Segment 1


Prior to Midway, no one was told anything about the possible upcoming battle. Before heading to Midway, they [Annotator's Note: the crew of the carrier CV-6 USS Enterprise] had been at Pearl Harbor. When they got ready to leave Pearl Harbor, the men weren't told where they were going. The aircrew was suspicious that something was going to happen because they had been told to return to Pearl Harbor as soon as possible after delivering Marine fighter planes to Efate [Annotator's Note: the main island of Vanatu]. Deployment to Midway was last minute notice. Hoff and his pilot had a new plane. He had been at Kaneohe or Ford Island while the Yorktown [Annotator's Note: CV-5 USS Yorktown] and Hornet [Annotator's Note: CV-8 USS Hornet] were on the Tokyo run. He liked the new plane because he had twin .30's [Annotator's Note: twin mounted Browning AN-M2 .30 caliber machine guns] instead of a single .30. Following the Battle of the Coral Sea, the air crewmen had been asked what they thought was needed to improve their aircraft. With the single .30 that the older SBDs [Annotator's Note: Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber] carried, there was 1 can of ammunition on the gun and 4 or 6 on the back firewall. If you fired a whole can of ammunition, you had to turn around to grab another can then get it set up. The process took about a minute. When the gunners ran out of ammunition at Coral Sea, they had to stand up in their positions, toss the empty can over the side, grab a new can and turn around and set it up. The Japanese fighter pilots saw what took place and made attacks on the rear seat gunners when they saw the can being thrown out of the plane. Many gunners were shot up. When the gunners discovered what the Japanese were doing, they saved the empty cans. They would reload and make the gun ready then throw it out. When the Japanese saw the empty can fly out they would attack. The Japanese lost 3 Zeros [Annotator's Note: Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter aircraft; also referred to as a Zeke] before they caught on to what the gunners were doing. With the new SBDs, each .30 had a 1000 round belt. That way they never ran out of ammunition. The guys who had the older SBDs made a device to hold the empty cans. Hoff was expecting to meet the Japanese forces somewhere. Each of Hoff's guns fired around 600 rounds per minute. He did have one problem with his guns. They were mounted on a center post. If 1 gun failed, the torque from the other gun firing would pull on the gun. It was hard to hold them. It was a bad situation since the gunners were so close to their vertical stabilizer.


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