Operation Yu-Go: A Second Pearl Harbor? (Part.2)
The attack on Majuro was first scheduled to 10-11 April 1944 but was later postponed for 20-21 May. According to the plan, the First Mobile Force would depart the Inland Sea in early May and approach Majuro from the northeast. From there, on the night of 20-21 May, the IJN would launch a massive night strike supported by nearly 300 land-based aircraft stationed in Marcus, Wake, Truk and Ponape. Lastly, five submarines carrying each two Type 4 Ka-Tsu amphibious tanks would approach the island and release them to take part in the attack. These particular vehicles will be covered later on.
The centrepiece of the planned Japanese attack was to be the Mobile Force, that later fought the disastrous Battle of the Philippine Sea, reinforced by four auxiliary carriers. In total, this massive fleet would have involved:
• Carrier Division One: Taihō, Shōkaku, Zuikaku.
• Carrier Division Two: Hiyō, Junyō.
• Carrier Division Three: Chitose, Chiyoda, Zuihō, Ryūhō.
• Battleship Division One: Yamato, Musashi, Nagato.
• Battleship Division Three: Kongo, Haruna.
• Cruiser Division Four: Atago, Maya, Chokai, Takao.
• Cruiser Division Five: Myoko, Haguro.
• Cruiser Division Seven: Tone, Chikuma, Kumano, Suzuya, Mogami.
•Auxiliary Carrier Group: Kaiyō, Taiyō, Un'yō, Shin'yō.
• Destroyer Squadron Two and Ten: 27 destroyers.
With 5 fleet carriers, 4 light carriers and 4 escort carriers, the IJN could muster 548 aircraft (219 fighters, 199 dive bombers and 102 torpedo bombers). The raid would be supported by 272 land-based aircraft (172 fighters and 100 bombers). Nevertheless, the IJN would have still been in numerical inferiority. By May 1944, Majuro was holding Task Force 58 composed of 7 fleet carriers, 8 light carriers and 3 escort carriers (total of 1'015 aircraft), 7 battleships, 8 heavy and 7 light cruisers, 71 destroyers and 417 land based aircraft. Interestingly, intel from the U.S. Fifth Fleet reported nearly exactly this order of battle in its pre-Operation Forager (invasion of the Marianas) notes about the IJN's remaining strength.
More in Part.3
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