Home - Search - Site Map

USS Enterprise CV-6
The Most Decorated Ship of the Second World War

Home > Action Reports And Logs >

Night Operations Analysis

This report - "An Analysis of Night Operations Aboard U.S.S. ENTERPRISE" was submitted by Captain Grover B. H. Hall, Enterprise's commanding officer from December 1944 to September 1945. The report covers the period from December 1944 to May 1945, when Enterprise operated solely as a night carrier. When Enterprise withdrew from the combat zone in May 1945 (after receiving severe damage during a Kamikaze attack), no other carrier or air group could claim the experience in night carrier operations that Enterprise and Night Air Group 90 earned in the preceding five months.

This report addresses all facets of night carrier operations: ranging from personnel and training issues, to deck operations, to technical details involved in landing planes at night. With the exception of a table omitted due to its excessive width, the report is presented here in its entirety, with only minor reformatting to make it presentable as a web page.

Table of Contents

Cover Page


Serial: 0289 30 MAY 1945


From: Commanding Officer, U.S.S. ENTERPRISE.
To: Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.
  1. Commander, FIRST Carrier Task Force, Pacific.
  2. Commander, SECOND Carrier Task Force, Pacific.
  3. Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet.
Subject: Operations Aboard a CV(N).
Enclosure: (A) "An Analysis of Night Operations Aboard U.S.S. ENTERPRISE".
  1. Enclosure (A) is forwarded herewith.
  2. It is considered that night operations can be conducted practically under all conditions wherein pilots can see the operating lights of the ship and the Landing Signal Officer's lights. While the problem of bringing pilots back in the daytime in zero-zero weather is similar, it is accentuated at night. It is therefore recommended that an experimental program of radar control of planes in the landing circle, and actually landing aboard under radar control, be instituted and prosecuted.
  3. Pioneering in any field is never an easy undertaking. This case has been no exception but all hands aboard derive great satisfaction in having done their part in the strides made toward perfection of this phase of damaging and stopping the enemy.

G.B.H. Hall

Cominch (1) Air MailUSS SHANGRI-LA (CV38)
CincPac (3) Air MailUSS TICONDEROGA (CV14)
ComAirPac (2) Air MailUSS WASP (CV18)
C.T.F. 38 (1) Air MailUSS YORKTOWN (CV10)
ComAirPacSubComFwd Guam (2)USS LEXINGTON (CV16)
USS ESSEX (CV9)ComCarDiv 4
USS HORNET (CV12)ComCarDiv 7
USS INTREPID (CV11)OinC, Fighter Director, Camp Catlin, Navy #91.

Analysis of Night Operations - Introductory

Having been designated a night carrier, the "Big E" put to sea 24 December 1944 and landed aboard planes of CVG(N)90. Departing immediately from the HAWAIIAN area the ship proceeded to join the SECOND Carrier Task Force at sea.

Unfortunately, little or no time had been available for training operations en route to the forward area, and the Air Group had had extremely little carrier operational work prior to embarkation. However, with high hopes and great expectations of big things to come from this pioneering adventure, all hands turned to in an effort to iron out the details necessary for the operations ahead.

The first operation consisted of strikes on LUZON and FORMOSA and operations in the South China Sea. Extremely bad weather encountered throughout this operation did not lend itself to extensive night operations and in general the operation was more a test of the instrument flying ability of the pilots of CVG(N)90 than a beginning to real night operations. Even this beginning, however, failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the Air Group and ship, and many of the experiences proved of value to future operations, and a few substantial recommendations for the use of night carrier could now be made.

During the stay at ULITHI after this operation, a get-together with CVLG(N)41 and the INDEPENDENCE, with whom the ship operated in the above operation, was accomplished. Many helpful suggestions were given by them and were greatly appreciated. There were many different problems yet to be solved for a CV at night, however, and with the advent of the SARATOGA in the night task group the onus was on the ENTERPRISE.

In the second week of February, the ship got underway operating in the FIRST Carrier Task Force for the now famed strike on TOKYO and the support of the landings on IWO JIMA. Planes from this carrier carried out operations as previously reported, and many of the problems of operations aboard were surmounted. Following the TOKYO strikes the night carrier task group proceeded to the vicinity of IWO JIMA to provide night support for the landings. It was hoped to use ENTERPRISE and CVG(N)90 offensively during this period, but the damage sustained by the SARATOGA caused cancellation of these plans and left us to bear the brunt of the load.

Furnishing target CAP and cover for our own task group, in addition to sending out strikes, searches and heckler missions, proved to be a twenty-four-hour-a-day job for this carrier and her planes. For a period of 7 1/2 days planes were maintained airborne continuously, were stopped only because of zero-zero weather for a period of about 2 1/2 hours, then continued for an additional 3 1/2 day period. As can be well imagined, many of the problems not heretofore encountered were necessarily straightened out in a big hurry. In a very short while it became apparent that it was not only possible but feasible to maintain this high pressure schedule, the only limitation being in the number of pilots available to fly without undue fatigue.

After an all too short two-day replenishment period at ULITHI, the ship again put to sea as the CV(N) of Task Group 58.5 to take part in the pre-invasion strikes and actual support of the landings on OKINAWA. By this time operations aboard and in the vicinity of the carrier were well standardized and only a few new problems presented themselves. Operating in periods in between availability to repair battle damage at various times, the principles and facts outlined below were used with success.

The tactical use of a night air group has been discussed at length in various action reports of the Commander Air Group NINETY and Squadron Commanders, and are not discussed herein.

Image Library - Action Reports and Logs - News Stories
Message Boards - Bookstore - Enterprise CV-6 Association

Copyright © 1998-2003 Joel Shepherd (webmaster@cv6.org)
Sources and Credits
Hosted in Santa Barbara