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Essex-class aircraft carrier
27,100 tons (standard)
36,380 tons (loaded)
820' x 93' x 28' 5"
Armament (as built)
4 x 5"guns
4 x 127mm guns
8 x 40mm AA
46 x 20mm AA
USN November 7, 1944
Remained at Norfolk until May 21, 1943 when she got underway for shakedown training in the vicinity of Trinidad then returned to Norfolk on June 17, 1943 and on July 1 completed repairs before beginning air operations out of Norfolk until July 6, when she departed for the Pacific.
On September 9, she stood out to sea, bound for the West Coast of the United States. She arrived in San Francisco on September 13, loaded aircraft and supplies, and returned to sea on September 15. Four days later, the aircraft carrier reentered Pearl Harbor. Yorktown returned to sea to conduct combat operations on September 29. Early on the morning of October 5, she began two days of air strikes on Japanese installations on Wake Island. After retiring to the east for the night, she resumed those air raids early on the morning of October 6 and continued them through most of the day. That evening, the task group began its retirement to Hawaii. Yorktown arrived at Oahu on October 11 and, for the next month, conducted air training operations out of Pearl Harbor.
On January 16 1944, the warship exited Pearl Harbor once again to support an amphibious assault - Operation Flintlock, the Marshall Islands invasion. Her task group, Task Group 58.1, arrived at its launching point early on the morning of January 29, and its carriers - Yorktown, Lexington, and Cowpens - began sending air strikes aloft at about 0520 for attacks on Taroa airfield located on Maloelap Atoll. Throughout the day, her aircraft hit Maloelap in preparation for the assaults on Majuro and Kwajalein scheduled for January 31. On January 30, Yorktown and her sister carriers shifted targets to Kwajalein to begin softening up one of the targets. When the troops stormed ashore on January 31, Yorktown aviators continued their strikes on Kwajalein in support of the troops attacking that atoll. The same employment occupied the Yorktown air group during the first three days in February. On February 4, however, the task group retired to the fleet anchorage at recently secured Majuro Atoll.
Over the next four months, Yorktown participated in a series of raids in which she ranged from the Marianas in the north to New Guinea in the south. After eight days at Majuro, she sortied with her task group on February 12 arriving off Truk Lagoon on February 16, 1944.
On February 17, 1944 Yorktown aircraft participated in "Operation Hailstone" attacks against Truk Lagoon. On February 18, the carrier set a course for the Marianas.
On February 22, conducted a single day of raids on enemy airfields and installations on Saipan. That same day, she cleared the area on her way back to Majuro. The warship arrived in Majuro lagoon on February 26 and remained there. On March 8, the carrier stood out of Majuro, rendezvoused with the rest of TF 58, and shaped a course for Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. She reached her destination on March 13 and remained there for 10 days before getting underway for another series of raids on the Japanese middle defense line. On March 30-31, she launched air strikes on Japanese installations located in the Palau Islands; and on April 1, her aviators went after the island of Woleai. Five days later, she returned to her base at Majuro for a week of replenishment and recreation.
On April 13, Yorktown returned to sea once more. On this occasion however, she laid in a course for the northern coast of New Guinea. On April 12, she began launching raids in support of Major General Douglas MacArthur's assault on the Hollandia (currently known as Jayapura) area. That day, her aviators attacked installations in the Wakde-Sarmi area of northern New Guinea. On April 22-23, they shifted to the landing areas at Hollandia themselves and began providing direct support for the assault troops. After those attacks, she retired from the New Guinea coast for another raid on Truk lagoon, which her aircraft carried out on April 29 and April 30. The aircraft carrier returned to Majuro on May 4; however, two days later she got underway again, bound for Oahu. The warship entered Pearl Harbor on May 11, and for the next 18 days, conducted training operations in the Hawaiian Islands. On May 29, she headed back to the Central Pacific. Yorktown entered Majuro lagoon again on June 3 and began preparations for her next major amphibious support operation the assault on the Marianas.
On June 6, the aircraft carrier stood out of Majuro with TF 58 and set a course for the Mariana Islands. After five days steaming, she reached the launch point and began sending planes aloft for the preliminary softening up of targets in preparation for the invasion of Saipan. Yorktown air crews concentrated primarily upon airfields located on Guam. Those raids continued until June 13, when Yorktown, with two of the task groups of TF 58, steamed north to hit targets in the Bonin Islands. That movement resulted in a one-day raid on June 16 before the two task groups headed back to the Marianas to join in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. TF 58 reunited on June 18 and began a short wait for the approaching Japanese Fleet and its aircraft.
On the morning of June 19, Yorktown aircraft began strikes on Japanese air bases on Guam in order to deny them to their approaching carrier-based air and to keep the land-based planes out of the fray. Duels with Guam-based aircraft continued until mid-morning. At about 10:17, however, she got her first indication of the carrier plane attacks when a large bogey appeared on her radar screen. At that point she divided her attention, sending part of her air group back to Guam and another portion of it out to meet the raid closing from the west. Throughout the battle, Yorktown's planes continued both to strike the Guam airfields and intercept the carrier raids. During the first day of the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Yorktown aircraft claimed 37 enemy planes destroyed and dropped 21 tons of bombs on the Guam air bases.
On the morning of June 20, Yorktown steamed generally west with TF 58 while search planes groped for the fleeing enemy task force. Contact was made with the enemy at about 1540 when a pilot from Hornet spotted the retiring Combined Fleet units. Yorktown launched a 40-plane strike between 1623 and 1643. Her planes found Admiral Ozawa's force at about 1840 and began a 20-minute attack during which they went after Zuikaku on which they succeeded in scoring some hits. They, however, failed to sink that carrier. They also attacked several other ships in the Japanese force, though no records show a confirmed sinking to the credit of the Yorktown air group.
On June 21, 1944 joined in the futile stern chase on the enemy carried out by TF 58 but gave up that evening when air searches failed to contact the Japanese. On June 22, 1944 Yorktown returned to the Marianas area and resumed air strikes on Pagan Island. On June 23, 1944 attacked Pagan Island. Lost is F6F Hellcat 42117 (MIA).
On June 24, she launched another series of raids on Iwo Jima. On June 25, she laid in a course for Eniwetok and arrived there two days later. On 30 June, returned to the Marianas and the Bonins.
On July 6, the warship resumed strikes in the Marianas and continued them for the next 17 days. On July 23, she headed off to the west for a series of raids on Yap, Ulithi, and the Palaus. She carried out those attacks on July 25 and arrived back in the Marianas on July 29.
On July 31, she cleared the Mariana Islands and traveled via Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor back to the United States. Yorktown arrived in the Puget Sound Navy Yard on August 17 and began a two month overhaul. She completed repairs on October 6 and departed Puget Sound on October 9. She stopped at the Alameda Naval Air Station from October 11-13 to load planes and supplies and then set a course back to the western Pacific. After a stop at Pearl Harbor from October 18-24, Yorktown arrived back in Eniwetok on October 31. She departed the lagoon on November 1 and arrived at Ulithi on November 3. There, she reported for duty with TG 38.4. The task group left Ulithi on November 6.
On November 7, the aircraft carrier changed operational control to TG 38.1 and, for the next two weeks, launched air strikes on targets in the Philippines in support of the Leyte invasion. Detached from the task force on November 23, Yorktown arrived back in Ulithi on November 24. She remained there until December 10, at which time she put to sea to rejoin TF 38. She rendezvoused with the other carriers on December 13 and began launching air strikes on targets on the island of Luzon in preparation for the invasion of that island scheduled for the second week in January. On December 17, the task force began its retirement from the Luzon strikes. During that retirement, TF 38 steamed through the center of the famous typhoon of December 1944. That storm sank three destroyers - Spence, Hull, and Monaghan - and Yorktown participated in some of the rescue operations for the survivors of those three destroyers. The warship arrived back in Ulithi on 24 December.
Yorktown remained at Ulithi arming, provisioning, and conducting upkeep until 10 February. At that time, she sortied with TF 58, the 3rd Fleet becoming the 5th Fleet when Spruance relieved Halsey, on a series of raids on the Japanese and thence to support the assault on and occupation of Iwo Jima. On the morning of 16 February, the carrier began launching strikes on the Tokyo area of Honshū. On 17 February, she repeated those strikes before heading toward the Bonins. Her aviators bombed and strafed installations on Chichi Jima on 18 February. The landings on Iwo Jima went forward on 19 February, and Yorktown aircraft began support missions over the island on 20 February. Those missions continued until 23 February at which time Yorktown cleared the Bonins to resume strikes on Japan proper. She arrived at the launch point on 25 February and sent two raids aloft to bomb and strafe airfields in the vicinity of Tokyo. On 26 February, Yorktown aircrewmen conducted a single sweep of installations on Kyūshū before TG 58.4 began its retirement to Ulithi. Yorktown re-entered the anchorage at Ulithi on 1 March.
She remained in the anchorage for about two weeks. On 14 March, the carrier departed the lagoon on her way to resume raids on Japan and to begin preliminary support work for the Okinawa operations scheduled for 1 April. On 18 March, she arrived in the operating area off Japan and began launching strikes against airfields on Kyūshū, Honshū, and Shikoku.
The task group came under air attack almost as soon as operations began. At about 8:00am, a twin-engine bomber, probably a Yokosuka P1Y Frances attacked from her port side. The ship opened fire almost immediately and began scoring hits quickly. The plane began to burn but continued his run passing over Yorktown's bow and splashing in the water on her starboard side. Just seven minutes later, another Frances tried but also went down, a victim of the combined fire of the formation. No further attacks developed until that afternoon; and, in the meantime, Yorktown continued air operations. That afternoon, three Yokosuka D4Y Judy launched attacks on the carrier. The first two failed in their attacks and were shot in their attempts. The third succeeded in planting his bomb on the signal bridge. It passed through the first deck and exploded near the ship's hull. It punched two large holes through her side, killed five men, and wounded another 26. Yorktown, however, remained fully operational, and her anti-aircraft gunners brought the attacker down. She continued air operations against the three southernmost islands of Japan and retired for fueling operations on 20 March.
On March 21, she headed for Okinawa, on which she began softening-up strikes on 23 March. Those attacks continued until 28 March when she started back to Japanese waters for an additional strike on the home islands. On 29 March, the carrier put two raids and one photographic reconnaissance mission into the air over Kyūshū. That afternoon, at about 1410, a single "Judy" made an apparent suicide dive on Yorktown. The anti-aircraft guns scored numerous hits. The plane passed over the ship and crashed about 60' from 22 yards portside.
On 30 March, Yorktown and the other carriers of her task group began to concentrate solely on the island of Okinawa and its surrounding islets. For two days, they pounded the island in softening-up strikes. On 1 April, the assault troops stormed ashore; and, for almost six weeks, she sent her planes to the island to provide direct support for the troops operating ashore. About every three days, she retired to the east to conduct fueling rendezvous or to rearm and re-provision. The only exception to that routine came on 7 April when it was discovered that a Japanese task force built around the elusive battleship Yamato was steaming south for one last, desperate, offensive. Yorktown and the other carriers quickly launched strikes to attack that valued target. Air Group 9 aviators claimed several torpedo hits on Yamato just before the battleship exploded and sank. At least three 500 lb (230 kg) bomb hits on light cruiser Yahagi sunk it also. The pilots also made strafing runs on the escorting destroyers and claimed to have left one afire in a sinking condition. At the conclusion of that action, Yorktown and her planes resumed their support for the troops on Okinawa. On 11 April, she came under air attack again when a single-engine plane sped in on her. Yorktown's anti-aircraft gunners brought down the plane. Sporadic air attacks continued until her 11 May departure from the Ryūkyūs, but Yorktown sustained no additional damage and claimed only one further kill with her anti-aircraft battery. On 11 May, TG 58.4 was detached to proceed to Ulithi for upkeep, rest, and relaxation.
Yorktown entered the lagoon at Ulithi on 14 May and remained there until 24 May at which time she sortied with TG 58.4 to rejoin the forces off Okinawa. On 28 May, TG 58.4 became TG 38.4 when Halsey relieved Spruance and 5th Fleet again became 3rd Fleet. That same day, the carrier resumed air support missions over Okinawa. That routine lasted until the beginning of June when she moved off with TF 38 to resume strikes on the Japanese homeland. On 3 June, her aircraft made four different sweeps of airfields. The following day, she returned to Okinawa for a day of additional support missions before steaming off to evade a typhoon. On 6-7 June, she resumed Okinawa strikes. She sent her aviators back to the Kyūshū airfields and, on 9 June, launched them on the first of two days of raids on Minami Daito Shima. After the second day's strikes, Yorktown began retirement with TG 38.4 toward Leyte. She arrived in San Pedro Bay at Leyte on 13 June and began replenishment, upkeep, rest, and relaxation.
The warship remained at Leyte until 1 July when she and TG 38.4 got underway to join the rest of the fast carriers in the final series of raids on the Japanese home islands. By 10 July, she was off the coast of Japan launching air strikes on the Tokyo area of Honshū. After a fueling rendezvous on 11-12 July, she resumed strikes on Japan, this on the southern portion of the northernmost island Hokkaidō. Those strikes lasted from 13-15 July. A fueling retirement and heavy weather precluded air operations until 18 July, at which time her aviators returned to the Tokyo area. From 19-22 July, she made a fueling and underway replenishment retirement and then, on 24 July, resumed air attacks on Japan. For two days, planes of her air group pounded installations around the Kure naval base. Another fueling retirement came on 26 July, and on 27-28 July, her planes were in the air above Kure again. On 29-30 July, she shifted targets back to the Tokyo area before another fueling retirement and another typhoon took her out of action until the beginning of the first week in August. On 8-9 August, the carrier launched her planes at northern Honshū and southern Hokkaido. On 10 August, she sent them back to Tokyo. On 11 August and 12 August, another fueling retirement and a typhoon evasion was scheduled. On 13 August, her aircraft hit Tokyo for the last time. On 14 August, she retired to fuel destroyers again; and on 15 August, Japan agreed to capitulate so that all strikes planned for that day were canceled.
From 16-23 August, Yorktown and the other carriers of TF-58 steamed around the waters to the east of Japan awaiting instructions while peace negotiations continued. She then received orders to head for waters east of Honshū where her aircraft were to provide cover for the forces occupying Japan. She began providing that air cover on 25 August and continued to do so until mid-September. After the formal surrender on board battleship Missouri on 2 September, the aircraft carrier also began air-dropping supplies to Allied prisoners of war still living in their prison camps. On 16 September, Yorktown entered Tokyo Bay with TG 38.1. She remained there, engaged in upkeep and crew recreation through the end of the month. On 1 October, the carrier stood out of Tokyo Bay on her way to Okinawa. She arrived in Buckner Bay on 4 October, loaded passengers, and got underway for the United States on 6 October.
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