Midway - The Turning Point
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 its 1,300 mile range and slow cruising speed, and it was capable of delivering a 1,200 pound bomb load. Because of its 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 gunners 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 Adm. Yamamoto this time. The American force totaled 25 ships including the carriers Hornet, Enterprise, and Yorktown. Air power was about even, because the U.S. could count on nearly 100 land-based aircraft on Midway itself. About 1/3rd of the U.S. 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 its 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.
$40 paper size 16 x 11-1/2 $150 Paper 14 x 21 $445 Canvas 18 x 27
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