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Saipan/Guam/Battle of the Philippine Sea - 6-29 June 1944

Enterprise and Task Force 58 spent nearly a month in the Mariana Islands, preparing for and supporting the Saipan landings on 15 June 1944, striking targets on Guam and Rota, and engaging in the fifth major carrier battle of the war: the Battle of the Philippine Sea, 19-20 June 1944. Enterprise played a significant role in the battle: her Combat Information Center (CIC) directed much of the action during the "Turkey Shoot" on the 19th, while an Air Group Ten search was the first to locate the Japanese fleet on the afternoon of the 20th. Also notable in this report are the growing number of night air missions, led by the Big E's VF(N)-101 and VT-10 squadrons.

Overview of Action.
Air Department Action Report.
Important Dates:
Saipan D-Day: 15 June 1944.
Philippine Sea: 19-20 June 1944.
Anti-Aircraft Reports: 15 and 19 June 1944.

CV6/A16-3 (10-wn)
Serial 0017
 3 JUL 1944
From:The Commanding Officer.
To:The Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet.
Via:(1) The Commander Task Group 58.3.
(2) The Commander Task Force 58.
(3)The Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas.
Subject:Operations as a Unit of Task Group 58.3 from 6 June to 29 June 1944 - Report of.
Reference:(a) CFT-58 ltr. A16-3 Serial 105 of 22 March 1944.
(b) CTG-58.3 Operations Order No. 3-44 of 1 June 1944.
Enclosure: (A) Summary of Air Operations from 11 June to 29 June 1944.
(B) Action Reports of Air Group TEN on Form ACA-1.
(C) Reports of AA Action by ENTERPRISE for 15 June and 19 June 1944, on Forms AA-1.
(D) Copy of Medical Officer's Report of Casualties.
(E) Narrative Track Chart.
(F) Executive Officer's Report.
(G) Selected Photographs.
  1. On 6 June 1944, ENTERPRISE, as a unit of Task Group 58.3 (Rear Admiral J.W. Reeves, Jr., USN, Commander Carrier Division FOUR, U.S.S. ENTERPRISE, Flagship) departed Majuro Atoll, and proceeded in accordance with reference (b) toward Saipan, Mariana Islands. At 1300 on 11 June 1944 at a point 229 miles East of Saipan, this vessel launched a fighter sweep to start the combat actions connected with the occupation of Saipan. Description of subsequent actions naturally divides itself into three phases corresponding to the developments.
    1. First Phase - Bombardment and Invasion of Saipan.

      From 11 June to 17 June 1944, ENTERPRISE conducted air operations in the area as ordered. Repeated strikes were launched to eliminate enemy air opposition, to destroy AA and coast defense guns and defenses, and to provide air support for the amphibious landing and advance of our ground troops in the seizure of Saipan.

      At dusk on 15 June, Task Group 58.3 was vigorously attacked by a formation of Jap torpedo planes. The group of seven VB(M) made a determined attack on our port bow, meeting a tremendous volume of fire from the Task Group, six planes going down in flames.

      ENTERPRISE shot down two and assisted on a third. A bomb from an undetected plane exploded in the water about 750 yards ahead on the port bow just before the torpedo planes reached that point. One torpedo plane dropped a torpedo about 1000 yards on the port bow, the torpedo running parallel to the ship at a distance of about 50 yards. One man was killed and 10 suffered slight shrapnel wounds from cross fire coming from other ships.

      Strikes on Guam were conducted on 17 June in addition to refueling.

    2. Second Phase - Engagement with the Japanese Fleet.

      Action with the Japanese appearing imminent, the Task Group reformed and sought contact. On 17 and 18 June, ENTERPRISE launched 325 mile searches to the westward which were negative. At 0200 on 19 June, fifteen torpedo planes were launched on a special 300 mile night radar search and attack mission. No contact was made. Starting about 1030 Task Force 58 was attacked by the aircraft of the Japanese Fleet in successive waves. The flight deck was cleared. ENTERPRISE fighters joined the Combat Air Patrol in intercepting the Jap attacks, and the Bomber and Torpedo planes bombed Orote Airfield on Guam. The task force fighters shot down most of the attacking enemy planes, ENTERPRISE VF claiming 19. A few enemy planes were able to make attacks on this group of ships. These were shot down spectacularly by ships' gunfire, ENTERPRISE claiming destruction of one plane and assisting in two others. One of our VF planes was shot down over Guam.

      Early on 20 June, a 325 mile search was launched, with negative results. On the second search at 1547 ENTERPRISE planes made contact report on the Jap Fleet bearing 287° (T) distance 214 miles. At 1624 a strike of 12 VF, 5 VT, 11 VB was launched. Ten direct hits are claimed on two enemy carriers with several damaging near misses on these ships and a CVE. It is believed on HAYATAKA class carrier was probably sunk. A ZUIHO class carrier was severely damaged, a CVE damaged by near misses, and 12 enemy planes were shot down. It was very dark when the striking group returned with little fuel left. All but five ENTERPRISE planes landed safely aboard various carriers, and the personnel of the five planes were recovered from water landings by destroyers. One VF pilot shot down over the target was recovered by rescue seaplane.

      At 0230, 21 June ENTERPRISE launched two VT planes to regain contact with the Jap Fleet and trail it. These planes carried out their mission, reporting accurately the composition of the remaining Jap Forces, which was at a distance outside the range of the search and attack group of 12 VF, 8 VB, 8 VT launched at 0605. All carriers reshuffled to recover own planes. Rescue operations were singularly successful.

    3. Third Phase - Neutralization of Guam and Pagan Islands.

      From 21 June to 29 June, the Task Group carried out strikes as ordered on Guam and Pagan Islands to neutralize the airfields and destroy defense guns and military installations. Successful night interceptions were made in an attempt to cut off Jap planes flying into the Marianas from the Southwest, three enemy planes being thus destroyed on the night of 28 June and one on the night of 27 June 1944.

  2. The entire action resulted in the loss of sixteen aircraft of this vessel, eight lost in combat and eight operationally. Four pilots were killed or are missing and three air crewmen were killed or are missing.
  3. Enclosures (A) and (B) summarize the air operations.
  4. Ordnance material and equipment operated very satisfactorily. Ammunition expended was as follows:
    2000# GP  - - - - - - 18 .50 Cal. A/C - - 160,000 rds.
    1000# SAP - - - - - - 52 .30 Cal. A/C - - 24,500 rds.
    1000# GP  - - - - - - 183 5/38 - - - - - - 25 rds.
     500# SAP - - - - - - 31 40mm - - - - - - 2,006 rds.
     500# GP  - - - - - - 299 20mm - - - - - - 9,207 rds.
     250# GP  - - - - - - 101 
     350# DB  - - - - - - 24 
     100# GP  - - - - - - 677 
     100# Frag. Clust.  - 180 
     100# Incend. Clust.- 192 
  5. Comment:
    1. Communications were greatly improved in this operation over past performances. Radio equipment operated satisfactorily, and good range was noted on contact reports sent by TBF's on "CW". The need for more voice channels was particularly felt on the occasion of the Jap carrier planes attack. Circuits were practically blocked by excessive traffic. One channel for the Fighter Direction of all VF of one Task Group has been proven grossly inadequate. When great numbers of interceptions are being directed by many ships, Fighter Director doctrine should be changed to require the pilot to "Wilco" instead of repeating back instructions.
    2. It is recommended that "Top Secret" material - Operation Plans and Orders - be reclassified downward to "Secret or Confidential" prior to the start of an operation by a sufficient length of time to permit of adequate and timely distribution to subordinate officers and pilots concerned. Retention of the high classification places responsible seniors in a dilemma and in such case, strict adherence to regulations for handling must go by the board.
    3. The night return of the attack groups from all carriers forcibly illustrated the immediate need for a coded identification homing light included in the new approved night lighting systems for carriers. Planes could not distinguish carriers from destroyers in the melee of lights around the Task Group.
    4. Noteworthy was the scouting and tracking of the Jap fleet by planes of VT Squadron TEN.
  6. Personnel casualties are listed in enclosure (D).
  7. The performance of the Air Group, and the officers and men of the ship leave little to be desired. Recommendations for awards for the Air Group have been forwarded separately. Recommendations for awards to ship's personnel listed in enclosure (F) and in which the commanding officer fully concurs have been forwarded separately.
(Signed) M. B. GARDNER
(All dates are East Longitude and times are ZONE (-10))
Enemy A/C Shot Down48(20 ZEKE, 6 VAL, 5 JUDY, 4 KATE, 5 BETTY, 2 JILL, 1 OSCAR, 1 LILY, 1 EMILY, 1 JAKE, 1 TOJO, 1 FRAN).
Enemy A/C Probably Shot Down2
Enemy A/C Destroyed on Ground4
Enemy A/C Probably Destroyed on Ground5
Own A/C Lost in Combat8
Own A/C Lost Operationally8
Own A/C Jettisoned3
Pilots Lost4
Aircrewmen Lost3
Ships Sunk5
Ships Probably Sunk1
Bombs Dropped (tons)260.6
AA ACTION     June 15, 1944 


The half light of twilight precluded use of the Mk. 14 Sight and the blinding effect of tracers made observation of planes at ranges greater than 1,000 yards difficult. Planes were taken under fire as soon as spotted.

Action was very confused because of above conditions. The plane that dropped the bomb was not seen.

5" guns were not used because of low angle approach and darkness.

Identification of planes is doubtful. Later reports indicated a new type, possibly "Irvings", "Frans" or "Milky-ways".

Radar detected planes at 22 miles. Picked up in binoculars at about 20,000 yards.

Mk. 37 director tracked approach at 250 knots.

AA ACTION     June 19, 1944 


Were warned of attack by radar. Did not obtain any close in plots. Lookouts spotted planes visually.

A Judy was first plane to attack. It came in on starboard quarter at approximately 3,000 feet in a dive. Pulled out at about 1,500 feet when automatic fire reached him. Went forward smoking and finally crashed about 4,000 yards ahead. Believe automatic fire made minor hits and caused eventual crash.

The remaining planes made glide approaches for torpedo runs. They started glides from 2,000 to 3,000 feet. All were directed at this vessel, apparently disregarding the PRINCETON which was 2,000 yards on our starboard beam. Our 40MM fire assisted in destruction of two of these planes and our 5" put the "kill" on the last plane.

Data for items 11 to 21 inclusive [Form AA-1: omitted] is for last Jill. Its approach was somewhat higher than the other two.

During attack a bomb dropped on starboard quarter about 750 yards away. The plane that dropped it was not seen.

One of the Jills shot down was apparently separated from his torpedo as he was hit. No torpedo wake was seen.

The 5" fire was believed to be responsible for the last Jill shot down. This was an excellent run. The after director and after group of two 5"/38 guns were the first guns of the task group to take this plane under fire. Six rounds of Mk. 32 fuzes and eight rounds of Mk. 18 fuzes were fired. It seems certain that a five inch burst blew him apart but which of the two fuzes were responsible it is impossible to determine.

The 5" guns also fired three rounds of Mk. 18 fuzes at the Judy without effect and one Mk. 32 fuze and six Mk. 18 fuzes at the second Jill without positive effect. The misfire caused the reduction of numbers of Mk. 32 fuzes fired.

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