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Marshalls–Gilberts raids
Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II
SBD-2 CV-6 Feb1942.jpg
A bomb-laden SBD-2 Dauntless dive bomber prepares to take off from the U.S. carrier Enterprise during the raids on February 1.
DateFebruary 1, 1942
LocationMarshall and Gilbert Islands, Micronesia
10°00′00″N 170°00′00″E / 10.000°N 170.000°E / 10.000; 170.000Coordinates: 10°00′00″N 170°00′00″E / 10.000°N 170.000°E / 10.000; 170.000
Result Minor damage to Japanese garrisons
 United States  Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
United States William Halsey, Jr.
United States Frank Jack Fletcher
Empire of Japan Shigeyoshi Inoue
Empire of Japan Eiji Gotō
2 aircraft carriers,
133 aircraft
51 aircraft
Casualties and losses
1 cruiser damaged,
14 aircraft destroyed
3 auxiliary ships sunk,
1 minelayer,
1 light cruiser damaged,
4 transports,
2 auxiliary ships damaged,
18 aircraft destroyed

The Marshalls–Gilberts raids were tactical airstrikes and naval artillery attacks by United States Navy aircraft carrier and other warship forces against Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) garrisons in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands on 1 February 1942. The Japanese garrisons were under the overall command of Vice Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue, commander of the 4th Fleet. Japanese aircraft in the islands belonged to the IJN's 24th Air Flotilla under Rear Admiral Eiji Gotō. The U.S. warship forces were under the overall command of Vice Admiral William Halsey, Jr.


The raids were carried out by two separate U.S. carrier task forces. Aircraft from Task Force 17 (TF 17), commanded by Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher and centered on the carrier USS Yorktown, attacked Jaluit, Mili, and Makin (Butaritari) islands. The Yorktown aircraft inflicted moderate damage to the Japanese naval installations on the islands and destroyed three aircraft. Seven Yorktown aircraft were lost, as well as a floatplane from one of TF 17's cruisers.

Aircraft from TF 8, commanded by Halsey and centered on the carrier USS Enterprise, struck Kwajalein, Wotje, and Taroa. At the same time, cruisers and destroyers bombarded Wotje and Taroa. The strikes inflicted light to moderate damage on the three islands' naval garrisons, sank three small warships and damaged several others, including the light cruiser Katori, and destroyed 15 Japanese aircraft. The heavy cruiser USS Chester was hit and slightly damaged by a Japanese aerial bomb, and six Enterprise aircraft were lost. TFs 8 and 17 retired from the area immediately upon completion of the raids.

Aftermath and significance

The raids had little long-term strategic impact. The IJN briefly sent two aircraft carriers to chase TFs 16 and 17, but quickly abandoned the pursuit and continued their support for the ongoing, successful conquests of the Philippines and Netherlands East Indies. The raids, however, did help lift the morale of the U.S. Navy and American public, still reeling from the Pearl Harbor attack and loss of Wake Island. The raids also provided valuable experience in carrier air operations, which hardened the U.S. carrier groups for future combat against Japanese forces.[1] For their part, the Japanese apparently did not realize that their concept of a perimeter defense using dispersed island garrisons had serious flaws in that the garrisons were too far apart to be sufficiently mutually supporting to prevent penetration by enemy carrier forces. The raids, along with the Doolittle Raid in April 1942, helped convince the IJN's Combined Fleet commander, Isoroku Yamamoto, that he needed to draw the American carriers into battle as soon as possible in order to destroy them. Yamamoto's plan to do so resulted in the Battle of Midway.



  1. Parshall, Jonathan; Tully, Anthony (2005). Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books. p. 42. ISBN 1-57488-923-0. 


  • Cressman, Robert (2000 (4th printing)). That Gallant Ship U.S.S. Yorktown (CV-5). Missoula, Montana, U.S.A.: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company. ISBN 0-933126-57-3. 
  • Lundstrom, John B. (2005 (New edition)). The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway. Annapolis, Maryland, U.S.A.: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-471-X. 
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  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958 (reissue 2001)). The Rising Sun in the Pacific 1931 – April 1942, vol. 3 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Castle Books. ISBN 0-7858-1304-7. 
  • Stafford, Edward P.; Paul Stillwell (Introduction) (2002 reissue). The Big E: The Story of the USS Enterprise. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-998-0. 
  • Willmott, H. P. (1982). Empires in the Balance: Japanese and Allied Pacific Strategies to April 1942. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-535-3. 
  • Willmott, H. P. (1983). The Barrier and the Javelin: Japanese and Allied Pacific Strategies February to June 1942. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-535-3. 


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