Flight Journal

The Secrets of Truk Lagoon

Project Recover locates three missing World War II aircraft

- By Debra Cleghorn

Project Recover locates three missing World War II aircraft

Ninety minutes before daybreak on February 17, 1944, Operation Hailstone was launched from three U.S. aircraft carrier groups in the South Pacific. Hundreds of American warplanes ravaged the Japanese-held island airfields and harbors of Truk Lagoon, one of the most formidable Japanese naval air bases in the Pacific. The low-flying torpedo bombers and dive bombers did not show up on Japanese radar, and so were a complete surprise to the Japanese forces, with many of their personnel on shore leave. Over the next two days, Operation Hailstone stormed the Japanese defenses, shot down and destroyed more than 250 warplanes, and sank nearly 50 Japanese merchant vessels in addition to the few fighting ships that were left. An important victory for the United States, Operation Hailstone also resulted in the loss of 30 U.S. aircraft and 23 missing aviators and crew members.

 ??  ?? Avengers of the VT-6 Enterprise Air Group flying from the USS Intrepid in 1944. (U.S. Navy Museum of Naval Aviation)
Avengers of the VT-6 Enterprise Air Group flying from the USS Intrepid in 1944. (U.S. Navy Museum of Naval Aviation)
 ??  ?? Above: Truk Lagoon is a protected body of water in the South Pacific, and the final resting place of many WW II wrecks, including 12 small warships, 32 merchant ships, and 275 aircraft. Here, the tail section from an SBD-5 Dauntless dive bomber rests on the ocean floor. (Photo by Bob Hess/Scripps) Below: The iconic punched holes of the split-panel dive brakes from an SBD-5 Dauntless dive bomber are visible resting on the floor of the lagoon near the main debris site. Right: The coral-covered propeller of an SBD-5 Dauntless dive bomber stands above the sand in Truk Lagoon.
Above: Truk Lagoon is a protected body of water in the South Pacific, and the final resting place of many WW II wrecks, including 12 small warships, 32 merchant ships, and 275 aircraft. Here, the tail section from an SBD-5 Dauntless dive bomber rests on the ocean floor. (Photo by Bob Hess/Scripps) Below: The iconic punched holes of the split-panel dive brakes from an SBD-5 Dauntless dive bomber are visible resting on the floor of the lagoon near the main debris site. Right: The coral-covered propeller of an SBD-5 Dauntless dive bomber stands above the sand in Truk Lagoon.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States