AUGUST 24th 1942 Guadalcanal– Eastern Solomons
The Enterprise being hitThe Japanese tried to reinforce their troops on Guadalcanal, but an American naval force intercepted them. The US sank a light carrier, and a number of other ships, while the Japanese damaged the USS Enterprise. The battle which took place between August 22-24th was a victory for the US who lost many fewer planes and turned back the Japanese troops.
One the initial landings on Guadalcanal had taken place it became a race to see who could resupply their forces fastest, and would the Americans be able to keep the new Henderson Airfield operational. The Allies kept their carrier force in the region to help defend the island. The Japanese were hoping to land a large force that would be able to dislodge the American force on the island. On August 16 a convoy of Japanese transport ships departed Truk with 1,411 reinforcements. Separately the Japanese dispatched a squadron of four cruisers to protect the convoy, and separately they dispatched two fleet carrier and a light carrier. The Americans had the carrier’s Enterprise and Saratoga plus the the battleship North Carolina in the area, and the two fleets headed toward Guadalcanal.
On August 23 a US patrol plane spotted the transports and a strike force was sent from Henderson Field and from the carriers. The convoy changed course so the American strike force failed to find the convoy. On the 24th the Japanese sent the light carrier Ryujo and an additional force ahead to launch an attack on Henderson Field and possibly to draw out the American carriers. The ships were spotted and at 13:40 the American commander Admiral Fletcher launched 38 aircraft to attack and damaged her so severely that she had to be abandoned that evening.
The main Japanese carriers spotted the American carriers and launched an attack that arrived over the US fleet at 16:29. The Enterprise became the main target of the attack and she was hit with three bombs. Excellent damage control aboard the Enterprise however limited the damage and two hours after being hit she was able to resume flight operations.
The Japanese believed they had defeated the American fleet and ordered the convoy of troop transports to approach Guadalcanal. The convoy was attack by planes from Henderson Field sinking two ships, the Japanese ships turned around.
Both navies pulled back. The battle was a major American victory. The Americans lost seven members of aircrews compared to 61 for the Japanese. The Japanese also lost a light carrier while the Enterprise was damaged was able to fully repaired and back in the war in October. Most importantly the Japanese were delayed in their effort to reinforce their forces on Guadalcanal.