Dauntless Courage at Midway


Many stories of the Battle of Midway highlight the role of cryptography in breaking Japanese codes and the herculean effort to repair USS Yorktown after the battle of the Coral Sea so that she could participate in the battle. In this week’s Horns of a Dilemma, author Steven McGregor highlights a less known but equally important aspect: the SBD Dauntless dive bomber. Dive bombing was a crucial technology during World War II that pushed the bounds of aerodynamics by requiring an aircraft that could maintain a near-vertical dive and withstand the tremendous forces of pulling out, all while carrying bombs weighing up to 1,000 pounds.  McGregor tells the story through the pivotal role played by three German-Americans: Chester Nimitz, commander of the Pacific Fleet; Ed Heineman, the designer of the Dauntless; and Norman “Dusty” Kleiss, the pilot whose bombs delivered the fatal blow to the Japanese carrier IJS Kaga. This is a great discussion of a battle that shaped the course of World War II in the Pacific and cemented the importance of the aircraft carrier in American seapower.


Image: Naval History and Heritage Command