Military Wiki
Formosa Air Battle
Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II
Moving rockets aboard USS Hancock (CV-19), October 1944.jpg
Crewmen on USS Hancock (CV-19) move rockets to planes, while preparing for strikes on Formosa, 12 October 1944.
DateOctober 10–20, 1944
LocationWestern Philippine Sea
Result Decisive American victory
 Empire of Japan  United States
Commanders and leaders
Empire of Japan Shigekazu Shimazaki
Empire of Japan Masafumi Arima
United States William Halsey, Jr.
Units involved
Task Force 38
1251 fighters/bombers 17 aircraft carriers
6 battleships
4 heavy cruisers
10 light cruisers
58 destroyers
Casualties and losses
~500 fighters/bombers
40 warships and auxiliaries sunk
89 aircraft
2 carriers damaged
1 heavy cruiser seriously damaged
2 light cruisers damaged
2 destroyers damaged

The Formosa Air Battle (Japanese: 台湾沖航空戦, Chinese: 台灣空戰) took place between October 10 and 20, 1944, off the eastern coasts of the Ryukyu Islands, Formosa, and Luzon. It 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 attacks served to prevent Japanese aircraft from participating in the Battle of Leyte Gulf later that month.

The battle was one-sided, as the U.S. practically dominated the air war due to the superior training and weaponry that it possessed at that point. Japanese air power in the region was battle exhausted, giving the Americans air superiority and weakening Japan's ability to defend the Okinawa Islands in the upcoming Okinawa Campaign. However, in an effort to boost morale and to cover up the defeat, Japanese headquarters claimed to have sunk 45 Allied ships, including 11 aircraft carriers and four battleships[citation needed]


The attacks on Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands were carried out to prevent Japanese aerial forces there from participating in the planned landings at Leyte. The Japanese had contingency plans prepared for a number of eventualities, including one in response to attacks on Formosa—Shō-Gō 2.


The U.S. Third Fleet started carrier-launched raids against Formosa on October 12, 1944. The Japanese response was to send waves of aircraft against the U.S. carriers. On October 13, the cruiser USS Canberra was seriously damaged by a torpedo bomber. For one of the first times in the war a kamikaze aircraft was used, which lightly damaged the carrier USS Franklin. By the following day the aerial forces based on the island were all but neutralized. In the fighting, the light cruiser USS Houston was damaged by an enemy torpedo, while the carrier USS Hancock, the light cruiser USS Reno and two destroyers all incurred some form of damage. Over three days the Japanese lost approximately 500 aircraft and many ships, almost their entire air strength in the area. American losses in aircraft amounted to 89.

Order of battle

 Imperial Japanese Navy
 United States Navy

See also


  • Fuller, J.F.C. (1956). The Decisive Battles of the Western World – Volume III. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode. ISBN 1-135-31790-9. 
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (January 24, 2002) [1st. pub. Little, Brown:1958]. "Chapter VI: Formosa Air Battle, 10–20 October 1944". History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. 12: Leyte, June 1944 – January 1945. Champaign, Illinois, U.S.A.: University of Illinois Press; reprint edition. ISBN 0-252-07063-1. 
  • Fletcher, Gregory G. (2012). Intrepid Aviators: The True Story of U.S.S. Intrepid's Torpedo Squadron 18 and Its Epic Clash With the Superbattleship Musashi. New York: New American Library. ISBN 9780451236968. 

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