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Doolittle Raid - 18 April 1942 (Read More...)

This report was submitted on 23 April 1942 by Enterprise Captain George D. Murray, detailing the ship's activities during the Doolittle Raid, April 18, 1942.

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23 April 1942.
From:The Commanding Officer.
To:The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Via:The Commander Carriers, Pacific Fleet.
Subject:Report of action in connection with the bombing of Tokyo on April 18, 1942 (Zone minus Ten).
Reference:(a) Articles 712, 874, U.S. Navy Regs, 1920.
Enclosures:(A) Track Chart.
(B) Executive Officer's report.


  1. At 1232 (VW) April 8, 1942 this vessel stood out of Pearl Harbor in company with Task Force Sixteen, consisting of ENTERPRISE (Flagship), NORTHAMPTON, SALT LAKE CITY, BALCH, BENHAM, FANNING, ELLET and SABINE, under command of Vice-Admiral W. F. Halsey, jr., U.S.N., Commander Carriers, Pacific Fleet, for operations not disclosed at this time. After landing the Air Group aboard south of Oahu, a westerly, and then a northwesterly, course was set that took the Task Force 30 miles southwest of Nihoa Island. This course (310°T.) was continued with slight modifications until 0600 (Y) April 13, when a rendezvous was effected with Task Force Eighteen in Latitude 38° - 00' North, Longitude 180° 00'.
  2. Task Force Eighteen consisting of HORNET, VINCENNES, NASHVILLE, GWIN, GRAYSON, MEREDITH, MONSSEN and CIMARRON became part of Task Force Sixteen. At this time information was disseminated to the Task Force that it would proceed to a point approximately 500 miles east of Tokyo where 16 Army bombers (B-25) carried on the flight deck of HORNET, would be launched for an attack on the Tokyo area. Course 265°T. and speed 16 knots were then set. Except when bad weather prevented, continuous inner and intermediate air patrols were maintained during daylight and dawn and dusk search flights were conducted daily to 200 miles, 60° on each bow.
  3. Fueling of the heavy vessels was undertaken April 17 when about 1000 miles east of Tokyo and was barely completed when the wind increased to gale force (wind south, 35 knots; sea rough, visibility 1 - 2 miles). At 1439 (L) the 2 CV, 3 CA and 1 CL proceeded independent of accompanying DD's and AO#s on a westerly course, averaging approximately 20 knots.
  4. On april 18, the day it was planned to reach the 500 mile circle from Tokyo at about 1600, ENTERPRISE launched the usual dawn search flight and combat patrol. These were maintained continuously throughout the day. The contacts and action, indicated on the track chart by capital letters, were reported by pilots of these flights. Times indicated in connection with contacts and action, April 18, are Zone minus 10.
  5. At 0310 radar disclosed two enemy surface craft bearing 255°T., distance 21,000 yards, and at 0312 a light was seen approximately on that bearing. Ship went to General Quarters, set Material Condition Afirm and energized the degaussing gear. Course of the Force was changed to 350°T., and at 0341 the two enemy vessels went off the screen bearing 201°T., distance 27,000 yards. Our presence was apparently unnoticed by the enemy and a westerly course was resumed at 0415.
  6. At 0508 fighter patrol and search flight were launched. At 0715 one search plane returned and, by message drop, reported sighting an enemy patrol vessel in Latitude 36° 04' North and Longitude 153° 10' East at 0558 and that he believed he had been seen. Later developments indicate that this vessel made the original contact report.
  7. At 0744 an enemy patrol vessel was sighted bearing 221°T., distance approximately 10,000 yards. There was no doubt now that our force had been detected and almost certainly had been reported. NASHVILLE was ordered to sunk the patrol vessel by gunfire as the carriers turned into the wind (320°T., 26 knots); HORNET to launch Army B-25's for attack and ENTERPRISE to relieve patrol.s The first Army bomber was launched at 0820 approximately 650 miles from Tokyo, and the last one was off at 0921. At 0927 the Force commenced retirement on course 090°T., speed 25 knots.
  8. At 1214 radar reported enemy patrol plane bearing 020°T., distance 70,000 yards. This plane came within 64,000 yards of our force but passed off the screen at 1228 bearing 314°T., distance 83,000 yards.
  9. At 1400 two enemy patrol vessels were sighted and attacked by ENTERPRISE planes returning from search. One was sunk and the other damaged. By 1413 the enemy ship still afloat was in sight of our surface forces and NASHVILLE was ordered to attack and sink her. A white flag was broken in the enemy ship and after taking 5 prisoners, NASHVILLE sank her by gunfire. Apparently these two vessels were the same ones reported by radar at 0310.
  10. At 1503, 6-B-4 was forced to land in the water, near the Disposition, due to engine failure. This plane is believed to have sustained damage to its engine from the anti-aircraft machine gun fire of an enemy patrol vessel attacked. NASHVILLE rescued personnel, uninjured.
  11. No further contacts were made. All aircraft were recovered at 1739 and the retirement continued.
  12. Bombs and ammunition were expended as indicated in the table below.
    .50 Cal..30 Cal.500 lb. bombs100 lb. bombs
    VS8005004 6
    VF11,000---- -
     12,600800 12 24


  1. The track chart, Enclosure (A), is drawn to the scale of H.O. chart No. 528, in order to best present an illuminating picture of the whole strategic area, including the objective. An enlargement of the action area is presented as an insert.
  2. The numerous enemy contacts may give the impression that the Task Force unfortunately encountered an isolated patrol. No such assumption should be made. On the contrary, the variety and the number of patrol craft seen is a strong indication that a heavy patrol in depth is general, at least to the east of Honshu and the Kurils. This patrol probably utilizes hundreds of small craft of various types and extends 700 - 800 miles offshore. All enemy surface patrol craft are undoubtedly equipped with effective radio and apparently all are armed with machine guns. Some are camouflaged with two-tone mottled coloring. Evidence supports the belief that they are not equipped with radar.
  3. Of interest is the weather broadcasting vessel fixed by shore RDF on April 15 in Latitude 44° 00' North, Longitude 162° 00' East - 500 miles from the Kurils,750 miles from the Aleutians and 1200 miles from Tokyo.
  4. The Japanese surface patrol is particularly suited to their eastern sea frontier and is unquestionably effective. Were it equipped with radar, it would be made almost impenetrable with fewer units. In certain areas, a radar equipped small boat patrol would seem to have some advantage over long distance air patrols as we maintain them; primarily in that it is on station at the critical distance, night and day. Such a patrol might detect an attempted afternoon and night run in by a raiding force when an air patrol would not pick it up. Favorable areas in which we might use such a patrol are: Costa Rica - Galapagos - Ecuador, off southern California, off Cape Mendocino and off Vancouver Island. A combination of surface craft and aircraft patrol should reduce the number of aircraft now maintained in specific areas and thus make possible a wider distribution of the aircraft now available.
  5. Although specific information is lacking, it is believed that the Japanese patrol craft are not armed with anything larger than machine guns. Therefore, if future bombing raids on Honshu, similar to this one, are planned it might be advantageous to send one or more of our submarines in advance of the raiding force to "soften", by destruction and dispersal, the enemy patrol in the 600 - 800 mile belt across its line of advance. At this distance it seems unlikely that the enemy would take strong anti-submarine measures.
  6. A further suggestion is that two submarines, equipped with radio apparatus similar to that installed in aircraft and in carriers, might be disposed in a selected area and by conducting lost plane procedure effectively draw enemy forces away from the area from which an aircraft raiding attack might be launched. As a means of harassing the enemy, even though no actual aircraft raiding attack were planned by our forces, this employment of submarines seems to offer many possibilities.
  7. All personnel, both ship and air group performed their duties in a highly creditable manner. No outstandingly meritorious, and on censurable conduct on the part of any individual was observed.
  8. The efficiency of the ship and all munitions of war are satisfactory except for the performance of the F4F4's and the limited range of the TBS's, reported in separate correspondence.

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