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Battle of Midway - Art Chronology
April 25, 2011
1:08 pm
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0706

USS Enterprise by Brian Sanders

This famous US carrier saw furious action throughout World War II. In June 1942, the Enterprise played a key role in the Battle of Midway – turning point of the war with Japan – when it’s planes helped sink four of Admiral Chuichi Nagumo’s carriers.

Image and text from Wind River Studios

April 26, 2011
1:23 pm
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0710

An Omen by Jack Fellows

As it is within the Japanese character to pay attention to the symbolism that is woven by happenstance into the events of each day, the sudden early morning appearance of a Martin Marauder hurtling at prop tip height down the flight deck of the Akagi may have seemed to Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo that this unlikely intruder’s act was an omen of some significance. For the six months since the surprise attack on the United States’ Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the Imperial Japanese Navy had rampaged, nearly unmolested, across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean … all the way to the Indian Ocean, and South China Sea, unopposed, except, briefly at the Coral Sea. By the end of this day, the 4th of June, 1942, the fortunes of the Imperial Japanese Navy will have taken a dramatic reversal, placing them on the defensive for the rest of the war. Aboard the Akagi, the flagship of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s huge Midway strike force, the vaunted Kido Butai, Nagumo must have felt considerable confidence in his fleet’s capacity to capture Midway, and in the process smash the remnants of the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet … and most particularly the carriers that the Kido Butai had missed at Pearl Harbor six months earlier, on the 7th of December, 1941. Chuichi Nagumo knew as well as anyone that the sheer size and intricate complexity of the Midway Operation increased the likelihood of the unexpected, and that no one, including the architect of this and the Hawaii Operation, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, possessed the prescience to divine the outcome of such an enormous undertaking. And so it would be that Chuichi Nagumo would be likely paying attention to the symbolism served up by that morning’s events.

On Midway, a coral atoll, consisting of several tiny islands, a patchwork defense of Marine Corps, Navy and Army attack, bomber, and patrol aircraft waited for the arrival of the huge Japanese invasion fleet that US Naval code breakers discovered to be on their way. Among this eclectic mix were four B-26 Martin “Marauder” fast medium-bombers, now equipped to carry aerial torpedoes, two from the 38th Bomb Group and two from the 22nd Bomb Group, both from the fledgling 5th USAAF. Although the island was to endure a terrific pounding by the attack bombers of the Kido Butai’s four fleet carriers … Nagumo’s strike force … the Midway-based defenders put up a desperate but spirited attack on these carriers … setting into motion a series of circumstances based on Admiral Nagumo’s misreading the Midway-based attacker’s numbers and capabilities. His decision to re-arm his four carrier’s attack aircraft with ordinance intended to destroy land targets was based on the notion that his carriers were still threatened by Midway’s aircraft … when, in fact, except for some Army B-17s, effectively, Midway’s aerial defenders were all but wiped out in the first round.

The self-confident Japanese Naval planners could not have imagined that the US Naval Intelligence unit was busily reading their most secret naval communications and that the Americans had laid an ambush at Midway as a result of this compromise. Even so the Japanese were superior in the number of ships, most notably the number of aircraft carriers, and just as important, the combat-readiness of the carrier aircrews. Furthermore, at the time that LT James Muri was hurtling down the flight deck of Akagi, mere feet away from Nagumo, in a desperate attempt to gain some respite from the attentions of Akagi’s CAP Zeros, Kido Butai reconnaissance aircraft had yet to sight any of the US Fleet, but would shortly do so.

The shocking discovery of the three US carriers would then give Chuichi Nagumo the reason to once again unload the land attack ordinance that was now aboard the waiting armada of aircraft littering the flight decks of Akagi, Hiryu, Soryu and Kaga, and proceed to reload them with ordinance more suitable for attacking ships. This fateful decision was responsible, more than anything else, for the US Navy’s stunning defeat of the Imperial Japanese Naval forces during the Battle of Midway, for the Americans had already launched their attack aircraft. Had not the Midway-based attack been so spirited, and had not LT Muri so audaciously buzzed the Admiral, the decision to re-arm the Japanese attack aircraft for another trip to Midway, may well not have been made … and the critical launch timing between the opposing fleets would have been sufficiently altered to have created a vastly different outcome. By the end of the day, all four of the Japanese carriers had been destroyed, the USS Yorktown was the only carrier loss suffered by the United States Navy.

Image and text from Jack Fellows

April 27, 2011
1:52 pm
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0710

The Midway Marauders by John Greaves

Two B-26 Marauders of the 69th Bombardment Squadron (Medium)/38th Bombardment Group and two from the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium)/22nd Bombardment Group, attack Kido Butai at about 0710 June 4, 1942, using torpedos instead of their normal bomb load. Two Zeros of a group of six from the CAP slice through the diamond formation at 700 feet, as the Marauders start a quick descent to 200 feet. TBF Avengers of Torpedo 8 (Detachment) have started an attack just ahead. This is the moment when the formation started to break up.

In the lead B-26 – CAPT James F. Collins Jr., 2dLT Colin O. Villines, 2dLT Thomas N. Weems Jr., SGT Ernest M. Mohon Jr., SGT Jack D. Dunn, TSGT Raymond S. White and CPL John D. Joyce.

In the left B-26 (s/n 42-1424) – 1stLT Herbert C. Mayes, 2dLT Garnett M. McCallister, 2dLT William D. Hargis, 2dLT Gerald J. Barnicle, SSGT Salvatore Battaglia, PVT Benjamin F. Huffstickler and PVT Roy W. Walters who went down after apparently narrowly missing Akagi. All were KIA.

In the right B-26 – 1stLT William S. Watson, 2dLT L. H. Whittington, 2dLT John P. Schuman, SGT James E. Via, SSGT Richard C. Decker, CPL Albert E. Owen and CPL Bernard C. Sietz who is seen here already having taken some hits, and was not seen again shortly after the moment portrayed in this image. All were KIA.

In the last B-26 (s/n 42-1391, “Susie-Q”) – 1stLT James P. Muri, 2dLT Pren L. Moore, 2dLT William W. Moore, 2dLT Russell H. Johnson, TSGT John J. Gogoj, CPL Frank L. Melo Jr. and PFC Earl D. Ashley.

No Japanese ships were torpedoed, but both Collins and Muri managed to clear Kido Butai and return to Midway with heavy damage. Both pilots did fantastic jobs landing their heavily damaged Marauders without further incident, and without blocking the runway. No crewmen from the two surviving B-26s were lost although many were injured.

Image and text from John Greaves Art

April 28, 2011
10:32 am
kevjon
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Thanks for posting these up, very educational and some great artwork too. Nice to see some paintings with Buffalos and Devastors in them. Not the most successful aircraft but are great subjects for paintings.

April 28, 2011
1:45 pm
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04 June 1942 – 0710

A Shot Across The Bow by Roy Grinnell

June 4, 1942, 7:10 am, 150 miles northwest of Midway Atoll … moments after releasing a torpedo at the Japanese carrier Akagi, the B-26 Marauder “Susie-Q” thunders down the carrier’s flight deck, nearly grazing the bridge. 1stLT James P. Muri, of the Army Air Force’s 22nd Bomb Group, pilots his craft across the ship in an attempt to escape the gauntlet of fire unleashed by the enemy surface fleet and swarming Zero fighters. The dramatic torpedo attack by Army B-26 Marauders of the 22nd and 38th Bomb Groups and the Navy TBF Avengers of Torpedo Squadron 8 forced Japanese Admiral Nagumo to alter his battle plan, a decision that set the stage for the incredible American victory at the Battle of Midway.

Image and text from Aviation Art Hangar

April 29, 2011
8:20 am
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0710

Only One Survived by Craig Kodera

World War II’s Battle of Midway was the turning point of the war in the Pacific, leading to eventual Allied victory. At the very start of that fateful conflict came this ominous confrontation. At 7:00 am on June 4, 1942, Grumman TBF Avengers of the VT-8 squadron on their maiden combat flight were attacked by Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters. 8-T-1 was the only Avenger to return from the encounter and pilot Bert Earnest and tunnel gunner Harry Ferrier were the only two men on that aircraft to survive.

The seventy-two hours following the incident saw the turning of the tide in the Pacific: In sinking four of the most powerful Japanese aircraft carriers and thereby eliminating Japan’s most experienced pilots, the US Navy set the stage for eventual victory.

Image and text from The Greenwich Workshop

April 30, 2011
6:13 am
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0710

Grumman TBF Avenger by Tony Weddel

The Avenger was first used in combat in June of 1942 at the Battle of Midway. Only six examples were available at that time, and they arrived too late to be put aboard the US carriers enroute to the battle. These six were deployed from the airbase on Midway Island, and the pilots of Torpedo Squadron 8 were the first to sight and attack the Japanese fleet. The heroism of VT-8 is reflected here as we see ENS Albert K. Earnest piloting Avenger 8-T-1 through withering fire as he hurtles toward his target, the Japanese carrier Akagi on June 4, 1942. All of the other Avengers were lost, with 8-T-1 being the sole survivor of the group. This plane was badly shot up with the radio operator dead and the bombardier wounded, barely making it back to base.

Image and text from Dave’s Warbirds

May 1, 2011
6:03 am
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0750

Just Another Hole In My Head by Roy Grinnell

On June 4, 1942, 2dLT Charles M. Kunz, USMCR attached to Marine Fighter Squadron 221 at the Battle of Midway, flew his first combat mission strapped to a Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo. Kunz “splashed” two Aichi D3A dive-bombers. When he landed, he downplayed his injuries, and extraordinary heroism by modestly stating it was “just another hole in my head.”

In Charlie’s words, “I saw tracers go by my cockpit and some bullets ripping my wings. I was making radical turns hoping the pilot couldn’t get steadied on me. I continued flying on a rapid turning course at full throttle when I was hit in the head by a glancing bullet. My plane was badly shot up and I knew it could not be used in another attack. I came to the island and made my proper identifying approach and landed. I landed at 0750. I was very dizzy due to the wound in my head and immediately went to the dispensary.”

LT Kunz was awarded the Navy Cross for his action at Midway. He further served in the Solomon and Marshall Islands, and the Korean War. Colonel Kunz retired in 1967 as a Marine Corps “ace” with eight victories to his credit.

Image and text from Aviation Art Hangar

May 2, 2011
6:05 am
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0756

USMC Major Lofton Henderson by Marii Chernev

Henderson and his group, flying at 9,500 feet, sighted the Mobile Force at 0755, the squadron commander informing Fleming, in the formation’s command element, of two enemy flattops on the port bow. Henderson, who had been flying off to one side of the group, shepherding his young charges along, then slid back into the lead of the formation to take it in. As he did so, Card heard his pilot shout: “Here they come!”

As Henderson and his men began to let down to attack Hiryu, the carrier’s CAP slashed tenaciously at them. 1stLT Iverson, whose radio was out of commission and who had just joined up in the squadron commander’s box from CAPT Elmer Glidden’s, saw “Zeroes” attacking Henderson’s SBD-2. The major gamely kept the squadron intact until his “Dauntless” slanted toward the water, trailing smoke.

Image from The Military Art Gallery/Text from Robert J. Cressman and Steve Ewing’s “A Glorious Page In Our History”: The Battle Of Midway: 4-6 June 1942

Note: This image depicts Henderson in a Vindicator.

May 3, 2011
1:36 pm
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0905

Task Force 17 by Marii Chernev

On June 4th, 1942, from 1030 to 1050 hours, the USS Yorktown launched her strike group against the Japanese Fleet off Midway Island. 12 TBD Devastators from VT-3 were launched first, followed by 12 SBD Dauntlesses from VB-3 and finally six Wildcat fighters from VF-3 took off approximately an hour and a half after the USS Enterprise and USS Hornet launched their attack groups.

Two of the six Wildcat fighters that provided the combat air patrol while the strike force launched, are depicted as they roar overhead of LCDR M. F. Leslie’s Dauntless as it lifts off the flight deck. Off to the port side, the destroyer USS Balch as well as the fleet oiler USS Cimarron are depicted. To the stern of the Yorktown, the heavy cruiser USS Pensacola adds it’s support to the operation.

Image and text from The Military Art Gallery

May 3, 2011
11:02 pm
Bunter
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One of the two paintings you have posted by US artist Tony Weddel was originally from the book ‘More WW2 aircraft in combat’, published in the early 1980s.

The book featured a series of paintings, all completed by Weddel and the one featuring the Brewster Buffalo of VMF-221 over Midway atoll on June 4th was included. The paintings were actually a collaborative effort with a team of people completing them. Plastic model kits of each aircraft were constructed and then photographed in the appropriate angles. The photographs were then traced onto the canvas and Weddel than completed the painting. Of the team, Weddel certainly had the most challenging and time-consuming job! I always thought that the one of the Buffalo was one of the best works in the book.


Tony Weddel at work on a painting of a Heinkel 129, photographed in the early 1980s.

Pete

May 4, 2011
12:16 am
Bunter
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I am LOVING this topic! Blacksheep, thank you so much for all your time and hard work in constructing it. Midway has always been one of my ‘favourite’ battles (if that is an appropriate term) to study.
The defenders on Midway are sometimes unfairly overlooked in some accounts of the battle which prefer to focus on the efforts of the two US Taskforces.
The fighter battle over Midway between the Japanese strike force and the Marine pilots of VMF-221 was a furious affair. The island possessed 21 F2A Buffaloes and seven worn-out F4F Wildcats, one of each type being un-serviceable on the morning of June 4th. Shortly after take-off, another Buffalo returned with engine-trouble, leaving 19 Buffaloes and six Wildcats to tackle a formation of 107 Japanese aircraft (one Kate from the Hiryu had earlier turned back with engine trouble).
Accounts vary but the most accurate figures seem to be that the Marines managed to down at least five, probably six Japanese aircraft and inflict damage on several others. Three, possibly four Nakajima Kates were shot down as were one, possibly two Zeroes. In return, 14 Buffaloes and two Wildcats were lost and immediately after the action, only two F4Fs were left airworthy.
One of the survivors, who is generally credited with the downing of a Kate on June 4th, was Marion Carl who later flew an F4F with distinction over Guadalcanal later that year and became the Marine Air Corps’ first ace of the war, downing 14 Japanese planes in a matter of weeks. He later flew F4U Corsairs and ended the war with 17 confirmed victories. Sadly, in 1998, he was murdered at the age of 82 in his own home in Oregon by a young armed intruder (the attacker was arrested a week later and ended up on death-row).
The bombing attack on Midway killed 11 men on the ground and wounded another 17, causing extensive damage but leaving the airstrip on Eastern Island and much of the vital equipment intact. The most serious material losses, apart from the loss of the fighter force, were the seaplane hangar, petrol bowser and one of the main oil storage tanks. Film director John Ford filmed the entire raid with a colour motion-picture camera from the shelter of a gun emplacement, even managing to capture on film an exploding Aichi Val dive-bomber that had been hit by AA fire. (Ford was wounded in the arm by shrapnel but continued to film the raid).


A still frame from the colour motion-film that was shot by John Ford during the raid on Midway atoll on June 4th, capturing the final moments of a Japanese Aichi dive-bomber, a victim of AA fire.

Four Japanese planes- two Kates, a Val and a Zero- were shot down by anti-aircraft fire over Midway. However numerous others were damaged, including at least two aircraft that were jettisioned overboard from the Japanese carriers after returning. (According to Japanese records, 11 planes were lost on the Midway strike). The numbers of aircraft damaged had serious implications for the carrier Hiryu as when the time came to launch the last desperate counter-attack against the US carriers, she possessed a mere ten Nakajima Kates that were still airworthy (out of an original complement of 21) and one of those was an orphan from the Akagi that had been on routine anti-submarine patrol when its own carrier had been hit. The damage inflicted by Midway’s defenders reduced the strength of the torpedo attack on the USS Yorktown by half, arguably sparing the US carrier a swift death instead of a crippling blow and thereby saving a large number of lives.
The bomber units from Midway that attacked Nagumo’s carrier force on the morning of June 4th were thus:-
Six Navy Grumman TBFs (the type did not receive the title ‘Avenger’ until after Midway)- Five lost, one badly damaged.
Four Army B-26s- Two lost, two badly damaged
Sixteen Marine SBD Dauntlesses- six lost, two ditched en route home, two badly damaged.
Eleven Marine Vindicators- two shot down, two ditched en route home.
Fourteen Army B-17s- no losses.
One of the island’s recon PBYs was also shot down, bringing the morning’s losses to 20 planes failing to return, adding to the 16 fighters lost earlier that morning.
The detachment of TBFs that took part were of Torpedo Eight and had been originally intended to replace Torpedo Eight on USS Hornet which was equipped with TBD Devastators. However the latter’s commander Waldron insisted on his own squadron shipping out and the new TBFs were left at Pearl. Lack of room on Eastern Island meant that only six out of the 19 TBFs were sent to Midway.
The B-17s and the surviving Marine dive-bombers participated in the fighting over the next two days. One Vindicator, piloted by Major Norris, was lost on the night of June 4th during an abortive attempt to bomb the dying Hiryu when Norris became disorientated in the darkness and dived into the ocean. The following day, Captain Fleming, also flying a Vindicator, was shot down by AA fire during an attack on the Japanese cruiser Mikuma. Popular legend has it that after being hit by flak, his burning plane rammed into the cruiser but that was not true as accounts by eyewitnesses stated that his aircraft went into the water which does not detract in the slightest from his immense bravery.
Two B-17s were also later lost, either due to navigation error, lack of fuel or battle-damage from AA fire from a Japanese destroyer they attempted to bomb.
The bravery and sacrifice of the Midway air-force must never be forgotten.

May 4, 2011
12:59 am
Bunter
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The attack on the Japanese carriers by the B-26s from ‘Incredible Victory’ by Walter Lord (1967)

“……There was no formal attack plan- not even time for assignments- the four planes just made a mad rush at the leading carrier. Collins alternately climbed and dropped, throwing the Japanese aim off, and Muri did his best to follow. Now they were in the middle of the formation; as Muri’s co-pilot Lieutenant Pete Moore glanced quickly around, every ship seemed a solid sheet of gunfire. The Japanese gunners would shoot at the water to see where their bullets hit. Using the splashes as tracer they could ‘walk’ their fire right into the B-26s.
But they came on anyhow. Collins finally released at 800 yards and zoomed away to the right. Muri came hard behind, with the Zeros flying right into their own fleet’s line of fire in a desperate effort to stop him. Bullets smashed the Plexiglass turret; a ricochet clipped Sergeant Gogoj’s forehead.
Muri shouted to Moore to release the torpedo. But the improvised switch was something that Rube Goldberg might have invented- a trigger, a cable, a plug with innumerable prongs. Moore frantically squeezed the trigger, twisted the plug, still couldn’t tell whether the torpedo was gone.
“Is it away?” Muri kept shouting
“How the hell do I know?” Moore answered.
Keeping one hand on the controls, Muri fiddled with the plug and trigger too. They never felt the welcome surge of the plane rising, relieved of the torpedo. Later they learned that at some point they had indeed released it.
Right now, they could only hope, and there wasn’t much time to do that. They were almost on top of the carrier. Banking hard, Muri flew straight down the middle of the flight deck. His bombardier Lieutenant Russ Johnson grabbed the nose gun and strafed in all directions. They had a brief, vivid glimpse of white-clad sailors scattering for cover.
Pulling out, Muri caught a fleeting glimpse of Lieutenant Herbie Maye’s plane boring in, too. It came all the way, almost hit the carrier, careened into the sea alongside. None of the group ever saw what happened to the fourth B-26…..”

Muri headed back out to open sea with Zeros in hot pursuit. Enemy fire wounded two of the crew before the Japanese fighters turned away, either writing off the B-26 as good as dead or because they were disciplined enough to maintain their positions for the CAP. After reaching safety, Muri realised that an unlit cigarette was still in his mouth and in the stress of the moment, he had bitten it in two and swallowed half of it.
The attack on the carriers by the TBFs and B-26s was only the second time in the Pacific war Allied aircraft had directly attacked the Akagi. The first time had been the previous April when during Japanese air-strikes on the British air/naval bases on Ceylon, a handful of British Blenheims had made a daring but un-successful bombing run on the Akagi, narrowly missing her.
Muri’s strafing run over the Akagi killed two Japanese sailors and knocked out an AA-post and cut an transmitting antenna. According to Japanese accounts, Lieutenant Maye’s B-26 came within a few feet of crashing into the Akagi.

Pete

May 4, 2011
1:09 pm
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0925

TBD Devastator by Jack Fellows

On June 4, 1942, during the Battle of Midway, a torpedo-bomber squadron of TBD Devastators helped turn the war in the Pacific. While the Devastators drew the first of the Japanese Zeros, Dauntless dive-bombers took advantage of the distraction by sinking four enemy aircraft carriers.

Image and text from Wind River Studios

May 5, 2011
2:24 pm
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0925

The Turning Point by John Ficklen

Torpedo Eight, meanwhile, unfamiliar with flying a scouting line, began to straggle: ENS “Tex” Gay, the “tail-end Charlie” in the second division, could hardly see the TBDs at the end of the line. Waldron, seeing his struggling charges, gave the order to re-form and close up. No sooner had his first division re-formed, he spotted smoke on the horizon ahead.

In Waldron’s path steamed the Japanese carriers, on board which the passage of time had diminished the tension prompted by the American attacks earlier that morning. They had just completed the recovery of the planes from the strike on Midway and had reorganized the CAP; 21 “Zeroes” orbitted overhead, three of which were waiting to land; six sat on Kaga’s flight deck.

Having recovered the morning strike, Nagumo began focusing his attention on the reported American carrier to the east. An hour would be necessary to organize a proper strike, but the admiral planned to launch planes at 1030 to deal with the enemy carrier. At 0917, Nagumo ordered a course change to the northeast, to close the enemy. As his ships turned, though, Chikuma and Tone almost simultaneously spied a group of American torpedo planes 35 kilometers to the northeast. At 0920, Kaga scrambled her six standby “Zeroes.”

After he had unsuccessfully attempted to inform Ring that he was attacking, Waldron selected the carrier to his left as his target, and ordered Owens to swing the second division out to starboard to make a split attack. Before the men of Torpedo Eight knew what hit them, though, the “Zeroes” were upon them. One A6M2 shot down the left-hand TBD in Waldron’s division almost immediately. Seeing the “Zeroes” swarming around the XO’s division, still relatively close at hand, Waldron recalled Owens, who quickly formed his planes on the CO’s in a tight right echelon of divisions.

Meanwhile, Waldron led VT-8 down to make a low approach to keep off the fighters. The “Zeroes,” however, slashed savagely at the lumbering TBDs from abeam and astern. “Tex” Gay, flying in the rear of the formation, noted “some [TBDs] were on fire and some did a half-roll, and crashed on their backs, completely out of control.” At least one exploded in mid-air.

Early in the attack, Waldron decided to attack the carrier in the center, Soryu. Two more TBDs splashed before one A6M2′s bullets hit the CO’s left wing tank, and his TBD burst into flames. Gay saw Waldron start to climb out onto the starboard wing to escape the fire consuming the cockpit, just before T-16 hit the water and disappeared. The rest staggered doggedly on, the “Zeroes” decimating them. Gunfire fatally wounded Gay’s radio-gunner, Robert K. Huntington, ARM3c, and then hit Gay in the left arm. Extracting the 7.7-mm. round, for want of a better place, he put it in his mouth.

As VT-8′s remnant approached Soryu from ahead on her starboard bow, she began turning to starboard, presenting her port side to the three TBDs – Gay’s and two others; one ahead, the other ahead and to port. Gay swerved to port to avoid another pass by a “Zero,” and pulled up to take a shot as it zoomed past. When he turned back to starboard, he could see one of the TBDs slanting down, out of control; the other had disappeared. The fighters had whittled VT-8 down to its last plane.

When he estimated he was within 1,000 yards of his target, Gay pulled up to 100 feet and slowed to 80 knots to drop his torpedo. After the electrical release failed, he switched the stick to his injured left hand, reached across his body with his right and pulled the manual release to fire his “fish” – virtually on top of Soryu. Not wanting to overfly her and expose himself to her starboard antiaircraft batteries, he turned to head out over her stern, noting the flight deck full of planes being rearmed and refueled. Then he was past her, low to the water, heading for a hole in the screen. The Japanese, however, placed a formidable obstacle in his way.

At 0932, compelled to do so by VT-8′s assault, Akagi had scrambled five A6M2s to increase the CAP, and these cornered VT-8′s last airborne aircraft. One burst destroyed most of his controls and the TBD headed for the water. Gay, having marginal elevator control, managed to keep the nose up as the right wing hit the water, and although the big Douglas cartwheeled into the ocean, Gay survived the ditching and clambered from his cockpit with his life raft in the center of the Japanese fleet. He decided to hide beneath it, making himself as inconspicuous as possible.

Image from TorpedoEight.com/ Text from Robert J. Cressman and Steve Ewing’s “A Glorious Page In Our History”: The Battle Of Midway: 4-6 June 1942

May 6, 2011
2:25 pm
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0925

“Go And Get A Hit” by Jim Griffiths

Torpedo Eight, meanwhile, unfamiliar with flying a scouting line, began to straggle: ENS “Tex” Gay, the “tail-end Charlie” in the second division, could hardly see the TBDs at the end of the line. Waldron, seeing his struggling charges, gave the order to re-form and close up. No sooner had his first division re-formed, he spotted smoke on the horizon ahead.

In Waldron’s path steamed the Japanese carriers, on board which the passage of time had diminished the tension prompted by the American attacks earlier that morning. They had just completed the recovery of the planes from the strike on Midway and had reorganized the CAP; 21 “Zeroes” orbitted overhead, three of which were waiting to land; six sat on Kaga’s flight deck.

Having recovered the morning strike, Nagumo began focusing his attention on the reported American carrier to the east. An hour would be necessary to organize a proper strike, but the admiral planned to launch planes at 1030 to deal with the enemy carrier. At 0917, Nagumo ordered a course change to the northeast, to close the enemy. As his ships turned, though, Chikuma and Tone almost simultaneously spied a group of American torpedo planes 35 kilometers to the northeast. At 0920, Kaga scrambled her six standby “Zeroes.”

After he had unsuccessfully attempted to inform Ring that he was attacking, Waldron selected the carrier to his left as his target, and ordered Owens to swing the second division out to starboard to make a split attack. Before the men of Torpedo Eight knew what hit them, though, the “Zeroes” were upon them. One A6M2 shot down the left-hand TBD in Waldron’s division almost immediately. Seeing the “Zeroes” swarming around the XO’s division, still relatively close at hand, Waldron recalled Owens, who quickly formed his planes on the CO’s in a tight right echelon of divisions.

Meanwhile, Waldron led VT-8 down to make a low approach to keep off the fighters. The “Zeroes,” however, slashed savagely at the lumbering TBDs from abeam and astern. “Tex” Gay, flying in the rear of the formation, noted “some [TBDs] were on fire and some did a half-roll, and crashed on their backs, completely out of control.” At least one exploded in mid-air.

Early in the attack, Waldron decided to attack the carrier in the center, Soryu. Two more TBDs splashed before one A6M2′s bullets hit the CO’s left wing tank, and his TBD burst into flames. Gay saw Waldron start to climb out onto the starboard wing to escape the fire consuming the cockpit, just before T-16 hit the water and disappeared. The rest staggered doggedly on, the “Zeroes” decimating them. Gunfire fatally wounded Gay’s radio-gunner, Robert K. Huntington, ARM3c, and then hit Gay in the left arm. Extracting the 7.7-mm. round, for want of a better place, he put it in his mouth.

As VT-8′s remnant approached Soryu from ahead on her starboard bow, she began turning to starboard, presenting her port side to the three TBDs – Gay’s and two others; one ahead, the other ahead and to port. Gay swerved to port to avoid another pass by a “Zero,” and pulled up to take a shot as it zoomed past. When he turned back to starboard, he could see one of the TBDs slanting down, out of control; the other had disappeared. The fighters had whittled VT-8 down to its last plane.

When he estimated he was within 1,000 yards of his target, Gay pulled up to 100 feet and slowed to 80 knots to drop his torpedo. After the electrical release failed, he switched the stick to his injured left hand, reached across his body with his right and pulled the manual release to fire his “fish” – virtually on top of Soryu. Not wanting to overfly her and expose himself to her starboard antiaircraft batteries, he turned to head out over her stern, noting the flight deck full of planes being rearmed and refueled. Then he was past her, low to the water, heading for a hole in the screen. The Japanese, however, placed a formidable obstacle in his way.

At 0932, compelled to do so by VT-8′s assault, Akagi had scrambled five A6M2s to increase the CAP, and these cornered VT-8′s last airborne aircraft. One burst destroyed most of his controls and the TBD headed for the water. Gay, having marginal elevator control, managed to keep the nose up as the right wing hit the water, and although the big Douglas cartwheeled into the ocean, Gay survived the ditching and clambered from his cockpit with his life raft in the center of the Japanese fleet. He decided to hide beneath it, making himself as inconspicuous as possible.

Image from TorpedoEight.com/ Text from Robert J. Cressman and Steve Ewing’s “A Glorious Page In Our History”: The Battle Of Midway: 4-6 June 1942

May 7, 2011
7:48 am
Bunter
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Here’s 2 works I did in gouache acrylic of Torpedo Eight’s attack. The first one I did in 2003 of a TBD Devastator at low-level under attack from Zeroes with a comrade already streaming smoke in the background:-

The second one I completed in 2006, of George Gay’s damaged TBD making its desperate attack run. There’s plenty wrong with this picture- hardly any flak when eye-witness accounts tell of the sky being crowded with the stuff, the Japanese ships are far too neatly arranged, not even trying to dodge the attackers and I don’t think Gay flew his plane that close to a Japanese destroyer.

Pete.

May 7, 2011
2:41 pm
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0925

Battle Of Midway by Charles H. Hubbell

Torpedo Eight, meanwhile, unfamiliar with flying a scouting line, began to straggle: ENS “Tex” Gay, the “tail-end Charlie” in the second division, could hardly see the TBDs at the end of the line. Waldron, seeing his struggling charges, gave the order to re-form and close up. No sooner had his first division re-formed, he spotted smoke on the horizon ahead.

In Waldron’s path steamed the Japanese carriers, on board which the passage of time had diminished the tension prompted by the American attacks earlier that morning. They had just completed the recovery of the planes from the strike on Midway and had reorganized the CAP; 21 “Zeroes” orbitted overhead, three of which were waiting to land; six sat on Kaga’s flight deck.

Having recovered the morning strike, Nagumo began focusing his attention on the reported American carrier to the east. An hour would be necessary to organize a proper strike, but the admiral planned to launch planes at 1030 to deal with the enemy carrier. At 0917, Nagumo ordered a course change to the northeast, to close the enemy. As his ships turned, though, Chikuma and Tone almost simultaneously spied a group of American torpedo planes 35 kilometers to the northeast. At 0920, Kaga scrambled her six standby “Zeroes.”

After he had unsuccessfully attempted to inform Ring that he was attacking, Waldron selected the carrier to his left as his target, and ordered Owens to swing the second division out to starboard to make a split attack. Before the men of Torpedo Eight knew what hit them, though, the “Zeroes” were upon them. One A6M2 shot down the left-hand TBD in Waldron’s division almost immediately. Seeing the “Zeroes” swarming around the XO’s division, still relatively close at hand, Waldron recalled Owens, who quickly formed his planes on the CO’s in a tight right echelon of divisions.

Meanwhile, Waldron led VT-8 down to make a low approach to keep off the fighters. The “Zeroes,” however, slashed savagely at the lumbering TBDs from abeam and astern. “Tex” Gay, flying in the rear of the formation, noted “some [TBDs] were on fire and some did a half-roll, and crashed on their backs, completely out of control.” At least one exploded in mid-air.

Early in the attack, Waldron decided to attack the carrier in the center, Soryu. Two more TBDs splashed before one A6M2′s bullets hit the CO’s left wing tank, and his TBD burst into flames. Gay saw Waldron start to climb out onto the starboard wing to escape the fire consuming the cockpit, just before T-16 hit the water and disappeared. The rest staggered doggedly on, the “Zeroes” decimating them. Gunfire fatally wounded Gay’s radio-gunner, Robert K. Huntington, ARM3c, and then hit Gay in the left arm. Extracting the 7.7-mm. round, for want of a better place, he put it in his mouth.

As VT-8′s remnant approached Soryu from ahead on her starboard bow, she began turning to starboard, presenting her port side to the three TBDs – Gay’s and two others; one ahead, the other ahead and to port. Gay swerved to port to avoid another pass by a “Zero,” and pulled up to take a shot as it zoomed past. When he turned back to starboard, he could see one of the TBDs slanting down, out of control; the other had disappeared. The fighters had whittled VT-8 down to its last plane.

When he estimated he was within 1,000 yards of his target, Gay pulled up to 100 feet and slowed to 80 knots to drop his torpedo. After the electrical release failed, he switched the stick to his injured left hand, reached across his body with his right and pulled the manual release to fire his “fish” – virtually on top of Soryu. Not wanting to overfly her and expose himself to her starboard antiaircraft batteries, he turned to head out over her stern, noting the flight deck full of planes being rearmed and refueled. Then he was past her, low to the water, heading for a hole in the screen. The Japanese, however, placed a formidable obstacle in his way.

At 0932, compelled to do so by VT-8′s assault, Akagi had scrambled five A6M2s to increase the CAP, and these cornered VT-8′s last airborne aircraft. One burst destroyed most of his controls and the TBD headed for the water. Gay, having marginal elevator control, managed to keep the nose up as the right wing hit the water, and although the big Douglas cartwheeled into the ocean, Gay survived the ditching and clambered from his cockpit with his life raft in the center of the Japanese fleet. He decided to hide beneath it, making himself as inconspicuous as possible.

Image from The Vintage Poster/ Text from Robert J. Cressman and Steve Ewing’s “A Glorious Page In Our History”: The Battle Of Midway: 4-6 June 1942

May 8, 2011
10:06 am
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0925

Sole Survivor by William J. Reynolds

Torpedo Eight, meanwhile, unfamiliar with flying a scouting line, began to straggle: ENS “Tex” Gay, the “tail-end Charlie” in the second division, could hardly see the TBDs at the end of the line. Waldron, seeing his struggling charges, gave the order to re-form and close up. No sooner had his first division re-formed, he spotted smoke on the horizon ahead.

In Waldron’s path steamed the Japanese carriers, on board which the passage of time had diminished the tension prompted by the American attacks earlier that morning. They had just completed the recovery of the planes from the strike on Midway and had reorganized the CAP; 21 “Zeroes” orbitted overhead, three of which were waiting to land; six sat on Kaga’s flight deck.

Having recovered the morning strike, Nagumo began focusing his attention on the reported American carrier to the east. An hour would be necessary to organize a proper strike, but the admiral planned to launch planes at 1030 to deal with the enemy carrier. At 0917, Nagumo ordered a course change to the northeast, to close the enemy. As his ships turned, though, Chikuma and Tone almost simultaneously spied a group of American torpedo planes 35 kilometers to the northeast. At 0920, Kaga scrambled her six standby “Zeroes.”

After he had unsuccessfully attempted to inform Ring that he was attacking, Waldron selected the carrier to his left as his target, and ordered Owens to swing the second division out to starboard to make a split attack. Before the men of Torpedo Eight knew what hit them, though, the “Zeroes” were upon them. One A6M2 shot down the left-hand TBD in Waldron’s division almost immediately. Seeing the “Zeroes” swarming around the XO’s division, still relatively close at hand, Waldron recalled Owens, who quickly formed his planes on the CO’s in a tight right echelon of divisions.

Meanwhile, Waldron led VT-8 down to make a low approach to keep off the fighters. The “Zeroes,” however, slashed savagely at the lumbering TBDs from abeam and astern. “Tex” Gay, flying in the rear of the formation, noted “some [TBDs] were on fire and some did a half-roll, and crashed on their backs, completely out of control.” At least one exploded in mid-air.

Early in the attack, Waldron decided to attack the carrier in the center, Soryu. Two more TBDs splashed before one A6M2′s bullets hit the CO’s left wing tank, and his TBD burst into flames. Gay saw Waldron start to climb out onto the starboard wing to escape the fire consuming the cockpit, just before T-16 hit the water and disappeared. The rest staggered doggedly on, the “Zeroes” decimating them. Gunfire fatally wounded Gay’s radio-gunner, Robert K. Huntington, ARM3c, and then hit Gay in the left arm. Extracting the 7.7-mm. round, for want of a better place, he put it in his mouth.

As VT-8′s remnant approached Soryu from ahead on her starboard bow, she began turning to starboard, presenting her port side to the three TBDs – Gay’s and two others; one ahead, the other ahead and to port. Gay swerved to port to avoid another pass by a “Zero,” and pulled up to take a shot as it zoomed past. When he turned back to starboard, he could see one of the TBDs slanting down, out of control; the other had disappeared. The fighters had whittled VT-8 down to its last plane.

When he estimated he was within 1,000 yards of his target, Gay pulled up to 100 feet and slowed to 80 knots to drop his torpedo. After the electrical release failed, he switched the stick to his injured left hand, reached across his body with his right and pulled the manual release to fire his “fish” – virtually on top of Soryu. Not wanting to overfly her and expose himself to her starboard antiaircraft batteries, he turned to head out over her stern, noting the flight deck full of planes being rearmed and refueled. Then he was past her, low to the water, heading for a hole in the screen. The Japanese, however, placed a formidable obstacle in his way.

At 0932, compelled to do so by VT-8′s assault, Akagi had scrambled five A6M2s to increase the CAP, and these cornered VT-8′s last airborne aircraft. One burst destroyed most of his controls and the TBD headed for the water. Gay, having marginal elevator control, managed to keep the nose up as the right wing hit the water, and although the big Douglas cartwheeled into the ocean, Gay survived the ditching and clambered from his cockpit with his life raft in the center of the Japanese fleet. He decided to hide beneath it, making himself as inconspicuous as possible.

Image from TorpedoEight.com/ Text from Robert J. Cressman and Steve Ewing’s “A Glorious Page In Our History”: The Battle Of Midway: 4-6 June 1942

May 9, 2011
6:05 am
Blacksheep
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04 June 1942 – 0925

“If There Is Only One Man Left …” by R. G. Smith

A TBD flown by Ensign George Gay approaches the Japanese carrier, Kaga, during the Battle of Midway, under intense anti-aircraft fire. His squadron skipper, Lieutenant Commander John Waldron, had ordered, “If there is only one plane left to make a final run-in, I want that man to go in and get a hit.” Gay, as “tail-end Charlie,” had watched all his squadron mates get shot down. In his attack, his gunner was killed, his plane damaged, and he crashed at sea. Gay actually watched the epic battle from the water and was rescued 30 hours later. He was the sole survivor of his flight.

Image from R. G. Smith: the man and his art/Text from R. G. Smith and Rosario “Zip” Rausa’s The Man And His Art: R. G. Smith: An Autobiography

Note: VT-8 and Gay’s torpedo run was made on the Soryu.

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