Posts Tagged ‘Battle of Okinawa’

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

It is June 1945, the world is still at war in the Pacific and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).  In my last posts, I continued the Battle of Okinawa and covered May 1945.  The war ended in Europe but the war with Japan still rages on. In this post, the battle continues with June 1945.

Note:  Much of the story of the Battle of Okinawa is a story of the land battle and the US Army and Marines.  Since my writing is about the USS Hornet, I only cover the story as it  relates to the carrier.  The rest is too much to write about.  The full story is available from many other sources.

General Background (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Okinawa)

I shared this background information previously.  The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, was fought on the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa and was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War of World War II. The 82-day-long battle lasted from early April until mid-June 1945. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were approaching Japan, and planned to use Okinawa, a large island only 340 mi (550 km) away from mainland Japan, as a base for air operations on the planned invasion of Japanese mainland (coded Operation Downfall). Four divisions of the U.S. 10th Army (the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th) and two Marine Divisions (the 1st and 6th) fought on the island. Their invasion was supported by naval, amphibious, and tactical air forces.

The battle has been referred to as the “typhoon of steel” in English, and tetsu no ame (“rain of steel”) or tetsu no bōfū (“violent wind of steel”) in Japanese. The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of kamikaze attacks from the Japanese defenders, and to the sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The battle resulted in the highest number of casualties in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Based on Okinawan government sources, mainland Japan lost 77,166 soldiers, who were either killed or committed suicide, and the Allies suffered 14,009 deaths (with an estimated total of more than 65,000 casualties of all kinds). Simultaneously, 42,000–150,000 local civilians were killed or committed suicide, a significant proportion of the local population. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki together with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria caused Japan to surrender less than two months after the end of the fighting on Okinawa.

The battle may have been referred to as the “typhoon of steel” but Hornet was in for a typhoon of a different sort.  And now, the USS Hornet (CV-12) in June 1945.

View looking aft from the ship’s island as she steams with other carriers during a western Pacific gunnery practice session, circa June 1945. Next ship astern is USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31), firing her 5″/38 battery to starboard. Two small aircraft carriers (CVL) are beyond her. Note yellow flight deck markings on Hornet and TBM and SB2C aircraft parked aft.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-5702).

According to the USS Hornet (CV-12) ship’s log:

1 June 1945 – Planes were launched to support the advanced elements of ground forces on Okinawa.

4 June 1945 – Fueling was begun but discountinued when orders were received from ComThirdFleet.  A typhoon, under observation, was moving north at a estimated speed of 12 knots.

TYPHOON CONNIE

(some accounts name it Typhoon Viper)

5 June 1945 – HORNET struck by typhoon with winds of 110-120 kts. and 100 foot seas. Twenty-four feet of flight deck at bow buckled. (Another account) The typhoon encompassed the Hornet and becuase of mountainous pyramidal seas of 50 to 60 feet from crest to trough the fight deck collapsed from the forward edge back to frame #4, a distance of 24 feet. These photographs speak louder than words

Photo taken from the bridge on the morning of June 5th, 1945 just as the first 24 feet of the flight deck get smashed to splinters by the typhoon. The forward antenna mast has left the ship!. National Archives.

A VT-17 TBM-3E Avenger on top of a VF-17 F6F-5 Hellcat, June 6, 1945 the day after the typhoon.

Shown here after weathering a typhoon on June 4–5, 1945. She continued on despite the damage and when it was too dangerous to launch over the bow, she backed into the wind until there was enough wind across the deck to safely launch planes. Compare these photos to those of Wasp (CV-18) and Bennington (CV-20). Tracy White, Researcher @ Large  See additional photos and read “Flight deck structural failure and collapse during June 1945 Typhoon” at the Researcher @ Large website.  Larger copy submitted by Steve Whitby.

6-7 June 1945 – Flights were launched, one plane spun in due to turbulance over the bow caused by teh overhanging portion of the flight deck.

7-10 June 1945 – Hornet’s planes participated in further strikes against Okinawa and other targets in the vicinity.

13 June 1945 – Entered and achored in San Pedro Bay between Leyte and Samar Island.

15 June 1945 – For a communication from Hornet’s Commanding Officer, A.K. Doyle to the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet, accompanied with more photographs, visit the following link.  http://www.researcheratlarge.com/Ships/CV12/1945FlightDeckMemo.html

15 June 1945 – The Commanding Officer made the long anticipated announcement to the ship’s company that the Hornet would return to the United States for overhaul.  Rear Admiral J.J. Clark lowered his flag in this vessel and Command of Task Group 38.1 was assumed by Rear Admiral T.L. Sprague in the Bennington (CV-20)

16 June 1945 – Embarked Air Group Thirty and Air Group Nine for transportation to the States.

19 June 1945 – Underway for Pearl Harbor

29 June 1945 – Moored at F-9-N Pearl Harbor

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

June 1945 – Strikes made on Okinawa and Kyushu.

The Hornet was operating in Task Unit 38.1.1 with CTG 38.1 (ComCarDiv 5) (Rear Admiral J.J. Clark) embarked.  At 0530 on 1 June 1945, 6 VT were launched to land at Kadena Field on Okinawa from where they made 23 sorties during the day dropping supplies to advanced elements of ground forces.  Ths operation was again repeated on 2 June 1945 but other flight operations were handicapped by bad weather.

The fourth of June brought the typhoon warning that hit the ship the next day.  The typhoon caught the ship on 5 June 1945 and one of the mountainous wave collapsed the flight deck from the forward edge back to frame #4, a distance of 24 feet.  The highest winds reached a velocity of 1210 knots with gusts up to 120 knots.

On 6 June 1945, 9 VF replacements were received from the ATTU (CVE-102) and six from the Bougainville (CVE-100).  At 1414, a VF of the Shangri-la (CV-38) spun in on take-off due to turbulence over the bow caused by the overhanging portion of the damaged flight deck.  The polit was rescued by the Dehaven (DD-737).  Pending further investigation, it was considered unsafe to continue lauching over teh bow so the next flight, a search of 24 VF, was launched over the stern while the ship was backing down at 18.5 knots.

On 8 June 1945, a large strike was launched against Kanoya.  Hornet’s planes dropped 67 fragmentation bombs on the target and took damage assessment photographs after the strike. (These must be the photographs above and at the link provided above).

On 9 -10 June 1945, strikes were made on Okino Daito Jima and Minami Daito Jima.  Hornet anchored in San Pedro Bay between Leyte and Samar Island on 13 June 1945.  From 15 June 1945 through 29 June 1945, see ships log above.

 

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John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

It is May 1945, the world is still at war and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).  In my last posts, I began the Battle of Okinawa and covered April 1945.  In this post, the battle continues with May 1945.

Note:  Much of the story of the Battle of Okinawa is a story of the land battle and the US Army and Marines.  Since my writing is about the USS Hornet, I only cover the story as it  relates to the carrier.  The rest is too much to write about.  The full story is available from many other sources.

General Background (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Okinawa)

I shared this background information previously.  The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, was fought on the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa and was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War of World War II. The 82-day-long battle lasted from early April until mid-June 1945. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were approaching Japan, and planned to use Okinawa, a large island only 340 mi (550 km) away from mainland Japan, as a base for air operations on the planned invasion of Japanese mainland (coded Operation Downfall). Four divisions of the U.S. 10th Army (the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th) and two Marine Divisions (the 1st and 6th) fought on the island. Their invasion was supported by naval, amphibious, and tactical air forces.

The battle has been referred to as the “typhoon of steel” in English, and tetsu no ame (“rain of steel”) or tetsu no bōfū (“violent wind of steel”) in Japanese. The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of kamikaze attacks from the Japanese defenders, and to the sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The battle resulted in the highest number of casualties in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Based on Okinawan government sources, mainland Japan lost 77,166 soldiers, who were either killed or committed suicide, and the Allies suffered 14,009 deaths (with an estimated total of more than 65,000 casualties of all kinds). Simultaneously, 42,000–150,000 local civilians were killed or committed suicide, a significant proportion of the local population. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki together with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria caused Japan to surrender less than two months after the end of the fighting on Okinawa.

Nimitz reveals to the world the news of U.S. invasion of Okinawa, 325 miles from Tokyo. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy)

Nimitz reveals to the world the news of U.S. invasion of Okinawa, 325 miles from Tokyo. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy)

And now, the USS Hornet (CV-12) in May 1945.

According to the USS Hornet (CV-12) ship’s log:

1 May 1945 – The first day of a period of replenishment and recreation

9 May 1945 – Underway from Ulithi.

12 May 1945 – Strikes launched against ground targets on Okinawa.

13 May 1945 – HORNET air wing attacked the giant Kumatomo aircraft plant in Southern Kyushu.

13-14 May 1945 – Strikes made on airfields at Kyushu and on shipping in that area.

17-19 May 1945 – Repeated attacks against Okinawa.

20-22 May 1945 – Photo missions and strikes were made on teh Wan Airfield area of Kikni Shima.

24 May 1945 – A sweep of 24 fighters was launched to attack Miyazaki Airfield in in southeastern Kyushu.

25-31 May 1945 – Strikes were made on Okinawa when whether permitted.

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

The Hornet weighed anchor on 9 May 1945 and set sail for Kyushu.  The second week in May the ship’s work began again in earnest.  The Air Group set out to attack airfields, installations, aircraft assembly plants, and factories on the Japanese home islands of Kyushu and Shikoku, and diversified and supporting strikes against the Amami Gunto and Okinawa.  Over this later target, especially, the pilots laid down some of their most blistering attacks, supporting our ground forces, dropping bombs at the mouths of caves, and maintaining absolute mastery of the skies over the island.

Mother’s Day, 13 May 1945, was a day of heavy activity.  The ship was at general quarters most of the day.  Many sorties (an attack made by troops coming out from a position of defense) were carried out that day against Kanoya and Izumi on Kyushu, and against the field and seaplane base at Saeki.  Shops, hangers, A/A positions, and planes were strafed and bombed.  A schooner and another small crafter were sunk, and 5 small cargo ships were damaged. Twenty-eight twin-engined bombers and eight fighters were destroyed on the ground, and forty six were probably destroyed or damaged.

80-G-331621: Japanese plane being shot down by gunfire on 14 May

The next day, 14 May 1945, was also a busy and eventful day.  The ship was at general quarters twice between midnight and sunrise.  One of the bogies came in close and was fire upon by other ships in the group.  Later one explosed within the screen, and an apparent Kamikaze suicide plane, headed for the Hornet, was splashed by the ship’s gunfire. Our planes hit the great Kumamoto aircraft assembly plant (photo above) in southern Kyushu and found this a prime target, as it was one of the few important places remaining.  Also on the 14 May 1945 strikes were made on Tachairai Field, Matsuyama West Field on Shikoku, and also Kochi and Kushira.  Seven single-engined fighters wer shot down by the air group on this day.  For the next ten days targets were scarce.  Combat air patrols and effective supporting strikes at Okinawa, and strikes at Amami Kikae, and Tokuno were the principal operations carried out.

Blasting Miyazaki Airfield and Shops, Kyushi Japan 1945 (US AF Photo)

24 May 1945 was a good day for ten planes were burned on the ground and many others damaged at Miyazaki, Kyushu.  In eighteen days of operations during May, there were 771 sorties over enemy areas, 317 defensive patrols, and 246 miscellaneous hops, making a total of 1,334.

Don’t know what month in 1945 this photo is from. A row of 20 mm Oerlikon guns aboard the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Hornet 1945 (CV-12) [2465 2617]

On 27 May 1945, Task Group 58.1 passed from operational control of Commander Fifth Fleet to Commander Third Fleet.

To further explain this pass of operational control.  The protracted length of the campaign under stressful conditions forced Admiral Chester W. Nimitz to take the unprecedented step of relieving the principal naval commanders to rest and recuperate. Following the practice of changing the fleet designation with the change of commanders, US naval forces began the campaign as the US 5th Fleet under Adm. Raymond Spruance, but ended it as the 3rd Fleet under Adm. William Halsey.

Meanwhile this same month in the World War

Sir Winston Churchill VE Day

VE Day Celebration

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

It is April 1945, the world is still at war and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).  In my last posts, I covered the Battle of Iwo Jima and other events in February and March 1945 leading up to the Battle of Okinawa.  This post will be the first for the Battle of Okinawa and cover April 1945.

General Background (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Okinawa)

ww2 asia map 47

The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, was fought on the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa and was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War of World War II. The 82-day-long battle lasted from early April until mid-June 1945. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were approaching Japan, and planned to use Okinawa, a large island only 340 mi (550 km) away from mainland Japan, as a base for air operations on the planned invasion of Japanese mainland (coded Operation Downfall). Four divisions of the U.S. 10th Army (the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th) and two Marine Divisions (the 1st and 6th) fought on the island. Their invasion was supported by naval, amphibious, and tactical air forces.

USS Hornet (CV-12) operating near Okinawa, 27 March 1945. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 3a. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-14466).

USS Hornet (CV-12) operating near Okinawa, 27 March 1945. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 3a.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-14466).

The battle has been referred to as the “typhoon of steel” in English, and tetsu no ame (“rain of steel”) or tetsu no bōfū (“violent wind of steel”) in Japanese. The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of kamikaze attacks from the Japanese defenders, and to the sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The battle resulted in the highest number of casualties in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Based on Okinawan government sources, mainland Japan lost 77,166 soldiers, who were either killed or committed suicide, and the Allies suffered 14,009 deaths (with an estimated total of more than 65,000 casualties of all kinds). Simultaneously, 42,000–150,000 local civilians were killed or committed suicide, a significant proportion of the local population. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki together with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria caused Japan to surrender less than two months after the end of the fighting on Okinawa.

Nimitz reveals to the world the news of U.S. invasion of Okinawa, 325 miles from Tokyo. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy)

Nimitz reveals to the world the news of U.S. invasion of Okinawa, 325 miles from Tokyo. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy)

According to the USS Hornet (CV-12) ship’s log:

1 April 1945 – This was LOVE Day of the operations against Okinawa and the Task Group’s mission was to support the landing operations.

2-6 April 1945 – Operations continued in support of the Okinawa landing operations.

7 April 1945 – The Task Group moved slowly northward to contact the enemy fleet units reported in teh area.  The enemy force was discovered and consisted of the BB Yamato, two light cruisers, and ten destroyers.  The Hornet’s planes wer the first to attack.

6/7 April 1945 – Okinawa Invasion. During the period more than 500 Japanese planes attacked task force. Of the 152 shot down, HORNET scoreboard tallied more than one third of the kills.

8 April 1945 – Rendezvous was made for refueling and replenishment of ammunition.

9 April 1945 – Continued Strikes

Sixteen F6F Hellcats from VF-17 running up their Pratt & Whitney R-2800's on April 6, 1945 to attack the Japanese battleship Yamato and her escorts.

Sixteen F6F Hellcats from VF-17 running up their Pratt & Whitney R-2800’s on April 6, 1945 to attack the Japanese battleship Yamato and her escorts.

7 Apr 1945 – HORNET pilots find and conducted initial attacks on the largest Japanese battleship YAMATO which is left sinking.

8 April 1945 – Rendezvous was made for refueling and replenishment of ammunition.

9 April 1945 – Continued strikes in the vicinity of Okinawa in support of our invasion forces.

12 April 1945 – Continued CAP over airfields at Kikai Shima and Tokuno Shima in order to deny their use to the enemy.

14-16 Apr 1945 – HORNET aircrews downed more than 60 Japanese planes along Kyushu.

12-27 April 1945 – Repeated strikes were made on Okinawa and the islands in teh vicinity.  During the whole operation the Task Group was under constant enemy air attack.

30 April 1945 – The Ship entered Ulithi Harbor and anchored.

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

East Sunday, 1 April 1945, was LOVE Day of the operations against Okinawa and the Task Group’s (58.1) mission was to furnish air support to forces of Task Force 51 which were making the initial landings.  These strikes continued with scattered enemy air assault.  Friday, 6 April 1945 was a “Field Day”.  The Hornet fliers shot down 53 enemy planes, and the ship’s personnel were at General Quarters most of the day, dodging the “Banzai Boys”.

Hornet under attack as seen from Bennington (CV-20), April 1945. Photo by Lowell Love.

Hornet under attack as seen from Bennington (CV-20), April 1945. Photo by Lowell Love.

USS Hornet (CV-12), along with USS Bennington (CV-20), shooting down a kamikaze off Okinawa, April 1945.

USS Hornet (CV-12), along with USS Bennington (CV-20), shooting down a kamikaze off Okinawa, April 1945.

Early on the morning of 7 April 1945, Navy search planes far to the north reported the incredible feet that an enemy task force, comprising the heaviest and fastest warships Japan still possessed, had left its bases in the Inland Sea, steamed stealthily along the coasts of Kyushu during the night and was now headed into the East China Sea.  The entire Task Force (TF 58) raced northward at top speed, and shortly after noon flight quarters sounded and the planes were launched.  The Yamato was mortally wounded by eight torpedo hits and eight 1000 lb. bombs, racked by a series of tremendous explosions and sank beneath the waters of the China Sea less than sixty miles from Kyushu, her guns blazing to the very end.  Two cruisers and three destroyers shared her fate, while the remaining six destroyers, heavily damaged, were left burning in the water.

"A Kamikaze just misses USS Hornet. This picture was taken on the USS Hornet (CV-12) off Okinawa during April 1945 by Photographer’s Mate 2/c Paul D. Guttman, and it was definitely not taken with a telephoto lens! The black specks visible in the midst of the blast aren't flaws in the film, they're bits of shrapnel from the exploding plane. Paul was knocked unconscious by the blast, and came to later, in sick bay. He wasn't even aware that he'd taken this picture until sometime later, after the film was developed!" "The other carrier visible in the background, wreathed in smoke from the firing of her own AA guns, is supposedly USS Intrepid (CV-11) [(?)]."

“A Kamikaze just misses USS Hornet. This picture was taken on the USS Hornet (CV-12) off Okinawa during April 1945 by Photographer’s Mate 2/c Paul D. Guttman, and it was definitely not taken with a telephoto lens! The black specks visible in the midst of the blast aren’t flaws in the film, they’re bits of shrapnel from the exploding plane. Paul was knocked unconscious by the blast, and came to later, in sick bay. He wasn’t even aware that he’d taken this picture until sometime later, after the film was developed!”
“The other carrier visible in the background, wreathed in smoke from the firing of her own AA guns, is supposedly USS Intrepid (CV-11) [(?)].”

Later that afternoon (7 April 1945), two twin-engined enemy Frances’ got through the Task Groups protecting patrol and pounced upon the formation.  They were detected and blasted out of the air within a few thousand yards of the Hornet due to the expert marksmanship of the Hornet’s gunners.

The next several days saw the Hornet’s Air Group ranging up and down the Ryukyu chain, striking at opportune targets. Kikai, Tanoga Shima, Amami O Shima, enemy ground forces on Okinawa, and even Kyushu itself felt the burning sting of our strafing, bombs, and rockets. On Saturday, 14 April 1945, two Bettys carrying rocket planes were shot down.  This rocket plane with rider is called “Baka”, the Japanese name for fool.  Also on 14 April 1945, one of the patrols shot down 18 planes which were trying to reach our force. In the afternoon two planes were splashed by ship’s gunfire.  Sunday and Monday, 15, 16 April 1945 were also days of accomplishment.  The ship was at General Quarters most of the time.  From late Sunday night to early Monday morning the ship was under constant attack in the light of flares almost as bright as day, and much credit goes to the night fighters for their skill in breaking up attacks before the enemy could get in on us.  Monday, 16 April 1945, was another “Field Day” for the Task Group.  Here is an itemization of the results:

  • Early in the morning one of the night fighters shot down a Betty, and ship’s gunfire bagged a low flying heavy enemy plane.
  • Sweeps to Kyushu shot down out of the air fourteen single-engined planes, burned ten on the ground and seriously damaged ten planes which did not burn.
  • The 16 April 1945 saw a total of seventy two airborne planes shot down by this Task Group.
  • No pilots were lost that day.

From the 18 – 27 April 1945 continuous strikes were made against the areas of Kikai-anami, Tokuno, Okinawa, Minami, Daito Jima, and Kita Daito Jima. Napalm was dropped on several of these strikes with generally good results.  The Task Group began retirement towards Ulithi on the 27th and anchored in the Ulithi Harbor on the 30 April, 1945.

Unique shot of a VF-17 Hellcat being lowered down Hornet's deck edge elevator showing her geometric tail and wingtip design, April 1945.

Unique shot of a VF-17 Hellcat being lowered down Hornet’s deck edge elevator showing her geometric tail and wingtip design, April 1945.

A grainy shot of Hornet’s TBM Avengers and SB2C Helldivers from Air Group 17 preparing for launch, April 1945.

TBM-3 Avengers from VT-17 attacking targets around Tokyo, possibly in April 1945.

Forward flight deck view, from the port side, of the island of USS Hornet (CV-12) in April 1945. Grumman F6F Hellcat fighters from Fighting Squadron (VF) 17 “Jolly Rogers” can be seen on deck, as well as the bridge superstructure with its radar antennas, 40-mm and 5″ gun mounts.
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) photo, # 80-G-469299.

John T. Ryan US Navy

John T. Ryan US Navy

The world is still at war and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).

I recently accessed a war diary on the website Fold3.  This war diary provides a narrative of the Hornet’s activities during each month.  Most of my posts on this blog have been based on factual sources about the war in the pacific and where the Hornet was involved; however there wasn’t always something in those sources specifically about the Hornet.  I plan to go back to some of my previous posts and add some of these pieces of information.  Recently I added the January – March 1944 and the December 1944 information.

According to the ship’s log:

16 Feb 1945 – HORNET launches pre-dawn strikes on Tokyo to resume where HORNET (CV-8) had left off 34 months before.

Late Feb 1945 – Strikes in support of Iwo Jima invasion.

In part 1, I covered February 1945

19 Mar 1945 – Strikes conducted against Kobe and Kure while HORNET cruised 40 miles off Japanese coast.

Kobe, Japan after the 1945 Air Raids

Kobe, Japan after the 1945 Air Raids

 

Map showing the destroyed areas.

Map showing the destroyed areas.

Three Japanese aircraft carriers and an unidentified submarine in Kure Bay, during strikes by US Navy carrier planes, March 19, 1945. Carrier at the extreme right is IJN Kaiyo. Those in the center top (barely visible) and at the bottom are probably IJN Amagi and IJN Katsuragi. The submarine is underway in the upper left. Photographed by an Air Group 17 plane from USS Hornet (CV-12). Kaiyo, a 16,748-ton escort aircraft carrier, was built at Nagasaki, Japan, as a civilian passenger liner. Source: http://worldwar2database.com/gallery/wwii1251

Three Japanese aircraft carriers and an unidentified submarine in Kure Bay, during strikes by US Navy carrier planes, March 19, 1945. Carrier at the extreme right is IJN Kaiyo. Those in the center top (barely visible) and at the bottom are probably IJN Amagi and IJN Katsuragi. The submarine is underway in the upper left. Photographed by an Air Group 17 plane from USS Hornet (CV-12). Kaiyo, a 16,748-ton escort aircraft carrier, was built at Nagasaki, Japan, as a civilian passenger liner. Source: http://worldwar2database.com/gallery/wwii1251

From the war diary found on the website, Fold3:

March, 1945 – A month of Sever-Tolling Strikes.  The first few days in March 1945 were occupied in singeing the board of the Japanese Emperor. Up and down along the fringe of the important Ryukyu chain, or Nansei Shoto, the ships of the fast carrier task force ranged,lashing out with crippling strikes against Okinawa and other islands with our fighter, torpedo, and bombing planes. The Japanese themselves estimated the number at more than six hundred.

Location of the Ryukyu Islands. In an attempt to include a picture of Nansei Shoto Island, I learned unless I am mistaken that they are one in the same.

Location of the Ryukyu Islands. In an attempt to include a picture of Nansei Shoto Island, I learned unless I am mistaken that they are one in the same.

Nansei Shoto (Ryukyu Islands - Loochoo Islands) Source: http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/nansei_shoto.shtml A Pocket Guide

Nansei Shoto
(Ryukyu Islands – Loochoo Islands)
Source: http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/nansei_shoto.shtml
A Pocket Guide

US Government: Nansei Shoto (Ryukyu Island - Loochoo Islands), A Pocket Guide, US Government, ca 1945 (pre-invasion - April 1, 1945), pamphlet, 2 maps, 9 illustrations (most cartoon type drawings), 4 1/4 x 5 1/4 in, paper wraps, staple bound, 39 pp (2 blank for "Notes"). Reproduced by 30th engineer Base Top BN. USAFCPBC. No. 5356. This is obviously a pocket guide prepared for troops about to engage in the Nansei Shoto (Okinawa) campaign of WWII. Loaded with basic information and guidance to include an "English into Japanese" section with such terms as "Cease fire!," "If you resist you will be shot!," and "Shut up!." A typical government undertaking. Everything the American GI would need to know for the pending invasion of Okinawa. Source: http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/nansei_shoto.shtml

US Government:
Nansei Shoto (Ryukyu Island – Loochoo Islands), A Pocket Guide, US Government, ca 1945 (pre-invasion – April 1, 1945), pamphlet, 2 maps, 9 illustrations (most cartoon type drawings), 4 1/4 x 5 1/4 in, paper wraps, staple bound, 39 pp (2 blank for “Notes”). Reproduced by 30th engineer Base Top BN. USAFCPBC. No. 5356. This is obviously a pocket guide prepared for troops about to engage in the Nansei Shoto (Okinawa) campaign of WWII. Loaded with basic information and guidance to include an “English into Japanese” section with such terms as “Cease fire!,” “If you resist you will be shot!,” and “Shut up!.” A typical government undertaking. Everything the American GI would need to know for the pending invasion of Okinawa. Source: http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/nansei_shoto.shtml

Our forces sank or damaged 55 of Japan’s ships, destroyed or damaged 91 planes; and smashed and burned their military installations such as radio stations, buildings, hangers and barracks.  From March 4th through 14th 1945, the Hornet was at anchor in Ulithi harbor.  The usual replenishment of supplies and recreational parties took place.

Hornet, showing heavy weathering and rust after more than a year of sustained combat and salt water, anchored at Ulithi on March 6, 1945 with Air Group 17 on deck. LCI(L)-1052 is in the foreground.

Hornet, showing heavy weathering and rust after more than a year of sustained combat and salt water, anchored at Ulithi on March 6, 1945 with Air Group 17 on deck. LCI(L)-1052 is in the foreground.

The ship weighed anchor on the 14 March 1945 and set her course for Kyushu.  The 18 March 1945 was occupied in heavy strikes against the southernmost part of the Japanese home islands: Kyushi, Shikoku, Honshu, and the Inland Sea.  The principal targets were airfields.  The planes of the Task Group (58.1) came in so fast that by noon 800 had been sent out and by 2 p.m. 1400 had been sent out.  The devastating blows of our airmen against Kure Bay in the Inland Sea where a large portion of the enemy fleet was hiding, marked a day of brilliant activity that will long be remembered in the history of Naval Air warfare.

One of VB-17's SB2C Helldivers taxiing out for launch, March 1945.

One of the USS Hornet’s VB-17’s SB2C Helldivers taxiing out for launch, March 1945.

The Task Group’s score:

  • Ships sunk:  Six freighters
  • Ships badly damaged: One or two battleships, two or three large aircraft carriers, two light aircraft carriers, two escort carriers, one heavy cruiser, one light cruiser, four destroyers, one submarine, one destroyer escort, seven freighters.
  • Aircraft: 281 planes shot down out of the air, 275 destroyed on the ground, more than 100 damaged in the first days attacks, and a large number damaged in the second day’s attacks.
  • Ground installations: Hangers, shops, arsenals, and storage facilities were destroyed.
Hornet recovering and Bennington (CV-20) launching aircraft off the coast of Japan, March 1945. (National Archives photo).

Hornet recovering and Bennington (CV-20) launching aircraft off the coast of Japan, March 1945. (National Archives photo).

This video is freely downloadable at the Internet Archive, where it was uploaded by WWIIPublicDomain. Naval Photographic Center film # 11149. National Archives description “This film shows Okinawa under a bombing attack and views of the USS Hornet (CV-12).” National Archives Identifier: 2462408 Invasion of Okinawa: The USS Hornet, 03/19, 1945 (full)

During this time, our fleet was under heavy air attack.  The afternoon of 21 March 1945 at least twenty “Bettys’ with escorting fighters were on their way to get the ships.  The Hornet’s CAP broke up the attack completely by shooting down 16 of the Bettys and 14 of the fighters.  Three fighters and one Betty were damaged.  The rest high-tailed for home.

planes

Beginning on 23 March 1945, preliminary neutralizing strikes were sent out against Korama Rotto, which was shortly thereafter successfully invaded.  The islands of Miyako, Mikusuki, Amami O Shima, Kikai and Minami Daito are generally in this area.  On 24 March 1945, Lt. (jg) W.B. Vail and Walter F. Miller made the 18,000th landing on the Hornet.

March 1945, with Air Group 17 on the flight deck. National Archives.

March 1945, with Air Group 17 on the flight deck. National Archives.

Another aerial view of USS Hornet (CV-12) during operations off Okinawa, in March 1945, with Air Group 17 aboard.

Another aerial view of USS Hornet (CV-12) during operations off Okinawa, in March 1945, with Air Group 17 aboard.

Another aerial view of USS Hornet (CV-12) underway, that might have been taken at the same time as the photos above

Another aerial view of USS Hornet (CV-12) underway, that might have been taken at the same time as the photos above

USS Hornet (CV-12) operating near Okinawa, 27 March 1945. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 3a. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-14466).

USS Hornet (CV-12) operating near Okinawa, 27 March 1945. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 3a.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-K-14466).

In the last 13 days of March 1945 in attacks on the Ryukyus and Kyushu, the task force (58.1) planes destroyed 750 Japanese planes, damaged 217, sank 34 ships, probably sunk 14 more and damaged 33.  This is why there was so little initial enemy interference with the Okinawa invasion.

What else happened in the US Navy during March 1945 – USS Franklin (CV-13) bombed.

This is one of three videos about the USS Franklin’s attack in March 1945.  The other two cover her recovery.