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The Navy's Early Carrier Raids, February–May 1942
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781612515281
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Era: World War II
  • Number of Pages: 256
  • Subject: Aviation
  • Date Available: April 2016
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$34.95 List Price
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Full Description:

This book reveals in detail the events of the early carrier raids against the Japanese in the first half of 1942 in the Pacific War, carried out by the U.S. Pacific Fleet. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, carrier airpower would take on the supreme offensive role against Japanese forces in the first phase of the war. America’s fast carrier task forces, with their aircraft squadrons and powerful support warships, took on the challenge, but unfortunately the Pacific Fleet carrier force had only three carriers in the Pacific on December 7th.

The book begins with the Pearl Harbor attack and the actions of Vice Admiral William F. Halsey’s Task Force 8 with the USS Enterprise en route to Hawaii after a successful mission delivering F4F fighters to Wake Island. The search for the enemy off Hawaii is fruitless as the naval leaders begin the transition to all-out war. Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, essentially defies major elements of the Rainbow War Plan for the Pacific, which imposed the British-American policy of “Germany first,” by ordering Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet, to take his limited carrier task force resources and attack the Japanese using island raids in an effort to slow the advance of the Japanese in the Pacific.

The first carrier raid was on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands on February 1, 1942 carried out by Halsey’s Task Force 8 with the Enterprise and Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher of Task Force 17 with the USS Yorktown. It was followed on February 20th with the Rabaul Raid in New Guinea commanded by Vice Admiral Wilson Brown which turned into a successful defensive operation to protect the carrier Lexington. Halsey’s Task Force 16 successfully attacked Wake Island on February 24th and Marcus Island on March 4th. The Lae-Salamaua Raid to repel a Japanese invasion occurred on March 10th with Brown (TF 11) on the Lexington and Fletcher (TF 17) on the Yorktown

The carrier raid with the most dramatic impact was the unorthodox Tokyo (Doolittle) Raid on Japan on April 18th by B-25s launched from the USS Hornet in company with the Enterprise. It was followed by the Tulagi Raid on May 4th commanded by Fletcher’s Task Force 17.

Though these U.S. Pacific carrier raids had limited effect on halting the Japanese advances, they kept the action away from Hawaii and the West coast of the U.S., and kept the lines of communications open to Australia. In addition, the raids yielded valuable operational experience for the U.S. Navy carrier forces as the Pacific War continued.

David Lee Russell received a BS in aerospace engineering from North Carolina State University and served as a naval ASW/air intelligence officer in the Pacific/Indian oceans with Patrol Squadron Four. After his active duty service, he began a long career in information technology with various Fortune 500 corporations.

David is the author of six books including The American Revolution in the Southern Colonies, Victory on Sullivan's Island: The British Cape Fear/Charles Town Expedition of 1776, Oglethorpe and Colonial Georgia: A History, 1733-1783, and Eastern Air Lines: A History, 1926-1991. David resides in Milton, Georgia.     

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