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Task Force 58 (Hardback)

The US Navy's Fast Carrier Strike Force that Won the War in the Pacific

Maritime > Naval Military > Frontline Books Military > Pre-WWI > American History Photographic Books WWII

By Rod MacDonald
Frontline Books
Pages: 520
Illustrations: 75 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399007573
Published: 29th October 2021



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The new breed of American fast aircraft carriers could make thirty-three knots, and each carried almost 100 strike aircraft. Brought together as Task Force 58, also known as the Fast Carrier Task Force, this awesome armada at times comprised more than 100 ships carrying more than 100,000 men afloat. By 1945, more than 1,000-combat aircraft, fighters, dive- and torpedo-bombers could be launched in under an hour.

The fast carriers were a revolution in naval warfare – it was a time when naval power moved away from the big guns of the battleship to air power projected at sea. Battleships were eventually subordinated to supporting and protecting the fast carriers, of which, at its peak, Task Force 58 had a total of seventeen.

This book covers the birth of naval aviation, the appearance of the first modern carriers in the 1920s, through to the famous surprise six-carrier Kid? Butai Japanese raid against Pearl Harbor on 8 December 1941 and then the early US successes of 1942 at the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. The fast carriers allowed America, in late 1942 and early 1943, to finally move from bitter defence against the Japanese expansionist onslaught, to mounting her own offensive to retake the Pacific.

Task Force 58 swept west and north from the Solomon Islands to the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, neutralising Truk in Micronesia, and Palau in the Caroline islands, before the vital Mariana Islands operations, the Battle of Saipan, the first battle of the Philippine Sea and the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. The strikes by Task Force 58 took Allied forces across the Pacific, to the controversial Battle of Leyte Gulf and to Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Task Force 58 had opened the door to the Japanese home islands themselves – allowing US bombers to finally get close enough to launch the devastating nuclear bombing raids on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Task Force 58 participated in virtually all the US Navy’s major battles in the Pacific theatre during the last two years of the war.

Having spent many years investigating naval shipwrecks across the Pacific, many the result of the devastating effectiveness of Task Force 58, diver and shipwreck author Rod Macdonald has created the most detailed account to date of the fast carrier strike force, the force that brought Japan to its knees and brought the Second World War to its crashing conclusion.

As featured on World War II Today

WW2 Today

Here we have a big meaty read which I enjoyed from cover to cover. This book is well focussed on the fast carriers but it also works on many other levels. Overall it is the story of the naval come back after Pearl Harbour in the course of which there was a change of fleet capital ships from battleships to carriers. The author, Rod Macdonald, has looked with his own eyes on some of the ships wrecked by American carrier aircraft and has done a great deal of research which is here presented in a clear chronological progression. There is little departure from the pure factual level except in some of the many quotations from people involved in the events. Much of the descriptive impact comes from the numbers of ships, planes men and casualties. The fleet assembled for the final attack on mainland Japan had more carriers than there are in the whole of the world’s navies today. There was a large percentage of downed American fliers who were rescued by ships and submarines placed along the route they were expected to take; this contrasts with a military who sent out kamikaze planes and man guided bombs. There are many more themes running through the narrative than can be covered in a brief review all of them are interesting.
It is a big book of over 500 pages containing a gripping story, a few good photographs, brief biographies of some of the leading Americans and an extensive bibliography...
We highly recommend this book.

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Clash of Steel

This book is a huge book and that is matched with the level of detail and depth the author Rod MacDonald has gone into, it must be said that it is very informative. I’m not sure how you could improve it more.

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Task Force 58

Highly recommended for those who want to read comprehensive histories of this war that cemented America's role as world superpower and global policeman, that lasted through the end of the century and beyond.

5 Stars

Amazon Review

My knowledge of the Pacific War is rather thin, but primed by recently reading about the carrier battles in Hugh Ambrose’s “The Pacific” I was keen to know more. Task Force 58 more than satisfies that ambition and adds much to the basic overview I had. Supporting images are good but I have one gripe; if ever a book needs maps to contextualise the narrative, this is it, but it is lacking and a great shame. Almost every chapter deserved a map. Otherwise a book offering a good narrative of a huge series of campaigns.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Rod MacDonald

ROD MACDONALD is an internationally renowned shipwreck explorer, undersea adventurer and best-selling diving author with eleven books about shipwrecks, the culmination of a lifetime of diving. His beautifully illustrated books are the internationally accepted definitive guides to many world-famous dive locations such as Scapa Flow and Truk Lagoon. Rod is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen School of Law. He is a Fellow of the Explorers Club of New York and a Patron of the GB & Ireland Chapter of the Explorers Club. When not writing or exploring shipwrecks he is a big boat yachtsman, former volunteer lifeboatman, a RYA Advanced Powerboat Instructor and a Search and Rescue (SAR) instructor. He lives in Stonehaven, a small fishing town on the north east coast of Scotland with his wife, his two children having flown the coup.

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