As in the Coral Sea and at Midway, U.S. and Japanese ships never sighted each other during the course of this engagement—all attacks were carried out by carrier-based or shore-based aircraft. It was fought during Operation Ka, the Japanese counteroffensive against Allied landings in the eastern Solomons. The intent of Ka was to reinforce Japanese ground forces on Guadalcanal and destroy the naval forces directly supporting and screening the Allied landing forces. After a series of air attacks, both sides withdrew their surface combatants from the battle area—neither was able to secure a clear victory, although U.S. forces gained tactical and strategic advantage. Japan lost significant numbers of aircraft and experienced aircrew personnel, and ground reinforcements for Guadalcanal were delayed. Thus, the Allies had more time to prepare for the Japanese counter-thrusts and were able to prevent or interdict landings of the enemy’s heavy artillery, ammunition, and other supplies.
Read the combat narrative (PDF, 1.6 MB), republished in 2017 by NHHC with a new introduction in observance of the 75th anniversary of the battle. The formerly classified combat narrative was originally published by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) in January 1943; an HTML reproduction of the text is available in the Online Reading Room.
U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6) War History, 7 December 1941–15 August 1945
Vignette: Chief Machinist William A. Smith and Enterprise (CV-6)
Battle of the Eastern Solomons, 23–25 August 1942