Trumpeter 1/700 USS Hornet (CV-8)
Scott Van Aken
Can be built either waterline or
The seventh Hornet (CV-8) was launched 14
December 1940 by the Newport News Ship Building & Dry Dock Co., Newport News,
Va.; sponsored by Mrs. Frank M. Knox, wife of the Secretary of the Navy; and
commissioned at Norfolk 20 October 1941, Captain Marc A. Mitscher in command.
During the uneasy period before Pearl Harbor,
Hornet trained out of Norfolk. A hint of a future mission occurred 2
February 1942 when Hornet departed Norfolk with two Army B-25 medium
bombers on deck. Once at sea, the planes were launched to the surprise and
amazement of Hornet's crew. Her men were unaware of the meaning of this
experiment, as Hornet returned to Norfolk, prepared to leave for combat,
and on 4 March sailed for the west coast via the Panama Canal. Hornet
arrived San Francisco 20 March. With her own planes on the hangar deck, she
loaded 16 Army B-25 bombers on the flight deck. Under the command of Lieutenant
Colonel James H. Doolittle 70 officers and 64 enlisted men reported aboard. In
company of escort ships Hornet departed San Francisco 2 April and
embarked on her mission under sealed orders. That afternoon Captain Mitscher
informed his men of their mission: a bombing raid on Japan.
Eleven days later Hornet joined
USS Enterprise (CV 6) off Midway and Task Force 16 turned toward Japan.
With Enterprise providing air combat cover, Hornet was to steam
deep into enemy waters where Colonel Doolittle would lead the B-25s in a daring
strike on Tokyo and other important Japanese cities. Originally, the task force
intended to proceed to within 400 miles of the Japanese coast; however, on the
morning of 18 April 1942, a Japanese patrol boat, No. 23 Nitto Maru,
sighted Hornet. The cruiser USS Nashville sank the craft which
already had informed the Japanese of the presence and location of the American
task force. Though some 600 miles from the Japanese coast, confirmation of the
patrol boat's warning prompted Admiral William F. Halsey at 0800 to order the
immediate launching of the "Tokyo Raiders."
As Hornet swung about and prepared to launch
the bombers which had been readied for take-off the previous day, a gale of more
than 40 knots churned the sea with 30-foot crests; heavy swells, which caused
the ship to pitch violently, shipped sea and spray over the bow, wet the flight
deck and drenched the deck crews. The lead plane, commanded by Colonel
Doolittle, had but 467 feet of flight deck while the last B-25 hung far out over
the fantail. The first of the heavily-laden bombers lumbered down the flight
deck, circled Hornet after take-off, and set course for Japan. By 0920
all 16 of the bombers were airborne, heading for
American air strike against the heart of Japan.
Hornet brought her own planes on deck and
steamed at full speed for Pearl Harbor. Intercepted broadcasts, both in Japanese
and English, confirmed at 1446 the success of the raids. Exactly one week to the
hour after launching the B-25s, Hornet sailed into Pearl Harbor.
Hornet's mission was kept an official secret for a year; until then
President Roosevelt referred to the origin of the Tokyo raid only as
Hornet steamed from Pearl 30 April, to aid
USS Yorktown (CV 5) and
USS Lexington (CV 2) at the
Battle of the
Coral Sea. But that battle was over before she reached the scene. She
returned to Hawaii 26 May and sailed 2 days later with her sister carriers to
repulse an expected Japanese fleet assault on Midway.
Japanese carrier-based planes were reported headed for
early morning of 4 June 1942. Hornet, Yorktown, and Enterprise
launched strikes as the Japanese carriers struck their planes below to prepare
for a second strike on Midway. Hornet dive bombers missed contact, but 15
planes comprising her Torpedo Squadron 8 found the enemy and pressed home their
attacks. They were met by overwhelming fighter opposition about eight miles from
three enemy carriers and followed all the way in to be shot down one by one. Ens.
George H. Gay, USNR, the only surviving pilot, reached the surface as his plane
sunk. He hid under a rubber seat cushion to avoid strafing and witness the
greatest carrier battle in history.
Of 41 torpedo planes launched by the American
carriers, only six returned. Their sacrifices drew enemy fighters away from dive
bombers of Enterprise and Yorktown who sank three Japanese
carriers with an assist from submarine USS Nautilus (SS 168). The fourth
Japanese carrier, Hiryu, was sunk the following day; gallant Yorktown
was lost to combined aerial and submarine attack.
Hornet planes attacked the fleeing Japanese
fleet 6 June 1942 to assist in sinking cruiser Mikuma, damaged a
destroyer, and left cruiser Mogami aflame and heavily damaged. Hits were
also made on other ships. Hornet's attack on Mogami wrote the
finish to one of the decisive battles of history that had far reaching and
enduring results on the Pacific War. Midway was saved as an important base for
operations into the western Pacific. Likewise saved was Hawaii. Of greatest
importance was the crippling of Japan's carrier strength, a severe blow from
which she never fully recovered. The four large aircraft carriers sent to the
bottom of the sea carried with them some 250 planes along with a high percentage
of Japan's most highly trained and battle-experienced carrier pilots. This great
victory by Hornet and our other ships at Midway spelled the doom of
Following the Battle of Midway, Hornet had new
radar installed and trained out of Pearl Harbor. She sailed 17 August 1942 to
guard the sea approach to bitterly contested Guadalcanal in the Solomons. Bomb
damage to Enterprise (24 August), torpedo damage to
USS Saratoga (CV 3) (31 August), and loss of
USS Wasp (CV 7) (15 September ) reduced carriers in the South Pacific
to one, Hornet. She bore the brunt of air cover in the Solomons until 24
October 1942 when she joined Enterprise northwest of the New Hebrides
Islands and steamed to intercept a Japanese carrier-battleship force bearing
down on Guadalcanal.
The Battle of Santa Cruz Island took place 26 October
1942 without contact between surface ships of the opposing forces. That morning
Enterprise planes bombed carrier Zuiho. Planes from Hornet
severely damaged carrier Shokaku, and cruiser Chikuma. Two other
cruisers were also attacked by Hornet aircraft. Meanwhile, Hornet,
herself, was fighting off a coordinated dive bombing and torpedo plane attack
which left her so severely damaged that she had to be abandoned. Commented one
sailor, awaiting rescue, when asked if he planned to re-enlist, "Dammit, yes —
on the new Hornet!" Captain Mason, the last man on board, climbed over
the side and survivors were soon picked up by destroyers.
The abandoned Hornet, ablaze from stem to
stern, refused to accept her intended fate from friends. She still floated after
receiving nine torpedoes and more than 400 rounds of 5-inch shellfire from
destroyers Mustin and Anderson. Japanese destroyers hastened the inevitable by
firing four 24-inch torpedoes at her blazing hull. At 0135, 27 October 1942, she
finally sank off the Santa Cruz Islands. Her proud name was struck from the Navy
List 13 January 1943.
Hornet (CV-8) received four battle stars for
World War II service. Her famed Torpedo Squadron 8 was awarded the Presidential
Unit Citation "for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service beyond the
call of duty" in the Battle of Midway.
one follows in the footsteps of Trumpeter's other 1/700 ships in that it is a
downsized version of the 1/350 ship released about a year or so ago. The kit can
be built as either a waterline version, for which a large vacuformed plastic
base is provided, or as a full hull ship. In this latter case a nice display
stand is included.
The deck is a single piece with openings for the
forward and amidships elevators. Though a full lower hangar deck is provided, it
is devoid of any detail aside from the deck itself. All the various side
entrances are provided with closed shutters so any attempt to put aircraft on
this section if building OOB would be futile. However, it does offer the
opportunity for those who love to add a ton of detail to a kit.
detail is what we have all come to expect from Trumpeter. It is top notch and
aside from the usual ejector marks on the underside of decks and inside of
bulkheads, there should be no other areas of concern. Thanks to the large
numbers of small guns and rafts, as well as all the
pieces needed for the air wing, the parts count is quite high, providing hours
and hours of building pleasure. The aircraft are molded in clear plastic to make
it easier to have clear canopies and gun turrets and the like. You'd expect a
full complement of B-25s with this kit and you get all 16 of them. You also get
12 Wildcats, 12 Devastators, and 12 Dauntlesses. Markings are provided for all,
including those with the red centers. Unfortunately, they are all out of
register. You can do the air wing post Coral Sea with the other insignia, but
the B-25s pretty well have to have the red centered ones.
Instructions are very well done and an additional full
color painting chart is provided. This ship is painted in Measure 22, which
should make for a most interesting model. Gunze Color information is provided
with generic names, though there are a wide variety of other paints that one can
use. I believe the deck markings are for the Doolittle raid as only a set of
white lines set well off to port are provided in this regard.
If you have built any of the other Trumpeter carriers,
you know what to expect with this one. Frankly, it is a real bargain for the
money and one that should build into a superb replica of this famous ship.
Thanks to Steven's International, the Trumpeter importer, for
the preview kit.
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