Attack on Truk file photo [2136]

Attack on Truk

16 Feb 1944 - 18 Feb 1944


ww2dbaseTruk 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.

ww2dbaseMitscher 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 To prevent this very kind of devastating attack, the Japanese had already withdrawn the majority of the heavy vessels to Palau a week earlier.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.

ww2dbaseA 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.

ww2dbaseBetween 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.

ww2dbaseJapanese 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.

ww2dbaseAmerican 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.

ww2dbaseTruk 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.

ww2dbaseSources: Interrogation of Japanese Officials, Nihon Kaigun, Operational Experience of Fast Battleships, the Pacific Campaign, Wikipedia.

Last Major Update: Feb 2007

Attack on Truk Interactive Map


USS Intrepid under way 26 Jan 1944 on her way to launch strikes against Truk Atoll (now Chuuk). Note the forward flight deck filled SBD Dauntless and TBF Avenger aircraft and one F4U Corsair on the outrigger sponson.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 1944
See all 24 photographs of Attack on Truk


Map of the Philippine Sea from Japan to the CarolinesUS Navy map of the central Pacific showing USS Intrepid’s track from 16 Jan to 24 Feb 1944 from Pearl Harbor and back, including the 16 Feb 1944 raid on Truk Atoll (not Chuuk), Caroline Islands.

Attack on Truk Timeline

16 Feb 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) launched highly successful raids occurred on Truk (Chuuk), Caroline Islands.
17 Feb 1944 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) launched highly successful raids occurred on Truk (Chuuk), Caroline Islands.
18 Feb 1944 US carrier aircraft destroyed 270 Japanese aircraft at Truk in the Caroline Islands after a two-day raid.
19 Feb 1944 Armed merchant cruiser Akagi Maru, cruiser Katori, destroyer Maikaze, destroyer Nowaki, and minesweeping trawler Shonan Maru No. 15 departed Truk, Caroline Islands at 0430 hours for Yokosuka, Japan. After 0500 hours, Truk came under attack by many US carrier aircraft. A number of aircraft spotted the group and attacked, sinking Akagi Maru and damaging Katori and Maikaze; at least one US F6F fighter was shot down during the attack on this group. Battleship New Jersey, battleship Iowa, cruiser Minneapolos, cruiser New Orleans, destroyer Bradford, and destroyer Burns then approached at about 1300 hours about 64 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Truk. Maikaze fired a spread of torpedoes, which missed the two battleships. Gunfire from Minneapolis and New Orleans started a fire on Maikaze, causing an explosion, and leading to her sinking at 1343 hours; all aboard were lost. Then, New Jersey sank Shonan Maru No. 15 with her port side 5-inch battery. Next, Iowa opened fire on Katori, straddling Katori with the first salvo. Katori fired torpedoes, but all of them missed. Iowa's gunfire eventually overwhelmed and sank Katori; Captain Tamekiyo Oda was among those killed. Nowaki alone escaped the attack.

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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. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
12 Jan 2006 04:45:33 PM

Misspelling corrected. Thanks!
24 Aug 2007 01:07:37 PM

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,
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

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.
13. Jan says:
22 May 2014 12:20:37 AM

Hello MGB sorry for not answering I have been back in New Caledonia for a while now and I missed your answer.
I believed my Mum told me he had a wife and a daughter in the USA at the time.
14. Jan says:
22 May 2014 01:14:18 PM

That would be in 1943. He left New Caledonia in the beginning of the year 1944. My grand mother first name is Caroline. She is 97.
15. Jan says:
8 Jun 2014 01:44:03 PM

My mother told me as well that he was tall brown hair clear eyes with a dimpled chin.
16. Anonymous says:
13 Jun 2014 07:19:24 PM

I lost my dad at Turk. He was reported missing in action on April 2nd 1944. He was lead pilot in a attract on truck. His name was Theodore a Rauh, rest in peace dad.
17. glenn dunhamAnonymous says:
2 Jul 2014 05:08:29 PM

I lived in Truk for a year. I dove most of the ships available to dive on with just air---no gasses. I really am impressed with the information you gathered. Truk was truly Japans Pearl Harbor. My brother in law was on the USS Arizona and went on to be a pilot flying PBY's picking downed air crew members out of the Pacific. I was in Navy air and served a time on Ford Island in 1953.
18. Frank Hayes says:
4 Nov 2014 09:10:31 AM

I was with the U S Navy Seabees on Moen Isle, Truk Atoll, 1949-1950. Would enjoy hearing from others that may have served there at that time . We were there to convert and establish an electrical system from Japanese to US. ?? Were there any Japanese left there at that time or were they sent back to Japan?
12 Nov 2014 07:52:30 PM

My brother Cornelius Murphy MIA shot down at Truk Atoll on his 40th Mission April 2nd 1944. A B=24 Waist gunner. REST IN PEACE.
20. Roger says:
11 May 2015 08:20:46 PM

To Jan....just read this article. My dad was on a B-24 at this battle,his tag name was "Doc" Don't know if he is the one your looking for but just wanted to give you a shout.
21. Kathleen says:
17 Aug 2015 11:13:37 AM

To Frank Hayes, hope you are still looking for other who lived on Truk in early 50's. My mother lived there when she was 12/13 years old with her USMC father and mother. CWO Henry (Harry) Reed and Betty Reed. My mother was Mary Reed. Perhaps you knew them? I am searching for info on the Truk Islands during the time that USMC and USN helped to rebuild the infrastructure post WWII.
22. Anonymous says:
2 Oct 2015 04:07:20 PM

please what is the effect of the battle/campaign of operation hailstone on the international scene
23. Anonymous says:
3 Oct 2015 09:21:27 PM

Operation Hailstone secured American advances in the Marshall Islands (Kwajalein, Wotje, Eniwetok), and enabled raids farther west to Palau, as well as support for the invasion of Hollandia. Truk was the strongest Japanese naval/airbase stronghold outside their homeland, and effectively eliminated as a forward base for the Imperial Japanese Navy, subsequently enabling the invasion of the Mariana Islands in summer 1944.
24. Anonymous says:
30 Dec 2015 12:21:18 PM

The photo of the freighter torpedo hit is credited to a plane from VT-10. The plane was actually from VT-17, was piloted by Lt Paul E Dickson who was carrying the photographer Eugene Smith. Smith speaks about this photograph in a popular photography interview and describes the content. Can you verify the source of the VT-10 info? I know from limited research that the freighter, Amagisan Maru, was hit by a dive bomber as well but I am not aware of a separate torpedo strike
25. Anonymous says:
30 Dec 2015 12:33:15 PM

It was popular photography June 1944 edition. On page 62 Smith describes the photograph, which can be found on page 47. If you find this information compelling, please correct the record here. I absolutely love and appreciate the quality of this site!

And so there is full disclosure, the pilot Lt. Paul Eugene Dickson was my maternal grandfather.
26. Dwight Nelson says:
21 Oct 2017 04:55:16 AM

Does anyone know the names of any tankers that were sunk near Truk Island during WWII?
27. G S Smith says:
20 Dec 2017 04:49:43 PM

My father was credited with sinking a "destroyer" In Truk Lagoon. He was flying an F6F from Yorktown. awarded Silver Star for his efforts. Would like to know more about it. Have a citation from Forrestal and another from Mitscher.
28. Anonymous says:
21 Feb 2018 05:07:33 AM

Does anyone know the outcome of the battle
29. Terrence O\'Sullivan says:
24 Sep 2018 09:12:29 AM

My father Ensign John J. O'Sullivan flew a TBF Avenger off the deck of the USS Yorktown in February 1944, along with Mechanic Raymond E. Lord and Radioman Gene S. Berg in the battle of Truk. They were shot down, with a severed oil line. My father landed the plane on the water,and all three ended up in a rubber raft, drifting for several hours before they were rescued by the brave submariners of the USS Searaven.
30. Anonymous says:
27 Dec 2018 09:43:22 AM

Hello All. I'm doing research for my best friend. His Uncle Thomas was an Annapolis grad and Navy pilot who was shot down and killed in the Truk Atol air/sea assault. Not sure of his last name as my buddy's last name is Howard but all he knows about his Uncle Thomas was that his middle initial was C. and his last name might be something like "Carlisle", or it could be "Howard". My friend's dad and uncle were adopted by different parents and his dad was so upset by his adopted brother's death that he never talks about it. I have a picture of Thomas graduating from Annapolis and his birthday, that's it. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks : )
31. Anonymous says:
14 May 2019 08:25:37 AM

Ensign Thomas Carlisle. KIA/MIA 29 April 1944 at Truk. BUNO 41094
32. Da says:
3 Feb 2021 07:18:59 PM

Any knowledge of Arnold Edward Olson jr. TBF bomber Aviation USS Cowpens, Shot down at Truk Island Battle.Alk aboard survived. Pilot and Co-pilot later succumbed to their wounds. Later served on the USS Kittyhawk in Vietnam
33. Randy Ruby 2001 at says:
27 Dec 2021 03:14:33 PM

Hello my name is Randy Ruby my father's name was Robert Clinton Ruby he was in Pearl Harbor when it was bombed he was at Tara he was at the first two nuclear bomb testing in the Bikini at Paul's he was in numerous other battles 7 all total he died of lung and brain cancer back in 1989 the government said that the nuclear bomb testing did not have nothing to do with it in 1990 they started paying all the men $2,600 a month myself and my siblings didn't know about it and I had a brother die a long and brain cancer at 53 the sister died at fifty-four long and brain cancer a brother a 59 died of lung and brain cancer and the government gave myself and my brother that is 1 years older than me a 25% chance of making it out of our fifties they gave us a $75,000 settlement to split between the two of us because we were the only two left now I I have nephews great nephews nieces great nieces all having tumors all over add early ages one was only 15 when he had a tumor removed from his throat myself and my brother have numerous illnesses such as degenerative disc disease brain tumor and all kinds of other problems I'm fifty-nine he's 60 we don't know how much longer we're going to last but I want the world to know that our government has let us down they're supposed to reevaluate everything in 2022 I wonder if they'll have the guts to come and talk to the siblings of the men that were at those bomb testings I bet they don't if you would like to contact me please do feel free to at Randy Ruby 2001 at

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More on Attack on Truk
» Hamazono, Shigeyoshi
» Holden, Carl
» Lee, Willis
» Mitscher, Marc

» 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)

» Interrogation Nav 34, Commander Chikataka Nakajima

Attack on Truk Photo Gallery
USS Intrepid under way 26 Jan 1944 on her way to launch strikes against Truk Atoll (now Chuuk). Note the forward flight deck filled SBD Dauntless and TBF Avenger aircraft and one F4U Corsair on the outrigger sponson.
See all 24 photographs of Attack on Truk

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