The Pacific Naval War 1941-1945

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The Pacific campaign : World War II, the U.S.-Japanese naval war, 1941-1945

All books packed carefully to avoid damage in the mail. The Japanese amassed a vast new empire with a defensive perimeter that ranged from western Alaska to the Solomon Islands.

In the southwest Pacific, Japan threatened American supply lines to Australia, complicating US plans to use Australia as a staging ground for offensive action. The amphibious invasion soon became the hallmark of the Allied counterattack. As they advanced westward toward Japan, Allied forces repeatedly bombed and stormed Japanese-held territory, targeting tiny islands as well as the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines.

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The goal was to dislodge the enemy and to secure airfields and supply bases that could serve as the launching points for future attacks. While both sides suffered major losses, the US Navy checked a major Japanese offensive for the first time.

Then, in the Battle of Midway the following month, US carrier aircraft dealt a devastating blow to the Japanese navy, destroying four aircraft carriers. The battle marked the first major US victory against Japan and was a turning point in the war. By shifting the balance of naval power in the Pacific, Midway allowed US forces to take the offensive for the first time. By seizing a strategic airfield site on the island, the United States halted Japanese efforts to disrupt supply routes to Australia and New Zealand.

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The invasion ignited a ferocious struggle marked by seven major naval battles, three major land battles, and almost continuous air combat as both sides sought to control Henderson Field, named after Loy Henderson, an aviator killed at the Battle of Midway. For six long months US forces fought to hold the island. In the end they prevailed, and the Allies took the first vital step in driving the Japanese back in the Pacific theater.

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As forces under the command of Admiral William F. This practice—skipping over heavily fortified islands in order to seize lightly defended locations that could support the next advance—became known as island hopping. As Japanese strongholds were isolated, defenders were left to weaken from starvation and disease. This new strategy turned the vast Pacific distances into an American ally, and the United States used it to leapfrog across the Pacific. By the end of the year, a two-pronged assault on Japan was well underway.


The US pursued a two-pronged offensive across the central and southwest Pacific to roll back the Japanese advance. As began, the southwest Pacific was largely under Allied control. By February, the Allies were also making progress in the central Pacific.