“HEY RUBE!”

How the ‘Marianas Turkey Shoot’ of June 1944 changed the course of the Pacific War

MARIANAS TURKEY SHOOT

An F6F-3 Hellcat ready for a catapult launch.

As daylight broke over the rolling waves of the Philippine Sea on 19 June 1944, VF-2 intelligence officer Lt(jg) James Morrisey recorded, “We awoke to an ominously placid sea. The night had passed peacefully enough, but the morning dispatches carried with them forebodings of busy and hectic hours ahead”. Sleepy pilots shuffled into ready rooms to be roused fully awake by the electrifying news: Task Force 58 and the Japanese Mobile Fleet would meet in combat that day for the first carrier battle since the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands 20 months earlier.

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