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The Battle of the Philippine Sea 

19–20 June 1944 

Photo #: 80-G-231831 Battle of the Philippine Sea, June 1944
Japanese Carrier Division 3 under attack by Task Force 38 planes, 20 June 1944. The battleship in the lower center is either Haruna or Kongo. The carrier Chiyoda is at right. Photographed from a USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) aircraft (80-G-231831).


Following the build-up of the U.S. Navy’s fast carrier forces in the central Pacific, the American drive into the strategic Marshall Islands chain, and the foreseeable U.S. victory on Saipan (15 June–9 July), the Japanese naval leadership were convinced that the moment for a decisive large-scale fleet action had come. Previous attempts to win a climactic battle with the U.S. Navy—Coral Sea, Midway, and the sum of the sea battles in the Solomons—had either failed or had come short of a war-changing victory.

The U.S. Navy’s Task Force 58 (Fast Carrier Task Force) clashed with the Japanese navy’s Carrier Division 3 on 19 and 20 June in the Battle of the Philippine Sea in a series of engagements mainly fought out in the air, over waters several hundred miles west of Saipan. By the evening of 20 June, Task Force 58’s aircraft had succeeded in breaking the back of Japanese naval aviation and the Japanese Combined Fleet’s carrier forces.

The following essay provides a detailed account of the Battle of the Philippine Sea and analyzes its great significance in determining the further course of the war in the Pacific:

"The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" by NHHC historian Guy J. Nasuti


Battle of the Philippine Sea Photo Gallery

Other Resources 

U.S. Navy Vessels in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and Marianas Operational Area

NHHC publication: Winning a Future War—War Gaming and Victory in the Pacific War, by Norman Friedman. This acclaimed book shows how U.S. naval commanders successfully applied lessons learned from interwar war gaming to victorious carrier operations in World War II.

Photo #: 80-G-248549 Battle of the Philippine Sea, June 1944
Fighter plane contrails mark the sky over Task Force 58, during the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" phase of the battle, 19 June 1944. Photographed from on board USS Birmingham (CL-62) (80-G-248549).
Published: Thu Feb 27 12:33:35 EST 2020