|USS Franklin CV-13 was one of 17 Essex-class carriers to serve the United States during World War Two. On October 30th, 1944 she was serving as flagship for Task Group 38.4 during action to retake the Philippine Islands from the Imperial Japanese. As she steamed west by southwest with the destroyer BAGLEY refueling at her side six planes were picked up on radar. Twenty minutes later they reached the ships of TG 38.4 and began their attack.
Three aircraft from the attacking Imperial Japanese Navy force focused on Franklin and bore down on her. These were of a wave of a new Japanese type of attack; the Kamikaze. Four days earlier the escort carrier USS ST. LO CVE-63 was the first ship to feel this new fury, and it sent her to the bottom. FRANKLIN now had three of these aircraft diving down, intent to do the same to one of America's mighty fleet carriers.
Suicide tactics were new to the Japanese too, and for a while this helped FRANKLIN. The first plane screamed down through the hail of anti-aircraft fire but missed the carrier and hit the water just twenty feet off of her starboard side, throwing up a huge geyser of water.
The second plane made a run on FRANKLIN in a shallow, 20º dive. She flew through the 5" gun fire, then the 40mm bursts, and then finally the shells of the smaller 20mm guns that served as FRANKLIN's last line of defense. Although hits were scored it was not enough to deflect the attack and the plane struck the ship on the flight deck just forward of the number three elevator. With its high velocity the plane was easily able to smash through the light armor of the flight deck and carry its bomb through.
With a loud roar and blast of flame the bomb exploded, wrenching upwards the edges of a hole 30 by 35 feet in diameter. Shrapnel tore through the galley and hangar deck spaces, followed by gasoline and flame. To get a full sense of how much destruction was wrought I highly recommend looking at the open space inside the hangar in photos 3997-44, 4003-44, and 4004-44 as well as the size of the patch in the flight deck.
The third plane, seeing that FRANKLIN had been hit, dropped a bomb that missed, and went on to crash into the deck of the light carrier USS BELLEAU WOOD CVL-24. Despite the damage and fire, Franklin was saved by her crew and steamed to the Naval Shipyard Puget Sound, where she was repaired, improved, and put back into action.
There is much more history to this story, but it is not for me to tell. Below are links to the reports written by the crew of FRANKLIN and of the shipyard that repaired her. Each one contains unique text and pictures that illustrate how the brave crew of FRANKLIN rose up to a challange and saved their ship. They lost 56 shipmates killed and had 60 more wounded, but FRANKLIN fought again!
The source for these reports is
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