Re: The Raid on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands PART 2
Publicado: 25 May 2016, 00:34
PA_Spartan escribió: a ver mi me lo cuidan más que los últimos que les dejé ...
ACTION OF THE YORKTOWN AIR GROUP
The Yorktown, Louisville, and St. Louis made their approach to the attack point between the Marshall and Gilbert Islands on course 270° true, speed 25.5 knots. The support force of four destroyers approached on the same course at a speed of 15 knots. This course was held until 0500 on February 1st and was then reversed. Seventeen minutes later the planes for the Jaluit attack were launched from position latitude 5°01' N., longitude 171°48' E., a point 140, 127, and 71 miles respectively from Jaluit, Makin, and Mili. The weather at the time of the launching was high overcast with a large dark bank of clouds and lightning in the direction of Jaluit. The moonlight showing through the clouds was sufficient to give a good horizon for take-off.
Attack on Jaluit Island.
The group consisted of 11 torpedo bombers and 17 scout bombers under the command of Comdr. Curtis S. Smiley, commander of the Yorktown air group. In order to give the scout bombers the maximum radius, it was necessary to use planes without leak-proof fuel tanks. This necessitated some exchange of planes between the scouting and bombing squadrons. The planes were spotted on the flight deck of the Yorktown in order of squadron tactical organization. The first plane in the Jaluit attack group in the spot and to be launched was flown by Lt. Comdr. Robert G. Armstrong. Because of the extremely bad weather the squadron became separated. Since an accurate and complete account of the ensuing events is not available, Lt. Comdr. Armstrong's experience is presented here as typical:
After making a normal run ahead of about 4 minutes, turning running, tail and formation lights on dim, he executed a wide sweeping turn to the right. A majority of the first division of the bombing squadron joined up in loose formation by the time he had completed the turn passing along the starboard side of the Yorktown on a course parallel. A large group of lights were seen at this time, ahead and to the starboard of the track of the ship. Lt. Comdr. Armstrong then made another easy turn to the right and when again alongside the Yorktown he had with him possibly 15 planes in loose formation which he believed to be the entire bombing squadron attack group. One or two additional easy turns were made on the starboard side of the ship to the right, while awaiting an opportunity to join up with the torpedo squadron, which should have rendezvoused on the port side of the ship. He believed that during this time some planes from the torpedo squadron joined his squadron.
It was then about 10 minutes past the time for departure and, not having sighted the torpedo squadron, he crossed ahead of the Yorktown and made a wide sweeping turn to the left in hope of making contact. He took his formation well ahead of the port side before turning to a course opposite to that of the Yorktown. Lights were seen which were believed to belong to torpedo bombers. At about 0535, not having been able to complete a rendezvous, he took departure for Jaluit, but 5 minutes later, thinking that he saw lights astern which might have been a part or all of the torpedo squadron, he made a wide sweeping turn to the left in the hope of effecting a rendezvous. On completion of this turn, he again set out for the objective, believing that about 22 or 23 planes were in formation. These included a plane on his starboard bow which he later learned was the Yorktown Air Group Commander.
A speed of about 115 knots was maintained in order to conserve the fuel of the torpedo planes with him and those which might be astern, but out of sight. The relatively heavy clouds and the fact that the moon was nearly down made the morning very dark. The horizon was extremely indistinct and it was not possible to avoid or see all of the many thunderstorms in the area. Cruising altitude varied between 400 and 600 feet.
At 0627 Lt. Comdr. Armstrong believed he was near the south tip of Jaluit Atoll. The higher clouds were brightening with the dawn and he decided to climb above the thin overcast in order to avoid detection. He had been using the automatic pilot for about 50 miles, and he now increased the throttle and began to climb at about 300 feet per minute. His plane rose through the thin overcast and plunged immediately into a heavy thunderstorm. Nevertheless he maintained course and climbed for about 2 more minutes through the increasingly heavy rain until he saw two bright flashes which he thought was lightning. He then turned the pilot to descend at about 150 knots, breaking clear of the clouds at 700 feet 3 minutes later. With him were five other planes.
The south tip of Jaluit was sighted about a half mile distant on the starboard bow and a turn to the left away from the land was begun. The planes were then in a clear area about 3 miles wide, dawn having broken while they were in the thunderstorm. Two large thunderstorms extended in a general northwest-southeast direction for a considerable distance. The leader called on the radio in an attempt to reassemble the group, notifying them he had sighted the south tip of Jaluit, their navigational objective.
He now climbed on a southeast direction for about 7 or 8 minutes. Course was then reversed in order to gain a position over the western part of the atoll, preparatory to commencing the attack. While at about 8,000 feet on this northwest heading, two additional planes were seen flying together about 4,000 feet below. Neither plane heard Lt. Comdr. Armstrong's call by radio, but they did follow astern while the attack was being made.
High winds, which were much stronger from the northeast than had been anticipated, and the clouds below delayed contact with the westward part of the atoll until 0700. Course was then set for the Jaluit anchorage, the bombing objective. Thunderstorms and heavy clouds covering most of the island caused considerable delay in reaching the anchorage and confusion as to the exact location of the harbor. The harbor was finally found with one large merchant or tender type vessel in the middle of the anchorage. The vessel was ablaze at the stern. Other small vessels of the fishing or patrol type were also anchored in the harbor. A clear picture of the scene could not be obtained because of the clouds.
The attack was initiated by the few planes in Lt. Comdr. Armstrong's section at 0725, diving from about 9,000 feet from south to north. He believes that his bomb missed on the port side of the stern of the vessel by about 100 feet. Complete fogging of the windshield and partial fogging of the telescope developed during the dive.
Recovery from the dive was made at high speed towards Kabbenbock Island, inboard of the channel mouth, with a view to strafing any antiaircraft installations which might be there. Approach was made within 1,000 feet at low altitude without seeing any activity. The course was, therefore, changed towards the tip of Enybor Island, which was supposed to have two landing fields. A clearing at the end of the island held a structure which resembled one of our normal dirigible hangars except it was not more than 200 feet in length. In the southwest part of the clearing, about 200 yards inshore, were four or five structures, that were not over 50 feet square and set on 50-foot stilts. In passing, Lt. Comdr. Armstrong raked these structures with about 100 rounds of .50-caliber machine-gun fire.
He then continued along the atoll with his section in order to destroy seaplane facilities and aircraft on Emidji. At the seaplane base, three small buildings were encountered, presumably hangars, although much too small to hold four-engine patrol planes. Three small L-shaped breakwaters, projected about 50 yards into the lagoon in front of these buildings, and a number of what appeared to be gun emplacements were observed surrounding the buildings. During a fleeting glimpse of the area, Lt. Comdr. Armstrong saw neither guns, personnel, nor gunfire.
There was a small ship, probably 200 feet long, anchored approximately 500 yards off this seaplane base. About 200 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition was fired at this vessel. During his approach Lt. Comdr. Armstrong observed no activity on the vessel; however, he did see that his tracer bullets were passing through the vessel and richocheting from the water on the far side. His plane was about 50 feet off the water and within 200 feet of the vessel before he pulled up and over.
He continued on up the line of islands at about 100 feet altitude and observed nothing except occasional thatched huts among the palm trees. After passing to the north of Agidyen Island, he turned east, flew through a small rainstorm and circled, calling by radio his wing men to join him. When after about 5 minutes they did not join him, he proceeded southward to a point 10 miles east of the south point of the island and encountered a plane section proceeding towards the ship. He began his return to the Yorktown with his section at about 0740.
Six planes and the crews were lost from our Jaluit attack group, due to the adverse weather conditions encountered both en route to and in returning from the mission. Two planes are known to have been forced down. All planes had to bomb from about 1,000 feet because of the restricted visibility; as a result, they were probably subjected to antiaircraft fire.
The following message was received aboard the Yorktown at 0811 from Lt. Harlan T. Johnson:
"This is 5-T-7. 5-T-7 and 5-T-6 are landing at Jaluit. Are landing alongside one of the northwestern islands of Jaluit. That is all."
Several of the returning planes landed aboard the carrier with less than 2 gallons of gas remaining in their tanks.
The damage inflicted by our air group at Jaluit was as follows:
One auxiliary vessel hit by bomb directly on stern and set on fire. This ship stopped immediately and dropped anchor. Later another direct hit was obtained by a torpedo plane dropping a two-bomb salvo. When last observed, the ship was burning fiercely. This vessel was strafed repeatedly.
One auxiliary vessel suffered at least three near bomb hits and repeated strafing attacks. Only superficial damage can be assumed.
One auxiliary vessel under way at sea was subjected to one bombing and strafing attack. The bomb missed; damage by strafing considered negligible.
Other small craft in the harbor were strafed with undetermined results.
Several bombs were dropped in the administrative building and barracks area near the mole on Jabor Island, causing extensive damage. This area was subjected to heavy strafing by .50-caliber and .30-caliber machine-gun fire.
At least two bombs were dropped in the vicinity of Enybor Island land-plane facilities and the area strafed. Damage undetermined.
The buildings indicated as seaplane facilities on Emidji Island were strafed. Damage undetermined.