MIGHTY NINETY

Film Footage
Color Film Footage


Between 18 March and 14 April 1945, three reels of color film were shot aboard USS ASTORIA CL-90 by a U.S. Navy fleet photographer named Walter J. Duggan. This film depicts the height of combat for ASTORIA during Okinawa operations.

Reels 1 and 3 were located in the collection of the National Archives. They have been digitally transferred and restored to their original color by ColorLab for this project.

Reel 2, thought to be lost, was located in a VHS copy in the hands of Gary DiMaio, son of ASTORIA plankowner Mario DiMaio. This VHS copy has been digitally transferred with as much retention of color and quality as possible.

All 42 minutes of silent footage are presented in chronological order, divided into segments. Each segment has been cross-referenced with deck logs, action reports, and the photographs of ASTORIA ship's photographer Herman Schnipper to ensure complete accuracy.


Reel 1: 18-20 March 1945
This reel of silent color film footage is preserved in the collection of the National Archives, record number 428-NPC-11476.


Task Group 58.3 launches strikes against the Japanese Home Islands 18 March 1945



In this segment, aircraft launch from the decks of USS ESSEX CV-9 and BUNKER HILL CV-17 on the morning of 18 March 1945 to conduct air strikes on the Japanese Home Islands.
-U.S. Navy film from NARA record 428-NPC-11476




USS ESSEX CV-9 during aircraft recovery operations 18 March 1945


Aircraft in the landing pattern for USS ESSEX CV-9 during recovery operations following strikes against the Japanese Home Islands on 18 March 1945. The cruiser in the background is ASTORIA's twin sister USS WILKES-BARRE CL-103.
-U.S. Navy film from NARA record 428-NPC-11476



USS ASTORIA CL-90 shoots down enemy planes on 19 March 1945


This segment depicts Japanese Kamikaze attacks against USS ESSEX CV-9 on 19 March 1945. USS ASTORIA received solo credit for shooting down three attacking aircraft on this day, and fired on at least two others. None of these planes succeeded in crashing into USS ESSEX. ASTORIA's  first two splashed planes are shown in this footage.
-U.S. Navy film from NARA record 428-NPC-11476



USS FRANKLIN CV-13 burns on the horizon 19 March 1945


In adjacent Task Group 58.2, USS FRANKLIN CV-13 has been hit by two Japanese bombs. Her munitions cook off, causing secondary explosions.
-U.S. Navy film from NARA record 428-NPC-11476



USS ASTORIA CL-90 brings down her 3rd plane 19 March 1945


More Japanese aircraft make it through the Combat Air Patrol and attack Task Group 58.3. ASTORIA CL-90 fires on another plane as it passes directly overhead on its way to USS ESSEX. A direct hit from a 5"/38 shell blows the plane apart and debris rains down around the ship.
-U.S. Navy film from NARA record 428-NPC-11476
 



USS ASTORIA CL-90 leaves Task Group 58.3 to assist USS FRANKLIN 19 March 1945


USS ASTORIA is ordered to detach from Task Group 58.3 and cover more than 20 nautical miles at top speed to take position protecting the crippled USS FRANKLIN. As she leaves her task group, another attacker dives on USS ESSEX. The plane is brought down by WILKES-BARRE CL-103.

-U.S. Navy film from NARA record 428-NPC-11476



Japanese attack on USS HANCOCK CV-19 and HALSEY POWELL DD-686  20 March 1945


The immediate aftermath after a suicide plane is blown apart over USS HANCOCK CV-19 and HALSEY POWELL DD-686. The two ships were alongside for refueling when they were attacked. In the second portion of the clip, the destroyer HALSEY POWELL DD-686 runs alongside USS ASTORIA with significant damage to her fantail.
-U.S. Navy film from NARA record 428-NPC-11476




Aerial Attacks over Task Group 58.2  20 March 1945

Japanese aerial attacks over Task Group 58.2 on 20 March 1945. USS ASTORIA CL-90 received another solo credit for bringing down a Kamikaze plane.
-U.S. Navy film from NARA record 428-NPC-11476




USS ENTERPRISE CV-6 fighting fires  20 March 1945


During operations against the Japanese home islands on 20 March 1945, USS ENTERPRISE CV-6 suffered friendly fire damage from ships in her task group. As Japanese aircraft made unsuccessful bombing attempts, antiaircraft fire from other ships dropped low and two 5" rounds detonated over her forward flight deck. In this film sequence, fires burn on the flight deck of ENTERPRISE.
In the second portion of the video, ENTERPRISE has turned to port behind ASTORIA to draw smoke away from her superstructure.

-U.S. Navy film from NARA record 428-NPC-11476



Reel 2: 20 March-9 April 1945
This reel of ASTORIA CL-90 "lost footage" has been restored from a VHS copy in the private collection of Gary DiMaio. This important footage is not known to exist in any other collection, including the National Archives.


Aerial action over Task Group 58.2 at dusk on 20 March 1945


This segment depicts:
1. Japanese plane being fired upon while making a run through the task group at very low altitude.
2.
An F6F Hellcat as the victim of friendly fire, its belly tank burning brightly as it makes a water landing on the edge of the task group screen.
3.
USS ASTORIA gun crews in silhouette at their battle stations as the sun sets.
-U.S. Navy film from Gary DiMaio collection



USS ENTERPRISE CV-6 after fire damage, 21 March 1945


This segment depicts close-ups of USS ENTERPRISE CV-6 showing some of the fire damage and discoloration to the carrier’s superstructure and forward gun mounts from friendly fire the previous day.
-U.S. Navy film from Gary DiMaio collection



USS ASTORIA shoots down Japanese bomber, 21 March 1945

In this segment, ASTORIA’s port battery opens up on a Japanese twin-engine bomber, scoring multiple hits as the enemy plane flies through the screen of Task Group 58.2. The bomber falls out of control and crashes into the water. The latter portion depicts smoke from the wreckage of the downed plane as the task group steams past. This was ASTORIA’s fifth confirmed solo credit in three days. It was also the last Japanese plane to make an attack on the heavily damaged USS FRANKLIN CV-13.
-U.S. Navy film from Gary DiMaio collection



Underway replenishment off Japan, 22 March 1945


This segment depicts underway replenishment of ammunition from USS MAUNA LOA AE-8 on 22 March 1945. A destroyer replenishes to the starboard side of MAUNA LOA.
-U.S. Navy film from Gary DiMaio collection



USS FRANKLIN after bomb damage, 22 March 1945


This segment depicts FRANKLIN as ASTORIA steams beside her on 22 March 1945.  Also visible are USS SANTA FE CL-60 and several destroyers.  Close-ups of FRANKLIN show the results of damage suffered from Japanese bombs two days earlier.  Her foremast array is bent and she is still listing to starboard.  Although most of the visible damage is in the aft of the ship, the photographer primarily focuses on the bow section.  This suggests that funerals taking place on the hangar deck might have been the intended subject matter.

-U.S. Navy film from Gary DiMaio collection 



USS ASTORIA Kingfisher floatplane rescue, 29 March 1945 -- part 1

During Okinawa operations on 29 March 1945, ASTORIA's Kingfisher floatplanes were launched to rescue a downed airman from USS HANCOCK. The two rescue pilots were Lt (jg) Jack Newman and Lt (jg) Donald Comb. The downed aviator had ditched in Kagoshima Bay in the Japanese home islands. Newman landed under enemy fire and recovered LT Ronald Somerville.  While returning to the Fast Carrier Task Force, an escort fighter was shot down and ditched. Lt (jg) Comb landed and recovered the pilot, so both planes returned to the ASTORIA with rescues to their credit.

In this segment, one of the pilots tests his control surfaces, gives the A-OK, and is catapulted from the deck of USS ASTORIA. Upon return, the planes are hooked up via recovery crane and brought back aboard. Note the destroyers that have moved in close to provide surface and air cover during recovery operations, and the wide sweeping turn visible in ASTORIA's wake to create calmer seas for the landing floatplanes.

-U.S. Navy film from Gary DiMaio collection



USS ASTORIA Kingfisher floatplane rescue, 29 March 1945 -- part 2


In this segment, ASTORIA's rescue pilots and their rescuees are congratulated by ship's commanding officer Captain George C. Dyer, USN. The first two men are Lt (jg) Jack Newman (in leather jacket) and USS HANCOCK pilot Ronald Somerville.
The second two men are Lt (jg) Donald Comb and aviator Kelleher. Note that Comb and Kelleher repeat their greetings from Captain Dyer; as this footage was intended for stateside press release.
Both ASTORIA rescue pilots received Distinguished Flying Crosses for their role in this operation.

-U.S. Navy film from Gary DiMaio collection


Underway replenishment in high seas off Okinawa, 5 April 1945


This segment depicts underway replenishment in high seas during Okinawa operations on 5 April 1945.  An oiler is fueling ASTORIA and transferring supplies via highline.  Men endure heavy spray while taking aboard supplies from the port side of ASTORIA.

-U.S. Navy film from Gary DiMaio collection


USS CABOT CVL-28 Kamikaze close call, 6 April 1945


This segment depicts the light carrier USS CABOT CVL-28 maneuvering to avoid one of two diving Kamikaze attacks on 6 April 1945 during Okinawa operations.  CABOT was successful in dodging both planes, suffering temporary damage to her steering as a result.

-U.S. Navy film from Gary DiMaio collection



USS HANCOCK CV-19 Kamikaze hit, 7 April 1945


Aircraft carrier USS HANCOCK CV-19 performs a series of turns after being struck by a Kamikaze plane on 7 April 1945 during Okinawa operations.  Due to effective firefighting, HANCOCK had her fires under control in less than an hour.  Her casualties from the incident were 62 men killed, 71 wounded.
-U.S. Navy film from Gary DiMaio collection



Task Group 58.3 underway replenishment on 9 April 1945

Underway replenishment of Task Group 58.3 on 9 April 1945. Events include OS2U Kingfishers on anti-submarine patrol and 30mm gunnery practice, followed by a short sequence of USS Hancock CV-19 fueling two days after her Kamikaze hit.
-U.S. Navy film from Gary DiMaio collection


Reel 3: 11-14 April 1945
This reel of silent color film footage is preserved in the collection of the National Archives, record number 428-NPC-11858.


Attacks against USS ENTERPRISE CV-6 on 11 April 1945


Two Kamikaze attacks in quick succession against USS ENTERPRISE CV-6 on 11 April 1945.
-U.S. Navy film from NARA record 428-NPC-11858




Close call for USS PASADENA CL-65 on 11 April 1945


A Kamikaze plane is brought down off the starboard quarter of PASADENA CL-65 on 11 April 1945.
-U.S. Navy film from NARA record 428-NPC-11858




Attacks against ENTERPRISE CV-6 and BUNKER HILL CV-17


More attacks develop throughout the afternoon of 11 April 1945. ASTORIA CL-90 received solo credit for the second and third planes splashed in this sequence.
-U.S. Navy film from NARA record 428-NPC-11858




ASTORIA CL-90 and BUNKER HILL CV-17 refueling on 14 April 1945


BUNKER HILL CV-17 and ASTORIA CL-90 refuel on 14 April 1945. Aerial footage from CL-90 Kingfishers includes low passes over both ships as well as aerial views of Task Group 58.3.
-U.S. Navy film from NARA record 428-NPC-11858




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