The World War II Photo of the Week
for 5 August 2002
A view of the flight deck of the USS Franklin (CV-13), looking forward, while the carrier was in New York Harbor, on or about her arrival on April 28, 1945. She had just returned from the Pacific for repair of battle damage received off Japan on March 19, 1945. Note the damage to her flight deck, the large U.S. ensign flying from her island, and the Manhattan skyline in the background. The Franklin, which had maneuvered closer to the Japanese homeland than any other U.S. carrier, had launched a pre-dawn strike against the island of Honshu as well as a later strike against shipping in Kobe Harbor on March 19. Suddenly, a single Japanese plane came through the cloud cover, made a low-level run on the ship and dropped two armor-piercing bombs. One struck the flight deck centerline, penetrating to the hangar deck, which it devastated. The bomb also ignited fires through the second and third decks and knocked out the combat information center and air plot. The second bomb hit aft and tore through two decks, fanning fires which detonated ammunition, bombs, and rockets. Franklin, within 50 miles of the Japanese mainland, lay dead in the water, took a 13-degree list to starboard, lost all radio communications and was enveloped by fire. Many of the crew were either blown overboard, driven off by fire, or killed or wounded. Remaining were 106 officers and 604 enlisted men, who by sheer valor and tenacity, saved the ship. Casualties totaled 724 killed and 265 wounded. Franklin, the most heavily damaged aircraft carrier during the war, remained afloat and, after a tow from USS Pittsburgh, proceeded under her own power to Pearl Harbor for clean-up, and then on to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for complete repairs. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collection of the National Archives.