Battleship Wisconsin (BB-64) - WW II - page 2
Wisconsin, armed with heavy antiaircraft batteries, performed escort duty for TF 38's fast carriers during air strikes against Formosa, Luzon, and the Nansei Shoto, to neutralize Japanese forces there and to cover the unfolding Lingayen Gulf operations. Those strikes, lasting from 3 January to 22 January 1945, included a thrust into the South China Sea, in the hope that major units of the Japanese Navy could be drawn into battle.
Air strikes between Saigon and Camranh Bay, Indochina, on 12 January resulted in severe losses for the enemy. TF 38's warplanes sank 41 ships and damaged heavily damaged docks, storage areas, and aircraft facilities. At least 112 enemy planes would never again see operational service. Formosa, already struck on 3 January and 4 January, again fell victim to the marauding American airmen, being smashed again on 9 January, 15 January, and 21 January. Soon, Hong Kong, Canton, and Hainan Island felt the brunt of TF 38's power. Besides damaging and sinking Japanese shipping, American planes from the task force set the Canton oil refineries afire and blasted the Hong Kong Naval Station. They also raided Okinawa on 22 January, considerably lessening enemy air activities that could threaten the Luzon landings.
Assigned to the Fifth Fleet when Admiral Raymond A. Spruance relieved Admiral Halsey as Commander of the Fleet Wisconsin moved northward with the redesignated TF 58 as the carriers headed for the Tokyo area. On 16 February 1945, the task force approached the Japanese coast under cover of adverse weather conditions and achieved complete tactical surprise. As a result, they shot down 322 enemy planes and destroyed 177 more on the ground, Japanese shipping, both naval and merchant, suffered drastically, too, as did hangars and aircraft installations. Moreover, all this damage to the enemy had cost the American Navy only 49 planes.
The task force moved to Iwo Jima on 17 February to provide direct support for the landings slated to take place on that island on 19 February. It revisited Tokyo on 25 February and, the next day, hit the island of Hachino off the coast of Honshu. During these raids, besides causing heavy damage or ground facilities, the American planes sank five small vessels and destroyed 158 planes.