October 5th – Carriers and Hellcats!

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USS Yorktown launching her airgroup.

USS Yorktown launching her airgroup.

05 October 1943 was a day of “Firsts” for the United States Navy. It was the first use of multiple carrier groups in battle with the use of three new Essex carriers (Essex CV-9, Yorktown CV-10, Lexington CV-16) and three smaller carriers against Japanese forces on Wake Island and marked the first combat kill of a Zero by a Hellcat (F-6F) flown by Ensign Robert Duncan of VF-5 (read his story here) from the USS Yorktown (CV-10). Ensign Duncan would become the Yorktown’s first fighter ace on 16 February 1944.

Ensign Robert Duncan of VF-5 flying off of USS Yorktown CV-10.

Ensign Robert Duncan of VF-5 flying off of USS Yorktown CV-10.

Captain Robert Duncan, USN (Retired) with future naval aviator in 2007.

Captain Robert Duncan, USN (Retired) with future naval aviator in 2007.

Lessons learned from operating the carriers as a single group of six, as two groups of three, and as three groups of two, provided the basis for many tactics which later characterized carrier task force operations in the Pacific.

Unfortunately, the successful raid on Wake Island in October 1943 would lead to the infamous Wake Island massacre. Read about it here…

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