One of three Yorktown
class carriers (the others were Yorktown CV 5
and Enterprise CV 6), USS
Hornet CV 8 had a short but illustrious history. Commissioned in late 1941
and rushed into service, she launched fifteen B-25 medium bombers in the famous Doolittle
raid on Tokyo. This April 1942 mission, while largely symbolic, had a great effect on US
morale. Shortly thereafter she was a participant at Midway,
the pivotal naval battle of the pacific war. The end for Hornet
came at the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands,
October 26, 1942. Repeatedly bombed and torpedoed by Japanese carrier aircraft of the
Guadalcanal Supporting Force, she was abandoned. To hasten her sinking the US destroyers Mustin
and Anderson put an additional nine torpedoes and 300 5" rounds into Hornet.
Aflame stem to stern, she still would not sink. The coup de grace was administered the
next day by four torpedoes from the Japanese destroyers Makigumo and Akigumo.
|The USS Hornet's Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8)
flew fifteen TBD-1 Devastator torpedo
bombers at the Battle of Midway. These slow
and vulnerable aircraft, already obsolete when the war started, lacked air cover when they
encountered both Japanese fighters and withering naval AA fire. All fifteen were shot
down. Twenty-nine of VT-8's thirty pilots and air crew were killed in action at Midway.
USS Hornet (CV 8)
Commissioned: 20 October 1941
Displacement: 23,507 tons (25,484 full load)
Length: 824' 9" oa, 770' wl, Beam: 83'3" wl,
Armament (1942): eight 5"/38 (8x1), sixteen 1.1" (4x4), 23 20mm
Performance: 32.5 knots maximum
Aircraft: 85 (various combinations of
Wildcat, Avenger, Dauntless, and Devastator)
Complement: 306 officers, 2,613 enlisted
Note that there were external differences between Hornet and her
sister ships Yorktown and Enterprise.
Among other things, Hornet's flight deck was 16' longer and she was
with the heavier MK 37 director, which necessitated a less prominent mast structure
than that of her sister ships.
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