Attack on Truk file photo

Attack on Truk

16 Feb 1944 - 18 Feb 1944

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

Truk in the Caroline Islands had been the main base for Combined Fleet since the pre-WW2 days and had since been the home-away-from-home for the Combined Fleet vessels operating in the South and Central Pacific. For the first two years of the conflict, Truk was considered an unassailable bastion. However, by early 1944 the American carrier forces in the Pacific had grown so monumentally in strength that attacks that would have been unthinkable a mere six months earlier became possible. In early Feb 1944, Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's Task Force 58 was so powerful and had such a good recent history that he thought he could arrange an attack on Truk, which was code named Operation Hailstone. The presence of Japanese land-based aircraft on the island did not deter his wish to conduct this raid. Strategically, an attack on Truk by the Americans was also important, as the Japanese garrison might interfere with American operations in the Marshall Islands.

Mitscher arrived with an enormous force of five fleet carriers (Enterprise, Yorktown, Essex, Intrepid, and Bunker Hill), four light carriers (Belleau Wood, Cabot, Monterey, and Cowpens), seven battleships, and a full compliment of cruisers and destroyers. The fleet brought with it 500 aircraft. To prevent this very kind of devastating attack, the Japanese had already withdrawn the majority of the heavy vessels to Palau a week earlier. A few light surface warships, merchant vessels, and transports were left behind. Vice Admiral Shigeru Fukudome noted post-war that these ships remained in Truk mainly because they had been so damaged that either they were not worth saving or could not get underway. In early Feb, United States Marine Corps B-24 reconnaissance aircraft appeared above Truk, and it confirmed the American intention to strike to the Japanese.

A small group of Japanese aircraft struck first between 1300 and 1500 on 16 Feb. With the exception of a bomb hit on the starboard bow of battleship Iowa (which caused only light damage), the Japanese fighters were fought off with relative ease with anti-aircraft fire. A night time torpedo bomber attack damaged the carrier Intrepid, killing 11, and sending her to Pearl Harbor and San Francisco for repair for the next four months.

Between 17 and 18 Feb, aerial strikes, surface engagements, and submarine attacks rained devastation upon anything Japanese on and near Truk. The most damaging aspect was the loss of 270 aircraft, for that they had been the force that checked back American shipping. The importance of this function for Truk was reaffirmed on 20 Feb, two days after the Truk strike, when Admiral Mineichi Koga ordered naval aircraft from Palau and Rabaul to transfer to Truk.

Japanese naval losses were also significant. Some of the ships were destroyed in anchorage, while most others were intercepted by American vessels that enveloped the area. A total of 191,000 tons of shipping, which included three light cruisers (Agano, Katori, and Naka), six destroyers (Oite, Fumizuki, Maikaze, Hagio, Isogu, and Tachikaze), three smaller warships, two submarines, and 32 transports and merchant ships, were destroyed.

American losses were comparably minimal. A small number of men were killed in the Japanese attack before the main American strike, as previously stated. During the main strike, 21 American aircraft were lost to anti-aircraft fire, though many of the downed crew were rescued by naval vessels.

Truk was cut off from supplies and was reduced to near-uselessness. The garrison sat out the remainder of the war. Starvation nearly wiped out the garrison by the time Japan surrendered.

Sources: Interrogation of Japanese Officials, Nihon Kaigun, Operational Experience of Fast Battleships, the Pacific Campaign, Wikipedia.

Attack on Truk Interactive Map

Attack on Truk Timeline

17 Feb 1944 US carrier aircraft began a two-day attack on Truk in the Caroline Islands; by the end of 18 Feb 1944, 270 Japanese aircraft would be destroyed.
18 Feb 1944 US carrier aircraft destroyed 270 Japanese aircraft at Truk in the Caroline Islands after a two-day raid.
1 May 1944 US Navy completed a two-day raid on Truk, which destroyed 120 Japanese aircraft.

Photographs

Japanese naval base, warships, and fishing boats at Dublon Island under American aerial attack, Truk Atoll, Caroline Islands, 16 Feb 1944, photo 1 of 2Japanese naval base, warships, and fishing boats at Dublon Island under American aerial attack, Truk Atoll, Caroline Islands, 16 Feb 1944, photo 2 of 2Japanese ships and fishing boats under attack at Dublon Island, Truk Atoll, Caroline Islands, 16 Feb 1944Two US Navy fighter pilots aboard carrier Enterprise during the raid on Truk Atoll in the Caroline Islands, 16 Feb 1944
See all 15 photographs of Attack on Truk



Share this article with your friends:

 Facebook  Reddit
 Twitter  Digg
 Google+  Delicious
 StumbleUpon  


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds
Advertisement                    Close







Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Anonymous says:
    31 Dec 2005 10:33:45 AM

    aircraft is the plural as well as the singular (not aircrafts as you have). between not bewteen.
    good article, thanks
  2. C. Peter Chen says:
    12 Jan 2006 04:45:33 PM

    Misspelling corrected. Thanks!
  3. ERIC CAMIRAND says:
    24 Aug 2007 01:07:37 PM

    MY UNCLE WALTER F LEWIS
    COPILOT WAS LOST ON A B-24 NEAR TRUK ISLAND IN JUNE 1944.
  4. Bob Riegle says:
    2 Nov 2007 06:25:59 PM

    Maury AGS 16--In spring 1947, while on shore on Moen Island, we were not allowed to sightsee due to- hostle japanese still on Island. Signs and barricades were along the the shore roads.

  5. Bob Riegle says:
    20 Dec 2007 04:11:26 AM

    Seasons Greetings....Have enjoyed your website this year...Keep it comming.... Bob R.
  6. Anonymous says:
    29 Mar 2008 06:42:08 PM

    Uncle, MIA near Truck in February of 44,
    J.Medialdea.
  7. peter neill says:
    1 Oct 2010 06:39:09 PM

    my dad was a waist gunner on a b24 and survived 31 missionns in the pacifac theater
  8. brittany duet says:
    17 Nov 2010 12:07:08 PM

    my uncle died june 1944 during the war of truk island
  9. Bruce says:
    23 Dec 2010 07:32:26 PM

    Does anyone know the names of the airmen captured and executed by the **** on Truk? and was there a trial for the responsible jap officiers?
  10. Jim Pond says:
    29 Feb 2012 06:48:44 PM

    Why is the carrier USS Langley (CVL-27)not listed under "Ship Participants". It surely was one.
  11. Jan says:
    6 Jun 2012 02:19:31 PM

    Hello, I'm looking for the name of the casualties on this battle (29 accounted for).
    I am looking for Georges BURGES or "Doc".
  12. MGB says:
    9 Aug 2012 06:57:46 PM

    Jan:
    My grandfather was a medic in the Pacific theater. His name was George Burges. He passed away in 1980. I've been trying to find more in formation on him. Do you have any more details on him? Maybe he's the same person.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Your Comments
Security Code
 

 

Note: Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment.

Search WW2DB & Partner Sites
More on Attack on Truk
Participants:
» Hamazono, Shigeyoshi
» Holden, Carl
» Lee, Willis
» Mitscher, Marc

Location:
» Caroline Islands

Ship Participants:
» Agano
» Alabama
» Baltimore
» Belleau Wood
» Bunker Hill
» Cabot
» Cotten
» Cowpens
» Enterprise
» Essex
» Intrepid
» Iowa
» Katori
» Monterey
» Naka
» New Jersey
» Yorktown (Essex-class)

Document:
» Interrogation Nav 34, Commander Chikataka Nakajima


Attack on Truk Photo Gallery
Japanese naval base, warships, and fishing boats at Dublon Island under American aerial attack, Truk Atoll, Caroline Islands, 16 Feb 1944, photo 1 of 2
See all 15 photographs of Attack on Truk



Site Sponsor


Current Site Statistics

Famous WW2 Quote
"You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terrors. Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival."

Winston Churchill