When the USS Hornet (CV-8) was launched on Dec.14, 1940, it was the last carrier in the Yorktown class. Compared to its sister ships, the Yorktown and the Enterprise, its deck was 5 feet wider. In 1942, it would carry 16 B-25 bombers under the commandment of Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle for the first American bombing raid on Tokyo.
According to Robert F. Fish of the USS Hornet Museum, on February 2, 1942, after the inexperienced crew completed a series of sea trials in the Golf of Mexico, they launched 2 B-25 bombers in the waters off the Virginia Capes, as part of an experiment.
It left San Francisco for its first mission two months later. The Hornet was lost at Santa Cruz, between October 26 and 27, 1942, during a Japanese attack, which left the ship damaged by 6 bombs, 9 torpedoes and two direct hits from Japanese crashing planes, the Daily Press reports.
Repair crews tried to restore the power to its engines but it was hit again. As more Japanese troops were on their way, Vice Adm. William “Bull” Halsey ordered for the ship to be abandoned and sank, however, despite being hit by 9 torpedoes and hundreds of 5-inch rounds, the Hornet was still floating. After being hit by 4 more torpedoes, it finally went down.
The USS Hornet served in the Battle of Midway and at Guadacanal in the Solomon Islands. During its only year of service, it was awarded 4 battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation. In 1995 it was also given the Task Force 16 Citation from the Secretary of the Navy for its service during the Doolittle raid.
The USS Hornet remains the last American fleet aircraft carrier to be lost under enemy attack.