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U. S. Navy Force
On October 25, 1942, the battle began when a U. S. Navy PBY Catalina located the Japanese force at 11:03am just beyond the range of carrier aircraft. The U. S. carriers steamed towards the contact and launched carrier aircraft at 2:25pm but failed to locate the enemy because the Japanese had turned to the north to stay out of range.
On October 26, 1942 at 2:50am the Japanese fleet turned to the south and the two forces closed to 200 miles by 5:00am. The Japanese were spotted again at 3:12am by another PBY Catalina equipped with radar, but the report was not relayed to Rear Admiral Kinkaid until 5:12am. By 6:45am another U. S. plane again located the Japanese fleet and by 6:58am the Japanese located USS Hornet CV-8 and Task Force 17 (TF 17).
By 7:40am, the Japanese were first to launch a strike by 64 aircraft (21 x D3A Vals, 22 x B5N Kates escorted by 21 A6M2 Zeros. Meanwhile two SBD Dauntless managed to locate, dive bomb and scored two 500 pound bomb hits on the deck of Zuihō causing it unable to land aircraft. At 8:10am, Shōkaku launched a second strike by 19 D3A Vals escorted by 8 A6M2 Zeros. At 8:40am, Zuikaku launched 16 B5N Kates.
Meanwhile, U. S. carrier planes from Hornet severely damaged carrier Shōkaku, and cruiser Chikuma. Meanwhile, USS Hornet CV-8 was fighting off a coordinated dive bombing and torpedo plane attack which left her severely damaged and had to be abandoned. Destroyers USS Mustin DD-413 and USS Anderson DD-411 attempted unsuccessfully to sink the burning hulk with nine torpedoes and shellfire. Later, Japanese destroyers Japanese destroyers Makigumo and Akigumo sank her by firing four 24" torpedoes at her blazing hull.
During the battle, USS Enterprise CV-6 was hit bombs twice and suffering 44 killed and had 75 wounded. Despite serious damage, she remained in action and landed aircraft from USS Hornet after she was abandoned.
USS Porter (DD-356) stopped to pickup a downed air crew from a ditched TBF Avenger was hit by a torpedo. An Enterprise pilot dived to machine gun the torpedo, but was not in time. Damaged, USS Porter was abandoned and sunk by USS Shaw (DD-373) after that ship took off her crew. This torpedo was either a U. S. torpedo accidentally released or aimed or possibly fired by Japanese submarine I-21. That evening the American forces retired to the southeast.
Afterwards, USS Enterprise CV-6 steamed to Nouméa and was quickly repaired by Vestal (AR-4); she departed with repair crews still aboard and participated in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (November 12-13, 1942) launched her planes and retreated with her aircraft landing at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal to join the Cactus Air Force. USS South Dakota that sustained a bomb hit in the forward gun mount but also participated in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. USS San Juan suffered a bomb through the fantail and was repaired in Sydney Harbor but missed the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
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