USS Hornet

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Ace in a Day

Written by Scott Messmore

The USS Hornet is a fighting ship with an incredible combat record from World War II. Preserved as a museum in 1998, the Hornet fought off Japanese air attacks in World War II and held American Astronauts in quarantine when they returned from the moon nearly a quarter of a century later. Launched in 1943, the Hornet was in almost constant combat for a year and a half but was never hit during 59 air attacks.

Hours of Operation and Location

On 10 separate occasions, Navy pilots flying from the Hornet shot down five enemy planes to become "Aces in a Day". In one day, Hornet figher pilots shot down 72 planes, a Navy record to this day. In one month, Hornet pilots destroyed 255 enemy planes, another Navy record. Throughout the Pacific War, the Hornet was responsible for destroying 1,410 Japanese aircraft, more than any other Navy aircraft carrier. After World War II, the Hornet was decommissioned but brought back into service first as an attack aircraft carrier and then as a anti-submarine carrier. During the Apollo moon program, the crew of Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, were recovered by the Hornet after making the first moon landing. Hornet was stricken from the Navy rolls in 1989 and saved for restoration. In 1998 the Hornet was designated a National Historic site and opened to the public as the only aircraft carrier museum on the West Coast of the United States.

The Hornet is closed Tuesdays, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. It's open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for tours. For adults, $10, Seniors over 65, $8, for military with identification, $8, and $5 for children five to 16 years old. Children under five are admitted free. Group rates are available for parties of 15 people or more. Lunches are on hand for $6.50. A special "Behind the Scenes" tour for adults costs $20. The tour includes a tour of the combat information center, the navigation bridge with primary flight control, the engine room and recently restored areas. Since the tours are started at 8:30 a.m., visitors will have the ship virtually to themselves on the behind the scenes tour. Advance reservations are required. Membership with the USS Hornet Museum are $40 for one person per year or $60 for families with two adults and children under 18 years old. The Hornet is located across the Bay at the former Alameda Naval Air Station, P.O. Box 460, Pier 3, Alameda Point, Alameda, CA. For more information about the historic USS Hornet Museum call 510-521-8448.

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