Ace Donald "Flash" Gordon
October 26, 1942, The Battle of Santa Cruz. The Japanese have deployed
major land and naval forces under the command of Vice Adm. Nobutake
Kondo to retake Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.
Included are four carriers. The Shokaku, Zuikaku, Zuiho and Kumano, able
to launch194 aircraft. Opposing is Task Force 61 under the command of
Rear Adm. Thomas Kinkaid, with two carriers, Hornet and Enterprise, able
to launch 137 aircraft.
Adm. Kinkaid decides to split his Carrier Task Force
two smaller Task Forces (TF16 Enterprise & TF17 Hornet )
From the time of Pearl Harbor the Americans hesitated to gather their
carriers into large formations due to the superior numbers the Japanese
possessed in planes and ships, especially carriers. The Americans were not
ready to start sparing head to head with the odds this much against them.
The Americans just did not have the carriers to lose. In Fact the carrier
Enterprise was undergoing
repairs and had to be rushed back into service.
It do not leave Pearl Harbor with its Task Force until October 15th or it could
have been 4 to 1 in carrier availability.
The entire morning was building into
bloody brawl between the opposing air groups. The American Dauntlessís
find the enemy carriers first.
But now the Japanese find the American carriers. Hit first by Val dive bombers,
and a few crashing Japanese aircraft, the arriving Kateís find a very weakened
Hornet and perform a textbook torpedo attack coming in from starboard bow
and the port quarter.
The Hornet is now boxed in as torpedos start slamming
into itís sides.
Flying CAP from the carrier Enterprise this day is Donald "Flash" Gordon.
Don had entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program July 7th 1941 and was
just commissioned an Ensign March 12th 1942. Now at around 0940, Donald
finds himself Flying the F4F Wildcat right in the middle of a torpedo attack
on the USS Hornet. He helps disrupt the attack by flaming two Kate's and
damages a third. Donald ends the war with 7 confirmed victories.
However the reluctance to keep the carriers together has doomed
the Hornet. Now abandoned with raging fires, the task of sinking
the burning hulk falls to Japanese destroyers.
During this battle, the country would also lose Dauntlass dive bomber pilot
turned fighter pilot Lieutenant John Leppla and his back seat gunner John
Liska who together are created with 7 victories. Leppla is credited with four
victories flying the Dauntlass and his 5th victory was achieved while flying
a F4F Wildcat with VF-10. He was awarded the Navy Cross twice.
Aircraft losses for both sides were about equal.
For the Americanís the day ended as strategic victory, Guadalcanal
and Henderson Field remained under our control.
For the Japanese, most of the dive bomber crews were lost and about half
of the experienced pilots that took part in the Pearl Harbor attack were lost.
Leadership at various levels were hit hard. Though damage to the Zuikaku
and the Junyo was not serious both were taken out of the war for months.
Hand signed by the Ace Donald "Flash" Gordon
Overall size 17" x 22" - $95.00
FLASHES SPLASHES by ROY GRINNELL(F-4F Wildcat: Pacific Theater: Marines:)@vbader.com/virginiabaderfinearts