HomeVisitMuseum ExhibitsFact SheetsDisplay

Back to the Philippines

Southwest Pacific region near New Guinea. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Southwest Pacific region near New Guinea. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Battle of the Coral Sea and the fight at Guadalcanal in 1942 ended the Japanese drive across the Southwest Pacific, but Japanese troops still controlled the northern half of New Guinea. Before Gen. Douglas MacArthur could begin his drive to liberate the Philippines, he had to defeat the enemy forces in New Guinea and eliminate the Japanese sea and air forces at Rabaul, New Britain, threatening his flank and the supply lines.

Rough terrain, terrible weather and tropical diseases made it almost impossible for Allied ground troops to march across New Guinea, although airlifting troops with C-47s provided one solution. However, control of the skies had to be won before unarmed C-47s and amphibious forces could operate effectively. MacArthur entrusted the air war to Gen. George C. Kenney, who commanded the Allied air forces in the Southwest Pacific, including the USAAF 5th and 13th Air Forces. Kenney convinced MacArthur that the first priority should be to destroy the enemy's "air strength until we own the air over New Guinea." Then, MacArthur's land and amphibious forces could advance under the constant protection of Allied fighters and bombers.

Click here to return to the World War II Gallery.


Find Out More
Related Fact Sheets
Solomon Islands
Douglas C-47D Skytrain
Note: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Museum of the USAF, the U.S. Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external website, or the information, products or services contained therein.

Featured Links

Plan Your Visit button
E-newsletter Sign-up button
Explore Museum Exhibits button
Browse Photos button
Visit Press Room button
Become a Volunteer button
Air Force Museum Foundation button
Donate an item button