Dive Bombers and Other Birds

Tudor Richards, USNR

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I started shells collecting shells before getting to Daytona, picking up a few specimens around Ponte Vedra and Atlantic Beach. The nicest one of these was a fine example of that unusual species, the left-handed whelk, only that this particular one spiraled to the right, as do practically all individuals of most snail-type (Gastropods) shell species. I have it still, and it may be a rare example. In any case that just one of our many common univalves usually spirals to the left has never ceased to puzzle me ever since I first happened to notice it.

Down at Daytona the beach was usually just as bare as it was further north, but like everywhere occasionally good specimens were washed up there. At Ponce de Leon Inlet just to the south there were always more shells than elsewhere, and it was on my first trip there that I found a beautiful specimen of the nautilus fascinating paper nautilus. Unfortunately it blew off my bureau one day and got slightly broken but one side is still nearly perfect. Another good find was a whole and very fair specimen of the fragile helmet tun shell, but that was after finding nothing but pieces for months beforehand.

As students once more students once more Gamble and I became members of training squadron 10, with Lt. Glen David as instructor and Lt. “Andy” (Edward) Anderson, who had come with us from Lee Field where he had been head VSB instructor, as assistant, only because he wanted to get used to the new “set-up” that way. There were eight other student ensigns, all of course far junior to the two of us. After checking out in SBDs, which ranged all the way from the SBD–1s to the new SBD–4s, we had the usual formation practice and then dive bombing, gunnery, navigation, etc. Except in getting used to the plane there was little new for me. The SBD was a pleasure to dive, though it took more practice than we had in the month course they gave us to get any good at dive bombing. For routine flying the “Dauntless” seemed sluggish to fly compared with the SNJ or even the SBC, though we cruised at about the same speed as in the others, 130–140 kts. Near the end of the course we had some night flying and then something entirely new—“field carrier landings.” field carrier landings These were simulated carrier landings on a marked-off portion of a runway with a regular signal officer to guide us “up the groove.” The field we used was at N.A.S. Banana River, on the spit of land southeast of Cocoa, perhaps 70 miles south of Daytona, there being few obstructions around the runways and little use for them otherwise, the base being primarily a PBM (“Mariner”) base. Field carrier landings always seemed uncomfortably tricky. The traffic pattern had to be just so, and of course we had to fly both low and slow. All fields have some obstructions such as trees, buildings, telephone wires, etc. around them, and some had too many. Banana River had nothing but buildings, and they interfered only when certain runways were being used. The greatest trouble was getting used to the signal officer’s signals, landing signal
officer’s signals
especially as they often came in quick succession—“come on,” “fast,” “high” or “low,” “turn” and “cut” (throttle) or “wave off,” etc. It was discouraging to get more “wave offs” than “cuts” for quite a while.