Task Force 58 (Hardback)
The US Navy's Fast Carrier Strike Force that Won the War in the Pacific
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 Kidō 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.
By early 1944, offensives undertaken by the United States armed forces had driven the Japanese from many of their conquests in the south and central Pacific. The next American move was to sever Tokyo’s communications with the remaining Japanese garrisons and interdict the supplies of raw materials essential to Japan’s war effort. Before this could be achieved it was considered essential to eliminate the land-based air forces in the Philippines which were regarded as too powerful to by-pass. The American plan was to land on the eastern Philippine island of Leyte and, once fully established…By John Grehan, Alexander Nicoll
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