USS Hornet CV-12
|Aviation History And Aircraft Photography|
USS Hornet Museum
||Most people who know some
WWII history remember the Hornet as the aircraft carrier that launched
the Doolittle Raid, immortalized in the movie 30 Seconds Over Tokyo.
But that was CV-8, the first Hornet, not CV-12. CV-8 was heavily
damaged in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands in late 1942. Despite
taking 9 torpedoes and 400 rounds of shellfire, the Hornet refused
to go down. The Japanese hit her with 4 more 24-inch torpedoes,
and the burning hulk finally went down the next day.
The new Hornet, CV-12, took part in operations in the Pacific during
WWII, earning 7 battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation.
The highlight of her service was the Marianas Turkey Shoot. Hellcats
from the Hornet and Lexington fought off a wave of nearly 400 Japanese
aircraft, racking up 383 kills and splashing a carrier. The US lost
only 23 aircraft, mostly due to running out of fuel. When many
returning Hellcats were unable to find the fleet at night, Admiral
Mitscher ordered lights to be turned on to save those flyers at the
risk of making the fleet a monumental target for Japanese submarines.
The gamble paid off.
After WWII, the Hornet was rebuilt into a modern angle-deck carrier
in the mid-1950s. She was sent out to support the cold war, Vietnam,
and to recover the crews of Apollo 11 and Apollo 12.
||Hornet is docked at Alameda
Point, a name given to the former Alameda Naval Air Station.
From I-880 or I-980 in Oakland, take the Webster Street Tube (tunnel)
to Alameda Island, then follow the signs. It is not overly well marked,
and Alameda is not the greatest neighborhood, so take care when making
this trip. Free parking is available.
Given that this museum is relatively new, they lack the depth of aircraft
and displays compared to the other Essex class carrier museums. But
they more than make up for it in the quality of the guided tours. Expert
guides, including people who served on the Hornet, guide the below decks
tours, giving information on how the systems work, what daily life is
like on the ship, and stories from her colorful past. Not to be missed
is the fantastic engine room tour. The stuff I learned touring the
Hornet made the tours of the other carriers that much more enjoyable.
On days when the ship is busy, you need to sign up for the tours.
Arrive early, and get on the sign-up lists when you enter the ship.