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Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands - 26 October 1942 (Read More...)

Santa Cruz is widely recognized as the most violent carrier-vs-carrier battle of the Second World War. Facing a superior enemy force, Enterprise and Hornet launched multiple strikes, before being attacked in turn. Though battle's end saw Enterprise become the last operational US carrier in the Pacific, the battle was a strategic victory for the US Navy, as the Japanese failed in their stated mission to sweep the USN from the seas.

Events of 16-25 October.
Action of 26 October.
Damage, Losses and Casualties.
Conclusions and Recommendations

Serial 0015
November 10, 1942.
From:Commanding Officer.
To:Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Fleet.
Via:Commander Task Force Sixteen.
Subject:The Battle of Santa Cruz, October 26, 1942 - Report of.
Reference:(a) Arts. 712 and 874, Navy Regs, 1920.
(b) PacFlt. Conf. ltr. 24CL-42.
  1. Track Chart.
  2. Executive Officer's Report, and CO ENTERPRISE 1stEnd.
  3. War Damage Report; Copy of (less photographs).
  4. War Diary for October 26, 1942, copy of.
  5. Medical Officer's Report.
  6. CEAG Report with CO ENTERPRISE 1st end.
  7. Set of photographs.
  8. Notes on Carrier Maneuvers while Undergoing Air Attack.
  1. In compliance with references (a) and (b), a report of the action which took place October 26, 1942, north of the Santa Cruz Islands, is submitted herewith.
    1. U.S.S. ENTERPRISE, flagship of Commander Task Force Sixteen, Rear Admiral T. C. Kinkaid, U.S. Navy, in company with Task Force Sixteen comprising ENTERPRISE, SOUTH DAKOTA, PORTER, PRESTON, CUSHING, LAMSON, SMITH, MAHAN, SHAW, MAURY, CONYNGHAM, departed Pearl Harbor at 0820 (Zone plus 9 1/2), October 16, 1942, enroute to the southwest Pacific. Air Group Ten was taken aboard south of Oahu. Each day thereafter patrols and searches were launched as practicable. Gunnery exercises for both Air Group and ship's batteries were carried out to the fullest extent permitted by the relatively high speed of advance (18.8 knots). Time and circumstances, however, did not permit the desired and necessary amount of this accelerated and valuable training.
    2. On October 19 the accompanying destroyers were refueled, two at a time from the SOUTH DAKOTA, the ENTERPRISE maintaining air coverage and fueling three destroyers between flight operations. LAMSON and MAHAN were refueled and dispatched on special duty in connection with the attack on Japanese patrol craft stationed between the Gilberts and Ellice Islands.
    3. On October 21, 1942 (Zone plus 10 1/2) Captain Osborne B. Hardison, U.S. Navy, relieved Captain Arthur C. Davis, U.S. Navy, in command of this vessel.
    4. At daylight October 23, 1942 (Zone minus 12) rendezvous was effected with SABINE and STACK in latitude 12°-30' S., longitude 175°-00' E., and all vessels of the task force were refueled to capacity. PORTLAND and SAN JUAN joined and were fueled. LAMSON and MAHAN rejoined and were refueled. Task Force Seventeen (HORNET, NORTHAMPTON, PENSACOLA, JUNEAU and DD's) joined with Task Force Sixteen. The combined forces became Task Force Sixty-One under the command of Rear Admiral T. C. Kinkaid, U.S. Navy, in ENTERPRISE. Upon completion of fueling, SABINE and STACK departed for Espiritu Santo. At 1500 Task Force 61 proceeded to the north-westward to round the Santa Cruz Islands prior to a southwesterly passage east of San Cristobal (Solomons) in support of our forces in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area against a threatened attack by large Japanese naval forces known to be to the northeastward of the Solomons.
    5. At 1250 October 25, 1942 (Zone minus 12) a despatch was received from CURTISS reporting 2 enemy CV's in latitude 08°-51'S., longitude 164°-30' E., course 145° T., speed 25. Our position was latitude 10°-04' S., longitude 170°-18' E., source 295° T., speed 22. A distance of 360 miles separated our force from the enemy CV's. Task Force Sixty-One continued course and speed, and at 1430 launched 12 VSB for a 200 mile search in sector 280° T to 010° T, and at 1520 launched 11 VF, 12 VSB, and 6 VTB with the Group Commander as an attack group to follow up the search. This group did not make contact. It was late returning to the carrier and experienced difficulty in landing aboard after dark. One VF pilot crashed about 40 miles from the ship on the return trip, cause unknown. Six additional planes were lost as a result of water landings around the ship due to fuel exhaustion or in crashes incident to landing on board. With the exception of the VF pilot first mentioned, no lives were lost.
    1. The following day, the weather was mostly fair with broken to scattered cumulus and strato-cumulus clouds at 2000 feet. There were 5/10 to 7/10 clouds from 1100 to 1345, decreasing to 1/10 after 1400; scattered light showers; ceiling 2000 feet to unlimited; visibility 15 miles plus; surface winds SE 6-10 knots; sea smooth with slight swell.
    2. At 0111 October 26, 1942 (Zone minus 12) a contact report by tender-based planes was received "Enemy position 07°-14' S., longitude 164°-15' E." Our position was latitude 09°-46' S., longitude 168°-40 E.; separation 300 miles. The ship went to General Quarters at 0550 and set Material Condition Afirm. At 0600 ENTERPRISE launched a 16 plane search group carrying 500-lb bombs, an inner air patrol of 6 VSB for the combined task force, and a combat air patrol of 8 VF. Planes of this search made contact with two enemy forces; one comprising 2 BB, 1 CA, 7 DD at 170 miles on bearing 275° T; the other, 2 CV at 200 miles on bearing 300° T. The contact reports were in proper order giving latitude, longitude, composition, course, and speed. The BB contact report was received at 0730 and the CV contact report at 0750.
    3. Of this search group of 16 planes, 8 made contact, 4 attacked and 2 500-lb bomb hits were made on a CV of the SHOKAKU class.
    4. At 0847 ENTERPRISE attack group of 8 VF, 8 VTB (armed with torpedoes), 3 VSB (armed with 1000-lb bombs) and 1 VTB (the Group Commander) were launched. HORNET launched her attack group in two waves, the first of which started taking off at approximately 0832.
    5. At about 0930, while proceeding on its mission, our attack group was surprised by enemy VF approximately sixty miles from our forces. Three of our VTB, 2 VF were shot down, and 2 VF and 1 VTB were damaged so badly that they were forced to return to ENTERPRISE. It appears that these enemy VF were escorts for the Japanese air group which shortly thereafter attacked the HORNET.
    6. Our attack group continued on and at 1030 sighted the enemy BB force interposed between our forces and the enemy CV which were not sighted as they were 60 to 80 miles beyond the enemy BB. Our planes searched beyond this force but did not sight the CV, and as considerable fuel had been consumed in the combat on the approach they returned and attacked this group. The VF strafed in order to assist; the VSB attacked a BB and made two 1000-lb bomb hits on a BB of the KONGO class; the VTB attacked a cruiser, no hits were observed.
    7. At 0940 HORNET aircraft reported 24 enemy dive bombers approaching from 280° T. This ship launched all remaining planes and prepared to repel air attack. The attack was made on HORNET at 1011. At 1026 ENTERPRISE turned into the wind (110° T) to land returning aircraft low on gas, and immediate reservicing and rearming were commenced to send these planes out to attack. Enemy air attacks interfered with servicing and prevented launching.
    8. From the time of the first radar report of enemy planes at 0957 (when they were coming in, distance 45 miles) until 1100, there were almost continuous reports of bogies coming in and going out. At 1100 radar reported large groups of enemy planes coming in distance 23 miles, but our fire control radars did not pick them up.
    9. At 1115 the first dive bombing attack on ENTERPRISE commenced. The attacking planes were not seen until well in their dives when they were quickly opposed by dense AA fire, and the ship maneuvered radically in evasion. Of an estimated 24 attacking planes, 7 were observed to be shot down and crashed in the sea, and others were harassed into making wild releases. The attack lasted about 4 minutes and was pressed home with determination. One bomb hit and pierced the flight deck 20 feet from the forward end. One of the aircraft spotted forward caught on fire and was pushed over the side. Another was blown overboard by the blast. The bomb passed through the forecastle deck and the skin of the ship, exploding just outside off the extreme bow. Bomb fragments pierced the hull in 160 places between the waterline and the forecastle deck level. A second bomb hit the flight deck almost on the centerline ten feet abaft the forward elevator. It is possible that it divided into two parts after passing through the flight deck, as there were two separate holes in the hangar deck. On the other hand, it is possible that the second hole in the hangar deck was caused by one of several of our own bombs, which were being loaded on planes forward on the hangar deck, being exploded by the bomb hit. In any event, there was one explosion at the hangar deck level, causing blast and fragment damage and casualties on the hangar deck, and making a shambles of the officers' country on the second deck between frames 38 and 54, causing a number of casualties, and starting fired that were quickly under control. There was a second explosion on the third deck at frame 39 in Repair Two, causing numerous fatalities, many injuries and heavy general damage between frames 38 and 64. It is the opinion of the Bomb Disposal Officer that the two explosions were caused by a single bomb which broke in two. His detailed analysis in support of this theory is appended to the War Damage Report, enclosure (C). A third bomb detonated close aboard near frame 129 starboard, cracking the after bearing pedestal of No. 2 H.P. turbine, opening a seam in the side plating to a maximum of three inches extending from frame 123 to frame 135, flooding two empty fuel tanks, and opening a third tank which was full. The ship shook violently as a result of this explosion. Planes parked in Fly I were bounced clear of the deck and the farthest one forward on the starboard side fell over the side. One plane in Fly III was bounced into the starboard 20mm battery.
    10. At 1135 radar reported possible torpedo planes coming in from astern, and shortly afterward one was seen to burst into flames and crash while still about five miles from the ship. An estimated 14 additional torpedo planes were then seen to divide into two groups which attempted to gain favorable approach positions forward on both sides, outside our screen. Heavy AA was brought to bear from ENTERPRISE as well as from vessels of the screen, but approximately nine torpedoes were launched, five from the starboard side and probably four from the port side. The were dropped from heights of about 75 feet at ranges of 1000 to 2000 yards. Three torpedo tracks close together were observed coming at the ship from 20° forward of the starboard beam. The rudder was immediately put over hard right and the ship passed inside the three tracks by an estimated fifty yards (from the bridge, the tracks were obscured by the flight deck forward as the ship turned). The rudder was reversed to avoid collision with SMITH which was aflame forward. ENTERPRISE was turning left when a plane was observed to drop its torpedo from ahead. The track of this torpedo was not seen until it was less than 800 yards away. It appeared that ENTERPRISE bow would be past the torpedo track, so hard right rudder was put on and the stern swung left. The torpedo passed the ship to starboard almost parallel to it and within 100 feet. The plane that dropped this torpedo was shot down shortly after the drop, and two of its occupants were clinging to its wreckage as the ship passed by close enough to see their faces. Five torpedo planes approached from dead astern and then tried to gain favorable launching position on the port beam. The initial turn to starboard kept the stern pointed toward these planes as they swung out to port, with the result that their approach was prolonged after they had come within effective range of the 20mm batteries. AA fire against them was very heavy and accurate. Three were shot down close aboard, one pulled up, released his torpedo in a climbing turn, then crashed, and the remaining plane made an aimed release from an angle of about 20° on the port quarter, but the torpedo missed to port as the ship paralleled its track.
    11. At 1220 radar reported that the screen was clear, but at 1221 enemy planes were observed in their dives, attacking ENTERPRISE. Fire was opened upon them immediately. The shallow angle of dive of planes of this attack (45°) made them particularly vulnerable. The attack was short, of about two minutes' duration. Eight planes were seen to crash. Several were seen to release their bombs after obviously being hit; the bombs fell 500 yards short and the planes spun down in flames. Approximately 20 planes are thought to have made this attack. A bomb was seen to fall very near the ship at frame 30 starboard. It appeared from the bridge that it must certainly have been a hit in the ship's side. Subsequent inspection revealed a mark just below the waterline apparently made by the glancing impact of the bomb. A heavy explosion occurred close to the ship's side about 15 feet below the surface of the water, dishing in the side plating, heavily damaging three voids and opening two voids directly to the sea through small ruptures in the side plating.
    12. Five minutes later radar reported a group of planes coming in. Fire control radar failed to get on, but the rangefinder in Sky Forward picked them up at 35,000 yards. They were identified as two groups of dive bombers, nine in one and six in the other, accompanied by nine fighters above them. These enemy planes were tracked in to 22,000 yards and the altitude determined to be 17,000 feet. Before fire could be opened with the 5-inch, the enemy planes disappeared in a rain cloud and were not seen again until about two minutes later when they were in their dives. Ten planes of this attack group are believed to have been shot down. No bomb hits were made.
    13. There were no further attacks, and ENTERPRISE resumed landing aircraft, all of which were low on gas. Numerous planes had to land in the water when they ran out of fuel. HORNET and ENTERPRISE planes were landed indiscriminately until the deck would hold no more. Fighters and dive bombers were given preference. Number 1 elevator was damaged and out of commission so none could be struck below until the respot. Thirteen VS were reserviced and sent to Espiritu Santo, and others reserviced and launched as patrols. Landings were then resumed and the remaining planes taken aboard.
    14. Retirement to the southeast was resumed.
    1. Again fire control radar did not pick up any target. At no time since its installation has it been useful. Previously submitted recommendations relative to its modification are again stressed. The precision requirements necessary to put this equipment on an aerial target apparently cannot be met in action.
    2. Neither 5-inch director picked up targets, although the rangefinder in Sky Forward was able to do so.
    3. Complete power failures occurred on Groups I and II 5-inch. Partial power failure occurred on Group III. There were frequent rammer failures and electrical misfires on all guns.
    4. The apparently unwieldy director firing system, augmented by numerous casualties which greatly slow the rate of fire, has made the 5-inch battery the least useful of the AA for all except high altitude horizontal bombing attacks. In local control, difficulty is experienced in getting both trainer and pointer on the same target. A new type of fuze, which it is understood will soon be available, may greatly increase the effectiveness of the 5-inch against dive bombing and torpedo attacks.
    5. The performance of the 40mm in their first action was gratifying. Eventually these guns may prove to be our best defense against dive bombers. Several faults now exist, namely: empties jam in the chutes, local control is too sensitive, firing mechanism is not satisfactory, and our splinter shields are too high. Separate reports on these deficiencies will be forwarded.
    6. The 20mm, in spite of its short range, was extremely effective and accounted for most of the enemy planes shot down by this ship. It can not always get the dive bombers before they release, but it can keep them high and reap fearful toll of those that press home their attacks.
    1. There were two direct hits by bombs, two near misses which caused damage, and probably six additional near misses. There were no torpedo hits. Damage sustained by the ship has been described in a general way in the narrative of the action, Section (B) above. A full and detailed report of the damage appears in the War Damage Report, Enclosure (C).
    1. Aircraft losses sustained by ENTERPRISE Air Group were as follows:
      Missing(probably shot down)
       2 VF, 2 VTB
      Water Landings(out of fuel)
       9 VF, 5 VTB
      Damaged in action(beyond repair, expended)
       1 VF, 10 VSB
    2. The crews of 7 VF and 2 VTB are missing.
    1. Killed - 3 officers and 40 men.
    2. Missing in action and believed dead - 1 man.
    3. Wounded - 1 officer and 74 men.
    1. ENTERPRISE Air Group destroyed approximately the following enemy aircraft:
      1. By VF10 - - - - - - - - 21
      2. By VB10 - - - - - - - -  0
      3. By VS10 - - - - - - - -  9
      4. By VT10 - - - - - - - -  3
                    Total - - - 33
    2. It is estimated that the ENTERPRISE AA batteries shot down about 30 enemy planes. Approximate total for ENTERPRISE: 63 planes.
    3. A reasonable estimate of the number of enemy aircraft shot down by the combined AA fire of Task Force Sixteen is 40 planes.
    1. By aircraft:
      .30 caliber - 15,400 rds (against enemy)
      33,000  "  (lost in planes)
      Total 48,400 rds
      .50 caliber - 52,970 rds (against enemy)
      33,000 rds (lost in planes or damaged)
      Total 85,970 rds
      500 lb bombs  4 (dropped at enemy targets)
      10 (lost overboard on planes)
      Total 14
      1000 lb bombs  3 (dropped at enemy targets)
       9 (lost overboard on planes)
      Total 12
      Torpedoes  4 (launched at enemy targets)
       4 (lost in planes shot down)
      Total  8
    2. By Anti-aircraft batteries:
      .50 caliber 400 rds
      20MM 46,000 rds
      1.1 500 rds
      40MM 3,200 rds
      5"/38 400 rds
    1. The coolness, resourcefulness, and effectiveness of the U.S. Man-o'warsman under fire was again demonstrated. Officers and crew of ENTERPRISE have been amply tested and on all occasions have met highest demands in courage and devotion to duty.
    2. The Executive Officer's report, enclosure (B), describes special acts of heroism and extraordinary accomplishments by individuals, and contains recommendations for appropriate recognition thereof in which the Commanding Officer fully concurs. Inasmuch as full comment and recommendation are contained in my endorsement on enclosure (B), no further remarks will be made here.
    1. Air Department.
      1. It is very evident that in this action, as apparently was the case in the action of 24 August, the fighter direction was a disappointment. Some errors in judgement on the part of the Fighter Director Officer were undoubtedly made, the most apparent of which were the stationing of fighters at altitudes generally too low and the frequent use of relative bearings which under the circumstances were meaningless to pilots in the air. However, Fighter Direction having fallen short of expectations in two successive actions, a careful re-examination and analysis of the problem is required. It is not sufficient simply to charge the failure to lack of training, inexperience, or similar causes. It is a fact that when the problem is simple, that is, when one group is to be intercepted, little difficulty is experienced in effecting the interception. This was done repeatedly while enroute to the South Pacific Area in drills wherein our dive bombers or torpedo planes represented the enemy and came in from an unannounced direction and altitude. As soon, however, as the problem becomes complicated, as it did on 26 October, with some 38 of our fighters in the air, and with enemy planes in large numbers coming in from various directions and altitudes, and with friendly planes complicating the situation, then the system breaks down. Two conditions of attack must be considered. In the first condition the attack group is located well out. Here precise interception pursuant to detailed instructions from the fighter director, is practicable and should be effected. In the second condition, the attack group has arrived in the immediate vicinity of our formation and probably has separated into groups at various positions and altitudes. In the second case the multiplicity of planes, the amount of radio traffic which has to go through the air, and the numerous radar reports received (reports on friendly planes complicated the picture) present such a complicated picture, that it may be the problem is not solvable if we attempt to give detailed instructions to all fighters. Possible in the latter case a plan whereby the combat patrol is stationed in definite localities and at select altitudes, and wherein the fighter director gives out general information, and undertakes detailed interception only in case of large groups or in special cases is the answer. Certainly the positioning of fighters both as to location and altitudes must receive the most careful thought. It is imperative that operating carriers continue to exert every effort to improve their fighter direction and to reach a satisfactory solution of the problem. Permanency of personnel is important and in the past has been lacking. This can be corrected. Further, there is good reason to believe that the material condition of the radar on ENTERPRISE has been improved. However, what is urgently needed is a sound doctrine. This can only be arrived at by extensive trials and experiments. Therefore it is a problem the solution of which may well be undertaken concurrently by the Carrier Replacement Groups both as training for themselves and the fighter director officers, and in order to formulate doctrine. These trials even though they start on a modest scale, must work up to full scale exercises wherein a very large number of fighters is employed, and wherein a number of attack planes on the order of two or more carrier groups are brought in from various directions, at various altitudes, and in several groups. The duration of the attacks should be varied. Thus there will be simulated a condition such as may be expected to be encountered in a large scale engagement such as that of the Santa Cruz Islands.
      2. Comment is made in the report of Commander VF-10 included in the Group Commander's report, enclosure (F), concerning the sending out of the attack group 25 October. It is believed this comment was based on incomplete information. The O.T.C. did have information of enemy carriers in a position which, at course and speed given, made contact practicable. In the same report comment was made on the size of the ENTERPRISE attack group launched on the 26th. This group comprised all flyable planes on board and consisted of 20 planes, 8 of which were fighters and one the CEAG. Obviously it was far from an ideal attack group; however, the need for getting them off promptly in order to prevent their being caught on deck by an imminent air attack, and also to get them out to the attack before the enemy carriers opened out too far, were undoubtedly factors in the O.T.C.'s decision. Further, it was to be expected that, having been launched at approximately the same time as the HORNET's first wave, they would arrive at the targets nearly simultaneously. As a matter of fact two ENTERPRISE scouts alone and unassisted did actually come some 30 miles from their scouting sector and put two 500-lb bombs in one of the enemy carriers on this same morning. The surprise attack on the attack group serves to emphasize again the necessity for eternal vigilance.
      3. The remarks of the Commanding Officer VF10 concerning the deficiencies of the electric propellers and the auxiliary wing tanks are strongly concurred in. In view of the fact that almost all fighter missions require the auxiliary tank, it is rather discouraging to have tanks which can be used only once, as apparently the specifications for this particular tank contemplate. Under such circumstances it is almost impossible for the ship to be sure of having enough.
      4. The ENTERPRISE Air Group went into action some ten days after departure from Pearl Harbor. It had never before been embarked as a group in a carrier and its carrier experience as a group consisted only of the qualification and refresher exercises conducted over a period of some five days immediately prior to departure. The fast passage to this area did not permit as much training as was desirable. Considering the inexperience of many of the group, their performance was in general very good and in some cases excellent. In courage, zeal, and determination they were outstanding. However, it is very evident we must never let up in the training of our groups, especially replacement groups. They must be expert in communications and gunnery (including bombing). Navigation must be stressed continuously, both for homing (radio silence and breakdown of ZB equipment must be considered) and, more important still, because it is only by good navigation that accurate contact reports can be made, and attack groups lead to their objectives. Groups should be thoroughly indoctrinated in night landing procedure. If possible the pilots should be qualified on board, and in any event they should be carefully checked out ashore in night carrier landings by a qualified carrier signal officer. This checking out should include the full procedure required when a group returns to a carrier after nightfall. When night landings became necessary on the evening of 25 October, results were disappointing, especially during the short period between dusk and moonrise. As soon as the moon rose sufficiently to clear some low clouds on the horizon, landings improved materially. However, had it not been for landing crashes which tied up the deck for considerable periods, there is no doubt that several planes which landed in the water due to fuel exhaustion, would have gotten on board. Further, such night training should include, in addition to landings and take-offs, thorough exercise with the weapons of the various carrier-based squadrons. While night dive bombing may not be generally feasible at the present time, surely night operations for fighting and torpedo planes, employing radar planes for locating the enemy, would be most useful. A fighter strafing attack on plane laden carrier at night would probably cripple the air group and resulting fires could easily put the carrier out of action.
      5. The limitations in the use of torpedo planes, which have repeatedly been set forth in reports of previous actions, were again amply demonstrated. Although the attack of the enemy torpedo squadron (probably 18 planes) against the ENTERPRISE was executed with obvious skill and great determination, only about nine planes reached a proper release point, and no hits were made. The harassing effect on the Japanese pilots of the extremely heavy and accurate fire of the combined task force and the maneuvers of the ship in combing the wakes of the torpedoes launched were the prime factors in nullifying the attack. The results of the attacks of our own torpedo planes, while not nil, were disappointing. It has been proven time and again that the probability of success of a torpedo plane attack in good visibility against a formation properly defended by fighters and anti-aircraft fire is small and out of all proportion to the losses in planes and men. The conclusion is obvious - that in the present state of the art, torpedo plane operations should if practicable be limited to attacks delivered under conditions of low visibility or in mopping up operations after the defensive power of the enemy formation has been reduced. Thus limited, the torpedo plane is not as valuable, plane for plane, in day operations as is the dive bomber. Accordingly, it is recommended that for the present, the air groups of our large carriers include not more than twelve torpedo planes. Only when torpedo squadron personnel are fully trained and planes are equipped for all aspects of night operations will torpedo planes reach their full effectiveness. We should not abandon them for carrier use; after all, they were the decisive factor in the HORNET attack.
      6. After almost one year of war, it is believed that we have enough pilots available who have had previous successful experience in combat with the enemy to fill all Air Group Commander and Squadron Commander billets. It is strongly recommended that only such officers be assigned to those billets.
      7. Once again the enemy has shown himself superior in locating our forces and in keeping himself informed of our movements. He does this, apparently, without daily carrier plane searches as we know them. Perhaps we over-emphasize our carrier plane searches. On occasions in the past, even though we have had contact reports from shore and tender-based aircraft followed by substantiating reports from the same sources, we have considered it necessary to send out a large carrier-based search. At such crucial times, we sacrifice much of the power of an attack group for these searches and for inner air and intermediate air patrols. When under the umbrella of our own shore-based scouts, it might pay greater dividends if we were to send out a powerful attack group immediately behind a search covering only a 20-30° sector whose median passes through a position of the enemy based on reports by shore-based scouts or trackers. It is not intended to imply that our search is useless and should be done away with. It is suggested that, when enemy carriers are reliably reported where we can hit them, we deliver a full strength attack upon them rather than reducing our striking force to search for possible additional carriers or other forces which if found could not be attacked. Greater tenacity on the part of our tracking planes must be developed. The procurement of B-17 type aircraft by the Navy for long range scouting and extended tracking is urgently recommended.
      8. In the torpedo attack by four planes of Torpedo Squadron Ten, there were two failures of torpedoes to release on the first attempt. Such casualties are costly beyond measure. Errors of personnel, either operational or in maintenance, are indicated, and steps for correction will be taken. There are also indications that torpedoes were released too far out.
      9. Many of our fighters expended their ammunition long before the attacks by enemy planes were over, and were forced to remain helplessly looking on while the carriers were being attacked. The F4F-4 ammunition supply of 240 rounds per gun is wholly inadequate. As seen from the Fighting Squadron Ten report, the preference of VF pilots for a four gun installation with at least 400 rounds per gun is practically unanimous and strong. It is recommended that action be taken at the earliest possible date to introduce the four gun installation into new F4F-4 production.
      10. When preparing for an attack mission against enemy carriers, it has been the practice to use .01 second delay fuzes in the noses and tails of 1000-lb and 500-lb demolition bombs. The striking velocity of a heavy bomb released in a dive-bombing attack can be expected to be on the order of 600 feet per second. With the .01 second fuze delay, the explosion takes place about six feet below the point of initial impact. The normal expectancy is that a bomb so fuzed striking the flight deck of a Japanese carrier will detonate about six feet below the hangar overhead, an area which is particularly well vented. A fairly large hole in the flight deck will probably result, but this can be readily bridged. A close miss of a bomb so fuzed will detonate about five feet below the surface of the water, deep enough to smother the fragments but not deep enough for a good mining effect. Thus, with our present policy of fuzing bombs, there is little likelihood of one of our bombs reaching a really vital area in an enemy carrier such as the fire rooms, engine rooms, magazines, or gasoline stowages. Our bombs will be temporarily crippling and may start fires which may get out of control, but there is not the proper expectancy that a small number of bomb hits will put down or stop an enemy carrier. Considerable thought has been given to this subject and it is recommended that the bombs of approximately the leading 20 to 30% of the attacking dive bombers be equipped with instantaneous fuzes for maximum effect against AA guns' crews and planes on deck, and that the bombs of the remaining planes be equipped with fuzes having a delay of .08 or .10 seconds in order to reach the vital areas of the ship in case of a direct hit or to obtain better mining effect in the case of a close miss.
    2. Gunnery.
      1. The information obtained from the search radars was not sufficient to coach the FD radar on. It is strongly recommended that at every opportunity a group be tracked in without IFF and with fighter interception, in other words as realistically as possible, for training of FD radar operators. The FD radar is almost useless for search and cannot pick up the target unless coached on by accurate and prompt information from the search radar. The FD radar cannot pick up the present IFF and that adds greatly to the problem. With friendly VF and enemy attackers at the same ranges, the FD radar cannot distinguish between the two. It is believed that with proper coordination between the search radars and the FD, and with practice, the 5-inch guns can open fire on planes before they can be seen and long before they reach their dive points or bomb release points.
      2. It is believed that the 5-inch guns of screening vessels might best be employed in shooting at enemy planes that have not yet pushed over into their dives. Their problem in this respect is identical to our own. The fire of 5-inch at diving planes other than a barrage fired by the ship being attacked is ineffective, but it should be possible to hit them before they start their dives. All supporting ships should direct their 5-inch fire accordingly.
      3. The 5-inch guns should be equipped with a single man control, either a Mark 51 director or a joy stick similar to that of the 40mm for use against dive bombers. The 5-inch gun can hit, but it is most difficult to get the pointer and the trainer on the same plane. This is important and must be done if we are to stop dive bombers before they release their bombs.
      4. Each 5-inch gun group should be equipped with its own auxiliary power supply if only sufficient to provide rammer power. It is understood that small diesel driven generators, which would be suitable, are available. In every action we have lost power on some of the 5-inch guns. The loss of power on the rammer slows the rate of fire to about half and will make the gun useless against horizontal bombers as the "dead time" becomes unpredictable. The gun cannot be rammed by hand at high elevation and must be depressed for each shot. This takes time and requires cutting out the firing circuit between shots, making the director almost useless.
      5. The 40mm shields must be cut down and the firing cams remade so that the guns can be depressed to fire horizontally during a turn. This job cannot wait and will be started by the ship's force.
      6. In addition to being too high, it is believed that the shields are too large. They should be brought in until the gun barrel protrudes over the shield. If the shield is cut down the top row of ammunition will be only a few inches below the muzzle blast. There is ample room around the mount at present and it is believed that decreasing the diameter of the shield will not interfere with the service of the guns, and it would save considerable weight.
      7. A thorough investigation should be made of the ejection troughs. The shooting of our 40mm guns was interrupted several times at critical moments because of empties jammed in the tube. We are experimenting to find a remedy, but the work that can be done by the ship's force in this respect is limited.
      8. The "joy stick" control of the 40mm mount is too sensitive. A leverage system on the present stick should be designed. At present, every time the pointer shifts his weight a little or the ship heels over, the guns swing violently in some unwanted direction.
      9. The mechanical firing system on the 40mm is not satisfactory because it is too complicated to maintain and cut-outs cannot be accurately set. It is considered that this can be greatly simplified and improved.
      10. The Mark 51 director and Mark 14 sights are excellent but the mounting must be as rigid as possible and the location as clear of smoke as possible for maximum effectiveness.
      11. The initial velocity of the 20mm gun should be increased and the weight and shape of the projectile should be changed to give it better ballistic qualities. An increase in the effective range of 1000 yards is essential, and it is going to be even more essential when the enemy realize that they can probably survive by pulling out at three or four thousand feet whereas at present it is almost suicide to come down to 1500 feet.
      12. Increased depression of 20mm guns is urgently required in order that guns on the high side when the ship is heeled over in an evasive action turn can fire horizontally at attacking torpedo planes.
      13. It is considered that the installation of additional 20mm guns would be highly desirable. However, the weight and stability situation in this ship appears to have reached the point at which no further topside weights should be added without adequate compensation by the removal of corresponding weights. The removal of the armor belts is again recommended for consideration in this connection. It is strongly felt that additional automatic AA guns would be of more value to the ship than the present armor belts. The removal of the upper portion of the conning tower down to the level of the main deck and the substitution of a small lightly armored electrical conduit trunk is also recommended for consideration as a weight removal item.
    3. Medical.
      Once again the Medical Department of this ship functioned with outstanding efficiency in caring for a large number of wounded. Through the skillful and untiring efforts of the Medical Officers and their assistants, no further fatalities occurred beyond those which occurred during or immediately following the action.
    4. General.
      1. The advantages of operating two carriers in close proximity, if the operations are in areas where air attack is to be expected, are numerous. One carrier alone under such conditions, forced to conduct morning and evening searches, combat patrols, inner and possible intermediate air patrols, has nothing much left with which to strike, and if long continued is likely to suffer considerable weakening of its air strength due to exhaustion of personnel and deterioration of material. If, of course, an "air umbrella" is furnished from other sources, and if it is reliable, then the picture changes. However, at present it is doubtful if such an umbrella exists in this area and certainly a Task Force Commander will be under considerable apprehension as to its reliability. Other advantages include availability of an additional carrier deck to receive planes from a damaged carrier; retention of one carrier's planes as a striking force ready for immediate launching; the institution of a "duty" system whereby in normal cruising each carrier has days for upkeep and training of its group and other essential work. These and others have been discussed before and it is not necessary to go into detail here.
      2. When two carriers are operating together, each should have its own screen and supporting vessels, and should be organized as an independent task force or group (this applies to large carriers). The separation used in the operations now being discussed, about five miles, appeared very satisfactory. The distance permitted each group to maneuver independently while at the same time maintaining good visual contact for signaling, and facilitated patrols. The precise separation when air attack is imminent is a question. The problem is how much separation will prevent sighting of both carriers if one is picked up. In the areas where we are now operating five miles will not do it, neither will ten. It must be a really wide separation on the order of some thirty to fifty miles, and even this will not guarantee it. Therefore unless conditions permit a separation in advance whereby the above can be achieved, it cannot be effected on short notice when attack is imminent. We must make our choice based on conditions present and likely to be encountered, weighing the advantages of close operation, such as ease of control, and of communications, economy of effort in air patrols and surface protection including that against submarines, against the insurance against discovery resulting from relatively wide separation. Again the air coverage of the area to be expected from sources other than the carriers is a large factor.
      3. Point Option, as a result of YE - ZB equipment, has lost something of its importance. However, this equipment has failed at critical moments. Therefore, it is desirable to keep near Point Option if circumstances permit. Probably the chief reason for wide separation is the effort to maintain a relatively fast moving Point Option in a down wind direction. With light winds, and frequent launchings and recoveries incident to patrols and searches, this is almost impossible. Therefore, estimates as to its travel under such conditions should be conservative.
      4. We know that PBY's have been captured by the Japanese. On more than one occasion, the actions of PBY's sighted in the vicinity of our formations, and subsequent events which have occurred, have given rise to the possibility that the Japs are using a few PBY's as shadowing planes. It is recommended that a doctrine be adopted wherein fighters approaching for identification friendly types in visual contact with our formations be required to insure complete identification by flying close alongside and identifying the flight crews as Americans by visual inspection of their faces. The cooperation of our own shore-based planes would be necessary.
      5. Following the action, and because of the size and duration of the air attack, it was felt that a description of the maneuvers and methods used in the endeavor to avoid being hit, might be of value. Enclosure (H) represents an effort to describe these maneuvers, and to enumerate some conclusions reached.
(Signed) O. B. HARDISON
  • Cincpac       (Orig. & 2)
  • ComSoPac      (2)
  • ComAirPac     (1)
  • ComTaskFor 16 (3)

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