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  USS Bunker Hill CV-17 / CVA-17 / CVS-17 / AVT-9
Essex-class aircraft carrier

27,100 Tons (standard)
36,380 Tons (full loaded)
872 x 147' 6" x 34' 2"
4 x twin 5" guns
4 x single 5" gun
8 x quad 40mm
46 x 20mm cannon
90-100 aircraft
USN May 12, 1945

Ship History
Built at Bethlehem Steel Company, Quincy, Massachusetts. Laid down September 15, 1941. Launched December 7, 1942. Commissioned May 24, 1943. Bunker Hill received the Presidential Unit Citation for the period 11 November 1943 to 11 May 1945. In addition, she received 11 battle stars for her World War II service.

Wartime History
Entered the Pacific during late 1943, Bunker Hill participated in a strike against Rabaul on November 11, 1943. Next, Gilbert Islands operation, including support of the landings on Tarawa Atoll (13 November–8 December). Attack on Kavieng on December 25, 1943 and January 1-4 1944); Marshall Islands operation (29 January–8 February);

Operation Hailstone
During February 17-18, 1944 Bunker Hill participated in "Operation Hailstone" carrier aircraft strikes against Truk Lagoon resulting in eight Japanese vessels sunk.

Next, on February 23, Bunker Hill aircraft attacked the Mariana Islands then Palau-Yap-Ulithi-Woleai raids (30 March–1 April); Truk-Satawan-Ponape raids (29 April–1 May); Hollandia (currently known as Jayapura) operation (21–28 April); and Marianas operation (12 June–10 August), including the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

On 19 June 1944, during the opening phases of the Marianas battle, Bunker Hill was damaged when an enemy near-miss scattered shrapnel fragments across the ship. Two men were killed and over 80 were wounded. Bunker Hill continued to fight, with her aircraft shooting down some of the 476 Japanese aircraft destroyed during the battle, and assisting in the sinking of a Japanese carrier. During September, she participated in the Western Caroline Islands operation and then launched strikes at Okinawa, Luzon, and Formosa until November.

On 6 November, Bunker Hill retired from the forward area and steamed to Bremerton, Washington, for a period of yard availability.. Repairs completed, she departed the west coast of the United States on 24 January 1945 and returned to the war front.

During the remaining months of World War II, Bunker Hill participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima: the 5th Fleet raids against Honshū and the Nansei Shoto (15 February–4 March); and the 5th and 3rd Fleet raids in support of the Battle of Okinawa. On 7 April 1945, Bunker Hill's planes took part in a Fast Carrier Task Force attack on a Japanese naval force in the East China Sea. Yamato, one cruiser, and four destroyers were sunk during Operation Ten-Go.

Damaged by Kamikaze
On May 11, 1945, while supporting the invasion of Okinawa, Bunker Hill was hit and severely damaged by two kamikazes. An A6M Zero appeared from a low cloud, dived toward the flight deck and dropped a 250 kg bomb, which went through the vessel and exploded in the sea. The same Zero then crashed onto the flight deck, destroying many parked aircraft and igniting fuel, causing a huge fire. The remains of the Zero went over the deck were dropped into the sea.

Thirty seconds later, a second A6M Zero piloted by Ensign Kiyoshi Ogawa, dived into the carrier , dropping a 250kg bomb, and crashed into the flight deck near the control tower. The bomb penetrated Bunker Hill's flight deck and exploded. Gasoline fires flamed up and several explosions took place. In total, the carrier suffered the loss of 346 men killed, 43 missing, and 264 wounded. A total of seventy-eight aircraft were destroyed. Although badly crippled, Bunker Hill managed to return to Bremerton via Pearl Harbor.

In September, Bunker Hill reported for duty with the "Operation Magic Carpet" fleet, returning veterans from the Pacific. She remained on this duty as a unit of TG 16.12 until January 1946, when she was ordered to Bremerton for deactivation. She was decommissioned into reserve on 9 January 1947.

While laid up, she was reclassified three times, becoming CVA-17 in October 1952, CVS-17 in August 1953 and AVT-9 in May 1959, the latter designation indicating that any future commissioned duty would be as an aircraft transport. As all Essex-class carriers survived the war, the peacetime navy had no need for the services of Bunker Hill. She and USS Franklin, which also had sustained severe damage from aerial attack, were the only carriers in their class that did not see active duty after the end of World War II, despite being repaired. Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in November 1966, Bunker Hill was used as a stationary electronics test platform at San Diego during the 1960s and early 1970s. She was sold for scrapping in May 1973.

USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List May 1945 - May 11, 1945 aircraft losses aboard USS Bunker Hill (CV-17)

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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