Appendix I: Summary of Carrier Air Groups' Operations
Wasp46According to Capt. Forrest Sherman, aircraft recovery, respotting, refueling, rearming, replacement of oxygen, and minor repairs were conducted rapidly and without incident. Replenishment of oxygen, however, proved to be the slowest operation. Although in some instances planes were late in returning to the ship, in no case was a scheduled launching late in leaving. Indeed, in most instances aircraft could have been flown off 5 to 15 minutes in advance of schedule. on D-Day a total of 223 launchings and 221 landings were made, and on D-plus-one-Day 89 launchings and 86 landings.
The Wasp aircraft expended sixty-seven 1,000-pound bombs, fifty 500-pound bombs, and sixteen 325-pound bombs, which all functioned as intended. Only one case of a jammed machine gun occurred in 309 flights. Three hundred twenty-five pound depth bombs with instantaneous fuses were used effectively against shore objectives, their advantage being that an SBD-3 could carry three as against only one 500-pound or 1,000-pound bomb.
The Wasp's casualties for the entire action were:
(a) One fighter pilot, Ens. T.J. Capowski, missing in action.
(b) One scout bomber shot down; pilot Lieut. Dudley H. Adams wounded by explosive bullets and recovered by the Dewey; Radioman-gunner Harry E. Elliott, ARM3c, missing, reported to have been killed before the crash.
(c) One fighter landed in the water due to propeller trouble; pilot recovered.
(d) One fighter crashed on deck; pilot injured; plane jettisoned overboard.
(e) One fighter crashed into barrier first day; repaired and flown second day.
Total plane losses for the Wasp were 3 fighters and 1 scout bomber. Against these, her planes destroyed 15 enemy patrol planes, 8 VF seaplanes, and 1 Zero.
Saratoga47The Saratoga had 240 take-offs August 7th and 233 landings. On the 8th, 114 planes took off and 113 landed.
As a result of the action August 7-8th, the Saratoga lost 7 fighters and 1 scout bomber. At the outset of action August 7th the Saratoga had 34 SBD-3s on board, 34 F4F-4s, and 15 TBFs; at the end of August 8th she had 33 SBD-3s, 27 F4F-4s, and 15 TBFs. Against this the Saratoga air group could count the destruction of at least 12 enemy planes.
The Saratoga's casualties for the entire action were:
(a) Lieut. James J. Southerland, Lieut. (jg) C.A. Tabberer, Lieut. (jg) W. Holt, Ens. J.R. Daly, who was later recovered by the Chicago, and Ens. R.L. Price were reported missing in action.
(b) One fighter, Ens. C.E. Eichenberger, crashed into the sea while taking off on one of the early morning flights August 7th; he was picked up by a destroyer.
(c) A scout bomber carrying Ens. W.R. Bell and R.K. Cameron, Seaman Second Class, also fell into the sea while taking off; neither the pilot nor his passenger was saved.
(d) On August 8th a seventh fighter, Ens. F. Blair, landed in the sea, having run out of gasoline; he was recovered by the Phelps.
Enterprise.48The Enterprise launched 237 aircraft on August 7th and recovered 230. The corresponding figures for August 8th were 135 and 136. The operations on August 7th were the most extensive that the veteran carrier had ever conducted in a single day. According to Capt. Davis, personnel carried out their duties in a highly satisfactory manner, the plane-handling crews' performance being "magnificent." These men did all their duties
involving respotting of the deck "on the double," and "the stamina of these crews, who have been hardened by continuous service in the war, is worthy of mention."
Enemy aircraft destroyed by the Enterprise air group on August 7th-8th were listed as follows:
(a) Shot down by fighters: 5 dive bombers, type 99; 6 twin-engine horizontal bombers, type 97 Mitsubishi (4 used as torpedo planes): and 2 fighters, type Zero Zero. Shot down by scout-bomber: 1 fighter, type Zero Zero. This makes a total of 14 enemy planes destroyed.
(b) In the same period the Enterprise air group lost six planes, all fighters (F4F-4s), four being reported as missing in action and two having made night water-landings while returning from operations.
(c) Of the six pilots who went down with the fighters, three, Lt. (jg) Gordon E. Firebaugh, Machinist William H. Warden, and Machinist Julius A. Achten, made forced landings and were eventually picked up by friendly personnel. The three others, Ens. Earl W. Cook, Machinist Patrick L. Nagle, and William J. Stephenson, Jr., Aviation Pilot First Class, had not been heard from at the time the action reports were written.
These summaries would indicate that our carrier-borne plane losses for the 2 days' operations were slightly smaller than those reported to Admiral Ghormley. The action reports state that the Wasp lost 3 fighters and 1 scout-bomber, the Enterprise 6 fighters, and the Saratoga 7 fighters and 1 scout bomber, or a total of 16 fighters and 2 scout bombers. They also show that Japanese plane losses, including those destroyed on the ground or water during the dawn attack of August 7th, were more than double our own, amounting to exactly 50, the Wasp accounting for 24 enemy planes of various types, the Enterprise 14, and the Saratoga 12. When it is also considered that the enemy in 3 air attacks on the transport area was unable to hit and damage more than 3 of the 51 vessels assembled there, it cannot reasonably be said that the protection provided by the carrier air groups was as deficient as some of the fliers, in their more self-critical moments, seemed to believe it was.
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 The Wasp's air group consisted of:
VS-72, Lt. Comdr. Ernest M. Snowden.
VT-7, Lieut. H.A. Romberg.
VS-71, Lt. Comdr. John Eldridge, Jr.
VF-71, Lt. COmdr. Courtney Shands.
 The Saratoga's air group consisted of:
VB-3, Lt. Comdr. Dewitt W. Shumway.
VS-3, Lt. Comdr. Louis J. Kirn.
VF-5, Lt. COmdr. Leroy C. Simpler.
VT-8, Lieut. Harold H. Larsen.
 The Enterprise's air group consisted of:
VF-6, Lieut. Louis H. Bauer.
VS-5, Lieut. Turner F. Caldwell, Jr.
VT-3, Lt. COmdr. Charles M. Jett.
VB-6, Lieut. Ray Davis.