Battle of the Philippine Sea | Nihon Kaigun

Battle of the Phillipine Sea
(June 19-20, 1944)

Once Truk had been eliminated as an effective base, and the Japanese Navy driven from the environs, the Americans could complete their invasions of the Marshall Islands unmolested. Next, they set their sights on the Marianas. From these islands, long-range American B-29 aircraft would have the ability to hit the Japanese Home Islands. The Japanese were well aware of this fact, and planned a Decisive Battle to stop it. Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's plan was to use the longer range of his aircraft to good effect by shuttling them between his carriers and the airbases on Guam and Saipan, hitting the Americans coming and going, while keeping his carriers out of range of an American counterstrike.

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 SeaJapanAllied
Starting Forces x3
x6
x5
x11
x2
x27
x24
5 tankers x1,661 (approx. 1,200 land-based, 473 on board First Mobile Fleet)
x7
x8
x7
x8
x13
x62
x25
x956
Losses 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

Links From Related Partner Sites
WW2DB article on Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot


Indianapolis under Japanese shore bombardment off Saipan, Jun 1944Japanese aircraft shot down as it attempted to attack escort carrier Kitkun Bay, near Marianas Islands, Jun 1944TBM-1C Avenger bombers prepared to take off from Monterey to attack targets on Tinian, Jun 1944Zuikaku and two destroyers at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Jun 1944Carriers San Jacinto and Lexington off the Mariana Islands, 13 Jun 1944
Indianapolis under Japanese shore bombardment off Saipan, Jun 1944Japanese aircraft shot down as it attempted to attack escort carrier Kitkun Bay, near Marianas Islands, Jun 1944TBM-1C Avenger bombers prepared to take off from Monterey to attack targets on Tinian, Jun 1944Zuikaku and two destroyers at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Jun 1944Carriers 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 1944An F5F-3 Hellcat of Fighting Squadron 1, the “High Hatters,” sustains a catastrophic failure while landing aboard the carrier USS Yorktown (Essex-class) north of the Marianas, Jun 15 1944.Indianapolis and Birmingham bombarding Saipan amidst advancing LVTs, 15 Jun 1944Men of the first wave of US Marines to land on Saipan, Mariana Islands crawling forward cautiously, 15 Jun 1944Naval bombardment on Guam, circa 15-20 Jun 1944
A US Navy chaplain holds mass for Marines killed during the Saipan landings, Jun 1944An F5F-3 Hellcat of Fighting Squadron 1, the “High Hatters,” sustains a catastrophic failure while landing aboard the carrier USS Yorktown (Essex-class) north of the Marianas, Jun 15 1944.Indianapolis and Birmingham bombarding Saipan amidst advancing LVTs, 15 Jun 1944Men of the first wave of US Marines to land on Saipan, Mariana Islands crawling forward cautiously, 15 Jun 1944Naval bombardment on Guam, circa 15-20 Jun 1944

See all 118 photos of Mariana Islands Campaign and the Great Turkey Shoot on WW2DB


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