33 - Battle of Midway

The “Barge” - ready for take off.

Take Off for attack against the Japanese Imperial Navy – the world’s the mightiest fleet.

For this picture, I have used a b/w picture from one of the US carriers as background. I think the result is rather “authentic” – even if it is the “wrong” carrier (but only a very few Navy geeks will know that)

The Japanese fleet have spotted the dive-bombers and put up an awesome barrage of anti-aircraft fire.

The Battle of Midway

the story of the Douglas SBD Dauntless

by Bjørn Jacobsen

4th of June 1942:


One airplane turned the disastrous tide for the Americans

and changed a potential damaging defeat into the US Navy’s proudest victory of World War II


Six months after Pearl Harbor,

this one-day battle reversed the tide of war in the Pacific.

The B-25 raid on Japan in April 1942 demolished the Japanese military's perception that their homeland was immune from air attack. They realized that in order to protect Japan, they had to extend the defensive perimeter eastward.


In order to draw out the American fleet, Admiral Yamamoto

Isoroku, the Japanese fleet commander, chose to invade

Midway, a target relatively close to Pearl Harbor.


He calculated that when the United States began its

counterattack, the Japanese Imperial Fleet would crush



Almost the entire Japanese fleet went into the operation:

Six aircraft carriers, eleven battleships, thirteen cruisers,

forty-five destroyers, assorted submarines, transports

and minesweepers.


Against this enormous fleet, the American forces seem

rather tiny: Three aircraft carriers (Hornet, Enterprise and

Yorktown), eight cruisers, fourteen destroyers, and the

aircrafts stationed on Midway itself.


The carrier Yorktown, mauled in the Battle of the Coral

Sea, limped into battle after repaired at Pearl Harbor.


However, the enormous Japanese fleet was in for a

surprise: The American had solved the Japanese fleet

codes and knew about their plan.

Therefore, the US moved their carrier to surprise the

Japanese when they strike at Midway.


American recognisant aircrafts found the Japanese fleet

early in the morning of June 4.


The initial strike from American carrier-based planes was

a disaster: 42 TBD Devastator torpedo bombers from

Hornet and Enterprise attacked the Japanese carriers.


Anti-Aircraft Fire from the escort ships and the efficient

carrier based Zero fighters shot down 36 of the old and

slow-moving Devastators. Not one of the carriers was hit.


Wanting to follow up on their earlier attack on Midway, the

Japanese armed their bombers with bombs. However, in

the midst of the rearming, scouts spotted the American

Fleet, so the crew started refitting the bombers with



Simultaneously, the Zeros defending the fleet returned to

their carriers for rearming and refuelling.


At this crucial moment, the American Dauntless dive-bombers appeared over the Japanese fleet.


The Americans carriers had launched all they had. In all, 67 Dauntless dive- bombers, 29 Devastator torpedo-bombers and 20 Wildcat fighters.

But not all reached their targets. Unknown to the aircrafts, the Imperial Fleet had changed course and when the planes arrived at the point they believed the Japanese would be at - they found nothing. Some planes searched in vain and many of the fighters had to ditch as they simply ran out of fuel.


However, the torpedo squadrons, flying low over the water,

did find the Japanese carriers - but they had no fighter

cover for the attack. Regardless of this, the attack went

ahead despite the extreme danger

The torpedo bombers met fearsome fire from the carriers

escort ships and from the Zeros. None of the torpedoes hit

their target. Only one pilot survived the onslaught.


The Japanese defenders, however, failed to notice the

SBD dive-bombers flying at a much higher altitude.


With their decks crammed with planes about to take off,

the Japanese carriers were prime targets.


The first attack took out the flight deck of the flagship

'Akagi' detonating a store of torpedoes. The flames soon

reached fuel supplies and within minutes, the 'Akagi' was



Other SBDs attacked the 'Kaga'. Here again, fuel was

soon ignited and the ship suffered severe damage, even

if it took two hours to sink.


More dive-bombers attacked the 'Soryu' with the same

deadly impact. Only three bombs actually hit the 'Soryu'

but they did enough damage to sink the ship.


The last carrier was the ‘Hiryu’, which was found and

attacked with the same devastating consequences as the

other three carriers.


The consequences of the Battle of Midway for the

Japanese were huge.

At a stroke, they had lost four vital aircraft carriers - the

entire strength of the task force - with 322 aircraft and

over five thousand sailors of which many were elite pilots

and highly experienced ground crews and mechanics.

The Japanese also lost the heavy cruiser Mikuma.


American losses included 147 aircraft and more than three

hundred seamen.




SBD Dauntless went by many names.

The “official” nickname was “the Barge”, but “Clunk” was another name.

SBD (Scout Bomber Douglas) was soon renamed: “Slow But Deadly"

The Japanese Aircraft Carrier Kaga

SDB Dauntless on the US carrier deck

The Akagi Carrier on fire after the SBDs attack

SBD Dauntless on the carrier deck

The TBD Devastator torpedo planes

The timeframe 4 June 1942:

04:30 First Japanese takeoff against Midway Islands

04:30 10 planes (Yorktown) begin to search for the Japanese ships

05:34 Japanese ships detected by Yorktown airplanes

07:10 One Avenger and four B26 of US-Army (from Midway I.) attack

07:50 67 SBD dive-bombers, 29 TBD torpedo-bombers and 20 Wildcats takeoff

07:55 16 SBD dive-bombers of the US-Navy (from Midway I.) attack

08:10 17 B17 (from Midway Islands) attack (no damage to the Japanese ships)

08:20 11 Bombers of the US-Navy (from Midway I.) attack

09:06 12 Torpedo-, 17 dive-bombers, 6 Wildcats takeoff (Yorktown)

09:18 Nagumo turn the fleet to Northeast

09:25 15 airplanes (Hornet) attack

09:30 14 airplanes (Enterprise) attack

10:00 12 Torpedo-bombers (Yorktown) attack

10:25 37 SBD dive-bombers (Enterprise) attack on Akagi and Kaga

10:25 17 SBD dive-bombers (Yorktown) attack on Soryu

11:00 18 Vals and 6 Zekes takeoff from Hiryu

12:05 First attack on Yorktown

13:30 24 SBD dive-bombers takeoff against Hiryu (Spruance)

13:31 10 Kates and 6 Zekes take off from Hiryu

13:40 Yorktown again in service with 18 kn

14:30 Second attack on Yorktown

15:00 Yorktown abandoned

16:10 Soryu sunk

17:00 SBD dive-bombers attack on Hiryu

19:25 Kaga sunk

Next day 5 June:

05:00 Akagi sunk

09:00 Hiryu sunk

The Diorama:

I am going to use my models to tell the story of the SBD dive-bombers part in this very important battle: From the take-off from the US carriers to the destruction of the four Japanese Aircraft Carriers.


Of course it is impossible to make a diorama covering all this, so I have to settle for pictures of the Dauntless on deck and in flight and concentrate the actual diorama to the bombing of the Japanese carrier Akagi.


For this, I need the Dauntless, the Akagi , an escort light cruiser and a plate that can simulate the Pacific Ocean.


For the Dauntless, I choose the the 1:48 from Accurate Miniatures/Academy

For the warships, I will use the Hasegawa (Akagi) 1/700 and the (Tamiya) Abukuma light cruise 1/700

For the Pacific, I had to settle for a plywood board I found in my garage.

The Douglas SBD Dauntless dive-bomber


The manual for this kit is not the best I have

seen, but besides that, the SBD from

Accurate Miniatures is a pleasure to build.


Everything fits nicely together and very little

filling and sanding is needed.


The cockpit interior is painted Chromate

Green before it is glued to the fuselage.


The engine and cowling with the double

machine guns on the top is next.


I took care of lubricating the propeller shaft

so it might spin with a little help from a wind



That means that I can take more realistic

picture the plane in the air.


The first coat on the fuselage is the black

Kryon Fusion, followed by the Alclad

Aluminium and then the camouflage which in

this case is Blue Grey on top and Light Grey

on the bottom part.


A coat with Johnson Future is applied before

the decals.


I need a crew, and since there were no

figures in the kit, I chose a pilot from

JP-products and a gunner from my box with

old bits and pieces.


On almost all old photos of the SBD in action,

the crew flew with open cockpit.

So also in this model.


The weathering on the machines operating

from the carriers, relates mostly to oil spill

from the engines (the radial engines was

always leaking oil), some exhaust stains and

of course the wear and tear on the paint.


I have studied a lot of old WWII pictures to

get the weathering as close to the real thing

as possible.


What will be a challenge in this build is the

bomb rack, the flaps, the landing gears and

the dive brakes.


The reason is I want pictures of this plane on

the carrier deck, ready for take-off.


I want pictures in flight towards the IJN

(Imperial Japanese Navy) and I want pictures

when the SBD dive-bombed the carrier Kaga.


That means the landing gear should be both

out and in retracted position.


The dive brake should be fully employed and

fully pulled in.

The bomb should be secured to the aircraft and dropped when dive-bombing.


Since none of these parts are movable on this model, I just have to improvise, mostly by

gluing the parts lightly so they are easily removed and then glued in any other position.




The Akagi Aircraft Carrier


Akagi was originally an Amagi-class battlecruiser but converted to

an aircraft carrier while still under construction to comply with the

terms of the Washington Naval Treaty.


Akagi figured prominently in the development of the IJN's

revolutionary carrier striking force doctrine that grouped carriers

together, concentrating their air power.


This doctrine enabled Japan to attain its strategic goals during the

early stages of the Pacific War from December 1941 until mid-1942


With other fleet carriers, she took part in the Attack on Pearl Harbor

in December 1941 and the invasion of Rabaul in the Southwest

Pacific in January 1942.


The following month, her aircraft bombed Darwin, Australia, and

assisted in the conquest of the Dutch East Indies. In March and

April 1942,


Akagi 's aircraft helped sink a British heavy cruiser and an

Australian destroyer in the Indian Ocean Raid.


After a brief refit, Akagi and three other fleet carriers participated

in the Battle of Midway in June 1942.


After bombarding American forces on the atoll, Akagi and the other

carriers were attacked by aircraft from Midway and the carriers

Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown with fatal results for all the

Japanese Carriers.


Akagi specifications:

Speed:31.5 knots (58.3 km/h; 36.2 mph)

Range:19,000 km; (12,000 mi) at 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)

Displacement:36,500 tons

Length:260m (855 ft)

Aircraft carried: 66 (+25 reserve)

21 Mitsubishi A6M Zero,

18 Aichi D3A Val

27 Nakajima B5N Kate




Picture to the right:

Akagi takes evasive action during the aerial attack by US B-17s

shortly after 08:00 on 4 June 1942.

The B-17 attack did no harm to the Japanese fleet.

The trailing ship at left is probably the carrier's plane guard


Building the Akagi aircraft carrier

and the light cruiser escort ship


I am told that the 1/700 from Hasegawa is a rather old kit,

and not the best of today’s standard, but my feeling is that the

kit is very good, taking the scale in consideration.


The main thing is that the silhouette undoubtedly is the Akagi,

I really could not care if the armaments are not 100% right.


There is no shortage of parts in the box. All together 238 parts.

So naturally, there were a lot of very small bits and pieces which

should be put in place.


But with good glasses, a quality tweezers

and a steady hand, it was just a lot of fun building the Akagi.


The kit has three types of aircrafts: The Zero Fighter Type 21,

the Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber Model 3 (Kate) and the

Type 99 Carrier Dive-Bomber Model 11 (Val)


There are decals for the aircraft and one sheet of paper flags.

Both decals and flags was very easy to place.


I think the 1/700 model of Akagi will do nicely in the diorama.


The 1/700 light cruiser was equally easy to build and will fit nicely

together with the big aircraft carrier



About 300 small parts later, both ships are ready for the Pacific

Ocean, which actually is a painted plywood board.


To make the diorama as realistic as possible, I used some cotton

to make smoke pouring out of the ships funnels. The white cotton

was airbrushed with black colour.


The Akagi had the funnels below the flight deck on the starboard

side. This made more room on the carrier deck.






















































The three fatal bombs


As you can see from the illustration the Akagi was hit by 1000lb

bombs, one in the middle of the flight deck and two extremely

close to the port side


Some reports say five SBDs attacked Akagi. At any rate,

the first to attack was Lieutenant Commander “Dick” Best, who

hit the Akagi in the middle of the flight deck which was crowded

with Japanese planes re-arming and re-fuelling.


The direct hit (#2) led to a raging fire and ultimately to the

destruction of the carrier.


The very close hit (#3) by Ens. Thomas Weber at the rear port

side jammed the rudder and sealed the Akagi’s destiny.


The Pacific


As told, the Pacific base is a

plywood plate (71 x 87 cm) I found

in my garage.


The first I did was to paint it blue,

and then I painted the wake from

the ships desperate manoeuvring

to avoid the bombs from the

American dive-bombers.


I had some recommendation to use clear silicone

as water surface instead of Woodland Realistic

Water (which I usually use)


I therefore covered the whole “sea” with clear

silicon, using a spoon to make the “waves” and

made “room” for the carrier and the escort ship


The silicone was good at making bomb- and shell

impact in the water.


What it was not good at, was when I tried to add

additional paint on the surface. Of course I should

have known that acryl paint on silicone is a no-no.


Anyway, I tried to highlight the wakes and the

bombs and shell impacts in the sea, and also add

some Realistic Water to the silicone surface.


In the end, it turned out quite OK, but I will be

reluctant to recommend the silicone surface if

you want to add additional paint afterwards.


Then I painted a background and included smoke

from a burning Japanese carrier.


The Japanese carrier Akagi, without any bomb

damages but with smoke pouring out of her funnels,

was then placed on the base and used as

background when I photographed the dive-bombers

closing in.


Then I put a 12v halogen lamp on the carrier deck

to simulate the explosion and fire and made the

smoke from the burning carrier with airbrushed



This made a good background when photographing

the SBDs getaway from the burning carrier.




You can see the lamp sticking up from

the deck in the picture above.


The electrical wires will be hidden

under the diorama base.

Besides the actual bomb blast, a lot of

aviation fuel ignited on the deck.


To make the colour of the explosion

more realistic, I put some red and

yellow cellophane inside the cotton.


To the right is the finished diorama

with the bomb exploding on the Akagi

deck among all the plane desperately

trying to re-fuelling and re-arming.


At Midway, thanks to a few US Navy torpedo- and dive- bombers,

the Japanese lost an elite naval air force that had been the terror

of the Pacific in the first six months of the war.

This overwhelming force would never again come back and spread

destruction and fear.

Midway was the turning point of the war in the Pacific.


And here is my Midway story:

SBD Dauntless warming up prior to launch from the carrier deck.

The deck and the background are painted cardboard. The propeller is spinning thanks to a light breeze from my wife’s hairdryer.

Climbing to 14000 feet (4.250m), and heading for the Japanese fleet: Six aircraft carriers, eleven battleships, thirteen cruisers and forty-five destroyers.

The SBDs kept close together, normally two sections (6 planes), in case they were jumped by Zeros. Six pair of movable machine guns was better than one. The Zeros had lot of respect for the Dauntless.

(The pictures of the model are just pasted on a background with help from a photo editing program)

At 14.000 ft. above the Japanese Carriers, the Dauntless go into a 70 degree dive with the airbrakes fully extended.

Below, the Imperial warships are making evasive manoeuvres.

(The background is an airbrush painted picture)

Closing in (The background is the diorama with the model of the carrier Akagi and the escort ship)

Bomb away - at 1.500 ft. (450m) - through an inferno of smoke and exploding AA shells. The pilots often blacked-out because of the G-force when pulling hard out of the steep dive, often regaining eye sight just a few feet above the sea

Pulling away at full throttle while the warships threw everything they had at the American planes

Home! Mission accomplished!






Making the pictures


Some of you might wonder how I made the pictures of the Dauntless attacking the Japanese Carrier.

Actually, it is not very difficult. For most of the pictures, I needed two pictures: One of the plane and one of the background.

The plane (or planes) is then pasted on the background by help of a photo editing program.

That way, I could place the plane exactly where I wanted it.

I will give you a couple of examples:


The picture with three planes on the deck.

I took three pictures of the same model with different placing on the carrier deck. Then I pasted the “last” aircraft, then the “middle”

aircraft and then the “front” aircraft.











Landing: A picture of the carrier + the plane = The Landing




If you are interested in the aerial warfare in the Pacific War Theatre,

please have a look at


Page 42 Grumman F6F Hellcat – the Zero Killer


Page 43 The A6M Zero – the ruler of the Pacific sky from 1940 to mid-1943







I hope you enjoyed this website!

Thank you for visiting!

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments


Bjørn Jacobsen


August 2015