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Battle of Midway - Art Chronology
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May 10, 2011 - 6:08 am
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04 June 1942 – 0925

Against The Odds by Marc Stewart

On June 4th, 1942, Torpedo Squadron 8 from the USS Hornet was the first to attack the Japanese Fleet at the Battle of Midway. Outnumbered and without fighter cover, VT-8 had 14 out of 15 TBD-1 Devastators destroyed. Piloting the only surviving aircraft, Ensign George Gay, wounded and with his gunner dead, concentrated his attack against the Japanese carrier Kaga. After being shot down by Zeros, Ensign Gay witnessed the historic battle from the water, surrounded by the enemy fleet.

Image and text from Aviation Art by Marc Stewart

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

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May 11, 2011 - 12:42 pm
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04 June 1942 – 0955

Midway – Turning Of The Tide by Robert Taylor

When McClusky and the Enterprise air group reached the estimated interception point at 0920, meanwhile empty ocean lay beneath them. McClusky checked, and found his navigation sound. During the flight to that point, McClusky had, using binoculars, scanned the horizon from right to left, and had seen no trace of the enemy, whom he had given a rate of advance of 25 knots – the maximum he expected a carrier group to make. Sure that the Japanese could not be to his left, he had kept looking off to his right, feeling that the enemy had changed course to the east or west, or, more likely, had reversed course.

Normally, a situation such as that would have dictated an expanding box search, but McClusky did not feel that his men had the fuel for it. Modifying the procedure, McClusky decided to continue to the southwest, to allow for any westward change of course, head out for 35 miles, then turn to the northwest and fly the reverse of the last known Japanese course. If necessary, he would then turn due east, intending to hold that course until 1000.

Heading northwest, near the end of the leg, at 0955, McClusky spied the wake of what he believed was a cruiser making knots to the northwest. Concluding she was a liaison vessel between the occupation force, known to be to the south, and the striking force, he decided to follow her. The ship pointing like an unerring arrow toward the Kido Butai was the destroyer Arashi which, having depth charged Nautilus for the last time at 0933 and perhaps assuming that she had finally driven off the persistent submersible, was speeding to rejoin Nagumo.

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

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May 12, 2011 - 2:24 pm
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04 June 1942 – 1010

Tom Cheek At Midway by John Greaves

On the morning of June 4, 1942, MACH Tom F. Cheek, flying Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat F-16 of VF-3 off USS Yorktown, desperately fights Zero fighters intent on attacking Torpedo Squadron 3. The TBD Devastator of ENS Wesley Osmus falls to the attacking Japanese fighters as the rest of Torpedo 3 starts a descent through low cloud, as they have sighted the Japanese fleet.

“I saw the TBD’s head underneath a layer of cloud between two columns of cloud and then saw Zero fighters ahead and to my left.”

Cheek makes a head-on run against a Zero and banks to port to avoid the striken fighter.

“I lost contact with Torpedo 3 and my wingman Dan Sheedy after that, and after having my hands full with the Zero fighters for a good while, I saw three of the Japanese carriers erupt in flames as our dive-bombers hit them. Noticing my fuel state, I headed home.”

Only two Torpedo 3 TBD’s would survive the attack, and the injured ENS Osmus, who survived his bail out, would be captured by the Japanese, interrogated and brutally murdered.

Image and text from John Greaves Art

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May 13, 2011 - 1:11 pm
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04 June 1942 – 1010

Untitled by Iain Wyllie

On the morning of 4 June 1942, 12 TBD-1s of Torpedo Squadron 3 (VT-3) from USS Yorktown (CV-5) attacked the Japanese carrier force off Midway Island. The squadron leader, LCDR Lance E. Massey, led his Devastators against IJN Hiryu despite repeated fighter attacks. During the run-in Massey was shot down, leaving his wingman in the lead. Chief Aviation Pilot Wilhelm G. Esders, flying Black 3-T-2 (BuNo 0286), completed the attack, although his gunner, Radioman Robert B. Brazier, was mortally wounded. Esders and four others reached the torpedo drop point, but only he and one other VT-3 TBD cleared the enemy task force. The surviving Devastators ditched out of fuel, but both pilots and the remaining gunner were rescued.

Image from Tattered Cover Book Store/Text from Osprey Publishing Limited

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May 13, 2011 - 3:15 pm
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🙂 Lovely link and quite heartbreaking.I have to wonder if George Gay is the most painted single subject out there.I guess Dam busters probably are up there but i wonder.

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May 14, 2011 - 1:10 am
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Trumper,

So far, Roger has shown us 7 images that have been published as prints of the Devastators of George Gay’s Torpedo 8.

I just got through counting the number of Dambuster prints. It’s 100.

fuzzy

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May 14, 2011 - 1:49 pm
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04 June 1942 – 1022

Dauntless Courage by David Gray

During the first attack by VS-6 Dauntless dive-bombers on June 4, 1942 in the historic Battle of Midway, LT (jg) “Dusty” Kleiss climbs away while inspecting the devastation inflicted by his bombs on the forward elevator of the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga. His gunner, ARM3c John Snowden, skillfully manages to keep pursuing Zeros at bay. Only nine of the original 16 Scouting Squadron Six SBD’s returned, and Kleiss landed on the USS Enterprise with only a few gallons of fuel remaining.

Image and text from Aviation Art Central

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May 15, 2011 - 2:13 pm
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04 June 1942 – 1022

Demonstrating My Douglas Dive Bomber by John Greaves

LT Clarence E. Dickinson, with his gunner, J. F. DeLuca, ARM1c, of Enterprise’s Scouting Six, make their slow-speed escape from Kido Butai in SBD-3 S-10 (BuNo 03208) on June 4, 1942. After a long, gas-guzzling flight, Dickinson, along with the rest of Scouting Six and most of Bombing Six, attacked Kaga at around 1020. The ninth plane to dive, Dickinson saw his “500-pound bomb hit right abreast of the island.” This was the fourth direct hit on Kaga and the last recorded by the Japanese. Upon completion of his dive, having spotted three A6M2s, Dickinson mistakenly lowered his landing gear instead of retracting the dive flaps. Dickinson now “really did some grabbing!”

“Some of our people who were still around told me later on that to them it seemed as if I were demonstrating my Douglas dive bomber. Landing flaps were opening; diving flaps were opening; my wheels were up and down and my activity was like a three-ring circus.”

Upon clearing the screen, Dickinson nursed his SBD back towards Task Force 16. Short of fuel from the extended search for the Japanese carriers and alone for much of the return trip, S-10 ditched near the destroyer Phelps, a ship Dickinson served on for over two years before he earned his wings, and pilot and gunner were promptly rescued.

Image and text from John Greaves Art

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May 16, 2011 - 1:23 pm
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04 June 1942 – 1022

Turning Point by Robert L. Rasmussen

At 1022, McClusky abruptly pushed over into this dive – a sudden move that surprised his number two man, ENS William R. Pittman, who had expected to dive last so that he and ENS Richard A. Jaccard – whose SBDs had been fitted with cameras – could photograph the results of the attack. Seeing Pittman pause, Jaccard followed the CEAG, and, in combat for the first time, accidentally lowered his wheels instead of opening his dive flaps! Pittman brought up the rear.

Gallaher, following McClusky, led VS-6’s 14 SBDs practically through VB-6’s formation. In the confusion, although most of Best’s pilots missed his signal to reform, LT Joe Penland, leader of the second division, did not. Penland saw Best abort his dive, but unsure that Best meant for everyone to follow him, delayed his dive momentarily. Then, noticing a lot of misses on the carrier below, he decided to attack her. Bombing Six’s second and third divisions, as well as Best’s second section – 11 SBDs in all – were soon following McClusky in his dive.

Descending toward Kaga at five-second intervals, the 28 SBDs were well into their dives before the Japanese spotted them, opening up with their antiaircraft guns, and began taking evasive action which caused the first three bombs to miss her.

The fourth bomb, however, hit squarely. Earl Gallaher’s plunged into the flight deck aft, amidst Kaga’s fully fueled and armed kanko. As he pulled out, Gallaher violated his own rule by looking back to see the results of his attack. As he saw the explosions blossom up from Kaga’s deck, he said to himself, “Arizona, I remember you” – he had been one of the Enterprise air group pilots flying into Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, and had seen what Japanese bombs had done to the first ship he had served in upon graduation from the Naval Academy.

After Gallaher, ENS Reid W. Stone missed to port. Then came ENS John Q. Roberts, who had begged Gallaher to allow him to fly the mission, declaring: “I’ll see that my bomb hits even if I have to take it aboard.” His SBD evidently damaged by flak, Roberts released his bomb but never pulled out. Following behind him, LT (jg) “Dusty” Kleiss saw Robert’s S-3 hit the water several hundred yards to starboard of Kaga. Roberts and his radio-gunner, Thurman R. Swindell, AOM1c, died instantly.

Seeing Gallaher’s bomb turn the after end of the target into a sea of flames, “Dusty” Kleiss shifted his aim to the big red “meatball” forward. He released his 500-pounder at 1,500 feet; his two 100-pound incendiaries at 1,000. Looking over his shoulder as he pulled out, he saw the blast as his bomb hit abreast the forward elevator. Shortly after his radio-gunner, Snowden, had scared off a “Zero” that attempted to shoot them down, Kleiss noticed a second carrier in trouble; an awesome sight, it looked “like a haystack in flames.” ENS James C. Dexter’s bomb hit a refueling cart parked in front of Kaga’s island and the resulting explosion bathed the bridge in flaming gasoline; among those severely burned was the carrier’s captain.

The second division leader, LT Clarence E. Dickinson Jr., dove on Kaga’s port side from abaft the beam and put his bomb amidships. One-by-one the rest followed, and while it is unclear how many more bombs may have hit Kaga, VS-6 claimed three more and VB-6 at least two. The Japanese gave up counting after Dickinson’s hit, for Kaga, her air group trapped on deck, was clearly doomed. Violent secondary explosions, triggered by aviation fuel and torpedo warheads, ripped the ship’s vitals. Among those who died a fiery death in Kaga’s travail were four senior officers from her air unit: LCDR Tadashi Kusumi, her air unit commander; LT Shoichi Ogawa, her carrier bomber squadron CO, and two buntaicho (division officers), LT Minoru Fukuda and LT Ryotaka Mikami.

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

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May 17, 2011 - 1:30 pm
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04 June 1942 – 1022

First Hit At Midway by Paul Rendel

June 4th, 1942, 10:00 am – Douglas SBD Dauntless dive-bombers are about to deliver the turning point of the war in the Pacific.

Image and text from Airplanes and more

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May 18, 2011 - 11:01 am
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04 June 1942 – 1022

Douglas SBD Dauntless by Tony Weddel

This painting shows elements of Lieutenant Commander Clarence W. McClusky’s eighteen SBD dive-bombers from the USS Enterprise as they plunge from 17,000 feet to pulverise the Japanese carrier Soryu during the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942. Despite attacks by a variety of US aircraft, only the Dauntlesses were able to score any hits. The victory at Midway turned the tide of the war in the Pacific.

Image and text from Dave’s Warbirds

Note: VS-6 and McClusky’s bomb run was made on the Kaga.

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May 19, 2011 - 1:51 pm
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04 June 1942 – 1023

Yorktown Replies by Jack Fellows

On 4 June 1942, Lieutenant Harold S. “Syd” Bottomley was one SBD-3 Dauntless pilot from the carrier Yorktown who flew with Douglas TBD Devastators and F4F-3 top cover to locate Imperial Japanese naval forces, including their four aircraft carriers, northwest of Midway. Attacking the nearest and biggest carrier, Bottomley steadied his bomber, passed through 3,000 feet, and pulled his bomb release. A glance back confirmed the carrier enveloped in flames.

Bottomley proceeded back to the Yorktown, finding it dead in the water from hits. After recovering on the Enterprise and debriefing Bottomley and the other survivors of the first raid were launched to attack the fourth carrier. Damage to all four Japanese carriers elevated the Battle of Midway to a pivotal engagement of World War II.

Image and text from Jack Fellows

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May 19, 2011 - 1:57 pm
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Another thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring thread here Roger – a great idea.

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May 20, 2011 - 1:55 pm
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04 June 1942 – 1023

Midway: The Turning Point by Stan Stokes

The Battle of Midway in June of 1942 marked the turning point in the war in the Pacific, and the Douglas SBD Dauntless was the aircraft which provided the punch in this decisive victory for America. The SBD, which earned the nickname “Slow, But Deadly,” entered service with the USN and USMC in 1940. Powered by a 1,000 hp, 9-cylinder, Cyclone radial engine the SBD was capable of a maximum speed of 250 mph. The Dauntless could stay airborne for a long time with it’s 1,300 mile range and slow cruising speed, and it was capable of delivering a 1,200 pound bomb load. Because of it’s slow speed the SBD needed armament to discourage attack by enemy fighters. Two forward firing machine guns and either one or two rear firing guns mounted in the gunner’s cockpit behind the pilot, gave the SBD enough firepower to make it a challenging target for enemy fighters. The Japanese plan for invading Midway, a strategically-located small island about 1,100 miles northwest of Hawaii, involved the use of a decoy fleet which would feign an invasion of the Aleutians, while the main fleet consisting of approximately 100 ships and four aircraft carriers would carryout the invasion. Based on intelligence reports the US Navy was ready for Admiral Yamamoto this time. The American force totaled 25 ships including the carriers Hornet, Enterprise and Yorktown. Air power was about even, because the US could count on nearly 100 land-based aircraft on Midway itself. About 1/3rd of the US air power was represented by SBDs. During the first exchanges, American attacks on the Japanese invasion fleet with both land-based and carrier-based aircraft were repulsed with substantial losses. These low-level torpedo attacks focused the attention of both Japanese fighter pilots and AA gunners on the horizon. Lacking effective radar, the Japanese fleet would prove to be unprepared for a high altitude attack by swarms of SBDs on June 4, 1942. The timing proved perfect as the Japanese carriers were laden with fully fueled and armed aircraft being readied for a second wave. As depicted in Stan Stokes’ dramatic painting the 1,000 pounder of Paul “Lefty” Holmberg’s SBD penetrates the carrier deck of the Soryu while Holmberg pulls out of his dive. Right behind Holmberg is another SBD of VB-3 from the USS Yorktown. SBDs from the Yorktown and it’s sister ship the Enterprise destroyed three Japanese carriers in a matter of minutes during this battle. While the Yorktown was later lost in the battle, all four Japanese carriers were eventually destroyed including many of Japan’s most experienced naval aviators. The rugged and effective Dauntless, the only USN aircraft to remain in service through the entire war, was responsible for destroying more enemy shipping than any other aircraft during WW II.

Image and text from Stan Stokes Art

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May 21, 2011 - 12:37 pm
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04 June 1942 – 1023

Untitled by Iain Wyllie

Bombing Three’s LT Sid Bottomley Jr. levels out just above the tracer-whipped sea in SBD-3 BuNo 03246 following his dive-bombing attack on the Japanese Carrier Striking Force on 4 June 1942. The SBD’s successful strike on Admiral Nagumo’s fleet during the Battle of Midway has since been universally recognised as the pivotal action of the Pacific War. Awarded a Navy Cross for his part in this momentous sortie, Bottomley was accompanied on the raid from USS Yorktown (CV-5) by AMM2c Daniel F. Johnson. The lieutenant went on to see more action with VB-3 (now aboard USS Saratoga (CV-3)) during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons on 24 August 1942, participating in the sinking of the Japanese light carrier Ryujo.

Image from Tattered Cover Book Store/Text from Osprey Publishing Limited

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May 22, 2011 - 1:22 pm
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The US artist William S Phillips produced an excellent painting of a TBD Devastator at Midway entitled ‘They gave their All’.
I don’t know if the plane is meant to represent Ensign Gay’s aircraft or one of the many other TBDs from the three Torpedo Squadrons that were destroyed on the morning of June 4th 1942.

The painting was also reproduced in the 1999 book ‘Return to Midway’ by R G Ballard which was about the famous oceanographer’s search and discovery of the submerged wreck of the USS Yorktown and his unsuccessful attempt to locate at least one of the lost Japanese carriers. In this reproduction, for reasons unknown, the torpedo visible in the original work, has been erased.

Pete

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May 22, 2011 - 1:27 pm
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04 June 1942 – 1026

Midway – The Setting Sun by Ivan Berryman

Depicting Dauntless and Devastator attacking the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi during the Battle of Midway.

Image and text from Cranston Fine Arts

Note: No Devastator unit attacked the Akagi.

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May 23, 2011 - 3:01 am
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I am enjoying this thread very much! Thanks for all your hardwork, Blacksheep.
The TBD Devastators embarked on the US Task Forces 16/17 suffered incredible losses and inflicted no damage on the enemy ships they attacked. As one writer grimly remarked, the ‘only thing devastating about them were their own losses…’.

The US carriers Enterprise, Hornet & Yorktown originally set sail for Midway with 44 Douglas TBDs on board between them.
Torpedo 3 (USS Yorktown)- 12 aircraft plus 1 spare
Torpedo 6 (USS Enterprise)- 15 aircraft
Torpedo 8 (USS Hornet)- 15 aircraft plus 1 spare

Prior to June 4, Torpedo 6 lost one aircraft when Lt-Commander Eugene Lindsey suffered an engine stall whilst on final approach on May 28th and ditched in the sea astern of Enterprise. Rescued by a destroyer, he and his gunner were eventually returned to the carrier whereupon Lindsey, despite facial bruises that were so painful he could barely put his goggles on, commandeered the machine of another crew (ironically saving the latter’s lives). That was why Torpedo 6 flew into battle on June 4th with only 14 aircraft.

On June 4th, the 15 aircraft of Torpedo 8 led by Lt-Commander John C Waldron from USS Hornet arrived on their own over the Japanese carrier fleet shortly before 0900. 41-year-old Waldron was an experienced flier but, like all his men, flying into battle for the very first time. Part-Oglala Sioux on his mother’s side, Waldron was a short-tempered man but passionate and dedicated to his job and devoted to his men who respected him in return and tolerated his relentless training schedules. One serious flaw in their preparation was a complete lack of any torpedo-practice. Before the battle, none of the young ensigns had ever carried or dropped a torpedo. Ensign George Gay had never even seen an aircraft take off from a carrier deck carrying one. In the past they had been forced to practice torpedo runs using smoke-bombs and discussing attack-methods in theory sessions.


Photographer Bill Gibson captured this poignant image of the 15 TBDs of Torpedo 8 receding into the distance as, having formed up after launching, they head towards the enemy fleet on the morning of June 4th. In the sky above, just visible are specks of some of the fighters of VF-8.

The air strike from USS Hornet had been intended to arrive simultaneously and all 60 aircraft make a combined attack, splitting and overwhelming the Japanese defences. But, despite being the last squadron to take off, Torpedo-8 arrived at the Japanese fleet first and on their own.
The accompanying aircraft from Hornet– 10 F4Fs of Fighting-8 and 35 SBDs of Bombing/Scouting-8- had flown in a more westerly direction, followed by a U-turn to the east, missing the Japanese fleet entirely, losing 13 aircraft to fuel-starvation, including all of the fighters and forcing another 11 to land on Midway atoll in order to refuel.
Waldron??™s south-east course brought his own men right onto the enemy force but, without any fighter protection, the TBD crews of T-8 had no chance. Attacking the IJN carrier Soryu at around 0925, the TBDs were picked off by the CAP Zeroes in quick succession. Waldron was last seen standing upright in the cockpit of his burning plane before it went into the water. His last words spoken over the radio, according to a pilot of Bombing-8 who picked up the signals, were ‘My two wingmen are going into the water…‘ Waldron was one of the first pilots to perish but the rest followed in quick, horrific succession.
The newest pilot on the squadron, tall Texas ensign George ‘Tex’ Gay, launched his warhead at the Soryu and then flew right past the ship??™s bridge, seeing as he put it- ???the little Jap Captain up there jumping up and down and raising hell??¦.??™ With his gunner ARM R K Huntington dead and his TBD mortally injured, Gay splashed down in the water close to the Japanese fleet. Floating in his life-jacket and hiding under an inflatable cushion, Gay later claimed that he had a ring-side seat to the rest of the battle but this is unlikely given that he crashed some distance from the Japanese fleet and that the latter was heading north-east away from his location at high speed.
Of the 30 men of Torpedo-8, Gay was the sole survivor. He was rescued by a PBY the following day (June 5th) and immediately taken to a hospital on Hawaii. Tall, handsome and well-spoken, he was a gift to the publicity machine for the war-effort but his experiences on June 4th would haunt him for the rest of his life.

Led by Lt-Commander Eugene Lindsey the 14 crews of USS Enterprise’s Torpedo 6 sighted the Japanese fleet at 0945. Tragically, the accompanying fighters- ten F4F Wildcats of Fighting 6, led by Lt James Gray- were positioned above at a higher altitude. A pre-arranged signal sent by Lindsey to alert them was not received by Gray due to technical problems with their communications and Torpedo-6 flew under low-lying cloud where Gray could not see them. As the F4Fs circled aimlessly above the clouds, they were un-aware that Torpedo-6 had already commenced their attack-runs and were doing so un-protected.
Lindsey divided his men into two groups, making a so-called ‘hammer & anvil’ attack on the IJN carrier Kaga. But the Zeroes quickly pounced. Very quickly, nine of the torpedo-planes were fatally shot down with the loss of all the crews, including Lindsey. A tenth plane was mortally damaged and ditched en route back to the US fleet, its crew- pilot Albert Winchell & his gunner ARM Douglas Cossett- swimming clear in the life-raft.
The two men survived an astonishing 17 days on the open sea, using their parachutes as awnings against the sun and the aluminium oars to beat off sharks. When the emergency rations were gone, Winchell killed an albatross which landed alongside the raft but the bird??™s meat proved too tough to chew. On the 12th day, a submarine approached but it turned out to be Japanese. The vessel circled the raft, onlookers in the conning tower staring at them but the submarine??™s captain evidently decided that the two ragged fliers were not worth the trouble of capturing or shooting and they left. Finally on the 21st June, the two men were sighted and rescued by a PBY, both of them sixty pounds lighter and half-dead from thirst and exposure but alive.
It was arguably only due to the discipline of the CAP Zero pilots who were un-willing to leave their assigned patrol sectors that any of T-6’s crews managed to escape at all. The four surviving planes made it back to the Enterprise but after landing safely, one plane was judged too damaged to fly again and was jettisoned overboard, leaving just three. Several planes launched their torpedoes but according to the carrier’s log, none of them went near the carrier Kaga.
His fighters dangerously low on fuel Gray eventually led his men back to the Enterprise after vainly waiting for either Torpedo-6 or the dive-bombers of Bombing & Scouting-6 to show up. Gray was said to have been emotionally devastated when he later learnt of the slaughter of Torpedo-6. Gray later defended his actions at an historical seminar on the battle during the 1980s, stating that he received no signals from any of the other units and that he did not see the action that was taking place below.


Photographed from one of the escorting destroyers, a TBD of Yorktown’s Torpedo-3, shortly after launching after 0800 on June 4th.

The 12-plane strong Torpedo-3, commanded by Lt-Commander Lem Massey, sighted the Japanese just after 1000 and began their attack-run around 1010.
Contrary to popular belief, Torpedo-3’s attack did not occur prior to the dive-bombing attacks that knocked out Nagumo’s carriers. Instead, by the time Massey’s squadron was commencing their attack-run, the SBD dive-bombers from the Enterprise were already making their escape, having bombed the Akagi and Kaga.
The Japanese still regarded the torpedo-plane as the most serious threat to their ships and even as three of their carriers were being bombed by the SBDs from above, the majority of the Zeroes on CAP were rallying at lower level to engage the slower TBDs coming in over the wave-tops.
Unlike the unfortunate crews of Torpedoes 6 & 8, this squadron had at least a token fighter-cover- six Wildcats of Fighting-3 led by Lt-Commander James Thach.
But with seasoned Zero pilots coming at them in no small numbers, most of Thach’s pilots were soon too busy fighting for their own lives to have a chance to protect their vulnerable brothers in the lumbering TBDs. On the first pass, the youngest of the F-3 pilots, ensign Edgar Bassett, was killed, his chubby F4F spiralling away into the ocean.
Thach and two more of his pilots began to perform the manoeuvre that would become known as the ‘Thach Weave’, flying to and fro across each other’s paths like the action of a pair of scissors opening and closing. Able to guard each other’s tails, the three F4F pilots were able to fight off the larger force of Zeroes, downing at least four of the Mitsubishi fighters in the process (three of them by Thach himself).

Below, the other two of Fighting-3’s Wildcats were able to stick close by their torpedo-laden charges. The pair of F4F pilots, machinist Tom Cheek and ensign Daniel Sheedy, fought hard, downing three Zeroes between them.

But their efforts could not protect the vulnerable lumbering torpedo planes below flying at perilously low-level in a desperate attempt to protect their soft bellies. After an abortive run at the Soryu, they split up into two prongs to converge on the more distant Hiryu. At least ten Zeroes confronted them, all flown by experienced, determined fliers who were not inclined to show any mercy.
Six of the TBDs, including the aircraft of Commander Massey, were sent into the water in flames although T-3’s gunners managed to down at least one Zero in return. A seventh plane was set afire and its gunner killed but the pilot, ensign Wesley Osmus, managed to bale out. He was captured and picked up by the Japanese destroyer Arashi. According to one account, the crew at first treated him kindly and gave him food and medical attention, orders came from higher up that prisoners were not wanted and the ships log records that Osmus was executed (by beheading) and buried at sea on 5th June. But according to a different account by a member of the crew, Osmus was subjected to a fierce interrogation and then vengeful members of the crew set upon the airman with fire axes before shoving him overboard. Osmus was said to have desperately held onto the railings before a Japanese sailor smashed his hand with a club and the former’s mangled but still living body went into the water.
At least five of T-3 launched their warheads at the Hiryu (the ship’s log records seven passing by) but none scored any hits.
The five surviving planes of Torpedo-3 hugged the wave-tops in an effort to escape but by now the Zero pilots on CAP were no longer inclined to maintain their strict discipline and were keenly chasing the fleeing Americans. Three planes were fatally picked off. The two survivors, flown by Captain Wilhelm Esders and Machinist Harry Corl, managed to escape but just barely. Esder’s gunner- ARM Robert Brazier- was badly wounded and could no longer use his weapon but he verbally called out warnings to his pilot, describing each Zero’s angle of attack, allowing Esders to take evasive action accordingly. The latter did so by flying at near-stalling speed only 20 feet above the water and turning into each attack, meeting each successive Zero head-on, forcing it to overshoot. The Japanese finally gave up, the last Zero pilot flying alongside Esder’s TBD for a few moments and giving a cheerful wave.
Esders and Corl made it back to Task Force 17 only to discover that their carrier, the Yorktown, had been crippled by the dive-bombing counter-attack from the Hiryu. With neither the fuel nor the strength to make it to Task Force 16, the two crippled Devastators ditched in the sea alongside the cruiser USS Astoria. After Esders ditched, one of the surviving Aichi Val dive-bombers from the Hiryu, having just bombed the Yorktown, paused to circle overhead until it was picked off by an F4F flown by Lt Arthur Brassfield, gaining his fourth kill of the day. All four men on board the two sunken TBDs were rescued but by now Brazier had already slipped into a coma and he later died of his wounds, leaving Corl??™s rear-seat man ARM Lloyd Childers the only gunner of T-3 to survive.


The ditched TBD of Harry Corl & his gunner Lloyd Childers, photographed from the cruiser USS Astoria.

In a sad postscript, one of the F4F pilots who had desperately tried to protect Massey’s vulnerable crews- ensign Daniel Sheedy- was forced to land his damaged fighter on board the Hornet at 1430. Wounded in both legs and suffering much pain, Sheedy touched down his fighter but his damaged right landing-gear collapsed on contact with the flight-deck. Unbeknown to Sheedy, damage to the instrument panel had disconnected the safety circuit switch for the wing-guns and when he had switched them to ‘off’ prior to landing (as per standard procedure), the switch had not worked and the plane landed with live weaponry. The heavy impact thus caused the .50 calibre machine guns to spontaneously fire, the resulting spray of bullets killing five men on the flight deck and wounding another twenty.


At 1430 on June 4th, the damaged F4F of ensign Daniel Sheedy of Yorktown’s Fighting-3 lands heavily on the flight-deck of the USS Hornet, the impact causing the damaged wing-guns to spontaneously fire, the tragic accident killing or wounding 25 of the carrier’s deck-crew.


Following the accident, wounded men receive first-aid on the flight-deck.

Barely an hour later, a similar incident occured when another F4F from the Yorktown, this one from the now strickened carrier’s CAP, landed on the Hornet. The pilot, ensign Bass, forgot to switch off his gun circuits and as the plane hit the deck, the jolt caused his hand on the joystick to in-voluntarily clench, pressing the trigger and causing the wing-guns to open fire. Fortunately, this time no-one was hurt.


A second tragedy is narrowly averted on the Hornet as a second F4F lands heavily only an hour later, this time flown by ensign Bass, also of Fighting-3. Bass in-advertently squeezed the trigger upon impact, having neglected to switch off his gun circuits, his guns firing a burst. Luckily, no-one was hurt this time.

The spare TBD still aboard Yorktown was jettisoned overboard during the attempted salvage operations on June 6th prior to the ship’s sinking at the hands of a Japanese submarine.

Therefore, of the 44 TBDs originally embarked, only four were left after the battle, three on board USS Enterprise, the other the spare plane on board USS Hornet. After Midway, the type would never see action again. Like the British Fairy Battle, no-one would miss it. Many of the surviving TBDs ended their days on the ground being purposely set alight for training exercises for navy fire-fighting crews. When the Solomons Campaign began in July, the Grumman TBF, now named ‘Avenger’, was the torpedo-bearer of the fleet.

82 Devastator crewmen took part in the fighting on June 4th. Only 14 of those men survived the battle.
Harry Corl, one of the two surviving pilots of Torpedo-3, was soon back in the air, this time flying a new TBF Avenger with new squadron Torpedo 3 on board the USS Enterprise. On August 24th, 1942, during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, whilst on a reconaissance mission, Corl was shot down and killed by Japanese fighters. In 1944, the new fast transport USS Corl was commissioned in his honour.
George Gay passed away in 1995. As by his prior request, his ashes were scattered over the area of the Pacific ocean where his Torpedo 8 crew-mates had perished 52 years earlier.
Lest we forget.

Sources:-

Bicheno, Hugh. ???Midway??™ Cassell & Co, London 2001

Ballard, Robert D. ‘Return to Midway’. Madison Press Books, Toronto 1999

Keegan, John. ‘Battle at Sea: From man-of-war to submarine”. Pimlico, London 1993. (Previously published in 1988 as ‘Price of Admiralty’)

Kernan, Alvin. ‘The Unknown Battle of Midway: The destruction of the American Torpedo Squadrons’ Yale University 2005

Lord, Walter. ???Incredible Victory??™ Harper & Row, New York 1967

Parshall, Jonathan & Tully, Anthony. ???Shattered Sword: The Untold Battle of Midway??™ Potomac Books Inc, Virginia 2005

Prange, Gordon W. ???Miracle at Midway??™ McGraw-Hill, USA 1982

Reynolds, Clark G. ‘The Carrier War’ Time/Life Books (Epic of Flight series) Virginia 1984

Smith, Peter C. ???The Battle of Midway??™ New England Library, USA 1976[/img]

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May 23, 2011 - 3:39 am
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Here are some more images I found of the gallant attacks on Admiral Nagumo’s carrier fleet by the Torpedo Units of task forces 16 & 17.

This painting, entitled ‘Torpedo 8’ is by the wonderful illustrator Wilf Hardy which featured in a 1971 issue of ‘Look & Learn’ magazine. Hardy got two details wrong- Firstly, the TBDs are sporting pre-Midway ensignia- namely the red crescent in the centre of the white stars and the red & white horizontal stripes on the tail fin which, although still use at Coral Sea in May, had been removed from USN planes by June. And secondly, the Zero has an olive-drab paint-scheme whereas all of the fighter units on IJN carriers sported the pale-grey scheme in 1941-42 (although some of the Aichi D3A1 Val and Nakajima B5N2 Kate units had olive-green or green camouflage schemes).
But these are minor quibbles for what is a great illustration. I had this pinned up on the wall of my bedroom when I was a boy back in the 1970s. And I have a confession to make, I removed the picture from an issue of Look & learn I borrowed from a library. I hope after 30-odd years, my old librarian can forgive me!

Here’s an oil-painting of TBDs under attack by an artist whose identity I couldn’t locate. Anyone can help me?

Here’s a painting of a TBD called ‘Final Assault’ by an artist named Robert D Fiacco who is a retired former serviceman in the US Navy and lives in California.

Here’s a good painting featured on the cover of a book about the Douglas TBD. Not sure of the artist’s identity but the style looks similar to James Dietz.

Pete

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Here’s a couple of images I found to do with Midway atoll’s air-force and their brave and costly attacks on Nagumo’s fleet.
This is a painting by artist Barry Z Masser of ensign Albert Earnest’s damaged Grumman TBF jettisoning its warhead in an effort to regain control after he and comrades made a brave attack on the IJN carrier Hiryu. His aircraft was the sole survivor of the original six-plane detachment from the newly-formed Torpedo-Eight equipped with the new TBF. Earnest staggered back to Midway with one gunner dead and the other, 17-year-old Harry Ferrier, wounded and unconscious with the aircraft’s elevator wires shot loose and landing-flaps dangling in the breeze. Of the 18 aircrew in the flight, Earnest and Ferrier were the only survivors.

This is a painting by a recent but un-identified Japanese artist depicting Midway atoll’s small torpedo strike against Nagumo’s fleet at 0710. A B-26 is seen climbing away after un-successfully attacking the IJN carrier Akagi whilst what appears to be either Zeroes or TBFs are discernable in the background. In the painting, both the TBFs and B-26s appear to be attacking the same carrier whereas in reality, the TBFs attacked the Hiryu.

10/6/2011- CORRECTION:- The painting is by Nixon Galloway. Apologies to Mr Galloway. Thanks to Blacksheep for finding that out. Pete

Here’s a different slant on the battle, an oil by an un-identified artist depicting the Japanese air-strike on Dutch harbour in the Aleutians which occured simultaneously to the Midway operations.
In the early hours of June 3rd, the Second Carrier Striking Force under the command of Rear-Admiral Kakuta launched their attack on the US base of Dutch harbour in the Aleutians islands chain in the chilly northern Pacific. The strike force was equipped with two light carriers- Junyo and Ryujo, fielding a strength of 40 Zeroes and 42 bombers between them.
They launched a combined strike of 45 aircraft, including 29 Nakajima and Aichi bombers, the rest escorting Zeroes. The launch went smoothly despite the thick fog and cold, windy conditions except for one mishap- one of Ryujo’s bombers splashed on take-off but the crew were hurriedly rescued from the icy water before they perished.
En route to Dutch harbour, Junyo’s aircraft encountered a US recon-floatplane and shot it down but the delay, and the never-ending dense fog, prompted the air-commander to abandon the mission. However Ryujo’s fliers pressed on to the target and bombed Dutch harbour but the small force of bombers could only do slight damage to the sturdy installations.
The following day on June 4th, the two carriers raided Dutch harbour for a second time in the mid-afternoon with a combined force of 31 aircraft, including 11 fighters. This attack did more damage, destroying several buildings and US aircraft and killing some 25 men. The sturdy defences inflicted some cost- two of the attackers were shot down, another two ditched en route home with battle-damage and a fifth plane- a Zero from the Ryujo piloted by P/O Koga Tadayoshi- crash-landed on Akutan island. The pilot was killed when the plane flipped over upside-down on the soft tundra but the aircraft was recovered almost intact and shipped to the States and restored to flying condition. The Zero went through intensive evaluation tests and gave much priceless information. Popular myth has it that the US Navy designed the Grumman F6F Hellcat based on what they discovered from the captured Zero but the plainer truth is that the first prototypes of the F6F had already flown by the time Tadayoshi’s plane reached the States.

Pete

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