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tv   U.S. Dive- Bombers at Guadalcanal  CSPAN  March 10, 2019 12:59pm-1:50pm EDT

12:59 pm came the nazis feeding to take over and from the flagship, the order scuttle the fleet. nearly the entire fleet put out of commission. only a few undamaged units fell into nazi hands. stroke cruztic struck out to avenge the honor of france. ♪ ,> next on american history tv author stephen moore gives an illustrated talk on the importance of american dive bombers during the battle of guadalcanal.
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mr. moore is the author of the battle for hell's island, how small band of bombers help save guadalcanal. this talk is part of a daylong symposium on the battle of guadalcanal posted by the national world war ii museum in new guadalcanal to our the anniversary of the end of the guadalcanal battle. we have looked at the land battles,and the naval two fantastic presentations. we'll rise into the air under the expert guidance of stephen moore. he is a wonderful writer. he has written on the two
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greatest conflicts in modern history, world war ii and the war for texas independence. [laughter] that one never fails. i said multiple books. there is an actual number, 19 books. he does not watch much television in his free time. i would recommend pacific payback and the battle for hells island, how a small band of carrier dive bombers help save guadalcanal. stephen lives in north texas. realized that we had daughters who went to the same high school. emily. whom are named
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here to speak on the air battles above guadalcanal, welcome stephen moore. [applause] moore: we had me for the air portion of this, but i will -- therehis by saying are a lot of different people taking part with the carrier battles and the cactus air force . our challenge at this point was to stop japan from gaining complete control of the pacific. after pearl harbor, carrier aviation came to the forefront, replacing the old-school battleship navy. here are a few images from the day of infamy. island, itle of hells
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cover the role of the. list dive bombers from this popo of time -- of the dauntless dive bombers from this period of time. 7, the enterprise is coming in on what should be a -- they're caught up in the chaos and about one third are shot down. the results are devastating for the fleet. regroupsprise quadrant quickly and gets back to the business of war. within three days, clarence dickerson attacked the japanese submarine. this became the first combat
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ship of world war ii sunk by carrier forces. ideally bomber was suited for carrier work. happened to be blessed having thank you,th us, sir. i slip up, let me know if i have the facts wrong. big -- that the they had at the time. if you talk to some of the pilots that flew the plane, they felt otherwise. they give it credit for being highly maneuverable in dog fights and being able to absorb a severe amount of punishment in battle. caliber wingd 50
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guns with which to strafe targets or attack in the air. the rear gunner originally had a single machine gun. enterprise were among the first to have dual 30 calibers mounted. plane could carry a 1000-pound bomb underneath. it could also carry a 500-pound bomb with 100-pound charges under each wing. it was a versatile dive bomber. aese navy dive bombers paid heavy price in 1942. six,in point was squadron with which -- which went out with the enterprise. 50% short period of time, of its pilots were either killed, wounded, or taken
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prisoner. six's radiong gunners were killed, captured, or wounded within that same six month timeframe. pretty good attrition. guadalcanal, to will do a background on something that they did during the early month. this was our first chance to get payback. came february 1, yorktown the enterprise came out to attack these islands. wereact that the americans striking back against the japanese at all was a significant morale booster. february to march through wake island, marcus island, and new guinea.
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along the way, we lost more pilots than men. "hell'she book island," i tried to bring a personal line to it by getting into the memoirs to see what they were feeling like. gunners with the uss lexington went through training before the war, and before the war began, they made a pledge to each other. they expected rough times. one of them was married. decided that if something happens during the war, our pledge is that the rest of us, for any of us that survive, will talk to the wives of the family and let them know what did he do, what was his last action, what happened.
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they have this pledge. in can see these guys december, 1941, on the uss lexington., sloan cowley, jule, and lemmy wheeler. we will follow them all the way to the guadalcanal. i want give away the story of what happens to each one but i will tell you a little about what some of them went through. in an islands lost attack in a japanese harbor. a nightone is lost on training exercise when his plane spins into the ocean during a storm.
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another member of this party spends four hours in the ocean trying to keep his injured pilot afloat and later receives accommodation. the fourth man was so badly wounded in a bomb explosion that some of the medics initially declared him to be dead. none of them had it easy. pilots more about the sometimes, but to me there are a lot of good pilots on the front and back ends. earlier we talked about the doolittle raid. significant morale boost as well. , we have ourhat first carrier versus carrier battle.
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time opponents are going at each other without -- thenside each other yorktown and lexington groups put her under the waves. the battle went on for a couple days., these are some of the heroes. the successful scouting teams. whiska and his pilot. credit foriven destroying five japanese air bombers. credited with shooting down planes with his 30 caliber machine gun. by the end of world war ii, he ollie.nickname of ace c
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would go onse four to guadalcanal and continued that survival pledge that i mentioned. at the coral sea, i had some significant heroes. among them were two men who earned the middle of honor. one of them was jojo powers who said i will make a hit if it kills me. he did just that. he went down to the carrier within 500 feet and put his bomb aboard. he wouldn't survive the mission, but he would get the medal of honor later. a number of the pilots earned a medal of honor for dogfighting against japanese torpedo planes, bombers, and fighters. that is a big portion i talk about. they didn't have enough fighters in the fleet had to bring in the dive bombers to help. we lost the lexington and the
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battle. the yorktown was badly damaged. she makes it back to pearl harbor where she is given three quick repairs because the battle of midway is shaping up. the dauntless had one of its biggest days on june 4 when the enterprise had yorktown squadrons took out three japanese carriers. they accomplished this in the miraculous feet of about -- 5raculous feat of about minutes. by theictory was paved sacrifice of three torpedo squadrons. for the dauntless to achieve somethey did, there was sacrifice that day.
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minutes, threeve .lat tops were destroyed the dive bombers paid a heavy price that day. they launched 64 but only half of that number would make it back to the flight deck. some were shot down, some ran out of fuel. the lucky ones were rescued several days later. a few of the aviators were picked up the japanese. unfortunately, they were interrogated and usually executed. if you are lucky, this guy ditched his spd and was picked up the same day. we lost a lot of dive bombers in that battle. there is still one undamaged japanese carrier left. -- her group goes
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out and her scouts find the other carrier. bag are left with a mixed of yorktown and enterprise dive bombers. managed to pound her with bombs, destroying a fourth japanese carrier in one day. the battle of midday -- of midway goes on for some days. there is another carrier, the hornet. there is a whole other story of why they didn't get into action with her. they did get into some of the action during the next couple of days, attacking the retiring japanese cruisers and various destroyers. one cruiser on the my kuma was sunk -- on the maikuma was sunk. the other was so badly damaged she would be out of the war for a year. important because it
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was retribution against the japanese and it was primarily handled by the dauntlesses. would get into fistfights with navy corpsmen who claimed they had bombed these carriers but it was the dive bombers who achieved the majority of it. it would be the dive bombers who played a majority of the role in the guadalcanal. this was not all dive bombers, not carrier-driven bomber squadrons. that is the focus here. we can speak for an hour on the fighters. ohn lindstrom has done a tremendous job on the navy fightersr. my focus is the dive bombers.
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was the start of it. greate had a couple of speakers talk about the campaign. when the ground forces moved ashore, you had the carrier air groups giving them flight support for two days during this early period in august. strip thatthe dirt the japanese had started to build. it was named henderson field from the battle of midway. we would capture that quickly once ashore. several naval battles will be fought. two aircraft carrier battles. this will be a difficult point, trying to keep and maintain control of henderson field, because of what it offers as far
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as trying to protect transports, cruise ships, and carrier fleets. during the initial part of the campaign, the japanese quickly came to call this island hel l's island. not only was it filled with jungles,d vietnam-like but alligators and mosquitoes carrying malaria and dysentery. you had a lack of supplies. the japanese called this hells island because they had to rely on the rat patrol to run supplies, ammunition, and food in under the cover of darkness. the americans don't have planes on the island for the first couple of weeks. patrol comes in during the night.
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at the start of the campaign, off, that spd taking is the plaintiff turner caldwell. planes cover the landings for two days. admiral fletcher pulled out to keep the carrier safe. from everyoneism about him being cowardly, but there were reasons for it. he did and took the criticism for it. would also hornet take part in the guadalcanal campaign. these are the ones that served during the landing days. talking about a few people who served, i pulled out a couple here. this is lieutenant stockton and bernie strong. he goes back to the beginning of the war flying dive bombers.
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he was with the scouting five on the yorktown. he was involved with those early strikes. he had earned some navy crosses and other commendations. attacked the carrier shoho at the battle of coral sea. he was given commendation for using his dive bomber as a fighting plane. nobody questioned his abilities. until he gets to the first carrier battle of the guadalcanal. this is a few weeks after the august 24. the saratoga going up against japanese carrier. bernie is one of the pilot sent out from the enterprise to scout out the carriers and send them back. they do that. the way he conducted himself would draw the ire of his air group commander. bernie strong and his wingman
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found the carriers and reported to, as they were supposed but they didn't stick around to make an attack. they went back to the ship and arrive safely. that did not impress the commander. bernie strong remained in trouble with the commander for a period of time. after this battle in which a light carrier was sunk and the carrier is banished with bombs, the scouting five are rotated stateside. they have been out from the beginning of the war since dece mber 7. they are rotated back so good pilots can help train new air groups. a few of these guys would stick around with the new and incoming air group 10. among them was lieutenant strong. he was ordered to remain behind by the commander because he was
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for being at him coward and not attacking those carriers. you can imagine a strong as the desire to prove his name and is worthy of the fight. he does that a matter of weeks later at the second carrier battle. the battle of santa cruz. bernie strong is part of the scouting effort that goes to look for the japanese, to find and report the carriers. before the battle, the commander addressed the pilots. bernie took it personally. said,one sai -- cromlin if you're not going to make your bombs count, you should stay home and let me send good pilots. strong took that personally. when they did find their weho, they pressed home their attacks.
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two dive bombers against the japanese carrier and they landed their bombs on the flight deck and made them count. knocked her out of the battle of santa cruz. made a huge difference with just two pilots. wasthat, bernie strong recommended later for the medal of honor, although it would be reduced to a navy cross, his third for 1942. here is another character with the dive bombers. .obert gibson he had the nickname hoot. hoot gibson was there from the early days. he was a junior dive bomber .ilot he got to take a swim at the
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battle of midway when the yorktown went down. he went right back out and was with the enterprise during the battle of the eastern solomons. he is another one like bernie strong that would remain with air group 10. he goes back out with bombing 10 and continues the guadalcanal campaign. we will hear more about who hoot gibson is. force.s the cactus air thomas miller has done a great book. to me it is very interesting. this is a pivotal battle to keep guadalcanal. maintaining air supremacy from that dirt strip that we took from the japanese.
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you have a lot of air force, a lot of fighters. avenger squadrons. because of time, we will focus more on the dive bombers. i don't mean to diminish anyone ask about her role. anyone's role. the first was flight 300. that happened to be the flight number from the uss enterprise during the battle of the eastern solomons. enterprise so badly damaged that they can't land. toy have orders to continue guadalcanal and landed henderson field, which they do. they didn't have any idea how to land. it was a comedy of errors getting them down safely without
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crashing. this was a mixed bunch. the scouting five air crewmen who had been launched safely. here they are landing on a dirt strip on an island barely held by the marines close by, japanese within mortar range and firing range of where they would sleep at night. weeks for the enterprise flight 300 dive bomber guys on hells island. the leader was lieutenant caldwell. he was the skipper of scouting five. his gunner is a guy named rocky glidewell. rocky had more experience flying from the rear seat than most of his pilots, including his skipper. he had flown with the air group previously. by the time he got to guadalcanal, rocky had 1000 flight hours in the rear seat. he had been a boxer early in his
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career. that is where he picked up the nickname rocky. , which yourappy guy needed to be to live in this environment. the jungle, the heat, the rain, the lack of food. they were forced to sleep in what they could scrounge up for weeks on end. river,ur clothes in the take a bath once a week if lucky, eating army rations or japanese rice, sometimes filled with worms or maggots. the airfield is continually forcesed by the japanese under the cover of night. raids fromequent japanese planes. sometimes just an individual plane that comes in with the thumping of the engine. here comes washing machine
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charlie. he developed a system of air raid alarms to know when he is coming. that is what they looked like down there. rough conditions. the guy at the bottom with the white t-shirt and the bandage is rocky glidewell. he had gone on a mission, got shot in the arm, took one day off and is back in the air the next day. that is what these guys were made of. that is what they had to be made of. out on as were wiped regular basis from bombardments. you can see the picture whether it is enemy ships coming in or aerial bombardments, planes were wiped out from the aerial raids. men scrambled to get aboard as quickly as they can. if you don't, you will lose your claim.
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they also attack other islands ended japanese bases and troop additions. anything they can to keep things -- troop positions. anything they can to keep things going. they felt that they lost a plane per day on average. this is what your camp could quickly become. and theion to the enemy other bad things to deal with, you have the tropical front that could turn the whole camp into a quagmire overnight. replacement planes were flown up as available from the closest base where we could stage the planes when available. gunner, as i mentioned before, played a big role. they could help fly when need to be. elmer, his nickname was spike. he was part of flight 300 on the
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enterprise. spike goes out to attack part of the rat patrol coming in. badly, byis hit, antiaircraft fire. he is wounded. he's bleeding. flyingind of delirious, uncontrollably back over the japanese ship, toward the island, away from the island. he'sly his gunner decides not with it. he puts his stick in and begins helping to fly the dauntless back. spike is one of the people airlifted out later because of injuries. shotear gunner not only zeros off their tail but had to help land a plane. they also took part in working on the planes in between
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attacks, helping to gas them, helping to scavenge parts. this is the boneyard. shipping planes torpedo eight, which came in and served for the cactus air force, they came to a point -- jim was talking about bombardments wiping out the planes. there was a point where there were no injured her peto flyers that would fly at all. avengerst frankenstein , put them together, got them in the air. that is what you had to do, life on the canal, stripping everything you could. the flight 300 guys in the first couple of days on the first week of being there, they helped sink two japanese destroyers, but it to constant action and hell keep the aircraft flying. this is what they look like after some of the attacks.
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after a month many of the planes were too heavy to fly. this one was blown apart by a japanese bombing attack. some of his pilots were too wounded or sick to fly. the battle 300 was taken out at the end of september after six weeks on hells island. there were no shortage of planes because of what was called torpedo junction. years -- aviator second be brought in thanks to japanese submarines. the waters became so deadly that the people called it torpedo junction. the carrier saratoga -- she is forced to go stateside to make repairs. on september 15, the carrier wasp is hit by torpedoes and fatally damaged, finally sunk that day. many of her aviators are able to
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land on the carrier hornet and fly onto espiritu santo. one was commanded by lieutenant commander john eldridge. he would take scouting 71 into cactus air force to serve with the marines as well as scouting three which had been aboard the saratoga, commanded by a former football star named bullet lou kekrnrn. this is one of the guys here, nate murphy from the wasp scouting 71. he is beside his plane in one of the lower photos. the bearded look he has assumed after a number of weeks on guadalcanal -- they didn't want to shave because of infection from rusty razors. nate was one of the few sbd pilots that is still alive.
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solomons and santa cruz, this whittles down to carrier strength. the enterprise is damaged at the eastern solomons battle and santa cruz battle. so badly damaged she has to be taken out of action for a short time, but we did lose the carrier hornet. she is hit by bombs, torpedoes and even as you see in this picture, it would be japanese mikaze.zzy -- ka one of the first place to hit a ship that was trying to be done so. they thought the hornet would be lost, to be scuttled eventually. which leaves only the big e, the last carrier here to handle the rest of the campaign. in biggest push comes november 1942 when admiral
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intelligence the japanese have a major undertaking to take guadalcanal back which will take a major ground assaults, battleships and cruisers for actions and large in.oy bringing new soldiers he has little choice but to get the big e under way and stop this. her air group will become the salvation for guadalcanal. the forward elevator is in the bad habit of sticking in the down position so the skipper forde we will not use that flight operations. during the course of the action after the big night battle, they begin flying off, her air group, little by little. they sent off the buzzer brigade, contribute a -- brigade, torpedo squadron 10. the peto bomber crew -- torpedo
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bomber crews stay the night. the next day more aircrews joined the cactus. the marine commander has one two marine and dive bomber squadrons. day, november 14, the majority of the air group will have been flown into guadalcanal. this map gives you an idea how busy became for the cactus and group. scouts found not only the retiring warships and bombardment force but this troop convoy coming in. you can see different courses and a series of different attacks. let me know how i am going on time. we can spend a long time talking about each of these strikes and
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attacks. among the guys that go out this morning, gibson, he and his and take out a japanese cruiser. didn't hit her as they thought they did but landed near misses that were so close that it helped flood and sink the cruiser was already had a serious amount of damage. the marine dive bombers, torpedo planes, enterprise and the two dive bomber squadrons are literally ferrying back and forth through cactus making strike and strike on warships and convoys in what would be the busiest day for the cactus air force. gibson'ss after lou group knocks out the cruiser, two guys front -- find bombardment ships. one of them is paul halloran. damaged and he
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crashes into the japanese , killing some -- killing 17 japanese sailors. here is kind of what the frenzy looked like. a dark strip, this picture is earlier because you have the control tower over there. eventually the pagoda and other structures were taken down because they became prime targets. they learned a lot of hard lessons. the marines in the navy spent one of their busiest days continually putting these guys back in the air. johnsonedy and bill ended up landing at the field. one of them was shot by japanese zeros before he made it there. other strikes from the enterprise began to ferry in from the day, including an sbd
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strike group and the grim reaper's of the fighting 10. -- wildcatile caught fighters from the marines and navy. they finish a japanese cruiser and continue to repel this incoming troop transit convoy coming in with fresh soldiers. they cripple a couple of those and sink them outright. another couple of guys i will try to talk about, bruce mcgraw, he was a dive bomber pilot at santa cruz. he ended up being on the carrier after the bombing attack when enterprise was damaged and had to work in a first aid station, holding a guy until he died in his arms. he gave him resolve he would go out and kill as many japanese as he could with his dive bomber. november 14.that
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the commander told him you get those transports when you guys leave here. that is what mcgraw did. his first dive going in, he had no dive brakes and reached terminal velocity in three-mile dive going down, but he on in and made his bomb a direct hit the blue out the site of one of those transports. three other pilots achieved his on the japanese transports. leonard robinson, his nickname was robbie robinson, he was a buddy with mcgraw. he came in on the first strike and had to divert to anderson field because of that -- because of lack of fuel. but he would make more strikes on the japanese convoy coming in. the third mission, his group of dauntlesses had no fighter cover. that would be protested but they still send them out. sbd' three
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one of the guys would survive many days in the ocean. robbie made it back barely. his conner was wounded, his plane shot up and he had trouble outrunning japanese zeros. when he did make it back to henderson field, he had 68 bullet holes in his timeless. dauntless.- his one of the troops was forced to turn back. two had been sunk outright great others were crippled, hit by bombs and tornadoes drifting .urther out to sea four undamaged transports were still inbound heading for guadalcanal. they would beach themselves. you can see from these burning hoax right here -- burning hulks right here. this plane is doing recon, trying to find out where the transports went.
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that is where they found it on the coast. they ran themselves to ground, let the troops out, tried to get supplies they could on to the beaches. and then there is basically a field day for the dive bombers and torpedo planes to go in and bomb the stuff but a short ongoing -- the stuff put ashore on guadalcanal. this is the hulk of a japanese ship. gibson was one of the guys that bombed this. these hulks will remain for decades off the coast of guadalcanal. some of it has been destroyed and taken down for safety purposes but scuba divers still swim around these hulks of japanese transports that tried to win this furious battle
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november 1942. it was costly, but you can see from the stats as far as the japanese, two days of airstrikes and the big naval battles had cost the japanese two battleships, heavy cruiser, three destroyers, 10 troop transports, about 64 aircraft and thousands of lives. remained theres for decades but in terms of lightan cost, we lost two cruisers, seven destroyers and only about three dozen aircraft. it was a huge victory for the americans, not just by the spd's but by the cactus air force playing a pivotal role in what combined with ground forces and big naval battles offshore. the battle for guadalcanal was the beginning of the end for the japanese on the island.
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it didn't happen immediately. there was another few months of fighting that went on before japanese withdrew. victory for the u.s. as far as the first major islands offensive in the pacific war. the dive bombers and cactus air force played a huge role turning back this assault. in the months prior to november, sbd squadrons participated in two carrier battles off guadalcanal and made attacks on numerous warships from carriers and henderson field. heson, that dive bomber, reflected on what they accomplished by helping a turn -- helping to turn the tide. he said midway was not the turning point nor did we have superiority over the japanese after midway. we didn't have air superiority
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until november 1942. midway was a huge victory but this was a big tide turned at guadalcanal. , wrapping up sbd's their success, they have been through four major carrier battles including guadalcanal. they have helped or contributed to sinking six japanese carriers and badly damaged three others. a battleship, three cruisers and four destroyers had gone down under sbd bombs and avenger torpedoes. 140,000s would claim moretant ships sunk and with shared claims. nearly one third of japan's prewar naval strength and carriers, battleships and cruisers have been sunk or disabled by dive bombers. this figure doesn't deserve -- doesn't include merchant ships
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of which sbd's could claim eight of those exclusively. claimed 80mber crews japanese aircraft during this time, and significant part as crews would be the backbone for the next few years in the pacific rebuilding carrier air groups stateside. their experience would go a long and 1944.43 okinawa of 1945, there is a lot of names leaving the squadrons that flew the coral see and the guadalcanal battles. the fighting spirit and combat experience not only helped turn the tide at guadalcanal but would go a long way making a major difference in america's success in world war ii. we need to wrap this up for
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questions. i will throw it back to you. >> thank you for a great presentation. [applause] overve time -- we will go a bit into the break. time for one or two questions but the rest will stay for the roundtable. we had a forum here 10 years ago on midway. cleese. he died may be last year, age 101, but he said in five minutes it was nonsense. it was less than four minutes. and [indiscernible] dusty cleese was a heckuva guy. i had the pleasure of interviewing him a couple of times.
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he was kind enough to answer a lot of questions. if you haven't read his autobiography, first-rate book on the first year of the dive bombers, it is never call me a hero. great guy. we will go with one on the floor and one in the mezzanine next. >> i was wondering why they were using the largest, slowest planes as scouts. is it because of further range or was nothing else available? stephen: as far as the dive bombers? the carriers only had some adoption. they had more range, and they could -- later in the war they learned to put on the drop tanks and get additional distance which the fighters could as well. it was a versatile plane. they used the spd for all kinds of missions. the avengers also went on scouting missions. more than often the fighters
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were not used for reconnaissance. upstairs to your right. i want to ask about the logistics of supplying these dive bombers because as i am listening to this i wonder how they got the bonds in -- bombs in and the ammunition? stephen: any replacement groups like the wasp and the saratoga and other ones when they brought planes in, they would bring bonds or tornadoes. other stuff was wrought in by shipping -- brought in by shipping. some guys would go out and enlisted men would leave on these transport ships. in one case a japanese dive bomber hit one of these loaded with aviation fuel and bombs, killed guys with torpedoes and. bomber crews that were evacuating the island after a long time.
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anybody that came in from espiritu santo would fly in with them. if you didn't drop on a target on your mission it went out the next day. bombs were precious. >> this is probably a good time to give steve another round of applause. we will have any more questions of the roundtable. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] announcer 1: next on "american , thery tv", trent hone evolution of a fighting doctor. he analyzes how u.s. naval strategies and battle tactics developed during the six-month long battle of guadalcanal. he said these to the limits helped the united states when the pacific war. this 45 minute talk as part of a daylong symposium on the battle


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