Dive Bombers and Other Birds

Tudor Richards, USNR

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Yes, they were a lot more work to fly, the use of tabs being necessary almost whenever throttle or attitude was changed. For diving they proved to be very good, though they were so balanced that it was too easy to pull too many G’s when pulling out of a dive and so strain the wings. The some
almost constant west wind at our bombing target (near Antioch, close to the confluence of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers), together with the fact that we usually preferred to dive down wind, made it easier to score hits than under tough conditions, two of us, “Stud Vail” and myself getting 5 out of 5! five out of five within the 50 foot circle one time, the other four of us (one of whom missed every time) getting eight more bull’s-eyes among them; and that was in a contest with another division that really was swamped. As in the diving SBD we usually pushed over at at least 5000 ft; dove at roughly 70°, and released and started to pull out at 2000–2500 ft., trying not, but not always succeeding, to avoid low pull-outs (below 800–1000 ft.). By this time Leland Ives had become my gunner-radio man, in the rear seat.

For gunnery and navigation we went seawards, as we did for radar practice. Making radio approaches above the overcast on vessels below it and breaking out of the clouds just in time to make a simulated glide bombing attack or low-level bombing run was one of the most enjoyable and seemingly effective things we practiced.

The country the
we flew
around San Francisco Bay was very interesting to fly over, the coast line being so irregular all the way from Monterey Bay to Point Reyes, our usual limits, and the topography and vegetation being so varied. Even in the Coast Range some of the mountains, as around Santa Cruz, are pretty well forested. while others nearer the Great Valley are completely barren, as is most of the valley itself.

Tamalpais, north of the Golden Gate, and Diablo, just south of the junction of the two rivers, were our favorite landmarks and, with fog or haze so frequent, were very useful. We crossed the Sierra two or three times and in fair weather got magnificent views. One time from the vicinity of Lake Tahoe, at perhaps 12,000 ft., a few days after I had climbed the mountain, I caught sight of Mt. Shasta, mt. shasta
200 miles away
close to 200 miles to the north, with a new mantle of snow.

Sometime in late summer our squadron was cut down to 36 pilots and 24 planes. That brings me to my last leave before going overseas, everyone in the air group, in staggered groups, getting five days off between late summer and early autumn. trip to
mt. shasta
(& back, by
train, bus &
More or less on the spur of the moment I headed for Mt. Shasta, the most convenient exciting-looking place I had never visited. It turned out to be almost ideal. I stayed at a very comfortable motel just outside the town of Mt. Shasta and used my two legs to get around but made no decision to climb the mountain until after starting up the trail. As it turned out, I’d never have made the top if it hadn’t been for some luck. Before tackling the “big boy.” however, I warmed up on Black Butte, black butte walking the several miles to its base and then up the 3¼ miles and 200 ft. plus in 65 minutes. The top of this steep cinder cone is actually over 6000 feet and gave me wonderful views of Shasta. There’s a fire lookout at the top, which gives protection from the wind, and the fire warden there, an ex-Marine ace of the last war (7 or 8 planes) was very congenial and hospitable (coffee), so much so that it got dark even before I got to the bottom of the cone, on the opposite side of that ascended.