Photo Section

Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers of Scouting Six (VS-6) soar above USS Enterprise on October 27, 1941. On the morning of December 7, 6-S-14 (top) was flown by Ensign Edward Deacon as the Enterprise’s SBDs were attacked by Japanese aircraft while approaching Pearl Harbor. Below Deacon’s SBD is 6-S-7, flown by Lieutenant (j.g.) Dale Hilton with rear gunner RM2c Jack Leaming.

Lieutenant Commander Howard Leyland “Brigham” Young, the Enterprise Air Group Commander (CEAG). Young led his Dauntless aviators into Pearl Harbor on the morning of the surprise Japanese attack.

The tail wreckage of Ensign Mac McCarthy’s SBD photographed weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack. The VS-6 pilot suffered a broken leg after bailing out of his burning plane.

All photos courtesy of the U.S. Navy unless otherwise noted.

Pearl Harbor is under attack as Enterprise SBDs make their landing approaches. The battleship California is slowly sinking near Ford Island while other U.S. ships burn in the background.

Aboard the Japanese carrier Akagi, a Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” fighter of the second strike group warms up for takeoff on December 7. Aichi D3A1 “Val” dive bombers are seen in the background.

Lieutenant Dick Dickinson (left) of Scouting Six received his second Navy Cross in three days for sinking the Japanese submarine I-70. In a photo taken on May 12, 1941, I-70 (above) is seen after a collision with a sister submarine.

Bomb-armed Enterprise SBDs launch to attack Japanese installations in the Marshalls, America’s first offensive carrier strike. Note the hundred-pound bombs under each wing.

Lieutenant (j.g.) John Van Buren in the VB-6 ready room, just before the Marshall Islands strike on February 1, 1942. Behind him (left) is Ensign Bucky Walters, who later disappeared in May during a scouting mission. Van Buren was lost at sea after ditching at Midway.

Mark Horan Collection, courtesy of Mrs. Sally Van Buren

Enterprise flight deck crews quickly reload returning SBDs with five-hundred-pound bombs as the Marshalls strikes continue.

A U.S. cruiser floatplane from Task Force 8 flies above Wotje Island on February 1 after the SBD strike. Note the ships anchored offshore.

This SBD was sheared in half on the carrier deck by a Japanese kamikaze bomber, which was fired upon by VS-6’s Bruno Peter Gaido from the rear seat of the Dauntless. Admiral Halsey promoted Gaido on the spot for his bravery.

Moisture-laden air creates halo rings around the propeller of an SBD taking off for Wake Island on February 24. Perry Teaff of VS-6 crashed overboard due to this effect, injuring him and killing his gunner.

Pilots gather in the Big E’s Torpedo Six ready room in early 1942: (front, left to right) Ensign Irvin McPherson, Lieutenant Art Ely, and Ensign Severin Rombach; (middle, left to right) Ensign Edward Heck, Lieutenant (j.g.) Lloyd Thomas, and Lieutenant Donald White; (rear, at far left) Ensign Glenn Hodges and two unidentified pilots. Many of these men would be lost at Midway.

Courtesy of Ron Graebel

Smoke rises from Wake Island on February 24 during the Enterprise air strikes as a Torpedo Six Devastator flies over.

Flight operations often included tense moments, as evidenced by this SBD of Bombing Six, which caught an arresting wire and slid into Enterprise’s port catwalk while landing in early 1942.

Dauntless bombers pack Enterprise’s forward flight deck, preparing for a strike in March. Note the coverings being removed from the cockpits and tail surfaces.

Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle’s Army B-25 bombers are spotted on the flight deck of the new carrier Hornet as she heads for Tokyo in April.

Admiral Bill Halsey (right) stands with his chief of staff, Captain Miles Browning (left), aboard Enterprise. Halsey, a qualified naval aviator, was popular with his men, while Browning was despised by many SBD pilots.

A Fighting Six Wildcat lifts off from Enterprise’s flight deck on the morning of June 4 at Midway. More F4Fs and SBDs are spotted aft.

Lieutenant Commander Wade McClusky, the new Commander, Enterprise Air Group, receives a Distinguished Flying Cross from Admiral Chester Nimitz on the Big E’s flight deck at Pearl Harbor on May 27, just before Midway. At far right is mess attendant Doris Miller, awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism on December 7. To Miller’s right are Lieutenant (j.g.) Cleo Dobson and Lieutenant (j.g.) Dusty Kleiss, both Scouting Six pilots also being decorated.

Lieutenant (j.g.) Ozzie Wiseman of Bombing Three drops a beanbag message on the deck of Enterprise on May 18. The message reported that Japanese vessels had been sighted as the Doolittle force approaches Tokyo.

The Japanese carrier Kaga, viewed here in 1939, was the target for VS-6 pilots on June 4. Built in 1926, she had a starboard side island structure and displaced 42,500 tons when fully loaded.

Author's Collection

Hornet’s Air Group prepares to launch on June 4 at Midway. Spotted forward are Commander Pat Mitchell’s Wildcat fighters. The first SBD in the center of the flight deck, with a five-hundred-pound bomb underneath, is manned by Ensign Clayton Fisher of VB-8. Fisher was wingman this day for Commander Stan Ring.

Mark Horan Collection

The Japanese carrier Soryu, viewed in 1938, was attacked by Yorktown’s Bombing Three on June 4. Commissioned in 1937, she had a starboard side island structure like Kaga and, fully loaded, displaced 19,500 tons.

Author's Collection

Ensign George Goldsmith’s shot-up 6-B-15 from Enterprise, with Jim Patterson in the rear seat, just after landing on Yorktown at about 1150 on June 4.

Patterson climbs from his rear seat as his SBD is pushed forward.

Tall, lanky RM2c Oral “Slim” Moore looks on as his pilot, Ensign Doug Carter, points to friendly-fire damage their Dauntless suffered over Midway on June 4.

Ten SBDs of Scouting Five were launched from Yorktown after 1130 to locate the carrier Hiryu. Ensign Leif Larsen is seen here warming up his 5-B-17.

Yorktown blazes after taking three direct bomb hits, forcing returning pilots to seek out refuge on Enterprise.

Yorktown’s crew abandons ship as destroyers stand by to pick them up.

Unable to land on the badly damaged Yorktown, Lieutenant (j.g.) Paul Holmberg ditches near the cruiser Astoria. He and his gunner, George LaPlant, were picked up by the cruiser.

Moments later, Lieutenant Commander Max Leslie also ditches near Astoria.

Astoria’s motor whaleboat heads over to retrieve Leslie and rear gunner Bill Gallagher. Near the base of Astoria’s crane, Holmberg and LaPlant watch their skipper’s rescue.

Eleven VB-8 Dauntlesses returned just as Hornet prepared to launch her strike against Hiryu. In this photo, a Bombing Eight pilot lands well off center, narrowly missing the LSO’s head. Three other planes are seen at top, waiting to land.

The carrier Hiryu is seen under attack by Air Force B-17s from Midway. Note bomb splashes far to her starboard side. Eager Air Force pilots would quickly claim credit for sinking Japanese carriers in spite of their failed efforts.

U.S. Navy

Bombing Three’s AOM2c Clifton Bassett is carried across Enterprise’s flight deck in a stretcher after suffering a serious shrapnel wound in his right knee during the Hiryu attack. His pilot, Ensign Randy Cooner, is walking directly behind the group.

The Japanese destroyer Tanikaze managed to evade more than forty bombs dropped on her by American Dauntless pilots on June 5.

Hiryu lies dead in the water, burning heavily from the bomb damage caused by Enterprise strike group. Note the extensive damage and open pit where her forward aircraft elevator has been blown away.

Another view of the mortally wounded Hiryu, photographed late on June 4.

Mikuma burns below as a pair of Scouting Eight SBDs from Hornet prepare to dive during their second strike of June 6.

Mikuma ablaze from numerous bomb hits.

Mikuma is dead in the water as destroyer Asashio or Arashio stands by to rescue crewmen. This photograph was taken by John Tereskerz, who was looking back past the tail of his VS-8 SBD.

Mikuma’s remains—note her drooping gun barrels and the wreckage of her forward guns.

Four Bombing Six gunners who survived Midway pose on board Enterprise, August 1942: (from left) ARM2c Harold Heard, AMM1c William Steinman, ARM2c Stuart Mason, and AMM2c Herman Caruthers.

Mark Horan Collection, courtesy of Lieutenant Commander Stuart Mason Jr.

Dusty Kleiss of Scouting Six kisses his new bride, Jean, upon receiving his Navy Cross in 1942. They married just weeks after America’s victory at Midway.

Jack Kleiss Collection

Bombing Six skipper Dick Best (left) is reunited with his rear gunner, Jim Murray, in 1983 at a Midway convention.

Mark Horan Collection, courtesy of James F. Murray

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