The Aerial Battle of Taiwan-Okinawa (Traditional Chinese: 台灣沖航空戰, Japanese: 台湾沖航空戦) took place between October 12 and 16, 1944, off the eastern coast of the island of Taiwan, and was fought by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service and the approaching Task Force 38 of the United States Third Fleet and was one of a series of Air raids on Japan during the Pacific War. The battle was one-sided, as the Americans practically dominated air warfare due to the superior training and weaponry that they possessed at that point. This battle virtually exhausted the remaining combat fighter units that the Japanese had in the region, and aided United States' success in the Okinawa Campaign.
Order of Battle
Imperial Japanese Navy
- Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service: 1251 fighters/bombers.
- First Aviation Fleet: based in Manila, Philippines, 144 fighters/bombers.
- Second Aviation Fleet: based in Takao, Taiwan, 358 fighters/bombers.
- Third Aviation Fleet: aircraft carriers based, 275 fighters/bombers.
- Third Fleet: based in Kisarazu, Chiba, 237 fighters/bombers.
- Twelfth Aviation Fleet: aircraft carriers based, 237 fighters/bombers.
United States Navy
- Third Fleet
- Task Force 38: 17 aircraft carriers, 6 battleships, 14 cruisers, 58 destroyers.
- First Aircraft Carrier Group: USS Cabot, USS Cowpens, USS Hornet, USS Monterey, USS Wasp.
- Second Aircraft Carrier Group: USS Bunker Hill, USS Hancock, USS Independence, USS Intrepid.
- Third Aircraft Carrier Group: USS Essex, USS Langley, USS Lexington, USS Princeton.
- Fourth Aircraft Carrier Group: USS Belleau Wood, USS Enterprise, USS Franklin, USS San Jacinto.
The battle had exhausted Japan's air power in the region, given the American air superiority and weakened Japan's ability to defend Okinawa Islands
in the upcoming Okinawa Campaign
. However, in an effort to boost morale and to cover up the defeat, Japanese headquarter claimed to have sunk 45 Allied ships including 11 aircraft carriers and four battleships.