For many months during World War II, U.S. Navy and Army strategists wrestled with the thorny problems of Rabaul and Truk Atoll, two of Japan’s most formidable bases in the Pacific. Should American forces seize the bastions or neutralize them? While last August’s issue of Naval History tackled how the Allies dealt with Rabaul, this issue’s cover story addresses Truk, the Japanese “Gibraltar of the Pacific.”
In “Two Birds with One Hailstone,” Alan Rems details U.S. forces’ relentless hammering of the atoll, which began with Operation Hailstone—a massive fast-carrier raid that crippled airpower at Truk and hastened the downfall of Rabaul. Hundreds of Navy planes, flying off five heavy and four light carriers, attacked targets or flew combat air patrol during the 17–18 February 1944 operation.
After reading about Hailstone, why not watch the attack? Released in 1944, The Fighting Lady uses footage mainly filmed on board the Yorktown (CV-10) to recount life in an “anonymous” carrier during her first operations after commissioning. Sharp-eyed viewers can spy cameos by Vice Admirals Marc Mitscher and John McCain.