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A VB-4 SBD-3 from USS Ranger near Bodø, Norway, 4 October 1943.

Operation Leader was the code name for an attack undertaken by aircraft from the carrier USS Ranger on 4 October 1943 on German shipping along the coast of Norway in the Bodø area. The escorting force included the battleships HMS Duke of York and Anson, the cruisers USS Tuscaloosa and HMS Belfast, and 12 American and British destroyers including the USS Corry.[1][2]

The task force reached launch position off the Vestfjorden before dawn on 4 October completely undetected.[3] At 06:18, USS Ranger launched 20 SBD Dauntless dive bombers and an escort of eight F4F Wildcat fighters. One division of dive bombers attacked the 8,000 long tons (8,100 t) freighter La Plata, while the rest continued north to attack a German ship convoy. The bombers severely damaged a 10,000 long tons (10,000 t) tanker and a smaller troop transport. They also sank two of four small German merchant ships in the Bodø roadstead.[4]

A second attack group from Ranger—consisting of 10 TBF Avenger torpedo bombers and six Wildcats—destroyed a German freighter and a small coastal ship, and bombed a troop-laden transport. Three of the aircraft were lost to anti-aircraft fire. On the afternoon of 4 October, Ranger was located by three Luftwaffe aircraft; her combat air patrol shot down two of the enemy planes and chased away the third.[4]


  2. Thomas, Gerald W., VT-4, Operation Leader - The German View
  3. Cressman, Robert J. (2003). USS Ranger: The Navy's First Flattop from Keel to Mast, 1934-1946. Potomac Books. ISBN 978-1-57488-720-4
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cressman, p. 327–347—for Ranger's activities during Operation Leader

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