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Marcus Island Raid - 4 March 1942

VB-6/A16/nhnU. S. S. ENTERPRISE (CV6) 
 At Sea,
   March 4, 1942.
From:Commander Bombing Squadron SIX.
To:Commander ENTERPRISE Air Group.
Subject:Attack on Marcus Island, March 4, 1942.
Reference:(a) BuAer Conf. Mailgram 192115 of February, 1942.
(b) U.S. Navy Regulations, 1920, Art. 874(6).
Enclosure:(A) Photograph of Sketch of Marcus Island
  1. At 0640, 4 March 1942, this squadron participated in an attack on Marcus Island. The sky was about nine tenths overcast with a heavy cumulus layer running from 4,000 to 10,000 feet. Winds aloft were strong southerly and on the surface 8 knots from 170°. The sea was calm. There was a full moon, elevation about 30° which provided considerable illumination above the clouds, but left it comparatively dark below. The sky to the east was beginning to lighten at the time of the attack, twenty-three minutes before sunrise.
  2. Bombing Squadron SIX in company with Commander ENTERPRISE Air Group and section, and Scouting Squadron SIX composed the attack group escorted by six planes of Fighting Squadron SIX. Bombing Squadron SIX's tactical organization was as follows:
    6-B-1Lt-Cdr. W.R. HollingsworthMURRAY, J.F., ACRM(PA)
    6-B-16Lt. H.P. LanhamGARAUDY, E.J., ARM2c
    6-B-3Lt. L.A. SmithCARUTHERS, H.H., AMM2c
    6-B-7Lt. J.W. McCauleyBOYD, B.W., AMM2c
    6-B-14Ensign C.R. WaltersTHOMPSON, W.T., AMM2c
    6-B-9Ensign A.L. RauschHALTERMAN, G.W., RM3c
    6-B-10Lt. R.H. BestNELSON, H.W., ARM1c
    6-B-15Lt(jg) E.L. AndersonJENKINS, J.W., RM3c
    6-B-12Ensign W.E. RobertsSHEA, J.H., AMM1c
    6-B-8Lt(jg) J.J. Van BurenGEORGIOU, A.A., RM3c, V-3
    6-B-17Ensign K.H. HolcombWELCH, L.E., AMM2c
    6-B-18Ensign T.W. RamsayDUNCAN, S.L., AMM3c
    6-B-4Lt. J.D. BlitchSTEINMAN, W.B., AMM2c
    6-B-5Ensign N.F. VandivierMASON, S.J., ARM2c
    6-B-6Ensign T.F. SchneiderHOLDEN, G.L., RM3c
    6-B-13Lt. J.R. PenlandHEARD, H.F., ARM2c, V-3
    6-S-18Ensign D.W. HalseyJOHNSON, P.S., ARM2c
  3. The operation was a two squadron dive bombing attack.
  4. The primary objective was aircraft on the field, with secondary objective being any installations sighted, with particular regard for radio station, fuel tanks, hangars, and AA batteries.
  5. No enemy aircraft were seen.
  6. Type attack - dive bombing.
  7. Take offs were started at 0445 and when rendezvous of all units was completed at 0526 departure was taken for Marcus Island bearing 251° distant 128 miles. The group climbed steadily and went up through a large hole in the overcast, continuing on top until at 0630 the objective was sighted to the northward through a hole in the overcast. The squadron separated into three divisions and from 16,000 feet started high speed approaches from the south and west. The attack was delivered from 0640 to 0645. The dives varied in steepness from 045° to 070° with final dives entered from 8,000 to 10,000 feet, releases at 3,000 to 2,000 ft. in ripple drops, and pull outs at 1,000 feet with a continued power glide retirement. One plane of the first section was detached just prior to the attack to reconnoiter the island and broadcast any information available concerning planes on the field or other objectives. Withdrawal was made to the southeast until out of sight contact. Planes returned in small groups to the carrier and were landed aboard at 0845.
  8. Limited strafing was conducted both in the dive and during retirement using the fixed .50 caliber and the flexible .30 caliber machine guns. The primary weapons were the one 500 lb bomb and two 100 lb bombs per plane. Enemy large caliber anti-aircraft was very limited and was apparently from three inch guns. There was however a large volume of rapid-fire A.A. that was of a caliber 20 or 37 mm, or 1.1 inch. This smaller caliber fire was much more accurate than any previously encountered and at times came uncomfortably close. Planes retiring when as far as five miles away saw tracers close aboard. The island was well ringed with these light batteries, but with the strongest concentrations at the three corners of the island.
  9. During the approach the dark sky to the westward and cloud concealment were the only protective measures employed. During retirement planes made frequent, irregular, and radical changes of course and altitude.
  10. Ammunition expended was as follows:
    500 lb bombs, Mk.12 2.100 sec. delay fuse- 17
    100 lb bombs Mk.4, 2/100 sec. delay fuse- 34
    Machine gun ammunition loaded in the ration of 70% AP and 30% tracer,
    .50 caliber- 200 rds
    .30 caliber- 100 rds
  11. Because heavy A.A. fire made it inadvisable to pull up and turn around until well out to sea, it is almost impossible to adjudge damage. The spotting plane witnessed a hit on and subsequent fire in what appeared to be a fuel storage tank. Several buildings or hangars on both sides of the field were on fire and several explosions at short intervals occurred in one group. Two large fires visible from twenty to thirty miles were still burning brightly at 0705, as well as numerous smaller fires. No aircraft on the field were definitely identified as such, but from the location of the various fires and the spread of bomb hits it is believed that the majority of any aircraft on the ground would have been destroyed.
  12. No damage was sustained by own aircraft.
  13. No deficiencies in own aircraft armament or equipment were noted. The field appeared to be under construction and in no way compared to those seen at Taroa and Roi.

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