The American and Japanese aircraft waited for clear, perfect days to perform key air operations, and June 19, 1944 was such a day. On that day posed a desperate sea battle that was fought by airplanes. The battle was called The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. Around Guam, there was non-stop battle between the American and Japanese carriers, from which aircraft where shot down, and ships sank.
The battle started at 8:30 a.m. when Japanese Zekes, 16 fighters, and 45 bombers, and 8 Jills were ordered to move against the Americans. Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher was there to intercept. All available American planes in the area were launched to break the Japanese defense.
The fighting was extremely intense as American pilots battled for targeting positions, while Japanese defense was in a state of confusion. When dark fell, the Japanese were clearly defeated. The Japanese lost 315 planes. Most of the planes were lost from destroyed Japanese carriers, and crashes.
The remaining Japanese ships were chased to the Philippines where American pilots crushed the Japanese ego. Three carriers, and two oilers were sunk. Other Japanese ships were heavily damaged. Other than that, the Japanese ships posed little threat for the remaining Mariana operation for the Americans.
Once again, American soldiers were struck by the unbelievable resistance the Japanese had to offer. Pillboxes and hidden caves posed the greatest threat for the Americans. The worst part, the Americans had to fight 30,000 troops of the Japanese. The attack came on June 15 of 1944.
For the next three weeks, utter and complete chaos was facing the Americans. The Americans managed to push the Japanese back into an escape-proof pocket in the north of the island, where the Japanese reacted as predicted. Banzai charges were conducted, which meant thousands of screaming Japanese trying to make a last effort to take an American with them to death.
The greatest Banzai attack came on July 6,1944. Lieutenant General Yoshitsugu Saito ordered 3,000 Japanese to fight for their lives. They charged the 27th Division and caused heavy casualties. Eventually, however, all of the attackers were killed. Admiral Nagumo who commanded the Pearl Harbor attack took his own life by blowing his head off with a pistol. Mass suicides came as countless Japanese jumped off cliffs, blew themselves up with grenades, and even murdered their own family for fear of surrendering.
The battle for Saipan was over and 23,811 Japanese lay dead. About two thousand were taken prisoner. Americans suffered 3,426 deaths, and 13,100 wounded.
Taipan was a much easier island to conquer. On July 23, 1944, the Americans conquered the island. The Japanese suffered 5,745 deaths, while the Americans suffered only 195 deaths. Guam was a different story though.
On July 20, 1944, the Americans invaded Guam. Three weeks of heavy fighting took place on the island, but the Americans finally won. The Japanese lost 10,693 men while the Americans lost 1,290. It only took two months to get the Marianas back into American hands.
As a result of Operation Forager, the Phillippine Sea and the Marianas were controlled by the Americans. What was the next stop?