The naval Battle of the Eastern Solomons (also known as the Battle of the Stewart Islands and, in Japanese sources, as the Second Battle of the Solomon Sea) took place on 24–25 August 1942, and was the third carrier battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II and the second major engagement fought between the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Guadalcanal campaign. As at the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway, the ships of the two adversaries were never within sight of each other. Instead, all attacks were carried out by carrier-based or land-based aircraft.
After several damaging air attacks, the naval surface combatants from both America and Japan withdrew from the battle area without either side securing a clear victory. However, the U.S. and its allies gained tactical and strategic advantage. Japan's losses were greater and included dozens of aircraft and their experienced aircrews. Also, Japanese reinforcements intended for Guadalcanal were delayed and eventually delivered by warships rather than transport ships, giving the Allies more time to prepare for the Japanese counteroffensive and preventing the Japanese from landing heavy artillery, ammunition, and other supplies.
On 7 August 1942, Allied forces (primarily U.S. Marine Corps units) landed on Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and the Florida Islands in the Solomon Islands. The landings on the islands were meant to deny their use by the Japanese as bases to threaten supply routes between the U.S. and Australia, and secure the islands as launching points for a campaign with an eventual goal of isolating the major Japanese base at Rabaul while also supporting the Allied New Guinea campaign. The landings initiated the six-month-long Guadalcanal campaign.
The Allied landings were directly supported by three U.S. aircraft carrier task forces (TFs): TF 11 (USS Saratoga), TF 16 (USS Enterprise), and TF 18 (USS Wasp), their respective air groups, and supporting surface warships, including a battleship, cruisers, and destroyers. The overall commander of the three carrier task forces was Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, who flew his flag on Saratoga. The aircraft from the three carriers provided close air support for the invasion forces and defended against Japanese air attacks from Rabaul. After a successful landing, they remained in the South Pacific area charged with four main objectives: guarding the line of communication between the major Allied bases at New Caledonia and Espiritu Santo; giving support to Allied ground forces at Guadalcanal and Tulagi against possible Japanese counteroffensives; covering the movement of supply ships aiding Guadalcanal; and engaging and destroying any Japanese warships that came within range.
Between 15 and 20 August, the U.S. carriers covered the delivery of fighter and bomber aircraft to the newly opened Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. This small, hard-won airfield was a critical point in the entire island chain, and both sides considered that control of the airbase offered potential control of the local airspace. In fact, Henderson Field and the aircraft based there soon limited the movement of Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands and in the attrition of Japanese air forces in the South Pacific Area. Allied control of Henderson Field became the key factor in the entire battle for Guadalcanal.
Surprised by the Allied offensive in the Solomons, Japanese naval forces (under Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto) and army forces prepared a counteroffensive, with the goal of driving the Allies out of Guadalcanal and Tulagi. The counteroffensive was called Operation Ka. (カ号作戦. Kana Ka is the root of kana ga, the first syllable in Gadarukanaru, the Japanese name for Guadalcanal.) The naval forces had the additional objective of destroying Allied warship forces in the South Pacific area, specifically the U.S. carriers.
On 16 August 1942, a convoy of three slow transport ships loaded with 1,411 Japanese soldiers from the 28th "Ichiki" Infantry Regiment, as well as several hundred naval troops from the 5th Yokosuka Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF), departed the major Japanese base at Truk Lagoon (Chuuk) and headed towards Guadalcanal. The transports were guarded by the light cruiser Jintsū, eight destroyers, and four patrol boats, led by Rear Admiral Raizō Tanaka (flag in Jintsū) Also departing from Rabaul to help protect the convoy was a "close cover force" of four heavy cruisers from the 8th Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa. These were the same, relatively old, heavy cruisers that had defeated an Allied naval surface force in the earlier Battle of Savo Island (with the subtraction of the Kako, which had been sunk by an American submarine). Tanaka planned to land the troops from his convoy on Guadalcanal on 24 August.
On 21 August, the rest of the Japanese Ka naval force departed Truk, heading for the southern Solomons. These ships were basically divided into three groups: the "main body" contained the Japanese carriers—Shōkaku and Zuikaku, light carrier Ryūjō, and a screening force of one heavy cruiser and eight destroyers, commanded by Vice Admiral Chūichi Nagumo in Shōkaku; the "vanguard force" consisted of two battleships, three heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, and three destroyers, commanded by Rear Admiral Hiroaki Abe; the "advanced force" contained five heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, six destroyers, and the seaplane carrier Chitose, commanded by Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondō. Finally, a force of about 100 IJN land-based bombers, fighters, and reconnaissance aircraft at Rabaul and nearby islands were positioned for operational support. Nagumo's main body positioned itself behind the "vanguard" and "advanced" forces in an attempt to more easily remain hidden from U.S. reconnaissance aircraft.
The Ka plan dictated that once U.S. carriers were located, either by Japanese scout aircraft or an attack on one of the Japanese surface forces, Nagumo's carriers would immediately launch a strike force to destroy them. With the U.S. carriers destroyed or disabled, Abe's "vanguard" and Kondo's "advanced" forces would close with and destroy the remaining Allied naval forces in a warship surface action. This would then allow Japanese naval forces the freedom to neutralize Henderson Field through bombardment while covering the landing of the Japanese army troops to retake Guadalcanal and Tulagi.
In response to an unanticipated land battle fought between U.S. Marines on Guadalcanal and Japanese forces on 19–20 August, the U.S. carrier task forces under Fletcher reversed towards Guadalcanal from their positions 400 mi (350 nmi; 640 km) to the south on 21 August. The U.S. carriers were to support the Marines, protect Henderson Field, engage the enemy and destroy any Japanese naval forces that arrived to support Japanese troops in the land battle on Guadalcanal.
Both Allied and Japanese naval forces continued to converge on 22 August and both sides conducted intense aircraft scouting efforts, however neither side spotted its adversary. The disappearance of at least one of their scouting aircraft (shot down by aircraft from Enterprise before it could send a radio report), caused the Japanese to strongly suspect that U.S. carriers were in the immediate area. The U.S., however, was unaware of the disposition and strength of approaching Japanese surface warship forces.
At 09:50 on 23 August, a U.S. PBY Catalina flying boat (based at Ndeni in the Santa Cruz Islands) initially sighted Tanaka's convoy. By late afternoon, with no further sightings of Japanese ships, two aircraft strike forces from Saratoga and Henderson Field took off to attack the convoy. However, Tanaka, knowing that an attack would be forthcoming following the PBY sighting, reversed course once he had departed the area, and eluded the strike aircraft. After Tanaka reported to his superiors his loss of time by turning north to avoid the expected Allied airstrike, the landings of his troops on Guadalcanal was pushed back to 25 August. By 18:23 on 23 August, with no Japanese carriers sighted and no new intelligence reporting of their presence in the area, Fletcher detached Wasp (which was getting low on fuel) and the rest of TF 18 for the two-day trip south toward Efate Island to refuel. Thus, Wasp and her escorting warships missed the upcoming battle.
At 01:45 on 24 August 1942, Nagumo ordered Rear Admiral Chūichi Hara (with the light carrier Ryūjō, the heavy cruiser Tone and destroyers Amatsukaze and Tokitsukaze) to proceed ahead of the main Japanese force and send an aircraft attack force against Henderson Field at daybreak. The Ryūjō mission was most likely in response to a request from Nishizō Tsukahara (the naval commander at Rabaul) for help from the combined fleet in neutralizing Henderson Field. The mission may also have been intended by Nagumo as a feint maneuver to divert U.S. attention allowing the rest of the Japanese force to approach the U.S. naval forces undetected as well as to help provide protection and cover for Tanaka's convoy. Most of the aircraft on Shōkaku and Zuikaku were readied to launch on short notice if the U.S. carriers were located. Between 05:55 and 06:30, the U.S. carriers (mainly Enterprise augmented by PBY Catalinas from Ndeni) launched their own scout aircraft to search for the Japanese naval forces.
At 09:35, a Catalina made the first sighting of the Ryūjō force. Later that morning, several more sightings of Ryūjō and ships of Kondo's and Mikawa's forces by carrier and other U.S. reconnaissance aircraft followed. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, U.S. aircraft also sighted several Japanese scout aircraft and submarines, leading Fletcher to believe that the Japanese knew where his carriers were, which actually was not yet the case. Still, Fletcher hesitated to order a strike against the Ryūjō group until he was sure there were no other Japanese carriers in the area. Finally, with no firm word on the presence or location of other Japanese carriers, at 13:40 Fletcher launched a strike of 38 aircraft from Saratoga to attack Ryūjō. However, he kept aircraft in reserve from both U.S. carriers potentially ready should any Japanese fleet carriers be sighted.
Meanwhile, at 12:20, Ryūjō launched six Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" bombers and 15 A6M3 Zero fighters to attack Henderson Field in conjunction with an attack by 24 Mitsubishi G4M2 "Betty" bombers and 14 Zeros from Rabaul. However, unknown to the Ryūjō aircraft, the Rabaul aircraft had encountered severe weather and returned to their base earlier at 11:30. The Ryūjō aircraft were detected on radar by Saratoga as they flew toward Guadalcanal, further fixing the location of their ship for the impending U.S. attack. The Ryūjō aircraft arrived over Henderson Field at 14:23, and tangled with Henderson's fighters (members of the Cactus Air Force) while bombing the airfield. In the resulting engagement, three "Kates", three Zeros, and three U.S. fighters were shot down, and no significant damage was done to Henderson Field.
Almost simultaneously, at 14:25 a Japanese scout aircraft from the cruiser Chikuma sighted the U.S. carriers. Although the aircraft was shot down, its report was transmitted in time, and Nagumo immediately ordered his strike force launched from Shōkaku and Zuikaku. The first wave of aircraft (27 Aichi D3A2 "Val" dive bombers and 15 Zeros) was off by 14:50 and on its way toward Enterprise and Saratoga. Coincidentally about this same time, two U.S. scout aircraft finally sighted the main Japanese force. However, due to communication problems, these sighting reports never reached Fletcher. Before leaving the area, the two U.S. scout aircraft attacked Shōkaku, causing negligible damage, but forcing five of the first wave Zeros to give chase, thus aborting their mission. At 16:00 a second wave of 27 Vals and nine Zeros was launched by the Japanese carriers and headed south toward the U.S. carriers. Abe's "Vanguard" force also surged ahead in anticipation of meeting the U.S. ships in a surface action after nightfall.
Again coincidentally about this same time, the Saratoga strike force arrived and attacked Ryūjō, hitting and heavily damaging her with three to five bombs and perhaps one torpedo, and killing 120 of her crew. Also during this time, several U.S. B-17 heavy bombers attacked the crippled Ryūjō but caused no additional damage. The crew abandoned the heavily damaged Japanese carrier at nightfall and she sank soon after. Amatsukaze and Tokitsukaze rescued Ryūjō's survivors and the aircrews from her returning strike force, who ditched their aircraft in the ocean nearby. After the rescue operations were complete, both Japanese destroyers and Tone rejoined Nagumo's main force.
At 16:02, still waiting for a definitive report on the location of the Japanese fleet carriers, the U.S. carriers' radar detected the first incoming wave of Japanese strike aircraft. Fifty-three F4F-4 Wildcat fighters from the two U.S. carriers were directed by radar control towards the attackers. However, communication problems, limitations of the aircraft identification capabilities of the radar, primitive control procedures, and effective screening of the Japanese dive bombers by their escorting Zeros, prevented all but a few of the U.S. fighters from engaging the Vals before they began their attacks on the U.S. carriers. Just before the Japanese dive bombers began their attacks, Enterprise and Saratoga cleared their decks for the impending action by launching the aircraft that they had been holding ready in case the Japanese fleet carriers were sighted. These aircraft were told to fly north and attack anything they could find, or else to circle outside the battle zone, until it was safe to return.
At 16:29, the Japanese dive bombers began their attacks. Although several attempted to set up to attack the Saratoga, they quickly shifted back to the nearer carrier, Enterprise. Thus, Enterprise was the target of almost the entire Japanese air attack. Several Wildcats followed the Vals into their attack dives, despite the intense anti-aircraft artillery fire from Enterprise and her screening warships, in a desperate attempt to disrupt their attacks. As many as four Wildcats were shot down by U.S. anti-aircraft fire, as well as several Vals.
Because of the effective anti-aircraft fire from the U.S. ships, plus evasive maneuvers, the bombs from the first nine Vals missed Enterprise. However, at 16:44, an armor-piercing, delayed-action bomb penetrated the flight deck near the aft elevator and passed through three decks before detonating below the waterline, killing 35 men and wounding 70 more. Incoming sea water caused Enterprise to develop a slight list, but it was not a major breach of hull integrity.
Just 30 seconds later, the next Val planted its bomb only 15 ft (4.6 m) away from where the first bomb hit. The resulting detonation ignited a large secondary explosion from one of the nearby 5 in (127 mm) guns' ready powder casings, killing 35 members of the nearby gun crews and starting a large fire.
About a minute later, at 16:46, the third and last bomb hit Enterprise on the flight deck forward of where the first two bombs hit. This bomb exploded on contact, creating a 10 ft (3.0 m) hole in the deck, but caused no further damage. Seven Vals (three from Shokaku, four from Zuikaku) then broke off from the attack on Enterprise to attack the U.S. battleship North Carolina. However, all of their bombs missed and all the Vals involved were shot down by either anti-aircraft fire or U.S. fighters. The attack was over at 16:48, and the surviving Japanese aircraft reassembled in small groups and returned to their ships.
Both sides thought that they had inflicted more damage than was the case. The U.S. claimed to have shot down 70 Japanese aircraft, even though there were only 37 aircraft in all. Actual Japanese losses—from all causes—in the engagement were 25 aircraft, with most of the crews of the lost aircraft not being recovered or rescued. The Japanese, for their part, mistakenly believed that they had heavily damaged two U.S. carriers, instead of just one. The U.S. lost six aircraft in the engagement, with five pilots lost.
Although Enterprise was heavily damaged and on fire, her damage-control teams were able to make sufficient repairs for the ship to resume flight operations at 17:46, only one hour after the engagement ended. At 18:05, the Saratoga strike force returned from sinking Ryūjō and landed without major incident. The second wave of Japanese aircraft approached the U.S. carriers at 18:15 but was unable to locate the U.S. formation because of communication problems and had to return to their carriers without attacking any U.S. ships, losing five aircraft in the process from operational mishaps. Most of the U.S. carrier aircraft launched just before the first wave of Japanese aircraft attacked failed to find any targets. However, two SBD Dauntlesses from Saratoga sighted Kondo's advanced force and attacked the seaplane tender Chitose, scoring two near-hits which heavily damaged the unarmored ship. The U.S. carrier aircraft either landed at Henderson Field or were able to return to their carriers after dusk. The U.S. ships retired to the south to get out of range of any approaching Japanese warships. In fact, Abe's "Vanguard" force and Kondō's "Advance" force were steaming south to try to catch the U.S. carrier task forces in a surface battle, but they turned around at midnight without having made contact with the U.S. warships. Nagumo's main body, having taken heavy aircraft losses in the engagement and being low on fuel, also retreated northward.
Believing that two U.S. carriers had been taken out of action with heavy damage, Tanaka's reinforcement convoy again headed toward Guadalcanal, and by 08:00 on 25 August they were within 150 mi (130 nmi; 240 km) of their destination. At this time, Tanaka's convoy was joined by five destroyers which had shelled Henderson Field the night before, causing slight damage. At 08:05, 18 U.S. aircraft from Henderson Field attacked Tanaka's convoy, causing heavy damage to Jintsu, killing 24 crewmen, and knocking Tanaka unconscious. The troop transport Kinryu Maru was also hit and eventually sank. Just as the destroyer Mutsuki pulled alongside Kinryu Maru to rescue her crew and embarked troops, she was attacked by four U.S. B-17s from Espiritu Santo which landed five bombs on or around Mutsuki, sinking her immediately. An uninjured but shaken Tanaka transferred to the destroyer Kagerō, sent Jintsu back to Truk, and took the convoy to the Japanese base in the Shortland Islands.
Both the Japanese and the U.S. elected to completely withdraw their warships from the area, ending the battle. The Japanese naval forces lingered near the northern Solomons, out of range of the U.S. aircraft based at Henderson Field, before finally returning to Truk on 5 September.
The battle is generally considered to be a tactical and strategic victory for the U.S. because the Japanese lost more ships, aircraft, and aircrew, and Japanese troop reinforcements for Guadalcanal were delayed. Summing up the significance of the battle, historian Richard B. Frank states:
The Battle of the Eastern Solomons was unquestionably an American victory, but it had little long-term result, apart from a further reduction in the corps of trained Japanese carrier aviators. The (Japanese) reinforcements that could not come by slow transport would soon reach Guadalcanal by other means.
The U.S. lost only seven aircrew members in the battle. However, the Japanese lost 61 veteran aircrew, who were hard for the Japanese to replace because of an institutionalized limited capacity in their naval aircrew training programs and an absence of trained reserves. The troops in Tanaka's convoy were later loaded onto destroyers at the Shortland Islands and delivered piecemeal, without most of their heavy equipment, to Guadalcanal beginning on 29 August 1942. The Japanese claimed considerably more damage than they had inflicted, including that Hornet—not in the battle—had been sunk, thus avenging its part in the Doolittle Raid.
Emphasizing the strategic value of Henderson Field, in a separate reinforcement effort, the Japanese destroyer Asagiri was sunk and two other Japanese destroyers heavily damaged on 28 August, 70 mi (61 nmi; 110 km) north of Guadalcanal in "The Slot" by U.S. aircraft based at the airfield.
Enterprise traveled to Pearl Harbor for extensive repairs, which were completed on 15 October 1942. She returned to the South Pacific on 24 October, just in time for the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands and her rematch with Shōkaku and Zuikaku.
Beverly W. Reid (1917–1942) was a United States Navy officer who received the Navy Cross for his actions in combat during World War II in defending the crippled aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5). He carried out aggressive attacks on two Japanese torpedo planes and was credited with two confirmed "kills". He attended Redemptorist College in New Orleans, before he enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 17 June 1935.
Reid, commissioned an ensign on 23 July 1942, took part in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons on 24 August 1942. He flew one of the 27 Fighting Squadron 6 fighters scrambled for the combat air patrol over Task Force 17, and, as one of two pilots listed as missing in action, was probably shot down by a Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” fighter in the ensuing action. Never seen again, Reid was presumed killed in action.Japanese aircraft carrier Ryūjō
Ryūjō (Japanese: 龍驤 "Dragon Horse") was a light aircraft carrier built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during the early 1930s. Small and lightly built in an attempt to exploit a loophole in the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, she proved to be top-heavy and only marginally stable and was back in the shipyard for modifications to address those issues within a year of completion. With her stability improved, Ryūjō returned to service and was employed in operations during the Second Sino-Japanese War. During World War II, she provided air support for operations in the Philippines, Malaya, and the Dutch East Indies, where her aircraft participated in the Second Battle of the Java Sea. During the Indian Ocean raid in April 1942, the carrier attacked British merchant shipping with her guns and aircraft. Ryūjō next participated in the Battle of the Aleutian Islands in June. She was sunk by American carrier aircraft at the Battle of the Eastern Solomons on 24 August 1942.Japanese battleship Mutsu
Mutsu was the second and last Nagato-class dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) at the end of World War I. It was named after the province, In 1923 she carried supplies for the survivors of the Great Kantō earthquake. The ship was modernized in 1934–1936 with improvements to her armour and machinery, and a rebuilt superstructure in the pagoda mast style.
Other than participating in the Battle of Midway and the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in 1942, where she did not see any significant combat, Mutsu spent most of the first year of the Pacific War in training. She returned to Japan in early 1943. That June, one of her aft magazines detonated while she was at anchor, sinking the ship with the loss of 1,121 crew and visitors. The IJN investigation into the cause of her loss concluded that it was the work of a disgruntled crew member. The navy dispersed the survivors in an attempt to conceal the sinking in the interest of morale in Japan. Much of the wreck was scrapped after the war, but some artefacts and relics are on display in Japan, and a small portion of the ship remains where it was sunk.Japanese cruiser Chikuma (1938)
Chikuma (筑摩 重巡洋艦, Chikuma jūjun'yōkan) was the second and last vessel in the Tone class of heavy cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. The ship was named after the Chikuma River, in Nagano prefecture of Japan. Entering service in 1939, Chikuma saw battle during World War II in the Pacific. She was scuttled on 25 October 1944 after the Battle off Samar.Japanese cruiser Tone (1937)
Tone (利根 重巡洋艦, Tone jūjun'yōkan) was the lead ship in the two-vessel Tone class of heavy cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. The ship was named after the Tone River, in the Kantō region of Japan and was completed on 20 November 1938 at Mitsubishi's Nagasaki shipyards. Tone was designed for long-range scouting missions and had a large seaplane capacity. She was extensively employed during World War II usually providing scouting services to their aircraft carrier task forces. She almost always operated in this capacity in conjunction with her sister ship Chikuma.Japanese destroyer Amatsukaze (1939)
Amatsukaze (天津風, "Heavenly Wind") was a Kagerō-class destroyer of the Imperial Japanese Navy.Japanese destroyer Mutsuki
The Japanese destroyer Mutsuki (睦月, "January") was the name ship of her class of twelve destroyers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during the 1920s. During the Pacific War, she participated in the Battle of Wake Island in December 1941 and the occupations of New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in early 1942. Mutsuki was one of the escorts for the invasion force during the Battle of the Coral Sea in May and then participated in the Guadalcanal Campaign later that year. The ship was sunk by American bombers during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in August.Lexington-class aircraft carrier
The Lexington-class aircraft carriers were a pair of aircraft carriers built for the United States Navy (USN) during the 1920s. The ships were built on hulls originally laid down as battlecruisers after World War I, but under the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, all U.S. battleship and battlecruiser construction was cancelled. The Treaty, however, allowed two of the unfinished ships to be converted to carriers. They were the first operational aircraft carriers in the USN and were used to develop carrier aviation tactics and procedures before World War II in a series of annual exercises.
They proved extremely successful as carriers and experience with the Lexington class convinced the Navy of the value of large carriers. They were the largest aircraft carriers in the USN until the Midway-class aircraft carriers were completed beginning in 1945. The ships served in World War II, seeing action in many battles. Although Lexington was sunk in the first carrier battle in history (the Battle of the Coral Sea) in 1942, Saratoga served throughout the war, despite being torpedoed twice, notably participating in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in mid-1942 where her aircraft sank the Japanese light carrier Ryūjō. She supported Allied operations in the Indian Ocean and South West Pacific Areas until she became a training ship at the end of 1944. Saratoga returned to combat to protect American forces during the Battle of Iwo Jima in early 1945, but was badly damaged by kamikazes. The continued growth in the size and weight of carrier aircraft made her obsolete by the end of the war. In mid-1946, the ship was purposefully sunk during nuclear weapon tests in Operation Crossroads.Marion William Dufilho
Marion William Dufilho (1916-1942) was an American military officer posthumously decorated for heroism during World War II.
Dufilho was born 22 May 1916 in Opelousas, Louisiana, and graduated from the Naval Academy 2 June 1938. He was Edward O'Hare's wingman during O'Hare's Medal of Honor flight. On 24 August 1942, while serving as a section leader in Fighting Squadron 5 in Saratoga (CV-3), Lieutenant Dufilho was killed in action in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. He was posthumously awarded both the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross (U.S.) for his heroism and achievement in this battle, which turned back a major effort of the Japanese to reinforce Guadalcanal and Tulagi.Shōkaku-class aircraft carrier
The two Shōkaku-class (翔鶴型, Shōkaku-gata) aircraft carriers were built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in the late 1930s. Completed shortly before the start of the Pacific War in 1941, they have been called "arguably the best aircraft carriers in the world" when built. With the exception of the Battle of Midway, they participated in every major naval action of the Pacific War, including the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Indian Ocean Raid, the Battle of the Coral Sea, and the Guadalcanal Campaign.
Their inexperienced air groups were relegated to airfield attacks during the attack on Pearl Harbor, but they later sank two of the four fleet carriers lost by the United States Navy during the war in addition to one elderly British light carrier. The sister ships returned to Japan after the Battle of the Coral Sea, one to repair damage and the other to replace aircraft lost during the battle, so neither ship participated in the Battle of Midway in June 1942. After the catastrophic losses of four carriers during that battle, they formed the bulk of the IJN's carrier force for the rest of the war. As such they were the primary counterattack force deployed against the American invasion of Guadalcanal in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in August. Two months later, they attempted to support a major offensive by the Imperial Japanese Army to push the United States Marines off Guadalcanal. This resulted in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands where they crippled one American carrier and damaged another in exchange for damage to Shōkaku and a light carrier. Neither attempt succeeded and the Japanese withdrew their remaining forces from Guadalcanal in early 1943 using the air group from Zuikaku to provide cover.
For the next year, the sisters trained before moving south to defend against any American attempt to retake the Mariana Islands or the Philippines. Shōkaku was sunk by an American submarine during the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944 as the Americans invaded the Marianas and Zuikaku was sacrificed as a decoy four months later during the Battle of Cape Engano.Tameichi Hara
Tameichi Hara (原 為一, Hara Tameichi, October 16, 1900 – October 10, 1980) was an Imperial Japanese naval commander during the Pacific War and the author of the IJN manual on torpedo attack techniques, notable for his skill in torpedo warfare and night fighting. Hara was the only IJN destroyer captain at the start of World War II to survive the entire war and his memoirs serve as an important source for historians.Task Force 11
Task Force 11 (TF 11 or alternately Commander Task Force 11, CTF 11) is a designation that has been used by the United States armed forces for two separate units.Task Force 16
Task Force 16 (TF16) was one of the most storied task forces in the United States Navy, a major participant in a number of the most important battles of the Pacific War.
It was formed in mid-February 1942 around Enterprise (CV-6), with Vice Admiral William F. Halsey in command of the force, and supported by cruisers Salt Lake City (CA-25) and Northampton (CA-26), along with a half-dozen destroyers.
The task force's first mission was to shell Wake Island and Marcus Island, then, joined by Hornet (CV-8) and the rest of Task Force 18 (TF18), in April the force conducted the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. In May Halsey was ordered to join Task Force 17 (TF17) in the Coral Sea, but the Battle of the Coral Sea was over before TF 16 could join in.
Halsey was then hospitalized with a skin disease, so Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance took over TF 16 and along with TF 17, led it to victory in the Battle of Midway.
In August, the task force supported the landings on Guadalcanal, then fought in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, followed by the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November, and covered the retreat of TF 18 after the Battle of Rennell Island.
In March 1943, TG 16.6 fought the Battle of the Komandorski Islands, then bombarded Attu in April, and the whole force supported the recapture of the Aleutians in the Battle of Attu.
In 1944 and 1945, the task force was a refueling unit consisting of destroyer escorts and oilers.USS Dewey (DD-349)
The first USS Dewey (DD-349) was a Farragut-class destroyer of the United States Navy, launched in 1934 and named for Admiral George Dewey. Dewey served in the Pacific through World War II. After escaping damage during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dewey screened the aircraft carrier USS Lexington until the carrier was lost in the battle of the Coral Sea; then screened USS Saratoga through the invasion of Guadalcanal and the battle of the Eastern Solomons. Following overhaul in San Francisco, Dewey spent 1943 in Alaskan waters supporting the invasions of Attu and Kiska. Dewey spent 1944 supporting raids in the Marshalls, Carolines, and Marianas, including screening carriers during the battle of the Philippine Sea. After being damaged by Typhoon Cobra during the recapture of the Philippines, Dewey supported the invasion of Iwo Jima and spent the remainder of the war screening replenishment oilers.USS Doyle C. Barnes
USS Doyle C. Barnes (DE-353) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II. The primary purpose of the destroyer escort was to escort and protect ships in convoy, in addition to other tasks as assigned, such as patrol or radar picket.
The ship was named in honor of Doyle Clayton Barnes who had been awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the Battle of Midway, and later was missing in action in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. She was launched on 4 March 1944 by Consolidated Steel Corp., Ltd., at Orange, Texas, sponsored by Mrs. D. C. Barnes, widow of Ensign Barnes. Doyle C. Barnes was commissioned on 13 July 1944, Lieutenant Commander J. P. Ingle, USNR, in command.USS Enterprise (CV-6)
USS Enterprise (CV-6) was the seventh U.S. Navy vessel named Enterprise. Colloquially called "The Big E", she was the sixth aircraft carrier of the United States Navy. A Yorktown-class carrier, she was launched in 1936 and was one of only three American carriers commissioned before World War II to survive the war (the others being Saratoga and Ranger). She participated in more major actions of the war against Japan than any other United States ship. These actions included the Attack on Pearl Harbor (18 dive bombers of VS-6 were over the harbor; 6 were shot down with a loss of 11 men—she was the only American aircraft carrier with men at Pearl Harbor during the attack and the first to sustain casualties during the Pacific War), the Battle of Midway, the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, various other air-sea engagements during the Guadalcanal Campaign, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Enterprise earned 20 battle stars, the most for any U.S. warship in World War II, and was the most decorated U.S. ship of World War II. She is also the first American ship to sink a full size enemy warship after the Pacific War had been declared when she sank Japanese submarine I-70 on 10 December 1941. On three occasions during the Pacific War, the Japanese announced that she had been sunk in battle, inspiring her nickname "The Grey Ghost".USS New Orleans (CA-32)
USS New Orleans (CL/CA-32) was the lead New Orleans-class cruiser in service with the United States Navy. The New Orleans-class cruisers were the last U.S. cruisers built to the specifications and standards of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. Such ships, with a limit of 10,000 long tons (10,160 t) standard displacement and 8-inch (203-millimetre) calibre main guns may be referred to as "treaty cruisers." Originally classified a light cruiser, because of her thin armor, she was reclassified, soon after being laid down, a heavy cruiser, because of her 8-inch guns. The term "heavy cruiser" was not defined until the London Naval Treaty in 1930.USS Saratoga (CV-3)
USS Saratoga (CV-3) was a Lexington-class aircraft carrier built for the United States Navy during the 1920s. Originally designed as a battlecruiser, she was converted into one of the Navy's first aircraft carriers during construction to comply with the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. The ship entered service in 1928 and was assigned to the Pacific Fleet for her entire career. Saratoga and her sister ship, Lexington, were used to develop and refine carrier tactics in a series of annual exercises before World War II. On more than one occasion these exercises included successful surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She was one of three prewar US fleet aircraft carriers, along with Enterprise and Ranger, to serve throughout World War II.
Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Saratoga was the centerpiece of the unsuccessful American effort to relieve Wake Island and was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine a few weeks later. After lengthy repairs, the ship supported forces participating in the Guadalcanal Campaign and her aircraft sank the light carrier Ryūjō during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in August 1942. She was again torpedoed the following month and returned to the Solomon Islands area after repairs were completed.
In 1943, Saratoga supported Allied forces involved in the New Georgia Campaign and invasion of Bougainville in the northern Solomon Islands and her aircraft twice attacked the Japanese base at Rabaul in November. Early in 1944, her aircraft provided air support during the Gilbert and Marshall Islands Campaign before she was transferred to the Indian Ocean for several months to support the British Eastern Fleet as it attacked targets in Java and Sumatra. After a brief refit in mid-1944, the ship became a training ship for the rest of the year.
In early 1945, Saratoga participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima as a dedicated night fighter carrier. Several days into the battle, she was badly damaged by kamikaze hits and was forced to return to the United States for repairs. While under repair, the ship, now increasingly obsolete, was permanently modified as a training carrier with some of her hangar deck converted into classrooms. Saratoga remained in this role for the rest of the war and was then used to ferry troops back to the United States after the Japanese surrender in August. In mid-1946, the ship was a target for nuclear weapon tests during Operation Crossroads. She survived the first test with little damage, but was sunk by the second test.USS Worden (DD-352)
The third USS Worden (DD-352) was a Farragut-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War II. She was named for John Lorimer Worden.
Worden was laid down on 29 December 1932 at the Puget Sound Navy Yard; launched on 27 October 1934; sponsored by Mrs. Katrina L. Halligan, the wife of Rear Admiral John Halligan, Jr., Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force; and commissioned on 15 January 1935, Commander Robert E. Kerr in command.