Throughout the combat period of this report ENTERPRISE was a unit of TG 58.3. Task Group FDO was in ESSEX.
On 11 May, following damage to BUNKER HILL, CTF 58 boarded ENTERPRISE and Task Force Fighter Direction thereafter was controlled by CTF 58 staff Fighter Director Officer in this ship.
Radar guards were assigned by the Task Group FDO in accordance with CentCom 2.
- Employment and performance of radars.
- Performance of the SK radar was superlative throughout the combat period. It is
estimated that in excess of 60% of the air contacts picked up by the Task Group were
detected initially by the SK radar on this ship.
Except for a short period on 12 May the BL-6 associated with the SK also gave outstanding performance.
- SC-2 radar was again lacking in sensitivity and was used only during the KYUSHU strikes, or while the ship was under threat of attack or attack in the Okinawa area. This radar is completely inadequate. It is imperative that it be replaced by a satisfactory secondary air search radar. This particularly important in a CVN because operational control and recovery of aircraft at night are virtually impossible without good radar of this type. Primary and secondary sets are essential to ensure that at all times there is at least one thoroughly dependable set. A shorter transmission line undoubtedly would improve performance.
- SM radar was employed as in past operations. Range sensitivity was good and altitude determination much improved as compared with the previous operation.
- SG-A, FD and AN/APS-4 radars performed well in their usual assignments.
- Performance of the SK radar was superlative throughout the combat period. It is estimated that in excess of 60% of the air contacts picked up by the Task Group were detected initially by the SK radar on this ship.
- I.F.F. Performance.
- There was no significant change in the I.F.F. situation as described at length in
the last report. Shore-based aircraft are still the chief offenders from the standpoint
of negligence in the operation and/or maintenance of airborne transponders. Of these
the "Peter Bogey Mikes" were the most numerous.
These "friendly bogies" not only distract C.I.C. from other more important matters, but divert CAP from their stations and alert gun crews at times when they otherwise would be obtained rest they sorely need.
- Japanese aircraft again were encountered with Code 1 I.F.F. This is believed to be the most plausible explanation for the non-detection of bandits which successfully attacked BUNKER HILL on 11 May.
- There was no significant change in the I.F.F. situation as described at length in the last report. Shore-based aircraft are still the chief offenders from the standpoint of negligence in the operation and/or maintenance of airborne transponders. Of these the "Peter Bogey Mikes" were the most numerous.
- Maintenance of Radars.
The maintenance of radars was excellent. The outstanding performance of the SK radar may be attributed directly to good maintenance. All reasonable expectations of as old a gear as this one were exceeded.
- C.I.C. Communications.
- The communications gear gave good electronics performance if each circuit were considered individually. Collectively, however, C.I.C. was plagued by interference between the two MAN radios used for inter-FDO circuits (36.5 and 37.6 mcs.) and various VHF circuits not sufficiently separated in frequency. Other ships noted the same type of MAN interference and the two circuits could not be used simultaneously with success. Prior to the operation the Radio Officer and crew conducted extensive experiments with antenna locations and diapole lengths in an effort to eliminate this trouble, but no solution is apparent with this type of gear.
- Due to MAN interference, and the need for greater range than afforded by VHF, 2096 KCS was used almost constantly for the Task Force inter-FDO circuit. The use of this circuit was necessary under the circumstances, but the loss of security cannot be denied. When operating off KYUSHU we were within constant communication range of OKINAWA where the same circuit was being employed. Early use of aircraft with AN/ARC-18 relay gear should offer some improvement but not a complete solution.
- FIGHTER DIRECTION CHRONOLOGY.
7 May 1945. 1052 A single friendly was detected bearing 095 - 28 miles closing, showing I.F.F. Numerous ships later concurred. At 24 miles it showed bogey. ESSEX vectored one division to intercept the bogey then at angels 1. This division overshot the target and the bogey opened to the west and gained altitude to angels 4. A RANDOLPH division of TCAP, returning from OKINAWA, was vectored on and shot down one Frances at 1109.
NOTE: In retrospect it seems likely that the I.F.F. originally reported was from other aircraft at the same range but different bearing. There is no apparent reason for a snooper to secure I.F.F. during his final approach.
11 May 1945. 0127 A single bogey was detected bearing 300 - 35 miles, closing on course 120, with VFN from TG 58.4 in pursuit 2 miles astern. The bogey eluded the VFN about 10 miles from the force, closed to 5 miles, then opened to the south and faded at 190 - 46 miles. The VFN was not on a frequency common to this task group. 0956 TG 58.4 CAP splashed one Jill at 090 - 72 from our position. 1012 BUNKER HILL CAP reported bogey over the group at 1500 feet. 1012 BUNKER HILL was hit by two Kamikazes with bombs. A third plane was splashed by AA fire after its unsuccessful bombing attack.
NOTE: The first and only warning of this attack was the report of the CAP. It is believed that the enemy approached in or above the low cloud cover with I.F.F.
1016 Small bogey (2 planes) was detected at 131 - 22 miles, closing, angels 1. ESSEX vectored one division which failed to intercept. The raid closed and both planes were splashed by AA fire. 13 May 1945. 0125 During the run-in for the KYUSHU strikes, the initial bogey contact was made at 005 - 47 miles on course 150, speed 150 knots. No VFN were airborne. The first launch occurred at 0150 after the bogey had passed the formation and no interception was possible. 0150
Five to eight enemy planes approached the formation employing usual tactics with window. ESSEX had two VFN on patrol at the time and this ship was conducting night heckler missions over KYUSHU. One ESSEX VFN shot at a twin-float plane on which the pilot reported hits but could not report a definite splash. Other reports of fire on the horizon seemed to verify the belief that the Japanese was destroyed. The interception was controlled in TG 58.4.
At 0330 one ESSEX VFN, under ENTERPRISE control splashed a Betty at 000 - 65 miles.
0645 One Myrt was splashed by RANDOLPH CAP at 262 -45, angels 21. 0928 TG 58.1 CAP splashed one Myrt at angels 25, bearing 135 - 35 miles from this group. 2305 ENTERPRISE VFN, under control of TG 58.4, shot down one enemy plane. 14 May 1945. 0045 A single bogey was detected at 245 - 31, angels 2, heading 030, speed 160. An ENTERPRISE VFN, under her control, was vectored to intercept. Radar contact was obtained on the crossing vector, but could not be held. A second contact was obtained at 2½ on a closing course and the VFN closed to splash 1 Betty at 0100, bearing 320 - 20. 0100
Numerous bogeys were in the area and interceptions were attempted as information permitted. No splashes occurred and no friendly units were damaged. During this period the majority of interceptions were controlled by TG 58.4 because the contacts were on their bearing. Most of the interceptions were conducted on a channel not common to both groups. Transfer of control might have been difficult if any such necessity had developed. 0550 - A bogey was detected bearing 285 - 48 miles, closed to 240 - 23 miles, then opened to 340 - 60 miles where it faded. Two divisions of BELLEAU WOOD VF were unable to overtake the bogey as he opened. 0610 - At this time a coordinated attack began which culminated in damage to ENTERPRISE. Several single bogeys appeared from bearing 200 to 240, ranges 25 - 30 miles, and appeared to be climbing. Three divisions of DCAP, plus ENTERPRISE TDADCAP, then standing by to land, were vectored to intercept. The DCAP shot down 2 ZEKES and the TDADCAP shot down 1 ZEKE. More bogeys appeared between 225 - 45 and 225 - 60 and closed the formation on zigzag courses. One group closed T.G. 58.1, was intercepted and 2 ZEKES destroyed, the remainder closing 58.1 and being taken under fire by AA.
The other group closed this formation, continuously under CAP attack. 3 - 5 were splashed before 4 penetrated the CAP screen and got over the formation. Three of these were shot down by AA fire and the fourth dove on the ENTERPRISE No. 1 elevator at 0658.
0708 - T.G. 58.1 shot down one ZEKE by AA fire. 0717 - A division of BELLEAU WOOD VF shot down one TONY 20 miles west of the group. 0725 - The picket line, 18 miles to the northeast, splashed one ZEKE and 1 JUDY. 0736 - One TONY was splashed by BATAAN CAP. The bogey had appeared at 275 - 50 miles at angels 10, closing on course 100. 0737
Four raids, consisting of 6 to 8 aircraft at angels 6 to 10 approached the formation from 40 - 50 miles, all on evasive courses. Effort was made to intercept all of them. Four ZEKES were shot down by CAP and three by AA batteries. 0835 - Picket line CAP shot down 2 TONYS and 1 ZEKE. The picket line was 20 miles north of us at this time.
- FIGHTER DIRECTION FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS.
- Fighter direction accounted for more kills in this than in the last operation. This was due, in large part, to positioning of DCAP at greater altitudes and on bearings away from the group under definite control of a designated ship. This procedure is considered far superior to stationing of all CAP over base. Use of altitude to obtain speed is also considered a "must" within the limitations of oxygen supply.
- It is recommended that the use of I.F.F. Code 1 be discontinued, at least temporarily, in an effort to defeat enemy I.F.F. deception. Jap planes observed to date with I.F.F. all have shown Code 1. If all friendly aircraft used Codes 4, 5 or 6 the distinction would be apparent. This suggestion offers only temporary relief but it seems to be the only relief available until new gear is supplied.
- The Task Group Tactical Circuit was used improperly for the initial checking of bogeys
prior to reports over the inter-FDO circuit or any opportunity for evaluation. The majority
of the reports originated with fire control radar contacts. These radars do not have
identification equipment and every contact made initially appeared bogey. The contacts
immediately were put on the T.G. Tactical Circuit which has pilot house outlets on this
and many other ships. Most fire control radar contacts were very close aboard and as a
result the ship was being constantly alerted to "bogies" which CIC knew to be friendly.
The contacts were so close aboard that Bridge understandably alerted the ship before seeking
evaluation from CIC. The result was an unwarranted tenseness in the ship, frequent alerts,
tired gun crews and unnecessary interruption of the ship's work. On 14 May this happened
at least three times in connection with two Corsairs flying as a section on CAP. The use
of this circuit can be of immeasurable value for AA coordination when used properly and
this ship heartily concurs in the AA coordination plans. It is urged, however, that bogey
contacts be handled as followed:
- All initial bogey reports should be passed over the Radar Reporting Channel - at present the Inter Fighter Director Circuit.
- C.I.C. Officers with full knowledge of the flight schedules, CAP airborne, and the entire air picture should make the evaluation.
- If a bogey or bandit evaluation results, use the Tactical Circuit to bring the guns to bear. If all ships guard the Inter-FDO circuit their CIC's will advise their gunnery departments, through the Gunnery Liaison Officer, of target angels, course, speed and composition. That is the method used on this ship.
- The authorized approach pattern again was too broad to clear the radar scope and permit the identification of hostile aircraft by track. Exceptions to the approach pattern were granted on request and the approaches were not well maintained. In numerous instances returning aircraft simply announced that they were making a direct approach. The approach of aircraft which attacked BUNKER HILL might have been detected had the approach system been more rigid. It is recommended: (a) that the approach of returning planes be channelized in greater degree and the approach pattern be enforced even though some extra flying time may be consumed - this on the ground that resulting loss in offensive power may be more than compensated for by an increase in carrier availability; (b) that there be routine interception and identification of planes not conforming to the approach pattern authorized; and (c) that there be proper reporting to Commanding Officers of unjustified approach violations.
- An additional C.I.C. Circuit is needed. It is the Radar Reporting Circuit authorized in USF10-A but not now in operation due to lack of radios. Security in this circuit is desirable but tactically less important than in the Inter-FDO circuits. When installed the Radar Reporting Circuit should be controlled by a Task Group Radar Control Officer, an individual who would be some one other than the Task Group Fighter Director Officer. Under the direction of the TG-RCS it might be expected that the group radars could be controlled more effectively and great improvement achieved in utilizing the collective radar coverage of all ships. Proper use of this system would relieve the inter-FDO circuits considerably and the FDOs could devote more attention and thought to control of CAP and other important matters.
- It was apparent again that the Hellcat does not have adequate speed for either day or night intercept work. The higher speeds developed by Corsairs paid off handsomely in several daylight interceptions. Their ability to climb rapidly was also noticeably effective. For night interceptions Corsairs may be the interim answer until such time as new VFN now projected are available - provided, that the Corsairs wing folding mechanism can be made sufficiently powerful to operate properly in the presence of high winds across the deck.
- RCM Report for Heckler Missions 12-13 May, 1945.
- One RCM equipped VTN made the 1730 to 2330 heckler flight to Miyazaki on southern KYUSHU. The jamming transmitter was preset on 200 mc/s. and was used effectively against searchlights. Window was also used and was also effective.
- One RCM equipped VTN was detailed to make the 2330-0500 heckler flight to KANOYA Field
on southern KYUSHU. In order to keep the enemy from knowing where the planes came from,
the pilots had been instructed to fly at an altitude of 500 feet to a point 30 miles due
south of Tanega Shima. Although some enemy radars could be detected, none of them tracked
this RCM plane prior to reaching the reference point. Upon arrival at the reference point
the plane climbed to 6000 feet before proceeding to KANOYA. A search radar started tracking
from then on in. Some of the search radar signals detected were:--
Location Characteristics Remarks S tip of Tanega 156/500/7 - obtained good bearings. This is a previously known location. Tosuki Hana Area 149/750/7 - Located by bearings. " " " 147/500/7 - Located by bearings. Previously known. Kagoshima Wan Area 135/500/15 - This signal was strongest while over target. Was on long enough to make careful check on characteristics. Due to gyrations of plane and press of using window and jamming no bearings were taken.
- While approximately 20 miles due south of Tanega the RCM plane detected a signal believed to be airborne--156/1000/5 (lobe switching). As the RCM plane approached KANOYA field, two searchlights came on and appeared to be tracking this plane. Some 200 mc window was dispensed and the searchlights appeared to stop on it. On the first run over KANOYA, seven or eight searchlights came on and started searching for this plane. A 200 mc fire control radar was detected and when jammed for several minutes disappeared. However, as the plane circled over and in the vicinity of the target, the searchlights continued to find and track the plane fairly well and window was not as effective as before. Another signal - 154-155/1000/2-3 was detected and when jammed caused the searchlights to lose their accuracy. At the time the APT-1 jamming-transmitter was turned on at 155 mc/s the plane was bracketed by about eight searchlights. The searchlight beams immediately started started wavering and lost the plane. Every time this signal came on the searchlights came on shortly after. It usually went off when the lights did. However, a few times the radar remained on and the searchlights would come back on shortly. After jamming on 155 mcs for about 30 minutes the searchlights became a little more effective, as if the Japs were using some other method of locating, although they still continued trying to use this frequency. The 200 mc FC/SLC radar did not come on a second time although a constant check was kept on it.
- One RCM equipped VTN was on the 2330 to 0530 heckler flight to SASEBO. No RCM reconnaissance work was done, but window and jamming on 200 mcs were both reported as effective against searchlights. The crew reported that searchlights at first picked the plane up easily, but with jammer on no trouble was experienced. When window was used the searchlights would stop on the window and follow it down. The jammer in this plane was pre-tuned on board the ship prior to flight.
Communications other than CIC were satisfactory even under adverse conditions caused by battle damage on 14 May 1945. The need for separation of frequencies and antenna filters is still paramount.
- Communications during this period were considered to be excellent. The Fox circuits were heavily loaded as usual although no difficulty in copying these circuits was noted. Much duplication of traffic over the primary, secondary, Air Operations Intelligence, and Task Force Commanders circuits was noted.
- Task Group Tactical circuit was used more than usual and was considered very effective, except with certain ships where material difficulty was experienced. It is not recommended, however, that the circuit be used for the initial interchange of radar contact information or bogey reports. These reports should be made on the Inter-Fighter Director circuit, until activating of a Radar Reporting Circuit and evaluated by CIC personnel. If an evaluated bogey is made the AA batteries should be controlled on the TGC circuit. During periods when the circuit is not so employed it may serve its present valuable service as the TGC circuit for handling administrative traffic.
- Combat Information Circuits were saturated as usual. More VHF channels are badly needed. The two MAN transceivers will not serve their purpose unless a greater separation of frequencies are effected. It is necessary to remain silent on one circuit while the other is being utilized. Various experiments have been carried out to eliminate the reaction between the two equipments but no success has been met.
- Radio Three consisting of one model TBK transmitter, one Model TBM-TBN transmitter, 1 RAK-RAL receiver and tube tester was demolished when a bomb hit number one elevator. This equipment is beyond repair. The compartment in which this equipment was located was badly damaged. No other equipment was damaged during this action.
- TBS-2 circuit functioned efficiently within the group and fairly well between the group commanders when within ten or eleven miles of each other.
- Full utilization of the visual signal methods were used. Flag hoists and flashing lights were used extensively both tactically and administratively.
- During the action of 14 May the following damage was incurred:
- Port flag bag caught fire from burning debris which was quickly extinguished.
- Gyro Repeater located in Signal Shelter was knocked off its mounting.
- The hit at No. 1 elevator on 14 May 1945 had no immediate effect upon the Engineering Department's ability to maintain full operation. No. 1 Diesel Fire Pump was in operation at the time of the hit and was put out of operation soon after the hit by water flowing into A-9-E through the diesel air supply and running over the engine. As soon as the fire main was placed in Condition 2 (all line stops open) all pumps were pumping at full capacity, in some cases overload, in an effort to maintain maximum pressure which averaged about 100 P.S.I. The heavy load made it necessary to secure No. 4 fire and bilge pump and No. 2 diesel fire pump after the fire was reported under control, as they had overheated.
- The heavy smoke from the fire reached all machinery spaces where gas masks and hose masks were used to varying degrees, particularly after the ship put the wind to port. The masks were not worn in the engine rooms where although smoke was fairly heavy it did not interfere with breathing. Had it lasted 10 or 15 minutes longer it would have been necessary to resort to the masks. In the fire rooms the smoke was heaviest, particularly after the ship turned to starboard. The forward group of boilers were fairly early subjected to heavy smoke. Fireroom personnel used battle lanterns at the gauge glasses in order to tend the water; key personnel used hose masks and the remainder of the watch used gas masks.
- After the experience of other carriers, some of which were forced by smoke to abandon machinery spaces, this vessel equipped all firerooms, engine rooms, and generator rooms with hose masks for key personnel. These hose masks were simply gas masks with cannister removed and air supply from the L.P. air system. In addition the generator and engine rooms are equipped with large (200 cu. ft.) air bottles supplying hose masks for use in case of complete failure of air compressors.
- The presence of hose masks and the resulting confidence of personnel have greatly reduced both the actual and mental hazard from smoke and it is strongly recommended that they be made standard equipment in all carriers where the smoke hazard is great.
During present operation, a further study was conducted to ascertain which ration - "K" or "C", from an overall standpoint, was considered the most satisfactory "battle ration". Based on the factors of: facility of distribution, variety, balanced diet, and satisfaction of personnel, - the "K" ration proved to be far superior. It is, therefore, again recommended that "K" ration be made available for distribution to combatant ships in the forward area until such time as a more suitable battle ration can be provided.
- Resume of Casualties, 14 May 1945.
A resume of casualties shows that only five burns occurred, one fatal and four minor. Three occurred in a five inch gun mount where powder was ignited causing a flash. Five men were drowned in a flooded compartment and three sustained severe contusions or fractures without visible wounds, one man was overcome by smoke. All of the others resulted from flying fragments.
Fourteen cases were transferred to the U.S.S. BOUNTIFUL the day following the action.
Eight men, including one burn case, were blown overboard. All were picked up by an escorting destroyer. All were wearing life preservers and were equipped with whistles.
- Use of Gas Mask in smoke filled compartments.
The issue gas mask (USN U GAS MASK ND MARK III) is excellent for passage through smoke filled compartments where oxygen is known to exist and the mask is recommended for use in such compartments especially by personnel not trained in the use of rescue breathing apparatus. Gas masks should be constantly at hand when attack is imminent.
- Flash Proof Clothing.
Issue flash proof clothing provides complete and excellent protection from severe flash. A case in point - a man had flash proof clothing completely burned off and sustained only second degree burns of face and neck. Another man wearing flash proof clothing covering neck, forehead, chin and ears sustained a second and third degree butterfly burn of nose, upper lip and both cheeks. The clothing was undamaged.
- Improper use of Protection Ointment
Protective Ointment S-461 has been used improperly as treatment of burns upon two occasions by overzealous personnel. In the second case mentioned above, patient was treated by two well meaning officers, with the result that he lost the protection of the bleb coverings of his second degree burns.
Rigid stretchers are impractical for transportation of wounded through tortuous passages. Several such cases required transfer from one stretcher to another, using blanket carry through certain passages. Flexible stretchers are imperative in parts of the ship where ready access is not found, notably officers country forward. Fabrication of flexible stretchers is being requested.
For the first time in recent months there was no shortage of stretchers, additional stretchers having been procured prior to the action, after months of effort to procure them.
Headaches of a severe nature developed in personnel who inhaled smoke from bomb burst or fire. Headaches were mostly in back of head, though some were frontal. All responded promptly to aspirin, though many recurred when effects of aspirin wore off.
No explanation is apparent as to the cause of the greatly increased incidence of headaches and the fact the personnel in areas remote from the scene and in open air, but who inhaled the smoke, were subject to the headaches.
- No psycho-somatic complaints.
Although the attack continued for an hour and a half after the hit, there were no cases admitted for psycho-somatic complaints. The headaches mentioned above were thought to be psycho-somatic at first but as the incidence became more general and the requests were simply for aspirin, one man frequently representing a group, it became obvious that the cause was physical.
No cases of combat fatigue were seen during or following the action.
- Comments on Air Operations.
- During this underway-period, current intelligence as provided by flash reports from the Day Carriers was considerably better than heretofore. Especially was this true during the brief period when Commander Task Force 58 had his flag in ENTERPRISE. The promptness with which reports came in from returning day strikes and sweeps giving locations and condition of enemy A/C at the various fields in the target area, enemy shipping observed, Flak information, etc., simplified the task of selecting targets and briefing pilots for their night missions immeasurably. The contrast was marked between this and previous underway-periods when evening ZIPPER, TCAP, and Heckler flights had to be launched (more often than not) without the benefit of any information as to what pilots from other carriers had found over the target during the day. It is absolutely essential that all available target information gathered during the day be passed without delay to the Night Carrier in order that night missions can be well planned and pilots thoroughly briefed. Steps must be taken in advance of each operation to ensure that a system for the prompt transmittal of such information to the CV(N) is set up and operative. It is further recommended that the CV(N) be assigned to the task group in which the Task Force Commander is operating in order to expedite receipt of this information.
- On the whole, intelligence briefing material, charts, maps, photographs, etc. provided for the operations participated in by ENTERPRISE as a CV(N) during this cruise period have been satisfactory.
- Mention has already been made of the need for substituting another color for RED in the printing of charts and maps to be used by night pilots, especially on Air/Sea Rescue Reference Point 8" x 8" charts. This color is invisible under the red lights of the airplane cockpit and when viewed through night-adaptation goggles. It is hoped steps maybe now have been taken to correct this situation.
- Night pilots continue to emphasize their special need for accurate topographical information. Night flying over land areas presents obvious hazards, and since low altitude approaches to land targets are preferred by night pilots, especially for bombing attacks, absolute information on topography and terrain features is highly essential. To assist the pilots in this respect it has been found that a combination of terrain models, the best available topographic charts and maps, and good photographs, all placed in a convenient location (one corner of the wardroom has served well on this ship) where pilots can study these features of the target areas at their leisure, has been most satisfactory.
- A general improvement has been noted in the character and type of material furnished to CV's by Intelligence sources. The innovations of the 12" x 12" charts, the "blown-up" Area-briefing-charts, and 20" x 24" photographic "blow-ups" of important airfields and targets (in sufficient quantity to allow at least one per Ready Room), the 8" x 8" photos (copy-negatives are preferred to any standard number of prints), the gridded photo-mosaics for pin-pointing locations, and the adoption of a single-grid system for all air-gunnery maps and charts - are definite improvements and are indicative of progress made following early experiments and errors committed in the preparation of pilot intelligence material. These innovations and improvements however, seem to have been made at the expense of neglecting certain important items which by now should be standardized with respect to both accuracy and adequate coverage. In the latter category, reference is especially made to the templates prepared by the Hydrographic Office for pilots' plotting boards. These continue to show inaccuracies, some of which have been so serious as to render their use dangerous; some of them have required pilots to make navigational allowances on their plotting boards to compensate for errors in the templates. Also, in the only template provided for the NANSEI SHOTO operation, the island group was placed so far to the right side of the template as to render it nearly useless for the pilots of the Fast Carrier Force whose operating areas was beyond the eastern limits provided on the template. While photographs of airfields and other targets have been generally excellent, there have been too few oblique photos furnished showing the normal approaches to those targets. It is considered that a few well selected approach photographs for the more important target areas would be of value to pilots on their initial missions to the targets.
- In ENTERPRISE Action Report of 25 January, 1945, covering Operations in Support of the Landings on LUZON, P.I., 5-23 January, a brief description was given of the use of Radar Planning Device (R.P.D.) photographic predictions by the Night Carrier Air Group embarked. At the time of that report, R.P.D. coverage had been prepared for four target areas, namely TAKAO, Formosa; CAMRANH BAY, French Indo-China; HONG KONG, China; and Southern OKINAWA. It was also stated in the same report that "the limited use of these predictions by pilots and VTN radar operators of the Air Group" up to that time did not then permit any conclusive deducting being drawn as to the practical value of R.P.D. simulations to a Night Carrier Air Group. For subsequent operations, photographic simulations of "B" - scope-scan were prepared for the approaches to TOKYO BAY, KURE AND SHIMONOSEKI (through BUNGO Channel and the INLAND Sea); and Southern KYUSHU. Now, after four months of operation in the combat area, some general conclusions regarding the use of R.P.D. predictions have been reached. It has been found that the predictions are of considerable value in briefing radar operators on the approaches to the targets for which they are prepared, but that their greatest value lies in training the operator to learn what to look for in radar echoes from land masses and how to anticipate the radar image on the "B"-scope from the study of topographic maps and terrain models of the area. It has not been found practical to carry the photo-predictions in the airplane with the idea of comparing them with the actual image on the radar screen or vice-versa. Minor differences in bearings of approach, actual altitude flow etc., render the images on the screen somewhat different from that shown on the photo-prediction and tends to confuse rather than assist the operator. However, the value of R.P.D. predictions for training and briefing is considered high by all who have used them. This is being made a subject for specific discussion in the Action Report of the Commander Air Group Ninety covering this underway-period.
- Two days prior to sailing for the forward area this ship received ten F6F-5N's with 20 MM guns installed. An immediate attempt was made to procure the ammunition for the guns but no activity could supply the M-7 links necessary for them and it was subsequently learned that no one in the forward area had any of the subject links available. Further, the conversion kits which are supposed to accompany these planes for the purpose of installing .50 cal. guns if desired were nowhere in evidence. The conversion to the .50 cal. installations was made but not without a great deal of difficulty and the necessity for a large amount of machine shop work being done. The apparent lack of foresight on the part of the planners for this installation could be very embarrassing to a ship receiving these planes in the forward area and would cut down the combat efficiency of the units attempting to operate these planes considerably.
- A further question on the 20 MM installation arose after the planes were aboard. The 20 MM guns protrude 8½ inches further out on each side than do the .50 cal. guns and this brings up a spotting problem. On this ship one plane for each row on both the flight and hangar decks is lost because of the increased width if the planes are to be spotted so that they can be operated. It is reasonable to assume that the same thing will apply to the CV-9 type carrier. Models for the ouija board should be made up and sent to all ships immediately for purposes of planning for these planes.
- When another carrier in the unit was damaged this ship took aboard fifteen of her chickens. When the spot was being made to carry out the night schedule, the ouija board was used with the models of the F4U planes furnished the ship. With the models a very nice picture was made but in the actual spot it was found that there was a great discrepancy, the models being too small. The models of the F4U's furnished are definitely made to a different scale than are the models of the F6F's and TBM's now in use. All have been furnished the ship by BuAer.
- When the ship was hit, it was extremely fortunate that personnel were stationed for landing planes. Practically all hands on duty in the flight and hangar deck crews were by number two elevator, hence casualties in these crews were very low. Planes had been degassed upon landing and were struck below only after this had been accomplished. This was true except in two cases wherein it was necessary to put the planes below with about one hundred gallons of fuel in each. Fortunately they were at the forward end of the hangar deck where the sprinkler system was put into immediate operation and the fire caused by the gasoline was quickly extinguished. Normal procedure followed on this ship when attack is imminent and planes are being landed is to have chock men available at Fly 2 in order to chock planes in the gear should it be necessary. This necessitates a minimum of personnel being exposed on deck as the crews necessary for taxying planes forward and spotting them are allowed to be under cover. The decision as to whether to taxi the plane out of the gear is made in Fly Control and action taken by passing the word over the bull horn. The situation at the time we were hit was just following the word over the bull horn, "All hands not needed on deck to land this one plane, seek cover". As a result, there was not one man in the flight deck crew who was injured by shrapnel.
[The Report of Casualties has been omitted from this online transcription.]
- Suicide Attacks.
- The suicide attack is an old story to the ENTERPRISE, she having been subjected to her first attack back in October, 1944. As a result by the time the ship was hit on 14 May, considerable study had been made of the proper defense against that type of attack so that the damage suffered could be kept to a minimum. However, in any analysis of damage, it should be pointed out the suicide plane, which hit the ENTERPRISE on 14 May, not only hit at a point where it would do as little damage as possible, but also hit at a time when virtually all planes on board were degassed and had their ammunition removed. The latter is one advantage that the night carrier has over day carriers in that the planes can be maintained in a degassed and dearmed status during most of the daylight hours.
- The following precautions have been practiced by this ship in strike areas since
they were promulgated by ALPAC 8-45:
- The ship is habitually maintained in condition one or one easy from dawn to dark.
- The ship is habitually maintained in condition ABLE from dawn to dark.
- Personnel are fed breakfast prior going to General Quarters in the morning; Battle Rations for lunch; and, for the evening meal after secure from General Quarters to prevent large assemblies of men.
- Personnel are required to put on flash-proof clothing and steel helmets when bogies close to 20 miles. In this connection, only one man was killed because of burns due to the hit of 14 May.
- All personnel not actually engaged in repelling the attack are required to seek shelter and lie prone during an actual attack.
- Personnel topside are required to wear life preservers. This accounted for the fact that all eight men forced overboard were rescued. A contributing cause in their speedy rescue was that they assembled on a 15 foot section of the elevator planking.
- All firefighting equipment is manned at all times. This accounted for the fact that the fires on 14 May were brought under control within 17 minutes and put out in 30 minutes although the starboard fire main forward was ruptured by the hit.
- The gun crews are constantly drilled with the necessity for remaining at their guns, opening fire as soon as possible, and continuing fire as long as they can bear.
- The above measures were rather difficult to maintain over a long period of time without a resultant loss of efficiency on the part of the men especially those that were stationed below decks. However, the periodic retirement to a fueling area usually provided a sufficient break in the routine for all hands to catch up on their sleep. It was felt that such measures were essential on this ship, because by comparison our battery is less effective than that of the CV-9 class; our hangar deck is not armored; and the condition and limitation of the design of the fire main together with inadequate pumps would make it difficult to combat a large scale fire that had gotten out of control.
- It is unlikely that the suicide bomber which hit the ship could have succeeded in his attack had it not been for the cloud cover which concealed his approach. Because it was difficult to track his approach through the clouds, the formation was unfortunately turned in a direction that blanked off the majority of the ENTERPRISE's guns and provided a fore and aft approach for the Kamikaze.
- ENTERPRISE operations during the somewhat brief period covered by this report more nearly approached the original concept of the Night Carrier than at any time during the entire cruise beginning on 24 December, 1944.
- Night missions only were flown after reaching the combat area.
- VFN were held in Condition TEN throughout each night, ready for interception of bogies detected over the Force, and proved their worth when scrambled on the night of 13 May by destroying two enemy intruders.
- Regular Dawn and Dusk Patrols were flown over the target area by VFN, filling the gap in early morning between the departure of VTN Night Hecklers and the arrival of VF sweeps from the Day Carriers, and again in the evening, patrolling the targets after departure of the last day-strikes until Night Hecklers once more arrived on station. Those patrols played the part of Intruders as well, their rocket and strafing runs contributing not only to the overall damage inflicted upon enemy aircraft on the ground, airfield installations and other targets, but they were also able to keep the enemy pinned down, prevented his launching pre-dawn strikes against our Fleet, and on the morning of the 13th alone demonstrated their effectiveness by shooting down eight enemy aircraft in the KANOYA area and vicinity.
- For the first time, on the nights of 11, 12, and 13 May, VTN Hecklers, armed with full mixed loads of 100 pound GP bombs Incendiary Clusters, Rockets and Flares, were kept over the target area throughout the night, relieving the Dusk VFN Patrols in the evening, and being relieved by the Dawn VFN patrols before daybreak, while the succeeding flights of Hecklers relieved each other on station.
- For the first time, during the approach of the Task Force on a major target area, night Hecklers (followed by pre-dawn VFN patrols) were sent out in advance to harass the enemy in his home bases, make him take cover, and keep him down, prevent him from "getting set" for the heavy sweeps and strikes to be launched by our Day Carriers in early morning, and to impede as far as possible, his organizing attacks in force against our approaching Fleet.
- On this occasion, deceptive approach tactics employed by the Hecklers functioned perfectly; the VTN made for a reference point about 25 miles south of TANEGA SHIMA (site of a known early-warning radar station) at 500 feet altitude, and then proceeded towards KYUSHU on a course which would make it appear that they had come from OKINAWA. RCM intercepts indicated the flight was first picked up by the TANEGA radar 20 miles south of that island and thereafter "tracked" all the way in to KANOYA.
- This commencement of "round-the-clock" operations against the enemy by the Fast Carrier Task Force, with a CV(N) Air Group filling in the important gap during hours of darkness, showed immediate and direct results, for not a single enemy attack was made on either group of the Task Force on the 13th, despite the fact that the Fleet remained within relatively easy radius of enemy VF operating from the airfields of Southern KYUSHU and SHIKOKU.
- During the night of the 13/14th, the VFN TDADCAP-VTN Heckler flight-plan was repeated; a total of 20 important KYUSHU and SHIKOKU airfields were on the "receiving end" of bombs, incendiaries and rockets dropped by the Hecklers during this and the previous night. Enemy long-range bomber "snoopers" located the Task Force during the night, and undoubtedly the TANEGA SHIMA search radar had our night CAP (over the Task Force) plotted on their screen through most of the previous day.
- It was probably too much to expect that a few enemy attackers would not get through on the morning of the 14th to our Task Force. The enemy's attack did occur, and it so happened that ENTERPRISE was the one ship in the Force to be hit by a suicide bomber. This does not detract, however, from the effectiveness of the night Heckler and Dawn VFN patrols, for the fact remains that the enemy attack against our Fleet that morning was not well organized and not carried out in large force. Furthermore, no other attacks were made during the remainder of the day. In addition, the attacks came from northeasterly bearings indicating that they were from fields not covered by CV(N) planes.
- It is regrettable that an end was so unfortunately put to ENTERPRISE night operations, seemingly at the very moment when conclusive proof of the value of the CV(N) was being established. It is to be hoped that the success of those last operations will bear witness to the potentialities of the CV(N) as a member of the Fast Carrier Task Force.