Although she was the third member of the 'Yorktown' class, the USS Hornet (CV.8) was authorized some years after her sisters. She commissioned on 20 October 1940, seven weeks before Pearl Harbor. After a shakedown cruise with her air group in the Caribbean in January 1942 the ship embarked the first twin-engine North American B-25 bombers for the famous Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. After two months of intensive trials and training the Hornet left for the Pacific on 2 April, carrying 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers. The raid on 18 April took the Japanese completely by surprise, and most of the bombers reached China safely. The Hornet's next assignment was the Battle of Midway, on 4-6 June 1942. Although her air group lost all its Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bombers and five Grumman TBF Avengers in an unsuccessful strike, and failed to hit the Japanese carrier Hiryu in a second strike, on the last day of the battle it made amends by sinking the damaged heavy cruiser Mikuma and inflicting severe damage on her sister Mogami.
The Hornet was ferrying US Marine Corps fighters at the time of the Guadalcanal landings in August 1942, but after landing her aircraft she joined the Wasp and Saratoga in the covering force. Although withdrawn to Espiritu Santo to avoid being sunk by submarines, she sortied early in October to attack Japanese targets, and on 25 October met the Japanese carriers once more, in the Battle of Santa Cruz. On 26 October, after the two sides had located one another, the two American carriers launched an air strike (a total of 158 aircraft), while the four Japanese carriers launched most of their 207 aircraft. But while the Hornet's torpedo-bombers and divebombers were on their way, 27 Japanese strike aircraft broke through the fighter screen and scored six bomb and two torpedo hits on the Hornet.
Although heroic efforts were made to extinguish the fires and get the carrier under way, four hours later another Japanese strike scored a torpedo hit and two more bomb hits. By now the American destroyers screening the Hornet were dangerously exposed, with the Japanese searching for them in the darkness. The decision was taken to scuttle the Hornet, but to the Americans dismay several torpedoes failed to detonate, and a total of 430 127-mm (5-in) shells fired at the carrier's waterline had no appreciable effect. The waterlogged hulk was abandoned, but the Japanese found it impossible to tow her, and finally two Japanese destroyers gave the Hornet her death-blow in the early hours of 27 October.
Specification USS Hornet (CV.8)
Displacement: 19,000 tons standard, 29,100 tons full load
Dimensions: length 252.2 m (827 ft 5 in overall; beam 34.8 m (114 ft 2 in) over flight deck; draught 8.84 m (29 ft 0 in)
Machinery: 4-shaft geared steam turbines delivering 89520 kW ( 120,000 shp)
Speed: 33 knots
Armour: belt 64-102 mm (21/a-4in); main deck 76 mm (3 in); lower deck 25-76 mm (1-3 in)
Armament: (1942) eight 127mm (5-in) AA, four quadruple 27.94-mm (1,1-in)AA, 30 20-mm AA and nine 12.7-mm (0.5-in) machine-guns
Aircraft: (1942) 36 fighters, 36 divebombers and 15 torpedo-bombers
Complement: 2,919 officers and enlisted men