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Combat Pacific

Pacific Theatre of Operations, World War II.

Pacific Theatre of Operations, World War II.

DAYTON, Ohio -- This A-2 flying jacket was worn by the donor, Maj. Merwin J. Sherline or Conoga Park, Colo., as a B-17 crewmember with the 63rd Bomb Squadron in the Southwest Pacific, 1942-1943. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- This A-2 flying jacket was worn by the donor, Maj. Merwin J. Sherline or Conoga Park, Colo., as a B-17 crewmember with the 63rd Bomb Squadron in the Southwest Pacific, 1942-1943. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Japanese artifacts, including Japanese-made leaflets, a survival flag used by downed Japanese flyers, and a Japanese gunsight, are on display in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Japanese artifacts, including Japanese-made leaflets, a survival flag used by downed Japanese flyers, and a Japanese gunsight, are on display in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Japanese-made leaflets were designed to demoralize and entice Allied personnel to surrender. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Japanese-made leaflets were designed to demoralize and entice Allied personnel to surrender. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Japanese-made leaflets were designed to demoralize and entice Allied personnel to surrender. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Japanese-made leaflets were designed to demoralize and entice Allied personnel to surrender. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Japanese-made leaflets were designed to demoralize and entice Allied personnel to surrender. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Japanese-made leaflets were designed to demoralize and entice Allied personnel to surrender. (U.S. Air Force photo)


For six months following the Pearl Harbor disaster, the outnumbered and ill-supplied Allied forces in the Pacific could do little more than attempt to delay the Japanese advance. Australia was a key stronghold for the buildup of Allied forces, but in early 1942 the last Allied outpost north of Australia was Port Moresby on the southern coast of New Guinea. Only 200 air miles from Port Moresby across the rugged Owen Stanley Mountains, the enemy had occupied Lae and Salamaua on the Huon Gulf.

However, in May 1942, a Japanese fleet bound for Port Moresby was intercepted by a U.S. naval force and after an aerial engagement -- the Battle of the Coral Sea -- the enemy fleet withdrew. A month later in the central Pacific, a Japanese invasion fleet steaming toward Midway Island was defeated by U.S. naval airpower supplemented by a small force of AAF B-17s and B-26s in the Battle of Midway. These victories stabilized the outer perimeter of enemy expansion in the Pacific although the threat to Australia remained.

Click on the following links to learn more about combat in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

Papua
Solomon Islands
New Guinea Blockade
Aleutian Campaign
Island Hopping
Gilbert and Marshall Islands
Victory in New Guinea
Johnny Got a Zero
America's Top Two Aces
Return to the Philippines
Corregidor Recaptured


Click here to return to the World War II Gallery.

 

Find Out More
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Related Fact Sheets
Day of Infamy: The Pearl Harbor Attack
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress
Martin B-26G Marauder
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Other Resources
USAF Historical Study No. 34: AAF in the War Against Japan (Provided by AFHRA)
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