Re: Midway - a nerd's SBD nitty picky
Funny that you should mention these flaws but not the obvious errors in the aircraft insignia prior to Midway. The stars on the planes should have had the red balls in the center.
'Experienced the film twice and "raved" about same in two threads far below. Stunning and about the closest to "great," we ultra-uber-nerds will likely get in a ships-planes movie.
As others have noted their own "pet" annoyances with the film, 'will add a nitty-picky correction re pre-Midway SBDs and a bit of perhaps tasty, Dauntless lore.
At Pearl Harbor, the CV-6 raid and through Coral Sea...SBDs did not mount twin .30s in the gunner's station; the weapon was a single , flexible US ANM2 .30 Browning, a lightweight, faster-firing aircraft version of the M1919 (itself being an air-cooled M1917).
Before Midway, all CV-5, CV-6 and CV-8 SBD-3s were fitted (new A/C) / refitted (existing /surviving A/C) with the twin .30 mount (with much-improved ammunition feed). USMC SBDs on Midway mounted only single .30s, aft.
Midway-based SB2Us also mounted a single .30 in the gunner's station, as did all TBDs.
Never were US A/NM2 .50s, let alone twin .50s mounted in the SBD's gunner station.
SBD-3s and subsequent models did mount two US A/N M2 .50 synchronized guns above the engine.
SBDs were quite successful in air-to-air encounters in the Pacific. Dr. Frank Olynyk identified 138 SBD shootdowns of enemy aircraft (about 94 in 1942) vs 43 (possibly 39) SBDs lost to enemy aircraft.
An SBD vs a D3A or B5N encounter would favour the "Slow But Deadly". Fast, better-armed, better-protected, much more rugged.
SBD Dauntless Units of WW II, Tillman
Dauntless at War, Tillman
Profile 195, SBD Dauntless
The First Team, Lundstrom
Material accompanying Accurate Miniatures 1/48 SBD-3 "Midway" edition, plastic kit
PS -- A retired film editor-neighbor stunned this writer by saying, a good editing staff could probably have made a 5-hour film using footage (mostly background and expanded battle scenes) which had been cut, to make the required 2 hours 18 minutes actual product. Wow! how we wish....
I agree. The PH Chick Flick was arguably the worst war film ever made.
Gary, the film was pretty accurate IMO. No historical film is ever going to get EVERYTHING right. Just be glad it wasn't a farce like the Pearl Harbor flick.
Most of us who visit this Board are well versed in the history of the Battle of Midway. So, pointing out historical omissions and inaccuracies is not being a "history rivet counter." Since most young people today get their news from video media, films like "Midway" can portray an invalid account of history and that's not the message that should be sent. Would we support a movie about the Alamo without any mention of Crockett and Bowie? Would we show Pickett's charge up San Juan Hill at Gettysburg?
Historical accuracy serves a critical purpose. It tells the whole story and that's the way it should be.
Ok, for the record, this contains SPOILERS. Ifg you have not seen the new movie “Midway”, you might want to just stop right here. There…you have been warned.
Along with my two modeling friends, Paul and Kevin, I wandered aimlessly into the movies the other night, in rapt anticipation of viewing a big-budget cr&p-blowing-up war film, and hoping in my heart of hearts that it was better than that Charlton Heston piece of garbage from many years ago.
It was better. It wasn’t perfect. But it was better.
First, the good.
As the ships were entirely CGI, they were pretty much spot-on accurate, for the most part. At least the Japanese ones were. Enterprise and Yorktown were portrayed more or less to shape, although they were weathered so much that had they been models, they would never have placed in a contest…OMG, Big E looked like she had been through 20 typhoons. Also, there was a big, fat “6” on her flight deck. Uh…no. Wrong for ’42.
The SBD’s and TBD’s looked pretty darned good (although June 1942-model SBD’s would NOT have had the twin ‘50’s as in the movie – minor point). Their acrobatic ability, as shown in the movie was a bit…shall we say…overstated. Like, a lot. But, they and the opposing Zeros flew, and bombed, and blew up satisfyingly. The Zekes were the right color this time.
Woody Harrelson was surprisingly effective as a no-nonsense-but-heart-of-gold Chester Nimitz, Dennis Quaid was fairly buyable as Bull Halsey, and the Japanese actors were inscrutably Japanese – I thought the actor playing Yamamoto did particularly well, although with just a bit of sneaky weasel in him. Enough to make him interesting.
The film starts a few years before Pearl Harbor, with some political BS that could have been whacked to save some of the two-hour length of the film – it was in there to introduce Edwin Layton’s somewhat 2D-written character, but could have been a little shorter. No biggie. Pearl Harbor comes, there is much mayhem, and ships exploding everywhere – including the Arizona starting to…capsize….hmmm…the film then follows logically to the Doolittle Raid (OK except for Doolittle flying through a tidal wave and somehow not crashing), Coral Sea (pretty much a quick fly-by dominated by the sinking Lexington being suddenly a Yorktown-class carrier – huh?), and then the big explosive Midway battle itself. A nice little sidelight of this part is John Ford, by-God-John-Wayne’s favorite director, showing up on Midway itself to film on site during the actual battle. Pretty amusing. Not sure he really laid there, holed by shrapnel and bleeding, shouting “Keep filming! Keep filming!”, but it was entertaining video.
No girlfriends go for surreptitious back-seat rides in US warplanes, and no Zeros go Ring-around-the-Rosie with a flak tower in this one…thank God.
Now for the bad….
The guy playing Richard “Dick” Best, the main protagonist in the film, was about as believable as Carrot Top, with a really lame attempt at a Southern…I think…accent, and acting almost good enough for one of MY videos. He was stiff, lame, and very two-dimensional. His basic technique seemed to be to glare a lot and look sullen.
The technical and historical errors were rife – former USN officer Paul right next to me bristled at the sight of the Officer’s Club Dance – heavily populated with enlisted sailors - and Yours Truly got out of sorts at the sight of that huge, black “6” on Enterprise’s flight deck – two years early. Instead of four torpedo-carrying B-26 Marauders coming in at wavetop level, we got a whole squadron of thirty or so, in formation, bombing from about a thousand feet. We even got an American kamikaze, as one of the Marauders glances off the Akagi, only to be insulted by Admiral Nagumo’s comment that “Americans aren’t that brave”. But by far, the worst technical error had to be the total lack of a SINGLE F4F Wildcat, indeed ANY US fighter, in the entire film. No mention of the US fighters, nor Jimmy Thach, none of that, not a single one in the entire movie. Apparently, they were not important enough to include in the film. THAT was distracting. Also, no Midway Buffaloes, or Vindicators, and barely a glimpse of a B-17, although all of these and their brave crews played enormous roles in the real battle – often with tragic results. And I heard the US Marines mentioned about ZERO times. I can just see how well this film will sit with old Leathernecks out there.
Somehow, the sinking of the Yorktown got super-condensed - she was there, then she was burning and sank, all in a few seconds…huh??
But the film had its high points:
The eventual scuttling and sinking of the Hiryu, along with the brilliant Rear Admiral Yamaguchi, was well-executed, with the emotional pathos of a good samurai film in the final farewell between Yamaguchi and his loyal crew. By all historical accounts, this scene was nearly dead-on.
The battle scenes were noisy, confusing, disorienting, and very, very loud, just as they should have been, and when the IJN carriers went up, they went up.
The sad end of the brave Bruno Gaido was well-depicted, although his pilot, Ensign Frank O’Flaherty, barely got a mention or screen time before being tossed overboard. The same went for Admiral Raymond Spruance, for Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, or Captain Elliott Buckmaster, who were all either AWOL or nearly so on this one. Only so many names can be crammed into two hours of celluloid, I guess.
So, they skimmed and fast-forwarded a bit, and played a little loose with history here and there. Overall, however, despite the historical errors, missing parts, and whatnot, it was a fun and satisfying film. For any naval history nut, it will be enjoyable, if a bit unbelievable, but that does not mean you should avoid it. See it on the big screen – when stuff blows up, it’s always better to be in the 3D theater.
I give it a 7.