Source: R/V Petrel / Vulcan

Source: Naval History & Heritage Command


Wildcat of the Hornet on the seabed


INFO Eduard

to the rescue teams in an hour the fires were

put out and the flight operations resumed. The

American aviators managed to locate Shōkaku

and Zuikaku and ultimately the enemy fleet

retreated from the area.

Wasp rushed to help Enterprise and Saratoga.

Her airplanes shot down two Jake floatplanes

and one flying boat, but they failed to locate

the Japanese aircraft carriers. The disaster

struck in the coming days. First, on August 31,

1942, Saratoga was hit by a torpedo and had

to withdraw for repairs. She was hit by I-26

submarine which later sank the cruiser USS

Juneau about which we spoke in the previous

article. On September 15, 1942, ever bigger loss

occurred. I-19 submarine launched six torpedoes

against the American group of ships. One hit the

battleship USS North Carolina, and another hit

the destroyer USS O’Brien, which sank later.

Three torpedoes struck Wasp and caused large

fires and a series of explosions below the deck.

When it became clear that the fires could not

be put out the ship evacuation commenced. In

the end 193 crew members and 45 aircraft went

down to the bottom of the ocean.

Source: R/V Petrel / Vulcan

aircraft carriers withdrew to refuel. Between

August 15 and 20, 1942, Enterprise and

Saratoga returned to cover the aircraft

delivery to Henderson airfield on Guadalcanal.

Simultaneously the Japanese navy tried to

transport the reinforcements to the island.

Several task forces set sail with the mission not

to only cover the transportation ships but also

counterattack and destroy the American ships

around the island. The large aircraft carriers

Shōkaku, Zuikaku and light carrier Ryūjō were

assigned to this mission. On August 24 and

25, 1942 the encounter at the eastern Solomon

Island took place which came down in the

history as the third aircraft carriers’ battle ever.

Similar to the Battle of Corral Sea the Americans

first discovered the light aircraft carrier. Ryūjō

was sailing ahead of the main force with the task

of attacking the Henderson airfield. Saratoga

launched 38 aircraft against her and scored

several bomb hits and possibly a torpedo one.

The seriously damaged ship sank during the

night. The main Japanese force in the meantime

attacked the American carriers. They focused

on Enterprise which was hit by three bombs

dropped by Val dive bombers. However, thanks

127 mm gun aboard the USS Hornet

The International Harvester tractor for towing aircraft

remained aboard the USS Hornet after her sinking.

Source: R/V Petrel / Vulcan

A Japanese Val bomber shot down directly over the bridge of the USS Enterprise on August 24, 1942.

Source: R/V Petrel / Vulcan

Source: Naval History & Heritage Command

Source: R/V Petrel / Vulcan

A damaged Val dive bomber rushes at the USS Hornet on October 26, 1942. The torpedo bomber Kate takes

off after launching a torpedo.

28 mm four-barrel cannon on the wreck of the Hornet

May 2023