Air Attack near Japan
Japanese sent out scores of aircraft in search for the US Forces that attacked its mainland. ... Japanese dive bombers found the Franklin at 0700 on March 19, dropping two 500 pound, armored piercing bombs, which penetrated the flight deck just aft of the shipâ€™s island and detonating in the hanger deck. After the initial bomb blasts, open aviation lines in the ship ignited. Planes warming up on the flight deck were turned into a raging inferno. ... 836 of her crew were killed and another 265 were wounded. Damage to the ship was incredible. The 32 ton forward deck elevator lifted in the air from the explosions and crashed through the hanger deck. ... As a result of the conflagration Franklinâ€™s forward fire room and its 4 boilers were damaged beyond repair. Franklin soon went dead in the water with a pronounced list with fires still raging on board ... With the ship only 50 miles from the coast of Japan, an easy prey to land based dive bombers, immediate measures needed to be taken if the ship was to be saved. USS Santa Fe came alongside to assist Franklin in its firefighting efforts and to transfer some of the injured. ... Several men while attempting to jump between the two ships were crushed to death between the two ships. Another Japanese dive bomber was detected approaching the ship, which the 40 mm gun crews took under fire, causing the pilot to drop his bomb short of the target and missed Franklin by 200 yards. ... Friendly aircraft subsequently downed the dive bomber a short distance from the Task Group. ... At 1300 a tow line was rigged between USS Pittsburgh and Franklin with towing commencing at a speed of 3 Â½ knots. ... In a feverish attempt to repair battle damage and restore power the shipâ€™s engineers successfully regained limited electrical power with the emergency diesel generators. The after fire room with its 4 boilers were undamaged and by noon March 20, sufficient propulsion power had been restored to the shipâ€™s turbines to proceed under her own power at a reduced speed of 15 knots. This enabled Franklin to move away from the threat of land based air attack from Japan.