Updated 14 October 2022
BU2124 was a SBD2 not a Vindicator after a comment made
I was not able to find the story behind this painting by John Leonard Greaves.
© John Greaves Art (with the permission of Janet Greaves)
The filename was sb2u7new.
This is what I found about the SB2U Vindicator here.
Ultimately, the Vindicator would have but one opportunity to fly combat against the enemy when Marine Scout Bombing Squadron (VMSB) 241 operated against the Japanese fleet during the Battle of Midway. By that time, like the TBD Devastator that had also entered service in the mid-1930s and equipped Navy torpedo squadrons, the SB2U was outdated and ill equipped for war. In a play on the airplane’s nickname, VMSB-241 pilots called their aircraft “Wind Indicators,” with squadron mechanics forced to wrap bands of tape around the fuselages of some of the aircraft to hold the fabric surfaces in place.
The condition of the airplanes, combined with the experience level of those flying them, prompted the employment of glide bombing rather than true dive bombing on training flights in the weeks leading up to the battle. For one gunner, training was rudimentary given what awaited him. “As far as training was concerned, one time, when we were on a [anti]submarine patrol, my pilot asked me if I would like to fire at a few white caps on the ocean,” Duane Rhodes remembered of a flight in the back seat of an SB2U-3. “I believe he just wanted to know whether or not the gun would fire…The first moving target I ever fired at in the air was a Zero [that] was also shooting at me.”
When the squadron attacked enemy carriers on the morning of June 4, 1942, the glide-bombing attacks from an altitude of 2,000 ft. meant prolonged exposure to enemy attack as described by Second Lieutenant Daniel Cummings, who noted that an attacking Japanese Zero killed his gunner. After dropping a bomb on what he believed was a Japanese destroyer, Cummings once again confronted enemy fighters. “For the next fifteen minutes I had nothing to do except try and get away from five fighters that were concentrating on me. In the hit and run dog fighting, which was my initiation to real war, my old obsolete SB2U-3 was almost shot out from under me. I finally made my escape in the clouds.” Despite locked up elevator controls and instruments shot away, Cummings managed to get to within five miles of Midway before running out of fuel and ditching his aircraft. A PT-boat rescued him.
The following day, the serviceable SB2U-3s and SBD-2s launched once again to attack two Japanese cruisers that had collided during the night. Enemy fire hit Captain Richard Fleming’s Vindicator, but he was credited with dropping his bomb before crashing into the cruiser Mikuma. Fleming, who died along with his gunner Private First Class George Toms, received the Medal of Honor posthumously.
Note: There is no definite proof Captain Fleming crashed into the cruiser Mikuma.
There was also an interview done with a Vindicator pilot who was at Midway.
Interview with World War II SB2U-3 Pilot Sumner H. Whitten
Sumner H. Whitten was among the lucky members of his squadron to fly in the obsolete Vought SB2U-3 Vindicators during the Battle of Midway and survive to tell the tale.
Searching again because I had to find out what was the story behind the painting, I found that two SB2U-3s at Midway had the same number 7 as a call sign. One SB2U-3 was flown by 2nd Lt. Jack Cosley. The second plane was a SBD2 Dauntless
SB2U-3 by 2nd Lt. Robert Judy Bear.
This is what I found on a forum…
7 – BuNo 2094 2nd Lt. Jack Cosley, USMCR PFC Charles E. Cayer Out of Commission 4 June 42
About Jack Cosley
Approved by the Secretary of the Navy on November 10, 1942
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Second Lieutenant Jack Cosley (MCSN: 0-9304), United States Marine Corps Reserve, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession while serving as a Pilot in Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron TWO HUNDRED FORTY-ONE (VMSB-241), Marine Air Group TWENTY-TWO (MAG-22), Naval Air Station, Midway, during operations of the U.S. Naval and Marine Forces against the invading Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Midway on 4 and 5 June 1942. During the initial attack upon an enemy aircraft carrier, Second Lieutenant Cosley, in a hail of blasting fire from Japanese fighter guns and anti-aircraft batteries, dived his plane to the perilously low altitude of four hundred feet before releasing his bomb. His courageous determination and extreme disregard of personal safety were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
7 – BuNo 2124 2nd Lt. Robert Judy Bear, USMCR PFC Truell L. Sidebottom. Crew Survived
Navy Cross Citation
Commander in Chief, Pacific: Serial 21 (July 16, 1942)
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to First Lieutenant [then Second Lieutenant] Robert Judy Bear (MCSN: 0-7072), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession while serving as a Pilot in Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron TWO HUNDRED FORTY-ONE (VMSB-241), Marine Air Group TWENTY-TWO (MAG-22), Naval Air Station, Midway, during operations of the U.S. Naval and Marine Forces against the invading Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Midway on 4 and 5 June 1942. During the initial attack upon an enemy aircraft carrier, First Lieutenant Bear, in the face of withering fire from Japanese fighter guns and anti-aircraft batteries, dived his plane to the perilously low altitude of four hundred feet before releasing his bomb. Participating in a search and attack mission against a Japanese aircraft carrier on the night of 4 June, he brought his plane back to its base under extremely adverse weather conditions. The following day, after less than four hours’ sleep, he took part in an assault which resulted in the severe damaging of an enemy battleship. His cool courage and conscientious devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Fighting members of Marine Air Squadrons after being presented medal awards for heroic deeds in the Battle of Midway. This group took part in damaging attacks on enemy carriers and battleship.
Front row (L-R); Capt. Richard L. Blain, USMCR, Capt. Leon M. Williamson, USMCR, 2nd Lt. Daniel L. Cummings,USMCR, 2nd Lt. Allen H. Ringblom,USMCR, 2nd Lt. Harold C. Schlendering, USMCR, 2nd Lt. Sumner H. Whitten, USMCR, Sgt Frank E. Zolnis, PFC Gordon R. McFeely.
2nd row: (L-R); Capt. William C. Humberd, USMCR, 2nd Lt. Jack Cosley, USMCR, 2nd Lt. George E. Koutelas, USMCR, 2nd Lt. George T. Lumpkin, Tech Sgt Clyde Heath Stamps, USMCR, Cpl John H. Moore, PFC Charles E. Cayer, USMC.
Dept of Navy description and photo identification. (NARA photo)