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Battle for Leyte Gulf
Battle for Leyte Gulf
   On December 7, 1941, the Japanese had invaded the Philippines, forcing MacArthur tot retreat to Bataan Peninsula and the Corregidor where he finally surrendered. But by 1944, campaigns in New Guinea and the central Pacific had brought his forces within striking distance of the Philippines.
   Expecting fierce fighting from the Japanese, the Allies assembled the largest landing force ever used in a Pacific campaign - more than 750 ships participated in the invasion. Fulfilling his promise "I shall return," MacArthur waded ashore at Palo beach on October 20, 1944.  It had taken MacArthur more than two and a half
years and many brutal battles to keep his pledge made at Corregidor.
   The Battle for Leyte Gulf was the greatest naval battle in history.  In a desperate last effort to win the war, the Japanese unleashed a terrifying new weapon - kamikazes - suicide pilots who would crash planes filled with explosives onto Allied warships.  Befoe the war ended hey had sunk or damaged over 300 U.S. ships.
   Despite Japan's new strategy, the battle ended in a major victory for the Unite states.  The Japanese Navy had been crushed, leaving Japan unprotected and exposed to an assault.

P-51s escort B17s on bombing raids


P-51s escort B17s on bombing raids

   Before World war II began, aviation experts claimed the long-range bomber was the most advanced weapon in the world, capable of wiping out cities and destroying an enemy's ability to continue fighting.  By the end of the war. their theory had been proven true.
   Relying on the cover of darkness to evade the enemy's fire, Great Britain favored "area bombing" - heavily bombing an area in hopes of hitting a target- a campaign that was both costly and ineffective.  In 1942, the United States joined the air war against Germany.  Favoring day raids on specific targets. the U.S. used the popular B17 to carry out its bombing campaign.  Fitted

with heavy armor and numerous guns, these "Flying Fortresses", as B17s came to e called, were able to withstand fierce fighter opposition.
   A year later the U.S. and Great Britain launched a bombing campaign against Germany that lasted until the end of the war. after heavy initial losses however, it soon became apparent that for the raids to be truly successful, long-range escort fighters such as the P51 Mustang were necessary.  By the end of the war the U.S. army Air Force had dropped more than 2 million short tons of bombs and destroyed over 40,000 enemy planes.

(courtesy of Irv Shanley)    

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