The allied strategy for defeat of Japan in World War II was to cut that nation’s industries off from sources of raw materials. This strategy resulted in a double thrust across the pacific. One thrust would be led by General Macarthur and advance along the north coast of New Guinea and then jump to the Philippines. The other thrust, under Admiral Nimitz, would involve an island-hopping campaign through the central Pacific.The campaign to cross the central Pacific began in earnest in late 1943 with the assault of the US 5th Fleet on the Gilbert Islands. After the bloody battle of Tarawa, the Navy turned its attention to the Marshall Islands in early 1944. The next major goal was to capture the Marianas, from which the B-29 could carry the war to the skies over Japan.Between the Marshalls and the Marianas lay the atoll of Truk, which the Japanese had been fortifying since the end of World War I. The “Gibraltar of the Pacific” posed an unknown threat. On 17 February 1944, Admiral Spruance, in command of Task Force 58, launched over 1250 combat sorties against the seemingly impregnable base. Alerted by radar, Zeros and Rufes met the attacking F6F Hellcats. In the ensuing dogfights, men such as Alexander Vraciu, who had been Butch O’Hare’s wingman, proved that at last the Zero had a match in the air. Vraciu, who added four victories over Truk, would later score six victories in eight minutes during the “Marianas Turkey Shoot”…making him the leading ace in the navy in mid 1944 Alexander Vraciu (born November 2, 1918) was a leading United States Navy fighter ace and Medal of Honor nominee during World War II. He once shot down six Japanese dive bombers in eight minutes.EDITION: 1000 signed/numbered by Jay Ashurst and Alexander Vraciu. SIZE: 18” x 24”
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