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This short newsreel, produced for the home market, shows what is likely the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise under attack by Japanese Zeros during the Battle of Santa Cruz. The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, 26 October 1942, was the fourth carrier battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II and the fourth major naval engagement fought between the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy during the lengthy and strategically important Guadalcanal campaign. In similar fashion to the battles of Coral Sea, Midway, and the Eastern Solomons, the ships of the two adversaries were rarely in direct visual range of each other. Instead, almost all attacks by both sides were mounted by carrier or land-based aircraft. This film appears to show events on October 26, 1942. At 10:08 a.m. the Enterprise came under attack by Japanese dive bombers. Attacking through the intense anti-aircraft fire put up by Enterprise and her escorting warships, the bombers hit the carrier with two 551 lb (250 kg) bombs and near-missed with another, causing heavy damage to the carrier and jamming her forward elevator in the “up” position. Twelve of the 19 bombers were lost in this attack. Twenty minutes later, the 16 Zuikaku torpedo planes arrived and split up to attack Enterprise. One group of torpedo bombers was attacked by two Wildcats which shot down three of them and damaged a fourth. On fire, the fourth damaged aircraft purposely crashed into the destroyer Smith, setting the ship on fire and killing 57 of her crew. The destroyer steered into the spraying wake of the battleship USS South Dakota to help put out the fires and then resumed her station, firing her remaining anti-aircraft guns at the still attacking torpedo planes. The remaining torpedo planes attacked USS Enterprise, South Dakota, and cruiser Portland, but all of their torpedoes missed or were duds, causing no damage. The engagement was over at 10:53 with nine of the 16 attacking torpedo bombers shot down. After suppressing most of the onboard fires, at 11:15 Enterprise reopened her flight deck to begin landing returning aircraft from the morning U.S. strikes on the Japanese warship forces. However, only a few aircraft landed before the next wave of Japanese strike aircraft arrived and began their attacks on Enterprise, forcing a suspension of landing operations. Between 09:05 and 09:14, Junyō had arrived within 280 nmi (320 mi; 520 km) of the U.S. carriers and launched a strike of 17 dive bombers and 12 Zeros. As the Japanese Main body and Advanced force maneuvered to try to join formations, Junyō readied follow-up strikes. At 11:21, the Junyō aircraft arrived and dove on the Enterprise task force. The dive bombers scored one near miss on Enterprise, causing more damage, and one hit each on South Dakota and cruiser San Juan, causing moderate damage to both ships. Eleven of the 17 Japanese dive bombers were destroyed in this attack.
At 11:35, Kinkaid decided to withdraw Enterprise and her screening ships from the field of battle, since Hornet was out of action, Enterprise was heavily damaged, and surmising (correctly) that the Japanese had one or two undamaged carriers in the area. He directed Hornet’s task force to follow as soon as they were able. Between 11:39 and 13:22, Enterprise recovered 57 of the 73 airborne U.S. aircraft as she headed away from the battle. The remaining U.S. aircraft ditched in the ocean, and their aircrews were rescued by escorting warships.
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com