Battle of Midway - Art Chronology

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The Art Chronology series continues on the heels of last summer's subject of the Battle of Britain. This second installment will be a minute-by-minute retelling of the Battle of Midway. As last time, I have taken the liberty of standardizing some of the text (which will be accredited) such as ranks, unit and aircraft designations. Grammatical errors have been corrected. Fifty-five artworks from twenty-five artists have been assembled to date.

   

   So plot the enemy's predicted position, climb into the cockpit of your Dauntless and "Get the carriers!" A multitude of images of Avengers, Buffalos, Catalinas, Dauntlesses, Devastators, Kates, Marauders, Seagulls, Vals, Vindicators, Wildcats and Zeros are headed your way.

   

   The battle begins on April 14 ...

   

   Note: The Battle of Britain lasted several months, and facilitated a day-by-day retelling, with some days having several depictions and many days having none. The Battle of Midway was intense, and lasted but several days. I will present one image per day, with the last artwork being revealed on the last day represented with an image, June 7, 1942.
04/04/2011 09:05:49
:D Looking forward to it ,your BoB thread was one of the best ever on these forums ,Thank You ?

    Just out of interest ,is it easier to find prints of BoB or a campaign where American interest is higher due to participation and multiple American made aircraft?
04/04/2011 10:24:11
Looking forward to this one too.
04/04/2011 20:26:57
yes, thanks for doing this. the BoB thread was great!
05/04/2011 00:03:51
Thanks fellas! It is my hope that presenting the artwork in this format will lead to a better understanding of the order of battle, while the skill of the artists will make for a deeper appreciation of the sacrifices and heroism found under such circumstances.

   

   
Just out of interest ,is it easier to find prints of BoB or a campaign where American interest is higher due to participation and multiple American made aircraft?

   

   In this case, I feel it is like comparing apples to oranges. The Battle of Britain took place over four calendar months, with massive raids being meet by determined defenders. This lead to a large number of individual encounters that will probably never be completely covered in the realm of aviation art. The outcome of the Battle of Midway was decided in less than a week and had a more finite number of aerial combats. The BoB thread presented 126 artworks, while this Midway thread has 55 images. Considering the factors I just mentioned, a 2.3:1 ratio is probably justifiable. I actually feel that more personal combats have been overlooked in the Battle of Britain than in the Battle of Midway.
05/04/2011 06:08:45
For anyone interested in reading more about the Battle of Midway, I found the book "Shattered Sword" to be a terrific read.
05/04/2011 08:50:54
Wow - 55 works for Midway - I wouldn't have guessed there would be so many! Looking forward to it.
05/04/2011 11:06:38
03 June 1942 - prior to 0925

   

   Looking For Nagumo by Craig Kodera

   

   

   It is the third of June, 1942. Its first light over Midway. The American Navy had been decoding the secret transmissions of the Japanese. The last message intercepted before the enemy changed it's codes was what amounted to the full battle order and operations plans for the Japanese attack on Midway. The long and the short of it was that the US knew roughly where they were going to be, at about which time but it was a pretty large area. "Roughly" is the key operating word.

   

   The Navy sent up planes in a fan operation from Midway where there was a detachment of bombers, torpedo-bombers, scout airplanes and patrol airplanes. Of all the aircraft that went out for a couple of days in a row, only one finally stumbled across the Japanese fleet. This Consolidated PBY-5A had taken off from Midway at about three in the morning and Jack Reid, the commander, spotted the fleet at about 10 am. Reid's crew radioed ahead and this enabled the combined forces to engage the fleet and conduct the Battle of Midway in such a way that the Allies won.

   

   Image and text from The Greenwich Workshop
14/04/2011 07:31:00
03 June 1942 - 0925

   

   Main Body by Stan Stokes

   

   

   Jimmy Doolittle's attack on Japan with B-25s launched from the USS Hornet was a blow to Japanese morale, and it gave Admiral Yamamoto the leverage he needed to push for a grandiose plan to inflict a decisive military blow to American forces in the Pacific. Yamamoto's grand scheme would have several elements. A huge fleet would be sent to Midway Island to lure American carrier forces into combat. The force would include seven battleships, ten aircraft carriers, some two dozen cruisers and more than seventy destroyers. A separate strike force would be sent to the Aleutians under the command of Vice Admiral Hosogaya Moshiro. The plan was for the northern force to strike first and divert American carrier forces northward away from Midway's air support forces where they could be dispatched by Yamamoto's overwhelming force. Fortunately for the US Navy a highly skilled group of cryptographers had broken portions of the Japanese Navy's secret code. The Americans sent a bogus message to trick the Japanese into revealing the true target of their massive force. While not surprised, the American forces in the Midway area were sadly outnumbered, and good fortune would be needed to offset the Japanese advantage in numbers. The three primary US carriers in the Pacific (Enterprise, Hornet and Yorktown) were readied for the action. Shortly after 9:00 am on the morning of June 3, 1942, Ensign Jack Reid of VP-44, piloting a PBY Catalina flying boat, spotted the main Japanese invasion force, and shadowed the fleet at low altitude for several hours. Later that day B-17s from Midway Island would attack the invasion fleet followed by a torpedo attack by other PBYs. Early in the morning of June 4 the Japanese launched their first aerial attack on Midway. As the 108 Japanese aircraft approached the island a hodgepodge of all airworthy American aircraft were launched including PBYs, B-17s, Wildcat and Buffalo fighters, Vindicator bombers, B-26 Marauders and SBD Dauntless dive-bombers.

   

   Image and text from Stan Stokes Art
15/04/2011 06:12:05
04 June 1942 - 0610

   

   SB2U Vindicator by John Greaves

   

   

   A US Marine Vindicator leaves it's revetment on Eastern Island, Midway Atoll, on the morning of June 4, 1942.

   

   The Vindicators on this mission attacked battleship Haruna without getting any hits, and the squadron suffered heavy losses by the end of the battle.

   

   Image and text from John Greaves Art
16/04/2011 07:04:47
04 June 1942 - 0610

   

   Valiant Vindicators by Stan Stokes

   

   

   The Vought SB2U Vindicator represents one of those many 1930s era aircraft designs, that despite incorporating advanced aerodynamic design features when compared to earlier models, was technically obsolete at the start of WWII, and hence gets few favorable comments from a historical aviation combat perspective. The first production deliveries of the SB2U-1 dive-bomber took place in 1937. Powered by an 825 hp Pratt & Whitney radial, this aircraft carried a crew of two, and was capable of a maximum speed of 249 mph and a maximum range of 1,300 miles. The Vindicator's service ceiling was 27,500 feet. In early 1938 the Navy ordered 58 more Vindicators, designating this variant the SB2U-2. In 1939 Vought received a contract to supply the USMC with 57 additional Vindicators. These variants, designated the SB2U-3 would have greater fuel capacity and longer range. The 3s also were fitted with 4 forward firing machine guns instead of only one. Having advance knowledge of the Japanese plans to attack and occupy America's Midway Islands base, the US Navy spent much of the month of May 1942 building up the defenses of these tiny, but strategic islands. A mixed bag of USAAF, USN and USMC aircraft had found their way to Midway in hopes of mounting an effective defense and possibly an offensive operational capability against the coming Japanese attack. The aircraft sent included many obsolescent types, but this was all that Admiral Nimitz had at his disposal. The Marine Corps Air Arm was used to getting USN pass alongs of used and worn aircraft as carrier-based units received more modern aircraft. At Midway, the Marines were no exception to this rule, and they found themselves in possession of F2A Buffalo and F4F Wildcat fighters assigned to VMF-221, and SB2U-3 Vindicators and SBD Dauntless dive-bombers assigned to VMSB-241. The Vought Vindicators, nicknamed "vibrators" by their pilots, were technically obsolete USN hand me downs. The SB2Us were partially fabric covered, and in a power dive the wings had a nasty habit of shedding fabric, and hence lift. As a result these aircraft were patched up with a lot of tape, and the recent over painting of the rudder stripes and previous squadron markings gave them a rather ratty appearance. Warned by PBY patrol aircraft of the incoming Japanese air attack, MAG-22 scrambled all available aircraft just before 6:00 am on June 4, 1942. The 12 Vindicators available took off armed with 500 pound bombs mounted on their centerline bomb racks. In Stan Stokes' painting a heavily laden Vindicator struggles for altitude in the first phase of the Battle of Midway.

   

   Image and text from Stan Stokes Art
17/04/2011 13:17:31
04 June 1942 - 0616

   

   One V. Zero by Gerry Asher

   

   

   On the morning of 4 June 1942, a mixed bag of Brewster F2A and Grumman F4F aircraft assigned to Marine Fighter Squadron 221 took off to intercept a formation of Japanese bombers and fighters bent on the destruction of the facilities at Midway's military base. In the ensuing battle, VMF-221 was decimated, but not without a valiant fight. USMC CAPT William Humberd, after making firing passes on two bombers, was jumped by the enemy's fighter escort. In the ensuing melee, Humberd managed to down one of the Zekes in a head-on clash, an action which won him the Navy Cross.

   

   Image and text from Gerry Asher
18/04/2011 12:32:33
04 June 1942 - 0616

   

   Head On At Midway by John Greaves

   

   

   USMC 2dLT William "Bill" Brooks in F2A-3 BuNo 01523 (MF-16) was one of the few survivors of the June 4, 1942 morning interception of the incoming Japanese attack on Midway Atoll by VMF-221.

   

   "At about 0600, the alarm sounded and we took off. My division climbed rapidly, and I was having a hard time keeping up. I discovered afterwards that although my wheels indicator and hydraulic pressure indicator both registered "wheels up", they were in reality about 1/3 of the way down."

   

   Following LT Sandoval down the right side of the incoming Japanese formation, Brooks looked back to see a Japanese aircraft falling from his or Sandoval's fire. Losing contact with his division, he started to climb for a second attack when the Zeros attacked. Diving (slowly with partially extended landing gear) for the water, he cirlcled the island while anti-aircraft fire drove off his pursuers.

   

   "My tabs, instruments, and cockpit were shot up to quite an extent, at this time, and I was intending to come in for a landing. I saw two planes dogfighting over in the East, and decided to go help my friend if at all possible. My plane was working very poorly, and my climb was slow. As I neared the fight, both planes turned on me. It was then that I realized I had been tricked into a sham battle put on by two Japs, and I failed to recognize this because of the sun in my eyes. I turned and made a fast retreat for the island, collecting a goodly number of bullets on the way.

   

   After one of these planes had been shaken, I managed to get a good burst into another as we passed head-on when I turned into him.

   

   I don't believe he could have gotten back to his carrier, because he immediately turned north and down. I again decided to land, but as I circled the island I saw two Japs on a Brewster. Three of my guns were jammed but I cut across the island, firing as I went with my one gun. I could not get there in time to help the American flyer, and as soon as the Brewster had gone into the water I came in for a landing at approximately 0715.

   

   My plane was damaged somewhat, having 72 bullet and cannon holes in it, and I had a very slight flesh wound on my left leg.

   

   It is my express desire that LT Sandoval, deceased, be logged up with the bomber which one of us got in our first run."


   

   Image and text from John Greaves Art
19/04/2011 07:28:14
For some strange reason I like the Buffalo, even though it looks like a wooden barrel with stubby wings and tails. Nice to see these images of the Buffalo included. The Gerry Asher painting has been around for years, and I have always really liked it. Great stuff!

   

   fuzzy
19/04/2011 11:36:36
If its okay, I thought I would add two paintings of my own of VMF-221's battle over Midway atoll.

    The first one of an F4F I did about 16 years ago.

   

   

   

    This one of a Buffalo I did about 5 years ago.

   

   

   

    I read Walter Lord's 'Incredible Victory' when I was 12 and ever since then I have been hooked. Midway is a fascinating and stirring battle to study.

    Pete
20/04/2011 00:04:27
04 June 1942 - 0616

   

   Brewster F2A Buffalo by Tony Weddel

   

   

   The only combat action involving Buffalos (in US hands) was at the Battle of Midway, where the Marine pilots of VMF-221 flew from the island's airbase and intercepted an incoming Japanese aerial strike. Several Val dive-bombers fell to the Buffalo's guns, but they were quickly jumped by Zeros and most were shot down in the ensuing battle. Buffalos were then withdrawn from front-line duties and never used by US forces in combat again.

   

   Image and text from Dave's Warbirds
20/04/2011 13:23:51
04 June 1942 - 0700

   

   Requiem For Torpedo Eight by Gil Cohen

   

   

   It is 0700 hours, the fourth day of June, 1942 on the deck of the carrier, Hornet (CV-8 ). This is the carrier made famous less than two months prior, when B-25s led by Jimmy Doolittle were launched from her deck in the daring, first surprise bombing raid on Japan. The atmosphere is tense, as the Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo-bombers of Torpedo Squadron Eight are poised for takeoff. The pilot's orders are to attack the entire might of the Japanese fleet off Midway Island. Squadron leader, LCDR John C. Waldron and his aircrews are well aware that their chances of survival from this fateful mission are minimal at best.

   

   At the time of it's introduction in 1937, the Devastator was in the technological forefront of aircraft design. However, five short years later, it was hopelessly obsolete against a powerful, formidable enemy. Flying low and slow against the Japanese armada, all fifteen torpedo-bombers were shot out of the sky, with only one survivor, Ensign George Gay. However, this action forced the defending Zero fighters down to wave-top level and exhausted much of their fuel, leaving their carriers virtually unprotected. Soon after, SBD Dauntless dive-bombers hit and sank three carriers, the pride of the Japanese fleet (the Akagi, the Kaga, the Soryu, and the next day, the Hiryu).

   

   This action was the turning point of World War II in the Pacific. From that point on, Japan would be fighting a defensive war against increasingly powerful American forces.

   

   Image and text from Valor Studios
21/04/2011 06:08:20
04 June 1942 - 0700

   

   Moore And Sawhill's Last Takeoff by John Greaves

   

   

   Just before 0800 the TBD Devastators of USS Hornet's Torpedo Squadron 8 launched on their last mission. This is T-8, flown by ESN Ulbert "Whitey" Moore of Bluefield, West Virginia, and William F. Sawhill, ARM3c, of Mansfield, Ohio. This TBD was one of 15 launched, and all were lost with only one man out of thirty surviving.

   

   Image and text from John Greaves Art
22/04/2011 13:53:54
04 June 1942 - 0700

   

   You Test The Weight And I'll Test The Wind by John Greaves

   

   

   ENS George H. Gay and his gunner Robert K. Huntington, ARM3c, climb into their VT-8 TBD on the morning of June 4, 1942. They were spotted first for takeoff, and during a delay, ENS Ulbert M. "Whitey" Moore climbed up on Gay's TBD. They joked about never having launched from a carrier with an armed torpedo, and hadn't even seen it done. Moore said, "You test the weight and I'll test the wind," to which Gay responded, "I'll do my best buddy. If I go into the drink she's too heavy so you ask for more speed to get more wind over the deck!" With a grin and a thumbs up, Moore returned to his TBD, and soon they were launched. ENS Gay was the only survivor of the attack.

   

   Image and text from John Greaves Art
23/04/2011 06:03:01
04 June 1942 - 0706

   

   Best On Deck by James Dietz

   

   

   Reduced to four operational aircraft carriers in the early months of WWII, the US Navy also found itself faced with serious shortcomings in aircraft performance against Japanese machines. The Douglas SBD Dauntless was then the only offensive carrier aircraft that could effectively take the fight to the Japanese. The men of Bombing Six, flying off the deck of the USS Enterprise, played a major part in the first big success of the war, the Battle of Midway.

   

   LCDR Richard "Dick" Best led dive bombing squadron VB-6 aboard USS Enterprise (CV-6). His action in the Battle of Midway helped destroy three Japanese carriers, turning the tide of the war in the Pacific.

   

   On June 4, 1942, (then LT) Best's squadron was a member of LCDR Wade McClusky's Enterprise Air Group. His group of about 16 planes combined with CDR Max Leslie's USS Yorktown (CV-5) Air Group, which by fate arrived at virtually the same time over the top of three Japanese carriers - Akagi, Kaga and Soryu. Their unintended rendezvous doubled the size of the US strike force, which led to fatal blows of the three ships - all veterans of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

   

   Dick Best's squadron of Dauntless scout-bombers became separated with the unexpected arrival of McClusky's bombers. Splitting his force, Best led the 1st Division of three planes from the southwest against Akagi. Seeing the yellow flight deck emblazoned with a large red circle, Best dropped his 1,000 pound bomb from 2,500 feet, scoring a hit abreast of the bridge at 10:22 am, followed in succession by hits from his two partners, leaving the ship a wreck. His squadron mates in the 2nd Division hit Kaga, contributing to the carrier's sinking.

   

   Image from Airplanes and more/Text from Aviation Art Hangar
24/04/2011 06:13:29