Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, 26 October 1942


Photo #: 80-G-33947  Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, October 1942

A Japanese Type 99 shipboard bomber (Allied codename Val) trails smoke as it dives toward Hornet (CV-8), during the morning of 26 October 1942. This plane struck the ship's stack and then her flight deck. A Type 97 shipboard attack plane (Kate) is flying over Hornet after dropping its torpedo, and another Val is off her bow. Note anti-aircraft shell burst between Hornet and the camera, with its fragments striking the water nearby. Hornet was lost in the battle (80-G-33947).



Islands, 26 October 1942 V Battle of Santa Cruz

The Battles of Cape Esperance and Santa Cruz Islands Combat Navvative, 75th Anniversary Edition (Click image to download PDF, ___MB)

In support of a major ground offensive by the Imperial Japanese Army, Japanese carriers and other large warships were positioned near the southern Solomons in the hope of drawing out and decisively defeating Allied naval forces. As the Japanese ground offensive engaged U.S. forces in the battle for Guadalcanal’s Henderson Field, U.S. and Japanese ships and aircraft confronted each other on the morning of 26 October, just north of the Santa Cruz Islands. After an exchange of attacks by carrier aircraft, U.S. warships were forced to retreat from the battle area. Ultimately, U.S. losses were one carrier sunk and another severely damaged, one destroyer sunk and two heavily damaged, and 81 aircraft. Despite their successes, the Japanese also had to retire because of high aircraft (99) losses and significant damage to both of their carriers, a heavy cruiser, and a light cruiser. Although the enemy could claim a tactical victory, it was never able to make up for the loss of veteran aircrew personnel—contributing to the Allies’ longer-term strategic advantage. This factor also prevented any further significant participation of Japanese carrier forces in the Guadalcanal campaign.

Operations

Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) Combat Narratives—Solomon Islands Campaign: V Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, 26 October 1942

Vignette: Lieutenant Commander William J. "Gus" Widhelm of Scouting Eight

Imagery

Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, 26 October 1942

 

Published: Mon Aug 13 13:24:14 EDT 2018