Dive Truk Lagoon: The Japanese WWII Pacific Shipwrecks

Dive Truk Lagoon: The Japanese WWII Pacific Shipwrecks

by Rod Macdonald

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Truk Lagoon is quite simply the greatest wreck diving location in the world. Scores of virtually intact large WWII wrecks filled with cargoes of tanks, trucks, artillery, beach mines, shells and aircraft rest in the crystal clear waters of the Lagoon – each a man-made reef teeming with life. Truk was the main forward anchorage for the Japanese Imperial Navy and merchant fleet during the early days of WWII. Protected by a 140-mile coral barrier reef, with only a few heavily defended entrances, it seemed a well-protected safe anchorage. The lagoon had been fortified by the Japanese in great secrecy during the 1930s – the Allies knew little about it. By 1944, the tide of war had turned against the Japanese – the Allies were pushing westwards across the Pacific islands towards the Japanese homeland. A daring U.S. long range aerial survey showed the lagoon with the full might of the Imperial Japanese Navy; battleships, cruisers, aircraft carriers, submarines and destroyers, along with scores of large supply ships and transports. The Allies decided to attack immediately. Sensing this, the Imperial Japanese Navy scattered but the merchant ships remained to offload their cargoes of aircraft, tanks, artillery, mines and munitions. Other heavily laden supply ships continued to arrive, unaware of the Allied assault plans. Fresh from the Kwajalein Atoll assault, Task Force 58 was formed for an immediate attack – Operation Hailstone. In total secrecy, nine U.S. carriers holding more than 500 combat aircraft steamed towards Truk – supported by a screen of battleships, cruisers, destroyers and submarines. Before dawn on 17 February, Strike Groups of 12 Hellcat fighters swept in low towards Truk under Japanese radar and immediately began strafing Japanese airfields. Soon, hundreds of aircraft were involved in one of the largest aerial dogfights of WWII which was over within an hour. With air superiority established, U.S dive-bombers and torpedo-bombers spent the remainder of the day and the following day sinking all the large ships trapped in the lagoon. With Truk neutralised as a naval and air base, the Pacific war soon ended. The sunken ships of Truk Lagoon with their war cargoes were largely forgotten about until 1969, when an expedition by Jacques Cousteau located and filmed many of the wrecks. The resulting TV documentary, Lagoon of Lost Ships, went viral. Truk’s secret was out – and the beautiful wrecks, untouched since WWII, have proved an irresistible lure for thousands of divers each year since then.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781849952132
Publisher: Whittles Publishing
Publication date: 02/10/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 282
File size: 12 MB
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements i

Introduction iii

Book 1 War 1

1 Japan in the Pacific 2

2 The Gibraltar of the Pacific - the secret is out 12

3 Photographic overflight. The Japanese Navy scatters as Task Force TF58 is formed 17

4 Operation Hailstone. 17 February 1944. DOG-DAY MINUS ONE 23

(i) 0600hrs. Grumman Hellcat fighter sweep 23

(ii) The aerial torpedo and bomb strikes commence 27

5 18 February 1944. DOG-DAY 30

6 Aftermath 33

Book 2 The Shipwrecks of Truk Lagoon 37

Chuuk Lagoon map 38

1 Aikoku Maru 40

2 Amagisan Maru 51

3 Fujikawa Maru 57

4 Fujisan Maru 65

5 Fumizuki 71

6 Futagami 77

7 Gosei Maru 79

8 Hanakawa Maru 83

9 Heian Maru 87

10 Hino Maru No.2 96

11 Hoki Maru 99

12 Hokuyo Maru 105

13 Hoyo Maru 110

14 1-169 114

15 Inter-island supply vessel 119

16 Katsuragisan Maru 120

17 Kensho Maru 125

18 Kikukawa Mam 132

19 Kiyosumi Maru 136

20 The lighter 142

21 Momokawa Maru 143

22 Nagano Maru 146

23 Nippo Maru 150

24 IJN Oite 159

25 Ojima 164

26 Patrol Boat No. 34 (ex-Susuki) 166

27 Reiyo Maru 169

28 Rio de Janeiro Maru 173

29 San Francisco Maru 182

30 Sankisan Maru 190

31 Sapporo Maru 197

32 Seiko Maru 199

33 Shinkoku Maru 203

34 Shotan Maru 211

35 Taiho Maru 215

36 Unkai Maru No. 6 217

37 Yamagiri Maru 221

38 Yubae Maru 228

Japanese Aircraft Wrecks of Truk Lagoon 231

1 The 'Betty' bomber 232

2 The 'Emily' flying-boat 237

3 The 'Jill' torpedo-bombers 241

4 The 'Judy' dive-bomber 243

5 The 'Zeke' (Zero) fighters 246

U.S. Task Force 58 Strike Aircraft 251

1 Curtiss SB2C Helldiver 252

2 Douglas SBD Dauntless 252

3 Grumman TBF Avenger 253

4 Grumman F6F Hellcat 254

Bibliography 256

Index 258

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