As Allied ships prepared for the invasion of the Philippine island of Leyte, every available warship, submarine and airplane was placed on alert while Japanese admiral Kurita Takeo stalked Admiral William F. Halsey’s unwitting American armada. It was the beginning of the epic Battle of Leyte Gulf—the greatest naval battle in history.
In Storm Over Leyte, acclaimed historian John Prados gives readers an unprecedented look at both sides of this titanic naval clash, demonstrating that, despite the Americans’ overwhelming superiority in firepower and supplies, the Japanese achieved their goal, inflicting grave damage on U.S. forces. And for the first time, readers will have access to the naval intelligence reports that influenced key strategic decisions on both sides.
Drawing upon a wealth of untapped sources—U.S. and Japanese military records, diaries, declassified intelligence reports and postwar interrogation transcripts—Prados offers up a masterful narrative of naval conflict on an epic scale.
“Morale went to nothing just about then,” said an officer on one of the escorting cruisers. “We were sick and shocked. We couldn’t believe that this had happened to us.” Through the night, the crew of the Enterprise, under the command of Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, took on fuel, provisions, and ammunition. Before dawn it was back at sea.
The Enterprise was just one of the carriers that won the war in the Pacific. Here is the extraordinary story of the men and ships that turned the tide of the war.
This is the story of the achievements, defeats, and victories of both the American and the Japanese navies as they met and battled in the greatest naval war of all time. This dramatic narrative brings to life both the glorious and the infamous—the decisive encounters at Midway...Guadalcanal...the Philippine Sea...Leyte Gulf...Iwo Jima...Okinawa...and the other points in the Pacific where history was made from 1941 to 1945.
The information for TRIUMPH IN THE PACIFIC was gathered by historians at the Naval Academy at Annapolis under the direction of E. B. Potter, the Academy’s Chairman of Naval History, and Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz who, as Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, was a principal figure in the conflict. The book is marked by authenticity, conciseness, objectivity, and the accuracy of years of painstaking research and preparation.
The Pacific War Saga of Carrier Air Group 15
Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
The record of Carrier Air Group 15 in World War II speaks for itself: Fighting Squadron 15 scored 312 enemy aircraft destroyed, 33 probably destroyed, and 65 damaged in aerial combat, plus 348 destroyed, 161 probably destroyed, and 129 damaged in ground attacks. Twenty-six Fighting 15 pilots became aces, including their leader, Commander David McCampbell, who became the U.S. Navy’s Ace of Aces. Twenty-one squadron pilots were killed in action and one in an operational accident aboard their carrier. Bombing Squadron 15 and Torpedo Squadron 15 scored 174,300 tons of enemy shipping, including 37 cargo vessels sunk, 10 probably sunk, and 39 damaged. As well, Musashi, the world’s largest battleship, was sunk, along with one light aircraft carrier; one destroyer; one destroyer escort; two minesweepers; five escort ships; two motor torpedo boats; and Zuikaku, the last surviving carrier that participated in the Pearl Harbor attack. Incredibly, every pilot of Torpedo 15 was awarded the Navy Cross, the highest award for bravery after the Medal of Honor, during this tour of combat for valor in the face of the enemy by torpedoing an enemy ship under fire.
All of this took place between May 19 and November 14, 1944. No other American combat unit in any service came close to a similar score in such a short time period.
Air Group 15 participated in the two greatest naval battles in history, the First and Second battles of the Philippine Sea—also known also as the Marianas Turkey Shoot and the Battles of Leyte Gulf, which saw the end of Japanese naval power, as well as Admiral William “Bull” Halsey’s rampage across the Central Pacific that fall, which marked the high tide of the carrier war. On June 19, 1944, forever after known as the Marianas Turkey Shoot in the First Battle of the Philippine Sea, Fighting 15 shot down 68.5 attacking Japanese aircraft, a one-day record unmatched by any other American fighter squadron.
In documenting the saga of Air Group 15’s momentous six months at war, Thomas McKelvey Cleaver’s Fabled Fifteen provides an intimate and insightful view of the group’s fabled lone combat tour, including details of daily life and human interactions aboard the fleet carrier USS Essex during the busiest phase of the Pacific War.
April 1945. The end of World War II finally appears to be nearing. The Third Reich is collapsing in Europe, and the Americans are overpowering the once-mighty Japanese Empire in the Pacific. For a group of young pilots trained in the twilight of the war, the greatest worry is that it will end before they have a chance to face the enemy. They call themselves Tail End Charlies. They fly at the tail end of formations, stand at the tail end of chow lines, and now they are catching the tail end of the war. What they don’t know is that they will be key players in the bloodiest and most difficult of naval battles—not only of World War II but in all of American history.
The Twilight Warriors relives the drama of the world’s last great naval campaign. From the cockpit of a Corsair fighter we gaze down at the Japanese task force racing to destroy the American amphibious force at Okinawa. Through the eyes of the men on the destroyers assigned to picket ship duty, we experience the terror as wave after wave of kamikazes crash into their ships. Standing on the deck of the legendary superbattleship Yamato, we watch Japan’s last hope for victory die in a tableau of gunfire and explosions.
Among the Tail End Charlies are men such as a twenty-two-year-old former art student who grows to manhood on the day of his first mission over Japan and his best friend, a ladies’ man and intrepid fighter pilot whose life abruptly changes when his Corsair goes down off the enemy shore. Another is a young Texan lieutenant who volunteers for the most dangerous flying job in the fleet—intercepting kamikazes at night over the blackened Pacific. Their leader is a charismatic officer who rises to greatness in the crucible of Okinawa. Directing the vast armada of sea, air, and land forces is a cast of brilliant and flawed commanders—from the imperturbable admiral and master of carrier warfare to the controversial soldier assigned to command the land forces.
The fate of the Americans at Okinawa is intertwined with the lives of the “young gods”— the honor-bound Japanese airmen who swarm like killer bees toward the U.S. ships. The kamikazes are dispatched on their deadly one-way missions by a classic samurai warrior who vows that he will follow them to a warrior’s grave.
The ferocity of the Okinawa fighting stuns the world. Before it ends, the long battle will cost more American lives, ships, and aircraft than any naval engagement in U.S. history. More than simply the account of a historic battle, The Twilight Warriors brings to life the human side of an epic conflict. It is the story of young Americans at war in the air and on the sea—and of their enigmatic, fanatically courageous enemy.
From the Hardcover edition.
Whether describing the experiences of bomber crews based in China or the Marianas, fighter pilotson Iwo Jima, or carrier aviators at sea, Tillman provides vivid details of the lives of the fliers and their support personnel. Whirlwind takes readers into the cockpits and gun turrets of the mighty B-29 Superfortress, the largest bomber built up to that time. Tillman dramatically re-creates the sweep of wartime emotions that crews endured on fifteen-hour missions, grappling with the extreme tedium of cramped spaces and with adrenaline spikes in flak-studded skies, knowing that a bailout would put them at the mercy of a merciless enemy or an unforgiving sea.
A major character is the controversial and brilliant General Curtis LeMay, who rewrote strategic bombing tactics. His command’s fire-bombing missions incinerated fully half of Tokyo and many other cities, crippling Japan’s industry while still failing to force surrender.
Whirlwind examines the immense logistics and construction efforts necessary to support Superfortresses in Asia and the Mariana Islands, as well as the tireless efforts of engineers to build huge air bases from scratch.It also describes the unheralded missions that American bomber crews flew from the Aleutian Islands to Japan’s northernmost Kuril Islands.
Never has the Japanese side of the story been so thoroughly examined. If Washington, D.C., represented a “second front” in Army-Navy rivalry, the situation in Tokyo approached a full-contact sport. Tillman’s description of Japan’s willfully inadequate approach to civil defense is eye-opening. Similarly, he examines the mind-set in Tokyo’s war cabinet, which ignored the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, requiring the emperor’s personal intervention to avert a ghastly Allied invasion.
Tillman shows how, despite the Allies’ ultimate success, mistakes and shortsighted policies made victory more costly in lives and effort. He faults the lack of a unified command for allowing the Army Air Forces and the Navy to pursue parochial goals at the expense of the larger mission, and he questions the premature commitment of the enormously sophisticated B-29 to the most primitive theater in India and China.
Whirlwind is one of the last histories of World War II written with the contribution of men who fought in it.With unexcelled macro- and microperspectives, Whirlwind is destined to become a standard reference on the war, on multiservice operations, and on the human capacity for individual heroism and national folly.