Bunker Hill Kamikazed: 11 May 1945

    Bunker Hill, flagship of Vice-Admiral Marc Mitscher, was hit by a Kamikaze plane on May 11th while operating as part of TG 58.3, tactical command of which group rested with Rear-Admiral Frederick Sherman.

    For the last week or so, Kamikaze attacks under the codename Kikusui had been relentless and deadly. Many picket ships off Okinawa had already been hit and frequently Kamikazes penetrated the screen of the heavy ships. British carriers Formidable, Indomitable, and Victorious became victims to the plunging planes, but none of them was severely hit.

    Bunker Hill however suffered grave damage and losses. Two Kamikaze planes crashed the flattop which still had planes on her deck, creating fierce fires that took hours to extuinguish. The carrier's fighter squadron was exterminated in the ready room by the explosion of a bomb which immediately burned all oxygen in the room and asphyxiated the men.

    On the flagbridge, Admiral Mitscher barely escaped wounds, but lost many of his staff officers including his own medical officer. His flagship was in bad shape, and Mitscher decided to leave the boat as long as he still could, transfering his flag to the newly repaired Enterprise. Bunker Hill was saved and transfered back to the states via Ulithi - on board 396 dead and 264 wounded men. Her repairs took the rest of the war.

Click on below "thumbnails" to get the larger image.

Bunker Hill burning heavily after the second hit. She is trying to bring the smoke clear of the bridge.
As seen from another carrier in Bunker Hill's group.
From the bow of the wounded carrier. 
More damage. The second Kamikaze blew this hole into the flightdeck close to the bridge. This explosion killed many of Mitscher's staff.
In the heat of fires and smoldering metal, fire-fighting parties attempt to cool down what's left of the 20mm 
gun positions and the flightdeck.
Some of the damage done on Bunker Hill: charred aircraft with only the steel engines surviving what shattered the Aluminium fuselages.