When the crew reached the outside they saw that the rear three quarters of the ship was inundated by smoke and flames.The ship had been hit by a Japanese "Judy" divebomber, dropping two five-hundred pound bombs just aft of her island.
Japanese D4Y "Judy" Divebomber
The Franklin, which was loaded with fully gassed and armed planes and hundreds of tons of explosives was herself a 30,000 ton floating bomb. After the initial blasts of the two bombs, the Franklin's open aviation lines ignited. The planes warming up on her flight deck turned into raging infernos; their bombs and rockets adding to the conflagration. 40,000 gallons of aviation fuel poured out of Franklin's hangar deck in a flaming niagra. Every last soul, except for two reported survivors, on the hangar deck was vaporized in the flash of an instant. Raymond Milner, Smith's best friend on the carrier, had passed into the pages of history along with several hundred other sailors.
Franklin Under Attack From Her Own Rockets, Bombs, Ammunition and Aviation Fuel Burns Out Of Control