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Doolittle Raid - 18 April 1942 (Read More...)

This report was submitted by then-Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Commander of the Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, and Commander of Task Force 16 which delivered the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. Enterprise was Halsey's flagship during the Raid, as it was during the first six months of the war.


Serial 0019

At Sea, 24 April 1942.
S-E-C-R-E-T 1st endorsement on
088 of 23 April 1942.
From:Commander Carriers, Pacific Fleet
(Commander Task Force SIXTEEN).
To  :Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Subject:Report of action in connection with the bombing of Tokyo on April 18, 1942 (Zone minus Ten).
  1. The basic letter and enclosures are herewith reclassified as SECRET.
  2. The report of the Commanding Officer, U.S.S. ENTERPRISE, is in general concurred in. Specific comments follow:
    1. After fueling of the heavy ships on 17 April, these ships (carriers and cruisers) proceeded west without destroyers and oilers in order to permit high speed operations. Fuel conservation for destroyers was another consideration. High winds and heavy sea conditions prevailed. The destroyers rejoined the morning following the attack (19th) and the oilers (with destroyer escort) two days later (21st).
    2. The necessity for launching the Army planes at 0820 on the 18th about 650 miles east of Tokyo was regrettable. The plan was to close to the 500 mile circle and there launch one plane to attack at dusk and this provide a target for the remaining planes which would strike about two hours later. This plan was evolved by Lieutenant Colonel Doolittle, in command of the Army flight, and was designed to inflict the greatest damage with the least risk. The remote location of the desired terminus for the flight was also a factor influencing the selection of this plan of attack. However, contacts with enemy surface vessels early in the morning compromised the secrecy of the operation, and after the third contact, at 0744, the decision was made to launch. Japanese radio traffic was intercepted indicating that the presence of the raiding force was reported. The prime consideration then was the launching of the Army planes before the arrival of Japanese bombers.
    3. The successful launching of the 16 Army bombers from the HORNET in unfavorable wind and sea conditions reflected great credit on the Army pilots and on the Commanding Officer of the HORNET.
    4. The amount of damage inflicted on enemy patrol vessels by the ENTERPRISE aircraft, in consideration of the number of attacks made, was disappointing. It is again indicated that more time must be available for training when air groups are at shore bases. This need is becoming more emphatic as time goes on.
    5. The number of Japanese patrol vessels encountered at such distance from Japan was astounding. From positions in which found it was indicated that they probably operate in pairs and have mother ships to provide services. It is suggested that the prisoners captured by the NASHVILLE are interrogated with an effort to obtain information on the operations and locations of these craft. It is noteworthy that, contrary to popular belief, these prisoners showed the white flag and chose surrender rather than suffer the consequences.
    6. The comment in the basic report that the two patrol vessels attacked about 1400, on the 18th, were apparently the same vessels reported by radar at 0310, is not concurred in. The range at which one of the vessels sighted at 0310 disappeared from the radar screen (27,000 yards) indicated larger vessels, possibly mother ships carrying supplies and relief crews for the picket vessels.
    7. Enroute westward the Task Force proceeded northwest about thirty miles west of Nihoa Island. It is suggested that this and other isolated islands of the Hawaiian group be investigated for enemy agents.
    8. The opinion that the patrol and picket vessels are armed only with small caliber automatic weapons is concurred in insofar as those contacted are concerned.
    9. Limited range and endurance of F4F-4 type carrier VF is a serious defect in these new planes. Action looking to improvement in this regard has been initiated by dispatch, copy to Commander-in_Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
      1. Radio silence was maintained on all circuits until return to the Hawaiian Area, with the following exceptions:
        1. Radar, YE, and TBS frequencies.
        2. 6-B-17 transmitted a contact report on 6540 kcs at 1240 (L.E.T.) on the 18th.
        3. Various fighter direction transmissions on 6970 kcs during the period 1250 to 1340 (L.E.T.) on the 18th.
        4. Transmitted Commander Task Force SIXTEEN dispatch 180825 to NPH. Several transmissions incidental to a lost plane were made on 6540 kcs during the period 0900 - 1100 (L.E.T.) on the 21st. Commander Task Force SIXTEEN dispatch 230541 was transmitted to NPH on the 23rd.
      2. A strong continuous signal, believed to be enemy interference was heard on 6970, 6835, and 6540 kcs during the period 1254 - 1351 (L.E.T.) on the 18th. This was a CW signal and therefore did not seriously interfere with fighter direction communications.
      3. Definite enemy interference was experienced when an attempt was made to transmit Commander Task Force SIXTEEN dispatch 180825 to NPH on 12795 and 12705 kcs. Each time the operator started to transmit on these frequencies, an unknown station would start sending Japanese characters. The dispatch was finally delivered to NPH on 16400 at 0847 (G.C.T.) without interference.
      4. Need for ultra-high frequency equipment for fighter direction is emphasized with each operation of carriers in wartime. Dispatch action has been initiated, copy to Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
  3. Reports from other units of the Task Force will be forwarded when received.

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