|U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (CV6)|
|BOMBING SQUADRON SIX|
|CONFIDENTIAL||February 2, 1942|
FLIGHT LEADER'S REPORT OF DAWN ATTACK ON KWAJALEIN ATOLL, 1 FEBRUARY, 1942.
Bombing Squadron Six, Scouting Squadron Six, and Air Group Commander were launched at 0500 from a position Lat. 10-00 N., Long. 170-00 E. This group took departure at 0530 and arrived at a point twenty miles northeast of Roi Island, Kwajalein Atoll, at 0645. Altitude of 15,000 had been gained enroute. At this time the sun was just rising and a full moon just setting, but low clouds on the horizon reduced the illumination to be expected from this ideal condition. The outline of Roi could be seen and a landing field could vaguely be recognized, but no further details were discernable.
As Scouting Squadron Six commenced its attack on Roi, Bombing Squadron Six proceeded southward down the center of the lagoon searching for ships. At 0705 Enterprise Air Group Commander ordered Bombing Squadron Six to attack enemy carrier at Kwajalein Island. At 0725 the squadron arrived Kwajalein Area at 14,000 feet altitude. No carrier was present, but several large ships among the many that were present could easily have been mistaken for carriers in the early morning twilight. As the squadron approached the target area an umbrella barrage of 3"-5" A.A. fire was sent up, fuze setting 10,000. This barrage was directly over the anchorage and was not directed at the approaching planes. At the same time heavy machine gun fire was noticed which, of course, was an utter waste of ammunition. Although there was some large caliber A.A. fire from shore guns the greatest volume of fire came from an anti-aircraft cruiser in a central anchorage position. This cruiser was armed with twelve or more large caliber and numerous small caliber A.A. guns, and at least one multiple pom-pom was observed.
As the squadron was cruising in a three division attack formation and squadron doctrine thoroughly covered the situation, a single signal was all that was necessary to launch the attack. This signal was given at 0727, divisions separated, and each section choose a target. Normal dive bombing approaches were used and 500 lb bombs were dropped. In several cases individual pilots, not satisfied with their dive, or observing previous hits on target selected pulled up and chose another target. As radical evasive action was required to escape the great volume of machine gun fire planes became separated and each pilot made his subsequent attacks individually. In the subsequent attacks 100 lb glide bombing and strafing were employed against smaller ships, large sea planes and shore installations. No enemy aircraft was encountered in the air.
The damage inflicted upon the enemy as observed by pilots and gunners of the squadron are as tabulated herewith.
- One 2500 ton submarine sunk.
- Large cargo ship fired.
- Large cargo ship damaged.
- A.A. cruiser damaged.
- Two four-engine patrol seaplanes sunk.
- Four buildings on Gugegwe Island destroyed.
- Two small store houses on Kwajalein Island destroyed.
- Three submarines, several ships, radio installation and shore facilities were strafed. A motor launch full of men was strafed. All hands jumped into the water leaving the motor launch running about in circles.
Damage and losses sustained by Bombing Squadron Six.
- No personnel were injured. No planes were lost.
- Minor damage to six planes from AAMG fire and shrapnel.
All pilots of this squadron showed intelligence and initiative in choosing objectives. Attacks were pressed home boldly and with disregard of A.A. fire.
At 0745 attack was completed and the squadron returned to the ship in small groups, effecting join up enroute.
- Attacks such as these should be initiated with large bombs dropped in normal 70 degree dives approaching at high altitude.
- Dive bombing attacks on anchored ships should be made from ahead if possible as this gives a down-wind shot, a large hitting area in range, and maximum retirement speed.
- Information of enemy bases as furnished to pilots was scant and inaccurate.
- Japanese anti-aircraft fire is very inaccurate and places too much reliance upon an umbrella type barrage.