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Aleutian Campaign

Japanese shipping is left burning in a Kiska harbor following a raid by 11th Air Force aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Japanese shipping is left burning in a Kiska harbor following a raid by 11th Air Force aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)

P-38s taxi out for a mission in the Aleutian Islands. The two aircraft in the foreground are F-5As, the photo reconnaissance version of the P-38. (U.S. Air Force photo)

P-38s taxi out for a mission in the Aleutian Islands. The two aircraft in the foreground are F-5As, the photo reconnaissance version of the P-38. (U.S. Air Force photo)

An 11th Air Force B-25 based in the Aleutian Islands leads an attack on an enemy convoy near the Kurile Islands. This air strike left six Japanese vessels either sunk or damaged. (U.S. Air Force photo)

An 11th Air Force B-25 based in the Aleutian Islands leads an attack on an enemy convoy near the Kurile Islands. This air strike left six Japanese vessels either sunk or damaged. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A crippled Japanese "Oscar" fighter, its landing gear starting to come down, passes beneath two 11th Air Force B-25s over the Kurile Islands in December 1944. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A crippled Japanese "Oscar" fighter, its landing gear starting to come down, passes beneath two 11th Air Force B-25s over the Kurile Islands in December 1944. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- On the left is a Japanese electrically heated flight suit, and on the right is an AAF cold weather flying suit issued in Alaska for trials in 1941-1942. The Japanese flight suit was donated by Jacques E. Young from Dayton, Ohio. The AAF suit was donated by Col. (Ret.) F.B. Gallagher from Pinellas, Fla. Both 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 -- On the left is a Japanese electrically heated flight suit, and on the right is an AAF cold weather flying suit issued in Alaska for trials in 1941-1942. The Japanese flight suit was donated by Jacques E. Young from Dayton, Ohio. The AAF suit was donated by Col. (Ret.) F.B. Gallagher from Pinellas, Fla. Both are on display in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

As a diversionary move in conjunction with their strike against Midway, the Japanese in June 1942 bombed Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Island chain and landed troops on Kiska and Attu islands. Here the Japanese remained, primarily in a defensive situation, to prevent any movement by American forces toward Japan through the Aleutians. Aerial operations by the enemy and by the 11th Air Force were often restricted by severe weather, and in general, it was a struggle against nature rather than against rival enemy forces. During the first six months of the campaign, the 11th Air Force lost 72 planes, nine of which were destroyed in combat.

In May 1943 American forces seized Attu, and on July 10, the AAF began using it as a base for raids against the Kurile Islands. When U.S. troops invaded Kiska on Aug. 15, they found the enemy had already given up its foothold on the North American outpost two weeks before. Bombing raids against the Kuriles were limited, although the presence of American forces immobilized substantial numbers of enemy aircraft as a defense against a major attack on the northern Japanese islands that never came.


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Other Resources
USAF Historical Study No. 4: Alaskan Air Defense, Part 1 (Provided by AFHRA)
USAF Historical Study No. 4: Alaskan Air Defense, Part 2 (Provided by AFHRA)
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