WWII Combat

The Hornet's WWII Combat Record

The might of an aircraft carrier exists in its ability to move at will about the world's oceans, projecting power at sea whenever and wherever it is needed. At the heart of a carrier's strength is its aircraft, without which it would be ineffective. Her Air Groups provided the lethal sting in HORNET's tail. HORNET's effectiveness and success was dependent on the capabilities of her highly trained pilots and aircrews, and the specialized aircraft which operated from her veteran flight deck.

In World War II, her air groups consisted of a fighter (VF) squadron, a bombing (VB) squadron and a torpedo (VT) squadron. During the 1950s as the technology of naval warfare evolved, so to did the complexity and specialty of carrier-based aircraft. Joining the classic fighter and attack aircraft on HORNET's flight deck were electronic/early warning, photo-reconnaissance, and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. Dual-role aircraft also provided aerial tanking and limited cargo capabilities. Not shown to the many types of very capable helicopters that are also very important to carrier operations.

The USS Hornet (CV-12) was awarded seven Battle Stars for Pacific service in World War II:

One Star — Asiatic-Pacific Raids
One Star — Hollandia Operation
One Star — Marianas Operation
One Star — Western Carolina Islands Operation
One Star — Western New Guinea Operation
One Star — Leyte Operation
One Star — Luzon Operation

HORNET was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation
for the following operations:

Air Group 2 (VF-2, VB-2, VT-2, and part of VFN-76)

March 29 - May 1, 1944 -- Palau, Hollandia, Truk.

June 11 - August 5, 1944 -- Marianas, Bonins, Yap.

September 6 - September 24, 1944 -- Philippines, Palau.

Air Group 11 (VF-11, VB-11, and VT-11)

October 10 - Nov. 22, 1944 -- Ryukyus, Formosa, Philippines, Luzon.

December 14 - Dec. 16, 1944 -- Luzon.

January 3 - January 22, 1945 -- Philippines, Formosa, China Sea, Ryukyus.

Air Group 17 (VF-17, VBF-17, VB-17, and VT-17)

February 16 - June 10, 1945 -- Japan, Bonins, Ryukyus.


In 18 months of combat operations, HORNET produced the following statistics:

  • 668 Japanese planes shot down
  • 742 Japanese planes destroyed on the ground
  • 1,269,710 tons of enemy ships sunk or heavily damaged: 73 ships sunk, 37 probable, 413 damaged
  • Ship's engines burned 28,437,630 gallons of fuel oil
  • Ship's evaporators distilled 41,231,453 gallons of fresh water
  • Ships steamed 155,000 miles (equal to six trips around world)

Air Wings:

  • Aircraft burned 5,644,800 gallons of aviation gasoline
  • Aircraft fired 4,878,748 rounds of machine gun bullets
  • Aircraft delivered 17,793 bombs, 5,842 rockets, and 116 torpedoes
  • Aircraft flew 18,569 combat sorties
  • Aircraft logged over 23,000 arrested landings

Ship's Guns:

  • Fired 7,275 rounds of 5" ammo
  • Fired 115,179 rounds of 40 mm ammo
  • Fired 409,580 rounds of 20 mm ammo

1 carrier sunk, 1 cruiser sunk, 10 destroyers sunk, 42 cargo ships sunk, and assisted in the sinking of the superbattleship Yamato.

For more detailed information about HORNET’s history, purchase A Pictorial History of the USS HORNET (CV-12) by CDR Pete Clayton, USN (Retired).

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