Battle of the Eastern Solomons
The naval Battle of the Eastern Solomons (also known as the Battle of the Stewart Islands and, in Japanese sources, as the , took place on 24–25 August 1942, and was the third carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 battle of the Pacific campaign
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

 of World War II and the second major engagement fought between the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 and the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

 during the Guadalcanal Campaign
Guadalcanal campaign
The Guadalcanal Campaign, also known as the Battle of Guadalcanal and codenamed Operation Watchtower by Allied forces, was a military campaign fought between August 7, 1942 and February 9, 1943 on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific theatre of World War II...

. As at Coral Sea
Battle of the Coral Sea
The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought from 4–8 May 1942, was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval and air forces from the United States and Australia. The battle was the first fleet action in which aircraft carriers engaged...

 and Midway
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated...

, the ships of the two adversaries were never within sight of each other. Instead, all attacks were carried out by carrier- or land-based aircraft.

After several damaging air attacks
An air strike is an attack on a specific objective by military aircraft during an offensive mission. Air strikes are commonly delivered from aircraft such as fighters, bombers, ground attack aircraft, attack helicopters, and others...

, the naval surface combatants from both the United States of America (U.S.) and Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 withdrew from the battle area without either side securing a clear victory. However, the U.S. and its allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 gained tactical and strategic advantage. Japan's losses were greater and included dozens of aircraft and their experienced aircrew
Aircrew are the personnel who operate an aircraft while in flight. The composition of the crew depends on the type of aircraft as well as the purpose of the flight.-Civilian:*Aviator** Pilot-in-command** First officer** Second officer** Third officer...

s. Also, Japanese reinforcements intended for Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal is a tropical island in the South-Western Pacific. The largest island in the Solomons, it was discovered by the Spanish expedition of Alvaro de Mendaña in 1568...

 were delayed and eventually delivered by warships rather than transport ships, giving the Allies more time to prepare for the Japanese counteroffensive and preventing the Japanese from landing heavy artillery, ammunition, and other supplies.


On 7 August 1942, Allied forces—primarily U.S.—landed on Guadalcanal, Tulagi
Tulagi, less commonly Tulaghi, is a small island in the Solomon Islands, just off the south coast of Florida Island. The town of the same name on the island Tulagi, less commonly Tulaghi, is a small island (5.5 km by 1 km) in the Solomon Islands, just off the south coast of Florida...

, and Florida Islands
Florida Islands
The Nggela Islands, also known as the Florida Islands, are a small island group in the Central Province of the Solomon Islands, a state in the southwest Pacific Ocean....

 in the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

. The landings on the islands were meant to deny their use by the Japanese as bases for threatening the supply routes between the U.S. and Australia, and secure the islands as starting points for a campaign with the eventual goal of isolating the major Japanese base at Rabaul
Rabaul is a township in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea. The town was the provincial capital and most important settlement in the province until it was destroyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption. During the eruption, ash was sent thousands of metres into the air and the...

 while also supporting the Allied New Guinea campaign
New Guinea campaign
The New Guinea campaign was one of the major military campaigns of World War II.Before the war, the island of New Guinea was split between:...

. The landings initiated the six-month-long Guadalcanal campaign
Guadalcanal campaign
The Guadalcanal Campaign, also known as the Battle of Guadalcanal and codenamed Operation Watchtower by Allied forces, was a military campaign fought between August 7, 1942 and February 9, 1943 on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific theatre of World War II...

The Allied landings were directly supported by three U.S. aircraft carrier Task Force
Task force
A task force is a unit or formation established to work on a single defined task or activity. Originally introduced by the United States Navy, the term has now caught on for general usage and is a standard part of NATO terminology...

s (TF): TF 11
Task Force 11
-World War II:During World War II, Task Force 11 was a United States Navy aircraft carrier task force in the Pacific theater.TF 11 was originally formed around , then her sister ship until she was disabled by a Japanese torpedo in January 1942, then Lexington again for the Battle of the Coral...

 , TF 16 , and TF 18 , their respective air group
Group (air force unit)
A group is a military aviation unit, a component of military organization and a military formation. Usage of the terms group and wing differ from one country to another, as well as different branches of a defence force, in some cases...

s, and supporting surface warships, including a battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

, cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

s, and destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s. The overall commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

 of the three carrier task forces was Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

 Frank Jack Fletcher
Frank Jack Fletcher
Frank Jack Fletcher was an admiral in the United States Navy during World War II. Fletcher was the operational commander at the pivotal Battles of Coral Sea and of Midway. He was the nephew of Admiral Frank Friday Fletcher.-Early life and early Navy career:Fletcher was born in Marshalltown, Iowa...

, who flew his flag
Flag Officer
A flag officer is a commissioned officer in a nation's armed forces senior enough to be entitled to fly a flag to mark where the officer exercises command. The term usually refers to the senior officers in an English-speaking nation's navy, specifically those who hold any of the admiral ranks; in...

 on Saratoga. The aircraft from the three carriers provided close air support
Close air support
In military tactics, close air support is defined as air action by fixed or rotary winged aircraft against hostile targets that are close to friendly forces, and which requires detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of these forces.The determining factor for CAS is...

 for the invasion forces and defended against Japanese air attacks from Rabaul. After a successful landing, they remained in the south Pacific area charged with guarding the line of communication between the major Allied bases at New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

 and Espiritu Santo
Espiritu Santo
Espiritu Santo is the largest island in the nation of Vanuatu, with an area of . It belongs to the archipelago of the New Hebrides in the Pacific region of Melanesia. It is in the Sanma Province of Vanuatu....

, supporting the Allied ground forces at Guadalcanal and Tulagi against any Japanese counteroffensives, covering the movement of supply ships to Guadalcanal, and engaging and destroying any Japanese warships, that came within range.

Between 15 and 20 August, the U.S. carriers covered the delivery of fighter and bomber aircraft to the newly-opened Henderson Field
Henderson Field (Guadalcanal)
Henderson Field is a former military airfield on Guadacanal, Solomon Islands during World War II. Today it is Honiara International Airport.-Japanese construction:...

 on Guadalcanal. Henderson Field and the aircraft based there soon began to have a telling effect on the movement of Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands and in the attrition
Attrition warfare
Attrition warfare is a military strategy in which a belligerent side attempts to win a war by wearing down its enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and matériel....

 of Japanese air forces in the South Pacific Area
South Pacific Area
The South Pacific Area was a multinational U.S.-led military command active during World War II. It was a part of the U.S. Pacific Ocean Areas under Admiral Chester Nimitz.Instructions to the senior U.S...

. In fact, Allied control of Henderson Field became the key factor in the entire battle for Guadalcanal.

Taken by surprise by the Allied offensive in the Solomons, Japanese naval—under Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
Isoroku Yamamoto
was a Japanese Naval Marshal General and the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II, a graduate of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy and a student of Harvard University ....

—and army
Imperial Japanese Army
-Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

 forces prepared a counteroffensive, with the goal of driving the Allies out of Guadalcanal and Tulagi. The counteroffensive was called Operation Ka (Ka comes from the first syllable for Guadalcanal as pronounced in Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

) with the naval portion having an additional objective of destroying Allied warship forces in the South Pacific area, specifically the U.S. carriers.


A convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

 containing 1,411 Japanese soldiers from the "Ichiki"
Kiyono Ichiki
- Notes :...

 regiment as well as several hundred naval troops
Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces
The Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces , were the marine troops of the Imperial Japanese Navy and were a part of the IJN Land Forces...

 from the 5th Yokosuka Special Naval Landing Force, loaded on three slow transport ships, departed the major Japanese base at Truk
Chuuk — formerly Truk, Ruk, Hogoleu, Torres, Ugulat, and Lugulus — is an island group in the south western part of the Pacific Ocean. It comprises one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia , along with Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap. Chuuk is the most populous of the FSM's...

 (Chuuk) on 16 August and headed towards Guadalcanal. The transports were guarded by light cruiser
Light cruiser
A light cruiser is a type of small- or medium-sized warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armored cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armor in the same way as an armored cruiser: a protective belt and deck...

 , eight destroyers, and four patrol boats, led by Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka
Raizo Tanaka
was a rear admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during most of World War II. A specialist in the heavy torpedoes that were carried by all the destroyers and cruisers of the IJN, Tanaka mainly commanded destroyer squadrons, with a cruiser or two attached, and he was the primary leader of the...

 (flag in Jintsu) Also departing from Rabaul to help protect the convoy was a "Close Cover force" of four heavy cruisers from the 8th Fleet
IJN 8th Fleet
The was a fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy established during World War II.-History:Established on 14 July 1942, the IJN 8th Fleet was a headquarters unit established to direct Japanese naval operations in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea...

, commanded by Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa
Gunichi Mikawa
was a Vice-Admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.Mikawa was the commander of a heavy cruiser force that carried out spectacular I.J.N. victory over the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy at the Battle of Savo Island in Ironbottom Sound on the night of August 1942. In...

. These were the same cruisers that had defeated an Allied naval surface force in the earlier Battle of Savo Island
Battle of Savo Island
The Battle of Savo Island, also known as the First Battle of Savo Island and, in Japanese sources, as the , was a naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II, between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval forces...

. Tanaka planned to land the troops from his convoy on Guadalcanal on 24 August.
On 21 August, the rest of the Japanese Ka naval force departed Truk, heading for the southern Solomons. These ships were basically divided into three groups: the "Main Body" contained the Japanese carriers— and , light carrier
Light aircraft carrier
A light aircraft carrier is an aircraft carrier that is smaller than the standard carriers of a navy. The precise definition of the type varies by country; light carriers typically have a complement of aircraft only ½ to ⅔ the size of a full-sized or "fleet" carrier.-History:In World War II, the...

 , and a screening force of one heavy cruiser
Heavy cruiser
The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range, high speed and an armament of naval guns roughly 203mm calibre . The heavy cruiser can be seen as a lineage of ship design from 1915 until 1945, although the term 'heavy cruiser' only came into formal use in 1930...

 and eight destroyers, commanded by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo
Chuichi Nagumo
was a Japanese admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II and one time commander of the Kido Butai . He committed suicide during the Battle of Saipan.-Early life:...

 in Shōkaku; the "Vanguard Force" consisted of two battleships, three heavy cruisers, one light cruiser
Light cruiser
A light cruiser is a type of small- or medium-sized warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armored cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armor in the same way as an armored cruiser: a protective belt and deck...

, and three destroyers, commanded by Rear Admiral Hiroaki Abe
Hiroaki Abe
was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.-Early career:Abe was born in Yonezawa city in Yamagata prefecture in northern Japan. He graduated from the 39th class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1911, with a ranking of 26th out of a class of 148 cadets. As a...

; the "Advanced Force" contained five heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, six destroyers, and the seaplane carrier ), commanded by Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondō. Finally, a force of about 100 IJN land-based bombers, fighters, and reconnaissance aircraft at Rabaul and nearby islands were positioned to support. Nagumo's main body positioned itself behind the vanguard and advanced forces in order to more easily remain hidden from U.S. reconnaissance aircraft.

The Ka plan dictated once U.S. carriers were located, either by Japanese scout aircraft or an attack on one of the Japanese surface forces, Nagumo's carriers would immediately launch a strike force to destroy them. With the U.S. carriers destroyed or disabled, Abe's Vanguard and Kondo's Advanced forces would close with and destroy the rest of the Allied naval forces in a warship surface action. The Japanese naval forces would then be free to neutralize Henderson Field through bombardment while covering the landing of the Japanese army troops to retake Guadalcanal and Tulagi.

In response to an unanticipated land battle fought
Battle of the Tenaru
The Battle of the Tenaru, sometimes called the Battle of the Ilu River or the Battle of Alligator Creek, took place August 21, 1942, on the island of Guadalcanal, and was a land battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, between Imperial Japanese Army and Allied ground forces...

 between U.S. Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 on Guadalcanal and Japanese forces on 19–20 August, the U.S. carrier task forces under Fletcher headed back toward Guadalcanal from their positions 400 mi (347.6 nmi; 643.7 km) to the south on 21 August. The U.S. carriers were to support the Marines, protect Henderson Field, and to combat and destroy any Japanese naval forces that arrived to support Japanese troops in the land battle on Guadalcanal.
Both the Allied and Japanese naval forces continued to head toward each other on 22 August. Although both sides conducted intense aircraft scouting efforts, neither side spotted the other. Because of the disappearance of at least one of their scouting aircraft (shot down by aircraft from Enterprise before it could send a radio report), the Japanese strongly suspected U.S. carriers were in the area. The U.S., however, was unaware of the disposition and strength of approaching Japanese surface warship forces.

At 09:50 on 23 August, a U.S. PBY Catalina flying boat
Flying boat
A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water. It differs from a float plane as it uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can float, granting the aircraft buoyancy. Flying boats may be stabilized by under-wing floats or by wing-like projections from the fuselage...

—based at Ndeni in the Santa Cruz Islands
Santa Cruz Islands
The Santa Cruz Islands are a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, part of Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands. They lie approximately 250 miles to the southeast of the Solomon Islands Chain...

—sighted Tanaka's convoy. By late afternoon, with no further sightings of Japanese ships, two aircraft strike forces from Saratoga and Henderson Field took off to attack Tanaka's convoy. However, Tanaka, knowing that an attack would be coming his way after being sighted, reversed course once the Catalina had left the area, and eluded the aircraft. After Tanaka reported to his superiors that he had lost time because he turned north to avoid the Allied air attacks, the landings of his troops on Guadalcanal was pushed back to 25 August. By 18:23 on 23 August, with no Japanese carriers sighted and no new intelligence
Military intelligence
Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

 reporting their presence in the area, Fletcher detached Wasp—which was getting low on fuel—and the rest of TF 18 for the two-day trip south toward Efate Island to refuel. Thus, Wasp and her escorting warships missed the upcoming battle.

Carrier action on August 24

At 01:45 on 24 August, Nagumo ordered Rear Admiral Chūichi Hara
Chuichi Hara
-External links:*...

—with the light carrier Ryūjō, the heavy cruiser and destroyers and —to proceed ahead of the main Japanese force and send an aircraft attack force against Henderson Field at daybreak. The Ryūjō mission was most likely in response to a request from Nishizo Tsukahara—the naval commander at Rabaul—for help from the combined fleet in neutralizing Henderson Field. The mission may also have been intended by Nagumo as a decoy to divert U.S. attention so that the rest of the Japanese force could approach the U.S. naval forces undetected as well as to help provide protection and cover for Tanaka's convoy. Most of the aircraft on Shōkaku and Zuikaku were readied to launch on short notice if the U.S. carriers were located. Between 05:55 and 06:30, the U.S. carriers (mainly Enterprise)— augmented by Catalinas from Ndeni—launched their own scout aircraft to search for the Japanese naval forces.

At 09:35, a Catalina made the first sighting of the Ryūjō force. Several more sightings of Ryūjō and ships of Kondo's and Mikawa's forces by carrier and other U.S. reconnaissance aircraft followed later that morning. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, U.S. aircraft also sighted several Japanese scout aircraft and submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s, leading Fletcher to believe that the Japanese knew where his carriers were, which, however, was not yet the case. Still, Fletcher hesitated to order a strike against the Ryūjō group until he was sure there were no other Japanese carriers in the area. Finally, with no firm word on the presence or location of other Japanese carriers, Fletcher launched a strike of 38 aircraft from Saratoga at 13:40 to attack Ryūjō. However, he kept aircraft from both U.S. carriers ready just in case any Japanese fleet carriers were sighted.

At 12:20, Ryūjō launched six Nakajima B5N
Nakajima B5N
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Bridgwater, H.C. and Peter Scott. Combat Colours Number 4: Pearl Harbor and Beyond, December 1941 to May 1942. Luton, Bedfordshire, UK: Guideline Publications, 2001. ISBN 0-9539040-6-7....

2 "Kate" bombers and 15 A6M3 Zero fighters to attack Henderson Field in conjunction with an attack by 24 Mitsubishi G4M
Mitsubishi G4M
The Mitsubishi G4M 一式陸上攻撃機, 一式陸攻 Isshiki rikujō kōgeki ki, Isshikirikkō was the main twin-engine, land-based bomber used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service in World War II. The Allies gave the G4M the reporting name Betty...

2 "Betty" bombers and 14 Zeros from Rabaul. However, unknown to the Ryūjō aircraft, the Rabaul aircraft had encountered severe weather and returned to their base at 11:30. The Ryūjō aircraft were detected on radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 by Saratoga as they flew toward Guadalcanal, further fixing the location of their ship for the impending U.S. attack. The Ryūjō aircraft arrived over Henderson Field at 14:23, and tangled with Henderson's fighters (members of the Cactus Air Force
Cactus Air Force
Cactus Air Force refers to the ensemble of Allied air power assigned to the island of Guadalcanal from August 1942 until December 1942 during the early stages of the Guadalcanal Campaign, particularly those operating from Henderson Field...

) while bombing the airfield. In the resulting engagement, three "Kates", three Zeros, and three U.S. fighters were shot down, and no significant damage was done to Henderson Field.

At 14:25, a Japanese scout aircraft from the cruiser sighted the U.S. carriers. Although the aircraft was shot down, its report was transmitted in time, and Nagumo immediately ordered his strike force launched from Shōkaku and Zuikaku. The first wave of aircraft (27 Aichi D3A
Aichi D3A
The , Allied reporting name "Val") was a World War II carrier-borne dive bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy . It was the primary dive bomber in the Imperial Japanese Navy, and participated in almost all actions, including Pearl Harbor....

2 "Val" dive bomber
Dive bomber
A dive bomber is a bomber aircraft that dives directly at its targets in order to provide greater accuracy for the bomb it drops. Diving towards the target reduces the distance the bomb has to fall, which is the primary factor in determining the accuracy of the drop...

s and 15 Zeros) was off by 14:50 and on its way toward Enterprise and Saratoga. About this same time, two U.S. scout aircraft finally sighted the main force. However, because of communication problems, these sighting reports never reached Fletcher. Before leaving the area, the two U.S. scout aircraft attacked Shōkaku, causing negligible damage. A second wave of 27 "Vals" and nine Zeros was launched by the Japanese carriers at 16:00 and headed south toward the U.S. carriers. Abe's Vanguard force also surged ahead in anticipation of meeting the U.S. ships in a surface action after nightfall.
About this same time, the Saratoga strike force arrived and attacked on Ryūjō, hitting her with three to five bombs and perhaps one torpedo, and killing 120 of her crew. The crew abandoned the heavily damaged ship at nightfall, and she sank soon after. Amatsukaze and Tokitsukaze rescued Ryūjōs survivors and the aircrews from her returning strike force, who ditched
Water landing
A water landing is, in the broadest sense, any landing on a body of water. All waterfowl, those seabirds capable of flight, and some human-built vehicles are capable of landing in water as a matter of course....

 their aircraft in the ocean nearby. During this time, several U.S. B-17 heavy bomber
Heavy bomber
A heavy bomber is a bomber aircraft of the largest size and load carrying capacity, and usually the longest range.In New START, the term "heavy bomber" is used for two types of bombers:*one with a range greater than 8,000 kilometers...

s attacked the crippled Ryūjō but caused no additional damage. After the rescue operations were complete, both Japanese destroyers and Tone rejoined Nagumo's main force.

At 16:02, still waiting for a definitive report on the location of the Japanese fleet carriers, the U.S. carriers' radar detected the first incoming wave of Japanese strike aircraft. Fifty-three F4F-4 Wildcat fighters from the two U.S. carriers were directed by radar control towards the attackers. However, communication problems, limitations of the aircraft identification
Identification friend or foe
In telecommunications, identification, friend or foe is an identification system designed for command and control. It is a system that enables military and national interrogation systems to identify aircraft, vehicles, or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the...

 capabilities of the radar, primitive control procedures, and effective screening of the Japanese dive bombers by their escorting Zeros, prevented all but a few of the U.S. fighters from engaging the Vals before they began their attacks on the U.S. carriers. Just before the Japanese dive bombers began their attacks, Enterprise and Saratoga cleared their decks for the impending action by launching the aircraft that they had been holding ready in case the Japanese fleet carriers were sighted. These aircraft were told to fly north and attack anything they could find, or else to circle outside the battle zone, until it was safe to return.
At 16:29, the Japanese dive bombers began their attacks. Although several attempted to set up to attack the Saratoga, they quickly shifted back to the nearer carrier, Enterprise. Thus, Enterprise was the target of almost the entire Japanese air attack. Several Wildcats followed the "Vals" into their attack dives, despite the intense anti-aircraft artillery
Anti-aircraft warfare
NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces...

 fire from Enterprise and her screening warships, in a desperate attempt to disrupt their attacks. As many as four Wildcats were shot down by U.S. anti-aircraft fire, as well as several Vals.

Because of the effective anti-aircraft fire from the U.S. ships, plus evasive maneuvers, the bombs from the first nine "Vals" missed Enterprise. However, at 16:44, an armor-piercing
Armor-piercing shot and shell
An armor-piercing shell is a type of ammunition designed to penetrate armor. From the 1860s to 1950s, a major application of armor-piercing projectiles was to defeat the thick armor carried on many warships. From the 1920s onwards, armor-piercing weapons were required for anti-tank missions...

, delayed-action
Delay-action bomb
A delay-action bomb is an aerial bomb designed to explode some time after impact, with the bomb's fuzes set to delay the explosion for times ranging from very brief to several weeks...

 bomb penetrated the flight deck
Flight deck
The flight deck of an aircraft carrier is the surface from which its aircraft take off and land, essentially a miniature airfield at sea. On smaller naval ships which do not have aviation as a primary mission, the landing area for helicopters and other VTOL aircraft is also referred to as the...

 near the aft elevator
An elevator is a type of vertical transport equipment that efficiently moves people or goods between floors of a building, vessel or other structures...

 and passed through three decks
Deck (ship)
A deck is a permanent covering over a compartment or a hull of a ship. On a boat or ship, the primary deck is the horizontal structure which forms the 'roof' for the hull, which both strengthens the hull and serves as the primary working surface...

 before detonating
Detonation involves a supersonic exothermic front accelerating through a medium that eventually drives a shock front propagating directly in front of it. Detonations are observed in both conventional solid and liquid explosives, as well as in reactive gases...

 below the waterline
The term "waterline" generally refers to the line where the hull of a ship meets the water surface. It is also the name of a special marking, also known as the national Load Line or Plimsoll Line, to be positioned amidships, that indicates the draft of the ship and the legal limit to which a ship...

, killing 35 men and wounding 70 more. Incoming sea water caused Enterprise to develop a slight list, but it was not a major breach of hull
Hull (watercraft)
A hull is the watertight body of a ship or boat. Above the hull is the superstructure and/or deckhouse, where present. The line where the hull meets the water surface is called the waterline.The structure of the hull varies depending on the vessel type...


Just 30 seconds later, the next "Val" planted its bomb only 15 ft (4.6 m) away from where the first bomb hit. The resulting detonation ignited a large secondary explosion from one of the nearby 5 in (127 mm) guns' ready powder casings, killing 35 members of the nearby gun crews and starting a large fire.
About a minute later, at 16:46, the third and last bomb hit Enterprise on the flight deck forward of where the first two bombs hit. This bomb exploded on contact, creating a 10 ft (3 m) hole in the deck, but caused no further damage. Four "Vals" then broke-off from the attack on Enterprise to attack the U.S. battleship North Carolina, but all of their bombs missed and all four "Vals" were shot down by anti-aircraft fire or U.S. fighters. The attack was over at 16:48, and the surviving Japanese aircraft reassembled in small groups and returned to their ships.

Both sides thought that they had inflicted more damage than was the case. The U.S. claimed to have shot down 70 Japanese aircraft, even though there were only 42 aircraft in all. Actual Japanese losses—from all causes—in the engagement were 25 aircraft, with most of the crews of the lost aircraft not being recovered or rescued. The Japanese, for their part, mistakenly believed that they had heavily damaged two U.S. carriers, instead of just one. The U.S. lost six aircraft in the engagement, with most of the crews being rescued.

Although Enterprise was heavily damaged and on fire, her damage-control teams were able to make sufficient repairs for the ship to resume flight operations at 17:46, only one hour after the engagement ended. At 18:05, the Saratoga strike force returned from sinking Ryūjō and landed without major incident. The second wave of Japanese aircraft approached the U.S. carriers at 18:15 but was unable to locate the U.S. formation because of communication problems and had to return to their carriers without attacking any U.S. ships, losing five aircraft in the process from operational mishaps. Most of the U.S. carrier aircraft launched just before the first wave of Japanese aircraft attacked failed to find any targets. However, five TBF-1 Avengers from Saratoga sighted Kondo's advanced force and attacked the seaplane tender Chitose, scoring two near-hits which heavily damaged the unarmored ship. The U.S. carrier aircraft either landed at Henderson Field or were able to return to their carriers after dusk. The U.S. ships retired to the south to get out of range of any approaching Japanese warships. In fact, Abe's vanguard force and Kondo's advance force were steaming south to try to catch the U.S. carrier task forces in a surface battle, but they turned around at midnight without having made contact with the U.S. warships. Nagumo's main body—having taken heavy aircraft losses in the engagement, and being low on fuel—also retreated northward.

Actions on 25 August

Believing that two U.S. carriers had been taken out of action with heavy damage, Tanaka's reinforcement convoy again headed toward Guadalcanal, and by 08:00 on 25 August they were within 150 mi (130.3 nmi; 241.4 km) of their destination. At this time, Tanaka's convoy was joined by five destroyers which had shelled Henderson Field the night before, causing slight damage. At 08:05, 18 U.S. aircraft from Henderson Field attacked Tanaka's convoy, causing heavy damage to Jintsu, killing 24 crewmen, and knocking Tanaka unconscious. The troop transport Kinryu Maru was also hit and eventually sank. Just as the destroyer pulled alongside Kinryu Maru to rescue her crew and embarked troops, she was attacked by four U.S. B-17s from Espiritu Santo
Espiritu Santo
Espiritu Santo is the largest island in the nation of Vanuatu, with an area of . It belongs to the archipelago of the New Hebrides in the Pacific region of Melanesia. It is in the Sanma Province of Vanuatu....

 which landed five bombs on or around Mutsuki, sinking her immediately. An uninjured but shaken Tanaka transferred to the destroyer , sent Jintsu back to Truk, and took the convoy to the Japanese base in the Shortland Islands
Shortland Islands
The Shortland Islands are group of islands belonging to the Western Province of the Solomon Islands, at . Named by John Shortland, they lie in the extreme northwest of the country's territory, close to the island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. The largest island is Shortland Island...


Both the Japanese and the U.S. elected to completely withdraw their warships from the area, ending the battle. The Japanese naval forces lingered near the northern Solomons, out of range of the U.S. aircraft based at Henderson Field, before finally returning to Truk on 5 September.


The battle is generally considered to be more or less a tactical and strategic victory for the U.S. because the Japanese lost more ships, aircraft, and aircrew, and Japanese troop reinforcements for Guadalcanal were delayed. Summing up the significance of the battle, historian Richard B. Frank
Richard B. Frank
Richard B. Frank is an American lawyer and military historian.Frank graduated from the University of Missouri in 1969, after which he served four years in the United States Army. During the Vietnam War, he served a tour of duty as a platoon leader in the 101st Airborne Division...


The Battle of the Eastern Solomons was unquestionably an American victory, but it had little long-term result, apart from a further reduction in the corps of trained Japanese carrier aviators. The (Japanese) reinforcements that could not come by slow transport would soon reach Guadalcanal by other means.

The U.S. lost only seven aircrew members in the battle. However, the Japanese lost 61 veteran aircrew, who were hard for the Japanese to replace because of an institutionalized limited capacity in their naval aircrew training programs and an absence of trained reserves. The troops in Tanaka's convoy were later loaded onto destroyers at the Shortland Islands
Shortland Islands
The Shortland Islands are group of islands belonging to the Western Province of the Solomon Islands, at . Named by John Shortland, they lie in the extreme northwest of the country's territory, close to the island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. The largest island is Shortland Island...

 and delivered piecemeal, without most of their heavy equipment, to Guadalcanal beginning on August 29, 1942. The Japanese claimed considerably more damage than they had inflicted, including that —not in the battle—had been sunk, thus avenging its part in the Doolittle Raid
Doolittle Raid
The Doolittle Raid, on 18 April 1942, was the first air raid by the United States to strike the Japanese Home Islands during World War II. By demonstrating that Japan itself was vulnerable to American air attack, it provided a vital morale boost and opportunity for U.S. retaliation after the...


Emphasizing the strategic value of Henderson Field, in a separate reinforcement effort, Japanese destroyer was sunk and two other Japanese destroyers heavily damaged on 28 August, 70 mi (60.8 nmi; 112.7 km) north of Guadalcanal in "The Slot
New Georgia Sound
New Georgia Sound is the body of water that runs approximately through the middle of the Solomon Islands. The Sound is bounded by Choiseul Island, Santa Isabel Island, and Florida Island to the north, and by Vella Lavella, Kolombangara, New Georgia, and the Russell Islands to the south...

" by U.S. aircraft based at the airfield. The battle for the island settled into a two-month-long stalemate, punctuated by an intense land battle at Edson's Ridge
Battle of Edson's Ridge
The Battle of Edson's Ridge, also known as the Battle of the Bloody Ridge, Battle of Raiders Ridge, and Battle of the Ridge, was a land battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II between Imperial Japanese Army and Allied ground forces...

 on 13 September and a large surface naval engagement at Cape Esperance
Battle of Cape Esperance
The Battle of Cape Esperance, also known as the Second Battle of Savo Island and, in Japanese sources, as the , took place on 11–12 October 1942, and was a naval battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II between the Imperial Japanese Navy and United States Navy...

 in early October.

Enterprise traveled to Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

 for extensive repairs, which were completed on 15 October 1942. She returned to the South Pacific on 24 October, just in time for the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands
Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands
The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, 26 October 1942, sometimes referred to as the Battle of Santa Cruz or in Japanese sources as the , was the fourth carrier battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II and the fourth major naval engagement fought between the United States Navy and the Imperial...

and her rematch with Shōkaku and Zuikaku.

External links

Somewhat inaccurate on details, since it was written during the war.
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