The increasing tempo of the war in the Pacific—our invasion of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands and our astonishing blow against the great Japanese naval bases at Truk in the Carolines and Saipan and Tinian in the Marianas—has been possible only because of the remarkable job of aircraft carrier production by U.S. shipyards.

In the first 12 months of fighting in the Pacific, four of our pre-war force of seven carriers were sunk by the enemy. A fifth flat-top was badly damaged. A sixth could not be spared from duty in the Atlantic. This lack of carrier-based air cover, so necessary in great forward advances against enemy islands in the Pacific, forced us to slow down our war against the Japanese.


Fighter pilots walk towards their planes before taking off from their carrier to bomb the Marshall Islands.

But last fall new flat-tops began to carry the American flag out of Pearl Harbor in raids against Wake and the Marcus Islands. With so many recently built carriers in the fleet, the Army and Navy were able to plan attacks on important enemy bases much sooner than the Japanese, or even the American public, had expected.

It is estimated that there are now 19 first-line U.S. aircraft carriers in commission, including a number of cruisers which have been converted to flat-tops. We also have from 30 to 50 escort carriers, or “baby flat-tops.” The Japanese are believed to have seven or eight carriers and not more than 15 escort carriers.flat-top

The pictures on these pages by Sgt. Dillon Ferris, YANK staff photographer, were taken on one of the new American carriers during the recent invasion of the Marshalls, where its flyers helped pave the way for the successful Army and Marine landings. A few days later, when another carrier task force smashed the surprise punch at Truk, enemy loses were so heavy that Tojo immediately removed Field Marshal Gen Sugiyana and Admiral of the Fleet Osami Nagano. The Imperial Army and Navy chief of staff.

There are four squadrons on a large carrier: one of fighters, one of torpedo planes and two of dive bombers (a scouting squadron and a bombing squadron, used interchangeably).

F4Fs (Wildcats) have been largely succeeded by F6Fs (Hellcats) and F4Us (Corsairs) as the fighter types. The mission of the fighter is to defend the carrier against enemy bomber and torpedo-plane attack, and to accompany U.S. dive bombers and torpedo planes on the offensive.

The bombers are the “eyes of the ship,” ranging out great distances on scouting missions. On the offensive they carry 500- or 1,000-pound bombs. The SBD (Dauntless) and the newer SB2C (Helldiver) are the principal types.

The torpedo planes, whose projectiles are guided toward their target by gyros after being dropped into the water, are now TBFs (Avengers). This type replaces the TBD (Devastator).


This picture was taken from a torpedo plane by Sgt. Dillon Ferris of YANK as it returned to the deck.

Because a fight deck is small compared with a landing field, operations must be perfectly timed. Crews of men, their shirts and skullcaps colored to indicate their jobs, handle the planes on take-off and landing, while pilots get their signals by flags from officers on the bridge and on deck.


Arthur L. Seesholts S1c makes up a special edition for circulation among the Japanese in the Marshalls.


Roland (Dugan) Ransom ARM2c, rear gunner on a dive bomber, comes back satisfied after the raid.

H.E. Hubbard ARM3c and Pilot W.B. Karnegay got back with their bomber's tail ripped by ack-ack.

H.E. Hubbard ARM3c and Pilot W.B. Karnegay got back with their bomber’s tail ripped by ack-ack.


A pilot and his gunner (foreground) talk it over with squadron commander after a forced landing at sea.


These torpedo-plane gunners take it easy and swap some fighting stories after first strike at Kwajalein.

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