USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) Flight Deck after Kamikaze Attacks

Scene on USS Bunker Hill's (CV-17) flight deck, looking aft, while her crew was fighting fires caused by two kamikaze hits. Ensign Kiyoshi Ogawa and his wingman, flying Mitsubishi A6M Zero-Sen (Allied code name "Zeke") fighters armed with 550-pound (250-kilogram) armor-piercing bombs struck Bunker Hill at 1005 Hours on May 11, 1945. Aided by low clouds and the fleet secured from General Quarters, the suicide pilots surpirsed the Americans, crashing into planes fully fueled and armed for takeoff. The explosions caused gasoline fires to start on the flight deck and in the hangar. The fires asphyxiated most of the pilots of Composite Group 84 in their Ready Room and on the flight deck. Task Force 58 staff, aboard as Bunker Hill was the flagship, were hard hit on the bridge. Admiral Marc Mitscher narrowly avoided being wounded and Chief of Staff Admiral Arleigh Burke assisted with rescue and treatment of the wounded. Hundreds of sailors were blown or jumped overboard and waited for hours in the water for rescue. This photo, taken minutes after the attack, shows sailors moving towards the bow to avoid the smoke and flames.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
National Archives
Date Photographed: 
Friday, May 11, 1945
USS Bunker Hill (CV-17)