Battleship Wisconsin (BB-64) - WW II - page 3
On 1 March, reconnaissance planes flew over the island of Okinawa, taking last minute intelligence photographs to be used in planning the assault on that island. The next day, cruisers from TF 58 shelled Okino Daito Shima in training for the forthcoming operation. The force then retired to Ulithi for replenishment.
Wisconsin's task force stood out of Ulithi on 14 March, bound for Japan. The mission of that group was to eliminate airborne resistance from the Japanese homeland to American forces off Okinawa. Enemy fleet units at Kure and Kobe, on southern Honshu, reeled under the impact of the explosive blows delivered by TF 58's airmen. On 18 March and 19 March, from a point 100 miles (160 km) southwest of Kyushu, TF 58 hit enemy airfields on that island. However, the Japanese drew blood during that action when Kamikaze attacks against TF58 on 19 March seriously damaged the carrier Franklin (CV-13).
That afternoon, the task force retired from Kyushu, screening the blazing and battered flattop. In doing so, the screen shot down 48 attackers. At the conclusion of the operation, the force felt that it had achieved its mission of prohibiting any large-scale resistance from the air to the slated landings on Okinawa.
On 24 March, Wisconsin trained her 16 inch (406 mm) guns on targets ashore on Okinawa. Together with the other battlewagons of the task force, she pounded Japanese positions and installations in preparation for the landings. Although fierce, Japanese resistance was doomed to fail by dwindling numbers of aircraft and trained pilots. In addition, the Japanese fleet, steadily hammered by air attacks from Fifth Fleet aircraft, found itself confronted by a growing, powerful, and determined enemy. On 17 April, the undaunted enemy battleship Yamato, with her 460 mm guns, sortied to attack the American invasion fleet off Okinawa. Met head-on by a swarm of carrier planes, Yamato, the light cruiser Yahagi, and four destroyers were sunk, the victims of massed air power. Never again would the Japanese fleet present a major challenge to the American fleet in the war in the Pacific.