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American Aircraft Carriers Dominate War in the Pacific

ABOARD AN AMERICAN AIRCRAFT CARRIER IN THE PACIFIC, Feb. 23 - (Delayed) (A.P.) - Carriers have decided almost every critical naval battle in the Pacific war - Coral Sea, Midway, Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz - and yet most of them, never sighting the enemy, were 100 miles away. A carrier battle is funny. The opposing carrier forces race toward each other at full speed, launch their aircraft and then turn and run like the devil for safety.

I have watched the greatest carrier actions from the decks and planes of the Saratoga, the Enterprise and the Essex, whose flight decks, end to end, are almost half a mile long. These flattops represent the three largest classes afloat. One larger class is a building.

Today the Saratoga, nicknamed the Sara, has by far the greatest number of landings ever made on an Allied carrier. Lieut. (j.g.) William A. Johnson of Crystal, N.D., made the 75,000th landing on her deck.

Of carrier men, the officers and men of Enterprise alone wear the coveted Presidential Citation ribbon. The Big E, as the Enterprise is called, was in almost every major battle of the first year of the war, save that of the Coral Sea. During the first year, her planes sank a greater tonnage of warships than was sunk by both the British and Germans in the battle of Jutland.

Sank a Battleship

The Enterprise was the only carrier during the first year of the war to sustain a heavy Jap attack and stay afloat. Three times she was damaged and three times she fought off the Japanese and came back fighting. During the last battle of Guadalcanal she steamed alone into the enemy despite a gap in her hull. On that occasion, her torpedo planes, led by Lieut. Commander Scoofer Coffin of Nebraska, sank a Japanese battleship.

By a split seam, the destroyer Dunlap saved the Enterprise from Japanese bombs at Pearl Harbor on December 7. Admiral William F. Halsey, then a Vice Admiral, was returning from Wake where he had taken twelve Marine fighter planes. The task force ran into heavy seas that cracked open a seam on the Dunlap, and the force, including the Big E, had to slow down, missing their scheduled December 6 docking at Pearl Harbor. Japanese planes next morning bombed the life out of the lumber-covered deck of the target ship Utah and then announced over the Tokio radio that the Enterprise had been sunk. Since, Tokio has nine times reported the sinking of the Enterprise.

Fabled 'Shangri-La' Carrier Set for Launching Next Week

PORTSMOUTH, VA. (UP) - Shangri-La, to Japan's regret, will emerge from the realm of escapist fiction and take its place in the world of practical fact next Thursday[1] when an ultra modern, 27,500-ton aircraft carrier slides down the ways at the Norfolk navy yard here.

The new carrier's sponsor, the Navy announced, will be Mrs. James Doolittle, wife of the hard-hitting Major General who on April 18, 1942, took off from Shangri-La to lead 16 U. S. Army bombers in the first air raid ever made on Tokyo.

The origin of the new craft's name goes back to a news conference in the White House at Washington when a reported asked President Roosevelt where the Tokyo bombers had been based. Alluding to the fictional land in James Hilton's novel "Lost Horizon," the President said "Doolittle's boys" took off from a new secret base in Shangri-La.

The secret base, it developed later, was the aircraft carrier Hornet, subsequently sunk in the Battle of Santa Cruz, east of the Solomons, on Oct. 26, 1942.

Doolittle and his flyers started on their mission when the Hornet was only 800 miles from Tokyo. They hit the Japanese capital on the nose and, while they were at it, bombed four other Japanese cities. It was the first time medium bombers ever took off from a carrier.

A nation-wide war bond and stamp drive raised the money to convert Shangri-La from fiction to fact. The keel of the new carrier, which belongs to the Essex class with what they called "modifications," was laid on Jan. 15, 1943. Some 750,000 man-days went into her building.

These articles are property and copyright of their owners and are provided here for educational purposes only.

[1] Shangri-La CV-38 was launched on 24 February 1944.

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