Who Gets the Credit?
In “A History of the War in 25 Airplanes” (Apr./may 2015), the caption at the top of page 26 calls Douglas SBD Dauntlesses “the heroes of Midway.” The real heroes were the Devastator torpedo bomber pilots. They went in knowing that they would die, and kept the Zeros on the deck so they couldn’t engage the Dauntlesses when those came in high.
DENNIS M. BRIGGS
via email The spotter card insert (Apr./may 2015) describes the B-29 Superfortress as the “bomber that ended the war.” This statement has become an article of faith, but there is reason to doubt it. On August 9, the Soviets invaded Manchuria without warning, and the Japanese army of occupation there—which Japan believed was its most combat-capable army— almost immediately collapsed. Japan now faced what could have been a three-front invasion: southern Japan by the Allies, and across the Sea of Japan and via the Kuril Islands by the Soviets. Knowing that they could not defend against that situation, the army leadership reluctantly agreed to the emperor’s decision to surrender. Even so, Japan did not surrender until August 15, more than a week after the B-29 Enola Gay bombed Hiroshima.
This argument is more completely detailed in Ward Wilson’s book Five
Myths About Nuclear Weapons and
Tsuyoshi Hasegawa’s Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan. Both authors demonstrate that when Japanese officials stated that they’d surrendered because of the power demonstrated by the atomic bombs, they were speaking primarily for home consumption—to provide face-saving cover for the actual military reasons for the surrender.
HUGH B. HASKELL, CDR., U.S. NAVY (RET.)