The Last American Aircraft Carrier Sunk By Enemy Fire: USS Hornet (CV-8)

USS Hornet (CV-8), the seventh U.S. Navy vessel of that name, was a Yorktown-class aircraft carrier of the United States Navy. During World War II in the Pacific Theater, she launched the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and participated in the Battle of Midway and the Buin-Faisi-Tonolai Raid. In the Solomon Islands campaign, she was involved in the capture and defense of Guadalcanal and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.

Hornet had a length of 770 feet (235 m) at the waterline and 824 feet 9 inches (251.38 m) overall. She had a beam of 83 feet 3 inches (25.37 m) at the waterline, 114 feet (35 m) overall, with a draft of 24 feet 4 inches (7.42 m) as designed and 28 feet (8.5 m) at full load. Hornet was equipped with eight 5-inch (127 mm)/38 caliber dual purpose guns and 16 1.1-inch (28 mm)/75 caliber antiaircraft guns in quad mounts (four guns operating together). Originally, she had 24 M2 Browning .50-inch (12.7 mm) machine guns but these were replaced in January 1942 with 30 20-mm Oerlikon antiaircraft cannon. She was designed to host a Carrier Air Group of 18 fighters, 18 bombers, 37 scout planes, 18 torpedo bombers, and 6 utility aircraft.

USS Hornet (CV-8) was the third and final member of the Yorktown-class, commissioned just weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor. As a pre-World War II vessel, her size was limited in accordance with international naval treaties from the 1930s. Her first mission was the transport of the famous Doolittle Raid in April 1942., the first U.S. air raid to strike the Japanese home islands after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The raid demonstrated the vulnerability of the Japanese home islands to air attack and the Raid significantly boosted American morale. CV-8 would continue to fight in the Pacific Theater, participating in the historic Battle of Midway and others before she was ultimately dealt a mortal blow at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October 1942.

Hornet was in service for a year and six days and was the last US fleet carrier ever sunk by enemy fire. For these actions, she was awarded four service stars, a citation for the Doolittle Raid in 1942, and her Torpedo Squadron 8 received a Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism for the Battle of Midway. Her wreck was located in late January 2019 near the Solomon Islands.

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