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Mural of Intrepid Ablaze
After Kamikaze Attack on
November 25, 1944
(Click to Enlarge)

 
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

USS Intrepid (CV-11) survived five hits by kamikaze planes, more than any other single aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy [1]. Although Intrepid had the nickname of "Fighting I," she was also called the "Ghost Ship," since the carrier returned to battle each time the Japanese thought she had been put out of commission. The ship had to return to the U.S. for repairs three times during World War II after suffering damage from torpedoes and kamikaze attacks.

After the end of World War II, Intrepid was decommissioned, but she was recommissioned in 1954. The ship served as NASA's prime recovery vessel for Mercury and Gemini astronauts in the early 1960s, and she did three tours off Vietnam during the late 1960s. Intrepid was decommissioned in 1974, and the historic carrier avoided the scrap yard in 1982 when she opened as the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, berthed on the Hudson River at 46th Street in Manhattan.

Intrepid Flight Deck
and Manhattan Skyline

 
The hangar deck and the flight deck of the Intrepid Museum display over 30 vintage and modern aircraft and have a wide variety of exhibits on aviation, ships, military technology, space exploration, and Intrepid's history. The museum complex also has the submarine USS Growler and a British Airways Concorde jet, both available for visitors to tour. Other museum highlights include a virtual flight thrill ride, the original mold of the Iwo Jima Memorial statue, and a 9/11 exhibit. Visitors also can explore many areas of this vast aircraft carrier.

Intrepid was commissioned in August 1943, and her first crew of 3,500 men soon entered the war by participating in the invasion of the Marshall Islands, the air strikes against Truk, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in history. Intrepid suffered its first kamikaze attack on October 29, 1944, when 10 men in one of the gun tubs were killed [2]. November 25, 1944, turned out to be the worst day in Intrepid's history, when two kamikaze planes hit the ship within five minutes of one another, killing 69 and seriously wounding 85 [3]. After repairs in the U.S., Intrepid returned to battle. Another kamikaze approached on March 18, 1945, but the carrier escaped serious damage when the plane crashed fifty feet away. However, the plane sprayed burning fuel onto the hangar deck, killing 2 men and wounding 43 [4]. On April 16, 1945, the fifth and last kamikaze plane hit Intrepid, killing 20 men and forcing the ship to return to the U.S. again for repairs [5].

A vivid mural painting of a kamikaze attack on Intrepid is one of the features on the hangar deck. The mural measures about 20 feet high and 30 feet wide, and many tourists have their photos taken in front of it. Next to the mural is a small sign displaying three historical photos and briefly explaining the history of the kamikaze attacks that occurred on November 25, 1944. Near the mural is displayed a Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat carrier based fighter, which downed many kamikaze planes during the war before they could reach their targets. A big sign next to the kamikaze attack painting says that coming soon will be:

"KAMIKAZE"
Day of Darkness, Day of Light

The Immersive Experience
That Puts You Here
November 25th 1944

The two people at the information desk only knew that this "immersive experience" would be loud and should open by September 2004.

"The Men of Intrepid" exhibit displays several mementos and photos. These include four fragments of bomb shrapnel and a shard of aluminum skin from a Japanese kamikaze plane. The continuously running film shown in this exhibit room has a seven-minute segment on the five kamikaze attacks experienced by Intrepid. Ten veterans give their recollections of these attacks that killed over 100 of their shipmates.

Blazing Kamikaze Plane
Crashes Into Intrepid Flight Deck
on November 25, 1945

 
Entrance to the museum costs $14.50 for adults. The two-floor museum store has a wide selection of clothing, models, books, souvenirs, and videos. The store sells items on the history of the carrier, such as the video U.S.S. Intrepid: The Story of the "Fighting I" and the book USS Intrepid (CV 11). Also, the store sells two kamikaze-related documentaries (Kamikaze in Color and Kamikaze: Death From the Sky) and one book (The Kamikazes, Hoyt). The museum has a large well-designed web site on the exhibits and activities at the museum.

Date of Visit: August 15, 2004

Link
Notes

1. The museum web site and the film shown at the museum indicate that there were five kamikaze attacks in total. However, the plaque for the museum exhibit showing four fragments of bomb shrapnel from a Japanese kamikaze states there were only four attacks in total. On March 18, 1945, a kamikaze crashed fifty feet from the ship, which started fires when flaming gasoline and plane parts went onto the hangar deck (Sumrall 1989, 44). This attack appears to be the reason for the difference in the count.

This note and the other notes demonstrate the difficulties in obtaining an accurate facts related to kamikaze attacks. Even sources available at the museum have inconsistent information.

2. The museum brochure provided by U.S.S. Intrepid Association is the source of number killed. Sumrall (1989, 43) states the attack took place on October 30, 1945.

3. Sources displayed at the museum consistently indicate that the number was 69 killed.  However, the book and the video sold at the museum store indicate 65 and 73, respectively (Sumrall 1989, 43; U.S.S. Intrepid 1995).

4. Hoyt 1983, 228. Other sources do not mention casualties from this attack.

5. The museum brochure provided by U.S.S. Intrepid Association is the source of number killed. Sumrall (1989, 44) states the total killed was 8.

Sources Cited

Hoyt, Edwin P. 1983. The Kamikazes: Suicide Squadrons of World War II. New York: Arbor House.

Sumrall, Robert F. 1989. USS Intrepid (CV 11). Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing.

U.S.S. Intrepid: The Story of the "Fighting I." 1995. Produced and written by Deirdre O'Hearn. 50 min. A&E Home Video. Videocassette.