National Geographic : 1945 Aug
Drawn by Herbert E. Eastwood and Irvin E. Alleman Like Hen Tracks the Princeton's Cruises Crisscrossed the Pacific Graphically shown here are the missions of this light carrier as she traveled 150 000 sea miles in 17 months (page 189). Including time in port for rest and repairs, she averaged nearly 300 miles a day. This fast cruising is typical of all our ships in the "Big Show" as they drive westward towards Japan. For clarity the cruises are divided into three groups, denoted by different arrows; box numbers indicate the order of events in the Princeton's life, from commissioning at Philadelphia to her loss in the Philippine Sea. planes and bombers came in from all directions on our task group in well-coordinated and de termined attacks. Torpedoes were dropped close aboard, but with the good work of the AA batteries, plus rather violent maneuvering of ships, none got home. The Princetonlaunched additional fighters, which intercepted 16 twin engine bombers, knocked down 13, and dam aged the other three. None of our planes were lost. After the Formosa strikes, we proceeded to the eastward to replenish our fuel from our efficient tanker fleet, which with escort car riers had ventured farther into enemy waters than ever before. There we stood by, ready to return to the firing line should our serv ices be required. Other task groups gave air support to General MacArthur and Vice Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid at Leyte. History Made in Battle for Leyte Gulf As we know, the Japs threw everything they could against us to dislodge our troops from Leyte. When information showed that the entire remaining Jap Fleet was approach ing, all our carrier task groups were alerted. On October 24 the great sea Battle for Leyte Gulf began. Our 7th and 3d Fleets took on successfully everything the Japs had to offer. This battle will go down as one of the most decisive victories in history. Dawn on the 24th found our carrier task group within easy air range, east of Manila. Princeton's main job was to send a fighter sweep over the capital. Then we were to stand by with an attack group of fully gassed and loaded torpedoplanes, with fighter escort, for a strike at important Jap naval units, or ship ping in Manila Bay. As was usual when we expected strong Jap opposition, our fire hoses were run out in the hangar and on the flight deck, and the crew fed at battle stations. Things were calm and peaceful until about 7:50, when a large group of enemy aircraft was reported approaching from the direction of Manila, with a second group about 15 miles behind. There were between 75 to 100 Jap planes. On the Princeton we "scrambled" our re maining Hellcats, and these, with fighters from other carriers, lost no time in closing the Japs. I can't speak too highly of their superb work that morning. They completely disorganized the Japs and shot down most of their planes. Later, when the story could be pieced to gether, we discovered that Princeton pilots shot down 36 planes while losing but one. Princeton Hit in Her Achilles Heel Suddenly, at 9:38, a Princeton lookout de tected a single Jap plane making a shallow dive on our ship from sharp on the port bow. Because of the low clouds, we had only this brief warning. Our guns, and those of other ships in company, took the Jap under fire. I started to maneuver, but there was not suffi cient time (page 214). The Jap dropped his 500-pounder from under 1,200 feet. It hit the Princeton forward of the after elevator and slightly to port of the center line of the ship. The plane passed on aft and was brought down by fighters, but too late to do us any good.