1130 Yorktown launches search group. 1430 Position of Hiryu reported. 1530 Enterprise launches 24 VSB. 1603 Hornet launches 16 VSB. 1705 Enterprise squadron attacks CV. 1730 Hornet squadron attacks BB, CA.
Revenge for the Yorktown was not long in coming. That forenoon at 1130, shortly before the first attack on her, the Yorktown had launched a search group of 10 scout bombers. At about 1430, almost at the moment that the Yorktown was undergoing the torpedo attack, Lt. Samuel Adams, reported an enemy force of 1 aircraft carrier, 2 battleships, 3 heavy cruisers and 4 destroyers, course north, speed 20 knots, position, latitude 31°15' N., longitude 179°05' W.
At 1530 the Enterprise began launching an attack group of 24 scout bombers, 14 of which were from the Yorktown. Of the 24, 11 were armed with one 1,000-pound bomb each and 13 with one 500-pound bomb each. The Hornet at 1603 began launching a squadron of 16 scout bombers.
At 1650 the Enterprise squadron sighted the enemy force, now on course 280° and well spread out. Off to the south could be seen three columns of smoke marking the three carriers attacked earlier that day. There were only 6 to 12 Zeros to oppose our planes, but they shot down one of our attacking planes before it began its dive, and two as they were pulling out. A few minutes later our planes dove in from the sun from 19,000 feet. Six direct hits were made on the Hiryu, which was soon a mass of flames. Others of our bombers gave their attention to a battleship, which they hit twice.
Less than half an hour later the Hornet squadron arrived. By this time the carrier was burning so fiercely that it was no longer a useful target, and the attack was diverted to a battleship and a cruiser. Three hits, two of which were by 1,000-pound bombs, were scored on the former, and two 500-pound bomb hits on the cruiser. All planes of the Hornet squadron returned from the attack.
With the bombing of the fourth Japanese carrier we had won control of the air; but it was not yet certain whether there was a fifth enemy carrier to be reckoned with.
Last updated: March 1, 2003Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation