- Battle damage to own ship, attack of 14 May 1945.
- ENTERPRISE was severely damaged by a suicidal enemy ZEKE carrying one 250 KG streamlined general purpose delay-action bomb. The plane crashed the flight deck at frame 44, centerline, just abaft the forward airplane elevator. The bomb penetrated the flight deck, passed forward through the decking of the elevator pit, and exploded in compartment A-305-A, frame 35, centerline, approximately 54 feet from the point of initial contact. The plane's engine and pilot crashed through onto the forward starboard corner of the elevator pit, frame 28.
- The explosion of the bomb was complete and damage extensive. The forward airplane elevator was demolished, and a large section (about one-third) was blown 400 feet in the air. Another large section was blown back against the pilot house splinter shield, frame 70. The flight deck was bulged up frame 40 to 69, reaching a maximum upward distortion of three feet at frame 46. The plane and bomb drove a 20 foot hole in the flight deck, frame 42 to 44 centerline; twenty foot holes were blown by the bomb explosion in the second and third deck frame 35. The fact that the bomb exploded in the rag store room (A-305-A) on top of a 4 to 6 foot layer of rag bales limited the shrapnel damage below the third deck level to a few stray shots. Shrapnel damage above was extensive.
- Fire. Fires broke out immediately in the elevator pit and the forward end of
the hangar deck; on the five inch gun groups flanking the elevator pit port and starboard;
02 deck level; and in officers staterooms around the elevator well.
- Elevator Pit and Hangar Deck Fires. Planes were parked closely in the
forward end of the hangar, all but four of them empty of gas and ammunition, and
these four, just landed, almost drained at the time of the hit. In the elevator pit
were stowed potatoes, together with bottles of oxygen and metal. Overhead nettings
in the forward part of the hangar contained many belly tanks and radar nacelles.
Fire about ten feet high broke out in the elevator pit immediately, in the forward starboard cornet, evidently from the engine of the crashed ZEKE. Many small fires from shrapnel and flash developed in the engines and tanks of the planes spotted forward. The forward bay of the hangar sprinkling system was cut in immediately by Hangar Control giving sprinkling from the elevator to frame 70. Due to rupture of the starboard side of the firemain forward pressure was not immediately available on forward starboard plugs, but ample pressure was found on port side forward, and the elevator fire and local plane fires were extinguished using the segregated port side section. The hangar deck and elevator pit fires were brought quickly under control and were completely out in about thirty minutes. Previous to this action a large number of rescue breathers were obtained and hung on the hangar deck bulkheads. Due to the large amount of smoke in the hangar deck forward and in officers living spaces adjacent to the elevator pit, it was necessary to use these breathers in fighting fire and investigation work. Due to failure of electrical circuits hangar sprinklers were secured by hand at second deck control valves. The system was secured at 0730.
- Five Inch Gun Groups. Shrapnel caused severe electric and powder fires on groups 1 and 2, five inch guns, flanking the elevator on the gallery deck level. The fire on the port group was extinguished by installed sprinklers and by use of fire hose streams. No ammunition exploded. On the starboard group some difficulty was experienced at first in obtaining water, since the forward starboard firemain loop was out of commission and the local sprinklers were also dry. Finally, extra length hoses were run from plugs at frame 69 starboard and on the port side, and streams were brought to bear from the hangar deck level. Some powder cans exploded in this fire, without injury to personnel. This fire was extinguished at 0730. Working parties from gun crews and repair parties threw hot ammunition over the side.
- Small stubborn fires developed below decks from shrapnel hits in officers' clothing and bedding, and from electric short circuits. While not in themselves dangerous, the fires seriously endangered the ship by marking her a cripple, and made rescue work difficult in the resulting smoke. Rescue breathers and gas masks were used to good advantage under these conditions. There were fifteen to twenty officers from night details sleeping in the damaged area. Only one of these was killed, by shrapnel wounds. Others found their way, or were assisted out. In one compartment, A-208-1L, where smoke became so thick as to prevent any thorough investigation, fixed fog was hooked up and cut in for five minutes. This extinguished most of the fires, and allowed fire parties to enter and extinguish the rest locally.
- Elevator Pit and Hangar Deck Fires. Planes were parked closely in the forward end of the hangar, all but four of them empty of gas and ammunition, and these four, just landed, almost drained at the time of the hit. In the elevator pit were stowed potatoes, together with bottles of oxygen and metal. Overhead nettings in the forward part of the hangar contained many belly tanks and radar nacelles.
- Flooding. A six-inch firemain loop, and three-inch damage control main riser were ruptured in A-305-A, the point of explosion. This source of water, coupled with flooding from hangar deck sprinklers and other fire fighting streams quickly flooded the damaged area, roughly frame 26 to frame 38 from the hangar deck level to the hold, six decks below. This combined with progressive flooding forward and aft through shrapnel holes and ruptured seams to produce an estimated total flooded effect of approximately 2,000 tons centered at about frame 35. At 0730, with firefighting virtually completed and damaged mains secured, the ship was down by the bow seven feet, and up by the stern three feet as a result of water taken aboard. Immediate steps were taken to reduce the flooding. Electric submersible pumps were routed to the elevator pit and connected up with portable leads run aft to good power supply points. Two P-500 gasoline driven pumps were put into action. Free surface water in officers' country was drained through deck drains and commode drains in the heads. Especial urgency attached to the drainage because all contact had been lost with five men trapped in the forward elevator pump room, directly beneath the explosion, on the second platform and hold levels. Pumping was rendered most difficult by the fouling of strainers with small pieces of rags and toilet paper stowed in the damaged compartment. By midnight the water level had reached the third deck, and the men were recovered, drowned, in a flooded fourth deck storeroom. By emergency pumping and drainage facilities, approximately one half the flooding was removed within eighteen hours, and most of the remainder within 36 hours of the hit.
- Damage Sustained.
- The forward airplane elevator was demolished, all parts being destroyed above the third deck level.
- Flight deck: Deck was bulged up by blast from frame 40 to frame 69, with a maximum lift of three feet at frame 46 centerline. Transverse beams were ruptured or weakened from frame 40 to frame 69. A twenty foot hole was caused by the plane crash, from frame 42 to 45, centerline.
- Three out of four gasoline tanks developed slow leaks from the shock. The gasoline pressure main was crushed, frame 62 to 106 port side, so as to be unfit for use. The starboard pressure main was destroyed by fire and shrapnel from frame 26 to 38. Various risers, valves, and fueling stations were destroyed by fire and shrapnel. The system is estimated to be ten percent operational.
- Hangar deck curtains were blown out or damaged all the way aft to frame 140, both sides.
- Electric wiring: Approximately 75,000 feet of power, lighting, and communication cable were disabled forward of frame 50. All electric service in this area is now on portable emergency power leads. Panels and motors were disabled frame 20 to 40. Degaussing was disabled.
- Structural damage: Twenty-foot holes were blown in the second and third decks, frame 30 to 35, centerline. The forward bulkhead of the elevator well was dished forward six inches to eighteen inches on the main deck, 01 deck, and 02 deck levels. Longitudinal bulkheads of the elevator well were riddled by shrapnel. Evidences of structural distortion are found on the second deck from frame 20 to 70, and on the 02 deck level from frame 20 to 90. Due mostly to the fact of the bomb landing on rags, the hull was cut by small pieces of shrapnel only on the third and fourth decks in the immediate vicinity of the hit. Watertight integrity below the main deck was damaged in the following compartments: A-204-L, A-207-AT, A-206-A, A-208-1L, A-305-A, A-404-A, A-405-A, A-406-A, A-407-A, A-408-A, A-504-A, A-505-A, A-9-E, and A-11-V. The shafts of two flight deck bomb elevators, frame 71 to 81, starboard, were buckled, rendering the elevators inoperative above the hangar deck level.
- Radio Three, located in the gallery deck, frame 67 to 69, was severely buckled, damaging considerable gear.
- Five-inch gun number three, frame 34, starboard, was burned out by fire. Other guns forward were crippled by blast, shrapnel, or power failure.
- Miscellaneous items: Three officers' heads just forward of the elevator, and officers' living quarters surrounding the elevator were demolished, particularly on the second deck level. High and low pressure air lines, firemain, damage control main, fresh water piping, drainage piping, and ventilation were extensively damaged in the vicinity of the explosion. Two fresh water pumps and the forward diesel fire pump, located in A-9-E, were flooded out of commission.
- Comments and Recommendations.
- In one compartment adjacent to the elevator well, main deck level, one man was killed by shrapnel, two seriously wounded, and the remaining man lightly wounded or unhurt. In each case men seriously hurt were in bunks high in the compartment; men escaping serious injury were prone, on deck.
- Rescue breathers and gas masks proved of great value in firefighting and rescue work, for entering smoke-filled areas. Gas masks can be used in smoke wherever there is a good supply of oxygen, as usually is the case on weather decks. Type A-1 breathers are preferred by fire fighters.
- P-500 gasoline driven pumps, though cranky, were of decided use in draining the difficult rag and paper stowage. Where submersible pump strainers clogged, the P-500 pumps worked well. Eductors were attached for drainage in lower spaces and gave ample lift.
- When attacked and hit, Enterprise had been at general quarters for over three hours. This ship firmly adheres to the program of remaining at general quarters and battle material condition when in the strike area. This policy leads to discomfort and fatigue particularly among personnel below decks, but as a result of it, with four hits in three successive months, Enterprise has in each case been at general quarters and ready to handle fires and damage.
- The ready control of fire resulted primarily from the fact that planes were drained and disarmed. This condition was possible because of the ship's special night duties, and daytime standby condition.
- Both the fresh water pumps were grounded out. A jury-rig fresh water system was arranged by utilizing a feed bottom as an emergency ship's tank, pumping through a fire room feed pump, by hose, to the fresh water main.
- Sealed beam lights and battle lanterns were invaluable in penetrating smoke-filled compartments.
- Battle problems, conducted even at difficult times in forward areas, have contributed impressively to the efficiency and preparedness of all hands in battle. Men have been drilled in wearing flash proof clothing and gas masks, in firefighting, handling personnel casualties, and other damage control measures on all battle stations. There is no question that the drills, simulating actual battle damage, have helped prepare the ship.
- Twenty Helium gas cylinders and 16 oxygen cylinders of the shatterproof 200 cu. ft. capacity type were stowed in elevator pit; 18 cylinders were stowed in racks with gooseneck type securing rings along port fore and aft bulkhead of well in elevator pit. A similar number of cylinders were stowed along the starboard bulkhead of well. Of these cylinders 2 containing oxygen gas were recovered intact. Ten cylinders of the original 20 containing helium gas were recovered intact. Fourteen oxygen cylinders and 10 helium cylinders were presumed to have exploded from the fire or from shrapnel holes. The damaged or exploded cylinders or their remains were mixed up with the scraps of metal and rubble in such a manner that an actual investigation of all exploded cylinders could not have been made. Of the cylinders which had been pierced or burst by heat pressure it was ascertained that none of them had shattered. Gas had escaped from pierced cylinders through the shrapnel holes. Cylinders which had burst from heat either burst down the middle and the cylinder flattened out, or the valve top blew off.
- Bar metals stowed in sectional metal rack in forward part of elevator pit well were secured with light wire, although the bomb exploded about 10 feet aft of this rack and demolished it none of the bar metal or rounded stock flew through the air as a "missile hazard". The angle-iron across the lower sections of the rack prevented the metal from "flying" and the top layer which was not covered by the angle-iron of the rack was held in by the light wire which lashed them to the lower sections. After the blast the wire was found to be intact around the metal lying on deck.
- Two sheets of sheet hull plate were stowed flat on either wing of elevator pit. This metal was found intact in its original position after the blast. The sheets had prevented shrapnel from going down into the storeroom under the port wing under the area they covered. The sheets on the starboard side had prevented shrapnel from going downward into the passageway under the starboard wing. Several sheets of this same metal were stowed on edge in an athwartship position in the after end of the elevator well. The bomb exploded approximately 20 feet forward of these sheets. This metal remained in its original position and prevented rupture of the after bulkhead at frame 38, as well as stopping all shrapnel from piercing this bulkhead in the area they covered. (The only rupture of bulkhead No. 38 occurred in the after starboard side of elevator pit; in an area not covered by this metal.)
- Surface Gunnery Operations
- Disposition During an Air Attack.
Closer fire support must be given to carriers under an attack. All carriers, and the ENTERPRISE in particular, are deficient in the number of guns that can be brought to bear on attacking aircraft whose relative bearing is in the vicinity of 180°. It is strongly recommended that one DD be assigned to each carrier in formation 5-V. This destroyer should keep station directly astern of the CV at the minimum distance commensurate with safety. These additional guns would, in effect, more than double the number of five inch barrels available for close-in support at the point blank range usually encountered in a suicide attack.
When carriers are dispersed on the 2.5 circle, as was the case on the 14th of May, the only ship that can effectively give support during a suicide attack is that heavy unit nearest to the carrier under attack. The other heavy units are at distances varying up to 2.5 miles away. However, if the formation center was occupied by an BB or CL(AA), the latter could support almost equally well all the carriers. It is believed that the occupation of station 0000 would not interfere with air operations as it allows a minimum of 2,500 yds. of sea room normal to landing course for the aircraft landing circle.
- AA Coordination.
AA coordination is very effective in bringing the maximum number of guns to bear on targets. However, so many erroneous reports are received that the channel is usually clogged to the extent that the "alarm effect" of a report of a real "bandit" is detracted from by the great number cries of "wolf". The frequency of lookout reports of "bogie, overhead, high", would seem to indicate that visual stations are not being kept informed as to the placement of the Task Group CAP.
It is believed that in the case of positively identified enemy planes picked up close in the most effective means of target designation is a few round of 40MM fired in the direction of the plane regardless of whether or not the latter is within range. This method provides a means of alerting the batteries directly without the delays incident to radio transmissions. The AA coordination circuit may be used as a backup if time permits.
That phase of AA coordination that concerns itself with sector search by fire control radar is useless unless:
- All friendly planes are either clear of the formation or are within visual range.
- Proposed IFF installations are incorporated into the fire control radar system.
- All friendly planes are either clear of the formation or are within visual range.
- Maneuvering While Under Air Attack
ALPAC 8-45 contains specific instructions for maneuvering while under attack by suicide planes. It states definitely that maneuvering should be done consistent with fire control. However, in the execution of formation course changes, this vessel was seriously handicapped. The Zeke that crashed dived this ship was originally picked up and engaged on this vessels starboard beam; a highly desirable position with regard to fire control. However, as result of two subsequent left turns during the four minutes prior to his final dive, the Zeke was materially aided in his task.
Individual maneuvering by this vessel was impracticable due to the fact that as long as the plane remained in the low cloud cover the exact time that he would press home his attack was unpredictable. Had individual ship maneuvers, consistent with fire control, been made when the first left turn was signaled, the ship would have gained a position well outside the screen by the time the attack was made, three minutes later.
It is believed that the maneuvering officer for a Task Group does not at all times have a comprehensive picture, particularly regarding close-in attacks. In a typical 5-V disposition the Task Group flagship may be as far as 3 miles away from the ship most likely to be attacked. As a result, although the formation is maneuvered, the evolutions are usually carried out at the time and in the direction that will place the flagships guns on the most advantageous bearing. This unfortunately, as was the case on the 14th of May, may mask almost the entire AA battery of the ship that is the most probable target.
It is strongly recommended that when enemy planes approach to within 10 miles of the formation center, that the bogie plots be transferred to an expanded diagram of the disposition and that visual contact be maintained as far as possible.
- Maneuvering To Avoid Low Cloud Cover.
At dawn on the 14th of May, the sky was perfectly clear except in one 90° sector. Early air operations necessitated closing the area to some extent but after completion thereof a course was signaled that carried the Task Group directly toward the low clouds. As a result, excellent cover was available for attacking planes, to the extent that the final dive of the Zeke crashing this vessel was made from a low cloud at relative bearing 180° whose distance from the ship did not exceed 1,500 yards, (an estimated maximum of 10 seconds flying time).
It is believed that the maintenance of the point option course and speed and even scheduled air operations is secondary to maneuvering the formation clear of low clouds when air attack is imminent.
In addition much more use could be made of Aerological information by operating in areas the Aerologists says will be clear. On the 14th of May this ship's Aerologists predicted clear weather would be found immediately to the north of the area in which we operated.
- Discipline of Friendly Planes.
As is evidenced by the two instances of firing on friendly fighters that occurred on 14th May, returning strike planes are not observing the correct approach procedure. This applies particularly to singles which are appearing in increasing numbers. A "division" of CAP is now purely an organizational term indicating that the planes involved most likely were launched at approximately the same time and from the same carrier. During the last operation a great many vapor trails were observed due primarily to (1) Sky-larking and (2) Expediting "Charlie". These confuse the lookouts and detract from their efficiency.
As usual, several approaches were made by friendlies directly out of the sun. In one particular case the friendly was showing bogie, and was fired upon.
This continual harassing of the formation by friendlies would cease if:
- "Prep Charlie" and "Charlie" should be given as far in advance as possible to permit gradual letting down of high CAP.
- Air Group Commanders would insist that pilots observe approach bearing.
- Maintenance crews would thoroughly check out the IFF transmitters prior to each launch - and
- Fighter director officers would maintain a constant supervision of the planes under their control.
- AA Firing Practice During Replenishment Periods.
On the 10th of May this vessel participated in its first AA firing while the Task Group was fueling and rearming.
The exercise was not realistic. The tow planes circled the formation providing no variation in the type of run presented to any one firing station. Firing arcs were restricted necessitating shifting crews among the batteries in an effort to give all the personnel equal opportunity to fire. Five inch bursts were also observed dangerously close to the towing planes.
During replenishment a large percentage of the crew is engaged in line handling, loading ammunition etc. as well as necessary upkeep that cannot be done in forward areas due to watertight closures. It is believed that the time could be better devoted to these pursuits as well as much needed relaxation with little or no loss to AA gunnery performance.
- Disposition During an Air Attack.
- AIR OPERATIONS.
- Table of Sorties and Plane Availability by Days.
[Table temporarily omitted from this online transcription]
- Table covers period from 0614 Item 3 May to conclusion of flight operations for underway period at 0551 Item 14 May. Abortive sorties, replacements, ferry hops, tow plane flights, test flights and message drops are not included.
- Daily sorties are compiled on a sunrise-to-sunrise basis in accordance with the system of daily summary reporting prescribed for Night Carriers in FIRST CAR TFI-1B.
- Day and Night sorties are designated by "D" and "N" respectively.
- See Recapitulation in Part I - Brief Summary for statistical analysis of Air Operations.
- Table of Bombs and Rockets Dropped at Target.
[Table temporarily omitted from this online transcription]
- Own losses and Rescue Operations.
Date Time of Launch Type A/C Circumstances, Place, and Cause of Plane Lost No. Pilots Lost No. Air Crew Lost No. Pilots Saved No. Air Crew Saved May 9 0403 1 F6F-5N Plane turned down wind to port after being catapulted and crashed water burning immediately. Thorough search of area by DD failed recover pilot. 1 0 0 0 14 24 F6F-5N
Damaged beyond repair by shrapnel and concussion resulting from enemy suicide-plane hit at 0659(I) 14 May. All jettisoned. 0 0 0 0 14 9 TBM-3D Damaged beyond repair by concussion and shrapnel resulting from enemy suicide plane hit at 0659(I) 14 May. Still carried aboard. Due for survey. 0 0 0 0 Total 1 0 0 0
- Damage to Enemy.
- Enemy planes destroyed in combat on land or water and enemy ships sunk, probably
sunk, and damaged.
Enemy A/C Destroyed Enemy Shipping Date Strike No Time of Launch Location In Air Ground or Water Sunk Prob.Sunk Damaged May 9 TDusk CAP 1732 AMAMI O SHIMA (28-08N,129-16E) LST May 12 VTN HECKLER #1 2336 30 Miles S YAKU SHIMA 1 RUFE May 13 TDawn CAP 0241 KAGOSHIMA BAY
25 miles SE
1 TONY(N) 1 Lugger middle KAGOSHIMA BAY TOI MISAKI
7 miles N 315
1 TONY KANOYA EAST 1 OSCAR KAGOSHIMA BAY 3 JAKE KAGOSHIMA BAY 2 PETE May 13 HECKLER #1 1934 310 MIYAZAKI   1 u/i May 13 NCAP 2145 Force 1 DINAH(N) NCAP 2215 2215 Force 1 BETTY(N) May 14 TDAWN CAP 0320 161 KOCHI 1 OSCAR 0615 Force 1 ZEKE
- Damage to Land Targets.
9 May 1 HVAR and Strafing started fire in settlement located on NE coast KIKAI SHIMA. 10 May GP bombs, Incendiary clusters, and rockets of 3 night Heckler missions caused an explosion in middle of 403 WAN A/F, and started fires in each of the Military Headquarters and covered revetment areas east of the field, and 4 fires in the Barracks and adjacent areas south of the field.
Attacks of 3 Heckler missions the same night on MINAMI DAITO JIMA started at least 11 fires in the vicinity of the airfield, 2 of which appeared to be burning and exploding ammunition storages and one an oil or gasoline storage. A flare dropped for illumination of KITA DAITO JIMA set fire to a building on that small island. 3 other Heckler missions over TOKUNO SHIMA started 4 good fires and 2 small ones in the vicinity of the airfield.
11 May VTN Hecklers dropped GP bombs, Incendiary clusters and rockets to cause 1 good fire and explosions near the west end of the north runway at 314 KANOYA airfield, south KYUSHU, and set fire to buildings at the east side of 313 KUSHIRA airfield. 12/13 May A total of 14 VTN Hecklers over KYUSHU during the night dropping GP bombs, Incendiary clusters and rockets started 5 fires in buildings at east side of 353 OMURA A/F, 1 fire and explosion in building area south of the A/F, 1 large oil fire north of field, and an ammunition fire and explosion south of the A/F, 4 fires in hangars and buildings at 354 OMURA Seaplane Base; 2 good fires in the ships and warehouse area south of 309 NITTAGAHARA A/F and 1 possible oil or fuel storage fire near the field; 2 good fires in groups of buildings at the NE and SE corner KOKUBU A/F; 1 large fire in building area NW of 322 KAGOSHIMA A/F; fired 1 hangar at the SE corner of 314 KANOYA A/F; and a large fire in the building area NE of 325 CHIRAN A/F. 13/14 May A total of 13 VTN Hecklers through the night bombed and rocketed KYUSHU airfields causing a very large fire and explosions in the Naval Air Depot at KANOYA; several fires and an explosion in the building area west of 304 OITA A/F; a fire in the building area east of 302 USA A/F; fired a hangar at the SE end of 330 IZUMI A/F; 1 large fire at west end ITAZAKE A/F; at 343 GANNOSU - 10 explosions and gasoline or oil fires believed exploding parked aircraft at the west edge of field; at 310 MIYAZAKI A/F - several small fires in the north central part of the field followed within 4-5 minutes by 24 separate large explosions; 1 enemy A/C seen taking off at MIYAZAKI disappeared in the explosion of several bombs and is believed to have been destroyed. Fires were also started in the Military Barracks SE of the A/F and 1 building was fired on the W side of the field. 14 May After daylight VFN strafed and damaged at least 4-6 S/E and 1 T/E aircraft of 25 S/E and 2 T/E seen at 161 KOCHI A/F, south SHIKOKU. Many hits were observed on the parked planes but none smoked or flamed. On the west shore of URADOKO east of NAGAHAMA, a factory was strafed heavily and left smoking badly in the center section. A nearby barracks was also heavily strafed with unobserved results. NOTE: All bombing and rocket attacks covered in this report were made during darkness, principally by VTN on Heckler missions whose primary objective was to harass the enemy and deny to him the use of his airfields at night and prevent him from "getting set" for the mounting of heavy organized air strikes against our forces at dawn. Complete or accurate assessment of damage thus inflicted at night is not possible even when flare illumination is employed. Claims of damage are of necessity based on pilot and aircrewman observation and have been set forth above only when positive visual evidence was discernable. Unquestionably other damage than that accomplished by the setting of fires at these targets was also inflicted upon enemy installations but cannot be evaluated.
- Enemy planes destroyed in combat on land or water and enemy ships sunk, probably sunk, and damaged.
- VFN Dawn and Dusk Patrols over Target.
Dawn and Dusk Target CAPS were regularly programmed to cover KIKAI SHIMA - AMAMI O SHIMA area usually with flights of 4 VFN on each mission. These missions were principally flown for the purpose of preventing the enemy from possibly "staging in" aircraft from KYUSHU to either 403 WAN or 421 SHITOOKE airfields on KIKAI during the hours of darkness and with which he might strike our landing support forces off OKINAWA or Task Force 58 operating to eastward.
KIKAI patrols were flown at dawn and dusk on the 7th, 9th, and 11th, 5" HVAR being carried by the fighters on the first 4 missions only. Targets proved scarce and no airborne opposition was met. Only damage observed and reported from a total of 84 rockets fired were two direct hits on an enemy LST anchored among a large number of luggers in one of the many bays at southwest AMAMI on the evening of the 9th, and a fire started in a small village on the northwest coast of AMAMI the same evening. Nevertheless, the "Heckler" value of these missions is not to be underestimated; the fact that no airborne opposition was met nor operational aircraft found on either of the KIKAI airfields on the flights alone testifies to their effectiveness.
During the approach of the Task Force on KYUSHU on the night of the 12/13th, VTN Hecklers returning from over southern KYUSHU airfields reported observing the exhaust flames of many enemy aircraft at 314 KANOYA and 315 KANOYA East apparently being readied for takeoff and strike against either the approaching Carrier Task Force or our Landing Support Forces in the vicinity of OKINAWA. The VTN passed this information via radio to a flight of 6 VFN then enroute to southern KYUSHU on a Dawn Target CAP mission. Soon after arrival at KANOYA one of the VFN pilots observed the exhaust flare of an airplane at about 1500 feet altitude and headed southward over KAGOSHIMA Bay. Closing to investigate, Lieutenant O. D. YOUNG, U.S.N.R. identified the plane as a TONY, and after several minutes chase, during which time he over shot his target twice, the TONY was finally sent crashing into the water in flames at 0410, chalking up the first "tally" of the day. Observing lights of taxiing aircraft on KANOYA East airfield, 1 section of VFN stood by to make strafing runs on this field at intervals until daylight in an effort to prevent their taking off. As each run was made all lights on the field were extinguished making it impossible to pick out specific targets in the darkness. During one of these runs, the pilot of one VFN, Lieutenant K. D. SMITH, U.S.N.R., lost control of his port aileron which froze tight. He was able to pull out of his run, however, and decided to return to base. When about 25 miles south of TOI MISAKI Light (SE KYUSHU), Lieutenant SMITH was jumped by two TONYS. In spite of the difficulty in controlling his plane, and thanks partly to a fatal error on the part of one of the Japs who overshot and ended up squarely in his sights, a timely burst from all six of Lieutenant SMITH's guns flamed one of the TONYS and sent him crashing into the water at 0515. The other TONY fled back toward KYUSHU. During this time, Lieutenant O.D. YOUNG and Lieutenant (jg) C.H. LATROBE, U.S.N.R. continued patrolling the KANOYA area and the eastern shore of KAGOSHIMA Bay after daylight. At 0520, Lieutenant YOUNG spotted a JAKE flying low over the water and dropped down to splash him immediately. The next thirteen minutes were a "field day" for these two fighter pilots, for during that period they collected the scalps of two more JAKEs and two PETE's, credit for a total of 3 JAKEs and ½ PETE going to Lieutenant YOUNG, and for 1½ PETEs to Lieutenant (jg) LATROBE. At about this same time another section of the VFN flight, patrolling a little to the north, found and strafed a lugger underway in the middle of the bay and left it smoking furiously. Pulling out of their second strafing run, the two pilots noticed several curious objects at about 2000 feet altitude over KANOYA airfield which on closer approach proved to be 3 barrage balloons painted dark brown or black. On nearing the field, one of the two pilots, Lieutenant (jg) J.R. KENYON, U.S.N.R. saw a plane flying northward at about 3000 feet, and turned to chase it. On closing, the plane turned out to be an OSCAR, and Lieutenant (jg) KENYON brought it down in flames at 0545. Total score for this "before-breakfast" outing over Southern KYUSHU - 2 TONYs, 1 OSCAR, 3 JAKEs, and 2 PETEs, - a full "bag" for 4 ardent "nimrods" of VFN-90.
On the evening of the 13th, a Dusk CAP of 4 VFN was launched to patrol the Southern KYUSHU fields and remained on station from 1815 to 2030 without making any contacts with enemy aircraft airborne or on the ground. However enemy "snoopers" found the Task Force early in the evening, and at 2145 four VFN were launched from condition TEN to intercept. One of these pilots, Lieutenant (jg) G. A. ODEN, U.S.N.R. was put on an interception almost immediately which continued for nearly one hour, during which time, control was handled by three different bases. Visual contact and identity of the bogie was finally established as a DINAH, and the "splash" was made at 2300, the plane flaming and exploding on impact with the water.
Another Condition TEN pilot, Lieutenant (jg) C.H. LATROBE, U.S.N.R., who had already been successful early that day over KYUSHU, was launched as a replacement for one of the NCAP over the Force at 2215. At 0050 he was put on an interception, and within ten minutes was able to close, identified the bogie as a BETTY, and made the "splash" at 0100. The BETTY went down in flames and exploded on hitting the water.
At 0300 the 14th, 15 VFN were launched as a Target Dawn Patrol, 10 being assigned to the South KYUSHU fields and 5 to proceed to 161 KOCHI A/F on the south coast of SHIKOKU. The latter found the KOCHI field illuminated by flares and incendiaries dropped by a VTN Heckler which had proceeded them to this target by about 10 minutes, and made a strafing run to prevent taxiing enemy A/C from taking off. After daylight, 25 S/E and 2T/E planes could be counted lined up along the R/W. Several strafing runs were made and many hits were seen registered on at least 4-6 of the S/E and 1 of the T/E aircraft, though none smoked or flamed. On leaving the area, this flight strafed a factory building and a barracks located on the west shore of URADOKO near NAGAHAMA, leaving the factory smoking badly in the center section.
The 10 VFN assigned to the KYUSHU area found no activity at any of the fields around KANOYA until daylight when 4 T/E were spotted at 313 KUSHIRA from 12000 feet. As a strafing run was commenced, 3 OSCARS dove on several of the VFN from about 14000' and overshot. One of the VFN pilots, Lieutenant L. F. HARRISON, U.S.N.R., followed one of the OSCARs down to 5000 feet, firing all the way. The OSCAR burst into flames and continued in his dive to the ground at 0530. The other 2 OSCARS disappeared. On returning to base, the flight found the Task Force under attack and were orbited outside the screen. At about 10 miles out, a ZEKE was seen coming in low on the water headed toward the force; Lieutenant (jg) G.P. TAYLOR, U.S.N.R. was in nearest position to intercept and beat his companions to the punch and sent the ZEKE flaming into the water at 0615.
- VTN Heckler Missions.
VTN Hecklers resumed their offensive role for this underway-period on the night of the 10/11th when a total of 15 were launched to harass the enemy at three widely separated targets throughout the night. Task Group 58.3, returning to its operating area off eastern OKINAWA from fueling that day in the south, passed within less than 40 miles of MINAMI DAITO JIMA during the evening. It had been decided to send a number of cruisers and destroyers from the Task Group screen to bombard MINAMI DAITO during the evening, and VTN were ordered to "heckle" the island and its airfield throughout the night as well, the primary target being the field, thought to be a staging point for possible attacks on the fleet anchorage at ULITHI.
At 1809, six VTN were launched, two being assigned to each MINAMI DAITO, KIKAI SHIMA, and TOKUNO SHIMA. Five 100 lb GP bombs, five Incendiary clusters, four rockets (5" head, 3¼" motor), and flares was the standard loading for each plane. The first Hecklers over the target started 5 fires at MINAMI, at KIKAI an explosion in the middle of 403 WAN A/F runway and 2 fires in the covered revetment and military barracks area east of the field, and at TOKUNO 2 fires near the airfield. The next group of Hecklers arrived over MINAMI at 2250, shortly after the cruisers and destroyers commenced their bombardment of the island. With the assistance of illumination provided by their own flares and star shells from the bombarding force, the 2 VTN were able to "spot" gunfire for the cruisers and destroyers, rendering a valuable service in calling their shots over VHF radio. Hecklers maintained over the 3 targets until daylight wreaked considerable havoc setting numerous fires with their bombs and rockets, including a large oil storage fire and a probable ammunition dump at MINAMI.
On the night of the 11th, 4 VTN took off at 1912 to make the long round trip from the OKINAWA operating area of the Fast Carrier Force to Southern KYUSHU and return. One VTN developed radar trouble and returned early but the remaining three went on to "heckle" the two KANOYA airfields (314 and 315), 313 KUSHIRA, 319 KOKUBU, and 320 RONCHI, remaining on station from 2135 to 2245. The Nips at 314 KANOYA must have thought our first Heckler to arrive there was one of their own, for on his approach they turned on all the field and obstruction lights, runway marker lights, and even what appeared to be the illuminated outline of a carrier-deck laid out at the end of one runway. Blinker signals in some unintelligible code were also directed at him from the control tower, possibly giving landing instructions. The VTN pilot, taking full advantage of all this display of hospitality circled the field at low altitude in order to get a good look before making his first bombing run. All told, the three Hecklers got 1 good fire and an explosion at one end of the northern runway at KANOYA, and set fire to a hangar or building at 313 KUSHIRA A/F, besides undoubtedly causing other damage not readily observable and considerable consternation among the inhabitants at these and the other airfields visited on this mission by the dropping of their total of 30 bombs and 12 rockets.
On the night of the 12th, Task Force 58 steamed northward to be in position by dawn for heavy day strikes against the KYUSHU Airfields. Night VTN Hecklers were again deemed in order to keep activity down at these fields and to prevent the enemy from getting his strikes organized against the approaching Task Force; to keep him underground until the Dawn Target CAP and first VF Sweeps from the Day Carriers could take over at daylight. This tactical plan functioned perfectly. The VTN Hecklers approached TANEGA SHIMA at very low altitude in order to avoid being picked up by enemy radar until within close range and thereby conceal the position or existence of the approaching Task Force, and to give the impression if possible of having come from U.S. held fields on OKINAWA. The manner in which this deception succeeded is illustrated by the fact that indications obtained by one RCM-equipped VTN showed the flight was not picked up by enemy radar until 20 miles south of TANEGA. From this point on altitude was gained all the way to the target. Four flights of 4 VTN each were launched during the evening and night, succeeding flights overlapping each other over the target, and providing Heckler-cover over 14 of KYUSHU's most important airfields continuously from 1950 until relieved by the Dawn Target CAP of VFN at about 0330 in the morning. The Hecklers divided a total of 172 hundred-pound incendiary clusters and 62 rockets among their 14 targets, starting many fires including several large ones in hangars and buildings at KOKUBU, KANOYA, NITTAGAHARA, CHIRAN, and OMURA Seaplane Base, a big oil fire at OMURA, and possible ammunition storage explosions at CHIRAN. One Heckler over SASEBO illuminated the harbor with flares and counted a minimum of 15 warships including two possible cruisers in the inner harbor, which information was passed to the Task Force to permit the possible early organizing of a shipping strike.
Returning to base, after daylight, Lieutenant C. E. HENDERSON, U.S.N.R., Commanding Officer of VTN-90, encountered an unidentified S/E aircraft flying along above him on approximately the same heading and pulled up to investigate. It proved to be a GEORGE. Lieutenant HENDERSON attacked, but was too close and shot high. The GEORGE dove and lost the VTN, but not before several bursts of the two .50 cal. forward-firing guns had scored hits and drew smoke from the enemy plane. Several minutes later Lieutenant HENDERSON spotted a RUFE some distance away, was able to close, and splashed the RUFE in short order.
It is believed that the effectiveness of the Heckler missions over KYUSHU on the night of the 12/13th, followed by the Dawn VFN CAP over the same area, pinning down the enemy on his home fields until relieved by the VF Sweeps and strikes from the Day Carriers, was amply demonstrated by the fact that during the day on the 13th not a single attack was made on Task Force 58.
On the night of the 13/14th the VTN Heckler pattern of the previous night was repeated, 13 VTN in all covering 13 airfields on KYUSHU and SHIKOKU, and dropping upon them a total of 78 hundred-pound GPs, 78 incendiary clusters and 48 rockets. Large fires again resulted in hangars and buildings at 302 USA, 310 MIYAZAKI, 330 IZUMI, and 341 ITAZAKE airfields. Bombing and rocketing set off large explosions and fire in the KANOYA Naval Air Depot, several fires and explosions in buildings at 303 OITA, 10 distinct explosions followed by fierce-burning gasoline or oil fires (thought to be burning aircraft) at 343 GANNOSU, and at 310 MIYAZAKI several small fires in the north central part of the runway were followed in 4-5 minutes by 24 separate large explosions, - possibly exploding bombs or ammunition on the field. Enemy aircraft were observed by the Hecklers taking off at MIYAZAKI, and during one bomb run a plane taxiing on the field was seen to disappear in the explosion of a bomb and was believed destroyed.
The last 2 Hecklers of the morning were launched shortly after 0300 with instructions to proceed to two of the principal fields on SHIKOKU - 157 MATSUYAMA WEST and 161 KOCHI. Distance proved too great for the one VTN to reach MATSUYAMA WEST prior to daylight, and this Heckler dropped his bomb and rocket load at 305 SAEKI A/F on the east KYUSHU coast instead. The other Heckler reached KOCHI, however, and was joined within a short time after arrival by 5 VFN of the Dawn Target CAP. The Heckler illuminated the field with flares and incendiaries revealing some 25 S/E and 2 T/E aircraft parked near the runway. The illumination thus provided permitted the VFN to make damaging strafing runs on these A/C and prevent their taking off or being dispersed. This combination of Night VTN Hecklers working with VFN as Intruders on Target CAP has long been advocated by Air Group 90 as an effective tactical combination, but had not been attempted until this occasion.
- RCM Missions.
Radar jamming was effectively employed by RCM-equipped VTN against strong searchlight opposition encountered in the KANOYA area. This and the interception of enemy search radars tracking Heckler flights into the target area are the subjects of a special report including in D, 1, c. of this section of the Action Report.
- Photo Missions.
No photo missions were flown during the period covered by this report.
- Table of Sorties and Plane Availability by Days.