it was probably more dangerous to remain aboard the fuel- and explosive-laden jeep carrier than to take off and glide-bomb a Japanese capital ship. As Leonard Moser, a plane captain on the Fanshaw Bay, was changing a carburetor on a VC-68 aircraft, half a dozen pilots hovered nearby, coveting a chance to climb into that cockpit and get their tails off the ship. The aviation machinist’s mate finished the job, then climbed up into the cockpit. “What are you doing?” one of the pilots asked. “I’m going to check this damn engine out,” Moser said, “and then go find a hole to hide in.” The pilot said that he would do his own engine check this time, thank you very much. Moser stepped aside. “He got in, started it up, and took off with a cold motor. My helper didn’t even have all of the cowling on. That pilot was glad to leave.
Ten days before the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, a plan circulated briefly, never to be executed, providing for the creation of a “surface attack group” under Fletcher’s cruiser boss, Rear Admiral Carleton H. Wright, drawing the battleship North Carolina, the heavy cruisers Minneapolis, San Francisco, New Orleans, Portland, and Salt Lake City, the Atlanta, and four destroyers into a single fighting force should the Japanese fleet come within gun range. Those ships were finally reckoned too valuable to spare in missions other than antiaircraft defense.