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|U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (CV6)|
| || ||BOMBING SQUADRON SIX|
|CONFIDENTIAL|| || February 2, 1942|
|To:||Commander Bombing Squadron SIX|
|Subject:||Action, report of - Attack on TAROA ISLAND, MALOELAP ATOLL, 1 February 1942 by nine bomber land planes.|
|Reference:||(a) U.S. Navy Regulations, 1920, Article 874.|
- At 1015, nine bombing planes were launched for an attack on Taroa Island, Maloelap Atoll.
This group under my command was composed of eight planes of Bombing Squadron Six and one
plane of Scouting Squadron Six. Departure was taken immediately and course set for Wotje.
Planes were armed with one five hundred and two one hundred pound bombs apiece, and full
load of fixed and flexible gun ammunition.
- The group climbed steadily swinging to the east when Maloelap was sighted in order to make
an attack out of the sun or down wind (090° T). While still climbing about fifteen miles
off shore at 13,000 feet on course southeast, a fighter section was sighted slightly above on
reverse course a little north of Taroa. The attack group leveled off in order to gain speed
and swung toward the south. When due east of Taroa the fighters were seen to turn toward the
formation, and it was judged that the attack must be commenced at once. Accordingly the
formation went into column sacrificing mutual firepower support for the chance of better
observation and early selection of targets, the designation of which had not been made clear
at departure. The turn toward Taroa placed the enemy fighters broad on the starboard bow. As
the attack group went into a 200 knot power glide, the fighters held altitude and when they
neared made firing approaches from the above quarter of the planes at the end of the line.
At this time there were two two-plane sections of fighters.
- Just as the fighters started their runs A.A. bursts were put up over the field, the ground
batteries apparently having been warned on the radio by the fighters. The bombers were still
seven or eight miles away and apparently were not visible from the ground since the fire
continued as a barrage directly over the field at ten to twelve thousand feet, and did not
creep toward nor seek out the attacking planes. Course was altered to arrive just north of
the field to preclude heading directly into A.A. bursts and enfilading the group. The leading
planes attacked the hangars and area close by while the following planes attacked large
bombers on the field. Just prior to entry in the dive Ensign _________________, pilot of
6-B-15, the last plane in column, flew under and ahead of 6-B-12 the next to last plane. As
they went over in the dive Lieut (jg) ____________, pilot of 6-B-12, saw an enemy fighter
on the tail of 6-B-15 and opened fire with his two fixed guns, and shot down the fighter.
- All planes except 6-B-10 dropped all bombs in ripple salvo on the first dive. The attack
came in at 1130 from the north and northeast on the far side from developed to be an
effective A.A. fire. During pull out the planes were immediately engaged by what must have
been a low level fighter patrol, and defensive maneuvering prevented rendezvous. Action broke
up into individual dog fights, during which __________RM3c, USN, the radioman gunner in
6-B-12, and ___________, RM3c, V-3, USNR, the radioman gunner in 6-B-11 each shot down an
enemy fighter. It was also in this phase that Ensign ________ was last seen dodging into a
cloud with a pursuing enemy fighter, and during which one other enemy fighter was possibly
damaged or downed. All planes were attacked at least once by fighters and had to make
defensive use of the excellent cloud layer from two to four thousand feet. Overcast was from
four to six tenth.
- Japanese fighter tactics were standardized in almost all cases being from somewhat above
on either quarter. They were generally characterized with a lack of aggressiveness and a
desire to break off just outside of effective gun range. In most cases break off was
accomplished by a nose high pull out and turn away, which, to well trained free gunners should
prove a "sitter". The planes were fixed landing gear - low wing monoplane - single
seat fighters. Although their speed was not greatly superior their maneuverability and small
turning circle was impressive. Apparently this was due to their light construction. Armament
consisted of two guns in each wing presighted for a range one half or one third of the closest
ranges reached. Guns were converged and not parallel as found at Pearl Harbor. Several head on
approached were made against bombers who had worked into a scissors but they were quite
ineffective and no tendency to ram was noted. The fighter pilots evidenced a great reluctance
to press home the attack and to attain decisive results, but preferred sniping attacks at
ranges which, although yielding some hits, were not effective (with the possible exception of
Ensign ________). An inspection of planes hit indicates that their armament consists of two
.30 caliber and two .50 caliber guns.
- Planes made individual departures and rendezvoused enroute in three groups. Because of
fighter opposition no opportunity was afforded to strafe or evaluate damage.
- The group leader was particularly pleased with the aggressiveness with which all pilots
pressed home the dive bombing attack in complete disregard of A.A. fire and fighter
- Pilots during pull out noted damage caused by their bombs as follows:
||500 lb bomb direct hit on northern hangar. Whole south
side erupted into smoke and flames.
||500 lb bomb hit at door of north hangar, added to general conflagration just
||Two 100 lb bombs on administrative building west of landing field.
||All bombs on the field destroyed one two engine bomber.