The Battle of Midway
June 3 - 6, 1942

LCDR C. Wade McClusky's
Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless
By Ken Durling

This Accurate Miniatures 1/48th scale SBD-3 has been built to depict the plane flown by LCDR C. Wade McClusky, Commander, Enterprise
Air Group (CEAG) on June 4, 1942. McClusky, flying GC (BuNo 4618), along with his gunner, W. G. Chochalousek, led the morning strike
from Enterprise, comprised of 10 F4F-4s from Fighting Six, 17 SBD-3s from Scouting Six, 15 SBD-2, -3s from Bombing Six and 14 TBD-1s
from Torpedo Six, on the Kido Butai. Due to a long delay in the launch of the TBDs, McClusky's 32 SBDs were sent off, to attack the
Japanese carriers, alone.
After a long search that used up more than half the SBD's fuel, McClusky finally spotted a Japanese ship, a "cruiser" heading northeast at
high speed. Surmising the "cruiser" was a go-between from the Invasion Group to the south and the Carrier Striking Force to the north,
McClusky adjusted his course to that of the Japanese vessel. The spotting of this Japanese ship, actually the destroyer Arashi, fresh from her
unsuccessful depth charging of Nautilus, was just the break the United States needed to turn the tide of the battle. McClusky's SBDs, along
with 17 SBD from Yorktown's Bombing Three, were the United States last hope to hit the Japanese carriers first. Other piece-meal strikes
from Midway and the other carriers had not struck a single Japanese ship in return for their horrible losses. The final three attacks by TBDs
had, however, at terrible cost, brought the deadly A6M2 Zeros on Combat Air Patrol (CAP) down to the wave tops, clearing the way for the
SBD's to follow.
Spotting the Kido Butai at about 1000, McClusky made ready to deploy his forces. At 1020, in nearly perfect, yet totally unplanned,
coordination, McClusky and his charges pushed over on Kaga, leading 28 SBD's of VS-6 and VB-6, with three VB-6 planes attacking Akagi,
and Yorktown's VB-3 falling on Soryu. McClusky was the first to drop his bomb (in this, his first combat mission in a dive bomber, being a
fighter pilot by training), scoring a near miss on Kaga. The following 27 SBD's scored at least four, possibly as many as ten, direct hits on
Kaga, setting afire her fueled and loaded strike group, which was getting ready to launch in a matter of moments to hit the US carriers. The
remaining three SBD's from Enterprise struck Akagi, hitting her twice, and, like on Kaga, inducing multiple explosions amongst her fueled
and armed airgroup. A similar fate fell on Soryu, with three bombs striking her from VB-3. In all, three of the four Japanese fleet carriers at
Midway were out of commission in a short, five minute span, all to sink either later that evening or the next morning. McClusky's brave
decision to continue to search beyond the point of a safe return was on of the most important decisions of the battle, perhaps the war. As it
was, the fourth Japanese carrier, Hiryu, launched two air strikes that would disable Yorktown before she, too, was destroyed by SBD's from
Enterprise and Yorktown late in the afternoon of June 4. Had McClusky not found the Japanese carriers, it is easy to imagine the destruction
wrought on Yorktown being repeated on Enterprise and Hornet.
On pull out, a Zero on CAP slashed at McClusky's plane. Hit in the left shoulder, McClusky jinked his plane while Chochalousek fired back.
In addition to shooting down the attacking Zero, Chochalousek also holed the tail of HIS OWN SBD! Thinking in error that the tail fin was
narrower than the width of his twin .30 caliber machine guns, Chochalousek fired at the Zero when it was directly behind the SBD. In the
process, he accounted for many of the 55 bullet holes in the plane!
Continuing his pullout towards Midway, McClusky began to assemble his planes and head for home. Upon reaching Point Option, McClusky
found empty seas instead of Task Force 16. Breaking radio silence, McClusky got the position of Enterprise and headed for her. Initially he
entered the landing pattern for Yorktown, before heading for Enterprise. Ignoring a wave-off, McClusky touched down at 1150, with only a
few gallons of gas to spare. After reporting to RADM Raymond Spruance, McClusky was hurried off to sick bay for treatment of his wounds,
which would ground him for the rest of the action. For his