Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway
By Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully
Hardcover in dustjacket, 640 pages, appendices, notes, and index
Published by Potomac Books, November 2005
Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.8 x 10.0 inches
The Battle of Midway is regarded by many historians as the turning point of the war in the Pacific. Many articles and books have been written about the battle. Most of them are wrong.
Shattered Sword examines primary source material to tell the story of the Battle of Midway from the Japanese perspective. Furthermore, the analysis does not just start with the battle, but examines the Japanese plans from a strategic perspective and shows the effect of the Imperial Navy’s doctrine on the conduct of the battle. The internal competition with the Imperial Army had a much larger role in Japanese naval operations than is generally realized, and this had huge implications in both the campaign planning and distribution of forces.
The authors also take a deep dive into the design and equipment of the four Japanese aircraft carriers at Midway and how these factors affected the operation and employment of the air groups. By determining what was possible for the ships and crews to do, they have ruled out several persistent myths about what the Japanese did do and have set the record straight. Doctrine also plays a huge role in the decisions which are made in any engagement, as navies fight as they train. An Admiral decides what to do when, doctrine determines how those orders are to be executed. Here again the authors have been able to show why the Japanese fought as they did.
The surviving records have provided several details which are not present in other works on the subject. The authors have been able to pin down the times of launch for individual aircraft as well as the names of aircrew. From this they have been able to determine the number of Zeros over the Japanese fleet at any given time during the morning of 04JUN42. This also conclusively dispels the myth that the Japanese were launching their own strikes against the American carriers when the Dauntless’ dives began. There are also a few surprising facts revealed in these records, such as the ineffectiveness of the Japanese anti-aircraft fire, which only accounted for two American aircraft.
I am confident that this book will be the definitive history of the Battle of Midway from the Japanese perspective for the foreseeable future, at least in the English language. There is room for the story to be told from the American viewpoint with the same scholarly rigor and level of detail, but that history is more readily available to the reader even if it is not compiled in one volume. This is not a quick read, but well worth the time for anyone wanting to understand the Battle of Midway. Recommended without reservation.
A beautiful selection of color photographs of SBD Dauntless dive bombers shot “somewhere in the Pacific” for LIFE magazine. Many of these aircraft show signs of camouflage and markings being painted out and updated. Modelers should take particular note of the patterns of paint wear and weathering which are visible on several of these aircraft. A particularly stunning set of pictures!
This is the Hasegawa Douglas SBD-3 kit in 1/72 scale. The dive flaps are molded as solid pieces attached to the wing sections. There’s really no way to get a decent appearance using the kit flaps, so they were replaced with Quickboost resin. The cockpit is also resin, canopy sections are from Falcon.
The aircraft modeled is B-1 of VB-6 from the USS Enterprise (CV-6) during the Battle of Midway, 4 June 1942. The crew was Lieutenant Richard H. Best and Chief Radioman James F. Murray. This was one of only three SBDs which attacked Akagi, and Best was credited with scoring the only direct hit which led to her eventual loss. Best was also credited with a hit on Hiryu later in the day, one of only two pilots to have hit two Japanese carriers during the battle. Best was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the battle.
Never Call Me a Hero: A Legendary American Dive-Bomber Pilot Remembers the Battle of Midway
by N. Jack “Dusty” Kleiss with Timothy and Laura Orr
Hardcover in dustjacket, 336 pages, illustrated
Published by William Morrow May 2017
Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
The history of war is filled with epic battles, with tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of men sometimes fighting for days. The outcomes often decide the fates of nations and alter the course of history. Surprisingly, the difference between victory or defeat often hinges on a single decision of a leader or the actions of a few men during a crucial moment. “Dusty” Kleiss was one such man who was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time with exactly the right skills to win an improbable victory for his nation.
LTJG Kleiss was a Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber pilot with Scouting Six flying from the USS Enterprise (CV-6). During the pivotal battle of Midway on 4 June 1942 approximately three hundred US aircraft from three aircraft carriers and Midway Island attacked the four Japanese carriers, dropping hundreds of bombs and torpedoes. Many crews were lost. In spite of all that effort and sacrifice, only thirteen bombs actually hit the Japanese carriers, all of them dropped by Dauntless pilots from the Yorktown and the Enterprise. “Dusty” Kleiss hit two of the carriers, first Kaga and then Hiryu in a later strike. On the 6th he also hit the damaged heavy cruiser Mikuma. All three Japanese ships were sunk. Another Enterprise SBD pilot, LT Dick Best of VB-6, scored hits on the carriers Akagi and Hiryu. Between them, Kleiss and Best were responsible for 30% of the hits on the Japanese carriers during the Battle of Midway.
Never Call Me a Hero is Kleiss’ story. While the Battle of Midway is the obvious focal point of the book, it also examines his early life and education, along with service in the surface fleet before flight school. He also details Enterprise’s participation in the raids against Japanese held islands prior to Midway which are every bit as interesting as the pivotal battle itself. A major subplot throughout is Kleiss’ courtship of Eunice “Jean” Mochon, whom he was to marry while on leave after Midway. An interesting insight into the times.
Combat Colours Number 4: Pearl Harbor and Beyond, December 1941 to May 1942
By H. C. Bridgwater and Peter Scot, Edited by Neil Robinson
Paperback, 68 pages
Publisher: Guideline Publishing 2001
Dimensions: 11.5 x 8 x 0.2 inches
This is very much a profile book. There are four sections organized by nationality with a short introductory history before each section. These cover the Imperial Japanese Navy and Army, the US Navy and Army Air Corps, the British Commonwealth, and the Netherlands East Indies. Each profile is accompanied by a short caption describing the colors and markings, some of these also contain a line with details about the aircraft.
This book does a good job of explaining the standard camouflage and markings of the participants. It is an excellent primer for those studying the Japanese carrier aircraft markings from the Pearl Harbor Raid, or the American defenders. Where it falls a bit short in my opinion is the absence of illustrations of the less common schemes and aircraft, perhaps due to a lack of reference photographs.
A good general primer on the topic, and useful for modelers in determining potential subjects.