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Marianas

Ground crewmen fuel a P-47 on an airstrip on Saipan prior to its next bombing mission against Japanese positions on nearby Rota Island. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Ground crewmen fuel a P-47 on an airstrip on Saipan prior to its next bombing mission against Japanese positions on nearby Rota Island. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A P-47 carrying two 1,000-pound bombs prepares to take off from Saipan for a strike against Tinian. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A P-47 carrying two 1,000-pound bombs prepares to take off from Saipan for a strike against Tinian. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Cotton flight suit worn by the donor, a B-29 gunner, on bombing raids against Japan from the Marianas. The item, on display in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, was donated by Donald F. Goetz, Homewood, Ill. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Cotton flight suit worn by the donor, a B-29 gunner, on bombing raids against Japan from the Marianas. The item, on display in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, was donated by Donald F. Goetz, Homewood, Ill. (U.S. Air Force photo)


While Gen. MacArthur's troops were poised in New Guinea in preparation for a move against the Philippines, naval forces under Admiral Chester Nimitz in the central Pacific swept into the Marianas past Truk and the Carolines to secure sites for B-29 bomber bases. Saipan was invaded on June 15, 1944, and one week later, the airfield had been captured and the AAF moved fighters onto the field to provide air cover for the island and in support of amphibious assaults against Guam and Tinian, invaded on July 21 and 24, respectively. By mid-August, Guam and Tinian were secure and aviation engineers and Seabees were hard at work constructing the huge airbases necessary for the B-29 strategic bombers. As soon as air service groups prepared the bases for occupancy, hundreds of B-29s began arriving in October and November, ready to undertake strategic bombing operations against the Japanese home islands.

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