probably haven’t seen them before (unless you were there).


The bottom line: despite a few minor errors in the text, Midway 1942 is a worthy entry in the category of brief treatises on the BOM.  But its graphics are its principal feature and alone might justify the purchase price.    —RR



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Speaking of Kent Walters’ SBD on the cover of No Right to Win, here’s another view of it that many of you may not have seen before.  The plane is meticulously crafted as a replica of 6-B-15 flown from the Enterprise at Midway by Ensign George Goldsmith.  It’s accurate down to the finest detail possible in a model, save the 2-blade prop which is dictated by the model’s engine.  (It’s 3-bladed on the cover of the book, thanks to some Photoshop wizardry by John Greaves.)


Click here for the link of the week.



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~  Computer hint:  the e-mail program choice for many of our members is Google’s g-mail, and it’s also what we use here.  But the popular on-line e-mail service has one characteristic that many users find annoying: multiple messages with the same subject line are all strung together as one message in your in-box.  For example, if you send a message to three people and they all answer you by hitting “reply,” all 4 messages—yours plus the 3 responses—show up as one item in your in-box.  You have to open the message to see all the strung-together replies, and you cannot delete just one of them.  After numerous complaints, Google has added a way to defeat that feature so that each message is a separate item.  To make it happen, log into your g-mail account on-line, click “Settings” in the upper right corner, and on the next page click “Conversation View Off” in the Settings list.  At the bottom of the same page, click “Save Changes.”  That will make your in-box look like what you’d expect in just about any other e-mail application.


~  Your participation in our member survey is still welcome.  Its subject is “the most memorable scene from or related to the Battle of Midway.”  For details, click here, then scroll down to “Member Survey.”  Responses may be sent through the end of December.


~  This issue is unusually late due to an overload of other matters that currently demand my attention.  Because of that, the next issue will be delayed until Friday, December 24th.  I expect to make that deadline with no problem.  Meanwhile, please continue to send in your comments and inquiries as usual.  Everything will eventually be answered or published.