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Night Operations Analysis
This report - "An Analysis of Night Operations Aboard U.S.S. ENTERPRISE" was
submitted by Captain
Grover B. H. Hall, Enterprise's commanding officer from December 1944
to September 1945. The report covers the period from December 1944 to May 1945, when
Enterprise operated solely as a night carrier. When Enterprise
withdrew from the combat zone in May 1945 (after receiving severe damage during a Kamikaze
attack), no other carrier or air group could claim the experience in night carrier operations
that Enterprise and Night Air Group 90 earned in the preceding five months.
This report addresses all facets of night carrier operations: ranging from personnel and
training issues, to deck operations, to technical details involved in landing planes at night.
With the exception of a table omitted due to its excessive width, the report is presented here
in its entirety, with only minor reformatting to make it presentable as a web page.
||Commanding Officer, U.S.S. ENTERPRISE.
||Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.
- Commander, FIRST Carrier Task Force, Pacific.
- Commander, SECOND Carrier Task Force, Pacific.
- Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet.
||Operations Aboard a CV(N).
||(A) "An Analysis of Night Operations Aboard U.S.S. ENTERPRISE".
- Enclosure (A) is forwarded herewith.
- It is considered that night operations can be conducted practically under all
conditions wherein pilots can see the operating lights of the ship and the Landing
Signal Officer's lights. While the problem of bringing pilots back in the daytime in
zero-zero weather is similar, it is accentuated at night. It is therefore recommended
that an experimental program of radar control of planes in the landing circle, and
actually landing aboard under radar control, be instituted and prosecuted.
- Pioneering in any field is never an easy undertaking. This case has been no
exception but all hands aboard derive great satisfaction in having done their part
in the strides made toward perfection of this phase of damaging and stopping the
|Cominch (1) Air Mail||USS SHANGRI-LA (CV38)|
|CincPac (3) Air Mail||USS TICONDEROGA (CV14)|
|ComAirPac (2) Air Mail||USS WASP (CV18)|
|C.T.F. 38 (1) Air Mail||USS YORKTOWN (CV10)|
|ComAirPacSubComFwd Guam (2)||USS LEXINGTON (CV16)|
|NACTU, NAS, Navy No. 14||USS RANDOLPH (CV15)|
|CNPOptra (2)||USS RANGER (CV4)|
|USS BONHOMME RICHARD (2)||USS SARATOGA (CV3)|
|USS ANTIETAM (CV36)||ComCarDiv 1|
|USS BENNINGTON (CV20)||ComCarDiv 2|
|USS BUNKER HILL (CV17)||ComCarDiv 3|
|USS ESSEX (CV9)||ComCarDiv 4|
|USS FRANKLIN (CV13)||ComCarDiv 5|
|USS HANCOCK (CV19)||ComCarDiv 6|
|USS HORNET (CV12)||ComCarDiv 7|
|USS INTREPID (CV11)||OinC, Fighter Director, Camp Catlin, Navy #91.|
Having been designated a night carrier, the "Big E" put to sea 24 December
1944 and landed aboard planes of CVG(N)90. Departing immediately from the HAWAIIAN area
the ship proceeded to join the SECOND Carrier Task Force at sea.
Unfortunately, little or no time had been available for training operations en route to
the forward area, and the Air Group had had extremely little carrier operational work
prior to embarkation. However, with high hopes and great expectations of big things to
come from this pioneering adventure, all hands turned to in an effort to iron out the
details necessary for the operations ahead.
The first operation consisted of strikes on LUZON and FORMOSA and operations in the
South China Sea. Extremely bad weather encountered throughout this operation did not lend
itself to extensive night operations and in general the operation was more a test of the
instrument flying ability of the pilots of CVG(N)90 than a beginning to real night
operations. Even this beginning, however, failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the Air Group
and ship, and many of the experiences proved of value to future operations, and a few
substantial recommendations for the use of night carrier could now be made.
During the stay at ULITHI after this operation, a get-together with CVLG(N)41 and the
INDEPENDENCE, with whom the ship operated in the above operation, was accomplished. Many
helpful suggestions were given by them and were greatly appreciated. There were many
different problems yet to be solved for a CV at night, however, and with the advent of the
SARATOGA in the night task group the onus was on the ENTERPRISE.
In the second week of February, the ship got underway operating in the FIRST Carrier
Task Force for the now famed strike on TOKYO and the
support of the
landings on IWO JIMA.
Planes from this carrier carried out operations as previously reported, and many of the
problems of operations aboard were surmounted. Following the TOKYO strikes the night
carrier task group proceeded to the vicinity of IWO JIMA to provide night support for the
landings. It was hoped to use ENTERPRISE and CVG(N)90 offensively during this period, but
the damage sustained by the SARATOGA caused cancellation of these plans and left us to
bear the brunt of the load.
Furnishing target CAP and cover for our own task group, in addition to sending out
strikes, searches and heckler missions, proved to be a twenty-four-hour-a-day job for this
carrier and her planes. For a period of 7 1/2 days planes were maintained airborne
continuously, were stopped only because of zero-zero weather for a period of about 2 1/2
hours, then continued for an additional 3 1/2 day period. As can be well imagined, many of
the problems not heretofore encountered were necessarily straightened out in a big hurry.
In a very short while it became apparent that it was not only possible but feasible to
maintain this high pressure schedule, the only limitation being in the number of pilots
available to fly without undue fatigue.
After an all too short two-day replenishment period at ULITHI, the ship again put to
sea as the CV(N) of Task Group 58.5 to take part in the pre-invasion strikes and actual
support of the landings on OKINAWA. By this time operations aboard and in the vicinity of
the carrier were well standardized and only a few new problems presented themselves.
Operating in periods in between availability to repair battle damage at various times, the
principles and facts outlined below were used with success.
The tactical use of a night air group has been discussed at length in various action
reports of the Commander Air Group NINETY and Squadron Commanders, and are not discussed