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History of the USS Kidd (DD661) and the Fletcher Class Destroyers
by Larry W. Wolfe, Lisa J. Wolfe, and Kelly O'Hara
Turner Publishing Company, 1992, 168 pages

About half of this book covers histories of individual Fletcher-class destroyers, which read like encyclopedia entries with no personal stories. Although the destroyer USS Kidd (DD-661) gets top billing in the title, only about ten pages, including photographs, deal with the ship's wartime history. Another six pages, probably the book's most interesting part, tell the story of the destroyer's becoming a museum ship in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The last section of about 50 pages gives brief biographical sketches of several hundred Fletcher-class destroyer veterans with wartime and current photos of many of them.

Although the book includes many historical photos, it does not grab a reader's attention with its heavy reliance on ship action reports and deck logs for historical accounts. The authors include no bibliography of sources. The history of the destroyer Kidd does not contain enough details or personal stories to satisfy a reader, and the combination of the history of Kidd with all other Fletcher-class destroyers does not increase the book's appeal.

On April 11, 1945, the destroyer Kidd got hit by a bomb-carrying kamikaze aircraft that killed 38 men and wounded 55. The attack is described in the book as follows (p. 18):

The Black was 1500 yards off the starboard beam of the Kidd. At 1409 hours, one of the enemy singe engine planes descended to near water level and made a run on the Black. The plane appeared that it would hit her, but it passed over the Black and came in at the Kidd. The Kidd's starboard 20s and 40s fired steadily at the plane. The 5-inch guns could not be used because the Black was directly in line of fire behind the plane. Gunners hit the plane several times, but its momentum carried it into the Kidd on the starboard side. It tore through the hull into the forward fireroom five feet above the waterline. The plane crossed the fireroom from starboard to port where it came to rest. The 500 pound bomb it was carrying tore through the port side of the hull and exploded just outside. This blew shrapnel all over the portside superstructure and opened the fireroom to the sea.

The authors make no mention of the plane type that hit Kidd, but the Japanese book Tokkō pairotto o sagase: Umoreta rekishi no nazo o horiokoshita shinjitsu no kiroku (Finding a kamikaze pilot: Record of truth uncovered regarding puzzle of his hidden history) published in 2005 concluded that the Zero fighter piloted by Lieutenant Junior Grade Shigehisa Yaguchi crashed into the destroyer.

The US Navy built 175 Fletcher-class destroyers during World War II. The following nine sank in Japanese kamikaze attacks:

  • Abner Read (DD-526)
  • Bush (DD-529)
  • Colhoun (DD-801)
  • Little (DD-803)
  • Luce (DD-522)
  • Morrison (DD-560)
  • Pringle (DD-477)
  • Twiggs (DD-591)
  • William D. Porter (DD-579)

Abner Read sank in the Philippines, and the other eight Fletcher-class destroyers sank during the Battle of Okinawa.

The section on Fletcher-class destroyers also describes damage suffered by the following ships due to kamikaze attacks: Bennett (DD-473), Braine (DD-630), Cassin Young (DD-793), Evans (DD-552), Hazelwood (DD 531), Howorth (DD-592), Isherwood (DD-520), Kimberly (DD-521), Leutze (DD-481), Newcomb (DD-586), Sigsbee (DD-502), and Stanly (DD-478). Cassin Young (DD-793), located in Boston, serves as another Fletcher-class museum ship.

USS Leutze (DD-481) showing damage from kamikaze hit