Unfortunately for Ozawa, the American fleet quickly devastated the Japanese airfields in the area, meaning that Ozawa's flyers would be walking into a buzzsaw when they tried to land. Few of them had a chance to do so, however, as the majority were destroyed attempting to attack the American task forces. Spruance had arranged his warships such that any Japanese aircraft had first to evade a very effective radar-vectored combat air patrol (the US Navy flew more defensive CAP sorties than the Japanese launched in total sorties of all kinds), and then fly directly through the immensely powerful anti-aircraft fire of the screening battleships and cruisers, which had been deployed across the front of the formation in a Gun Line. American technological and pilot superiority were telling, and exacted hideous losses from the Japanese attackers.
Meanwhile, Ozawa was having difficulties with American submarines. Carrier Taiho was torpedoed, and though she took only a single hit, poor damage control technique led to a catastrophic gasoline-fumes explosion which destroyed her. That same afternoon, veteran Shokaku had been sunk by another US sub. Follow-up strikes by American aircraft would also add carrier Hiyo to the list of victims, with several other major warships damaged. The Japanese carrier arm, its carefully rebuilt air groups slaughtered almost to a man, had virtually ceased to exist as an implement of war.
|Battle of the Phillipine Sea||Japan||Allied|
5 tankers x1,661 (approx. 1,200 land-based, 473 on board First Mobile Fleet)
x2 sunk (Shokaku, Taiho)
x1 heavily damaged (Zuikaku)
x1 sunk (Hiyo)
x2 damaged (Junyo, Chiyoda)
x1 damaged (Haruna)
x1 damaged (Maya)
x1 damaged (Shigure)
2 tankers also sunk.
x750 (approx.)(500 land-based + 250 Mobile Force) destroyed
x1 moderately damaged (South Dakota)
x130 (approx.) lost, including non-combat losses
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WW2DB article on Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot
|Map of the Philippine Sea from Japan to the Carolines||A Marine on Saipan was transferred to an R5C-1 Commando aircraft from a Dodge WC54 3/4-ton field ambulance for transfer to Hawaii, 1944; note the Jeep in between||SB2C Helldivers of Bombing Squadron VB-2 flying from USS Hornet above Saipan, early 1944.||Indianapolis under Japanese shore bombardment off Saipan, Jun 1944||Japanese aircraft shot down as it attempted to attack escort carrier Kitkun Bay, near Marianas Islands, Jun 1944|
|TBM-1C Avenger bombers prepared to take off from Monterey to attack targets on Tinian, Jun 1944||Zuikaku and two destroyers at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Jun 1944||Carriers San Jacinto and Lexington off the Mariana Islands, 13 Jun 1944||A US Navy chaplain holds mass for Marines killed during the Saipan landings, Jun 1944||Americans landing on Red Beach #2, Saipan, Mariana Islands, at 1300 on 15 Jun 1944|
See all 135 photos of Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot on WW2DB