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Attacks on Kure and the Inland Sea (July 1945)

  (Redirected from Bombing of Kure (July 1945))

Coordinates: 34°14′N 132°33′E / 34.23°N 132.55°E / 34.23; 132.55

Attacks on Kure and the Inland Sea
Part of the Pacific War
Japanese battleship Haruna under attack on 28 July
Japanese battleship Haruna under attack on 28 July
Date24–28 July 1945
Inland Sea region of Japan
Result Allied victory
 United States
 United Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
United States William Halsey, Jr. Empire of Japan Kanazawa Masao
Units involved

US Third Fleet

Imperial Japanese Navy
Casualties and losses
133 aircraft,
102 KIA[1]
1 fleet carrier,
3 battleships,
2 heavy cruisers,
1 light cruiser,
2 armored cruisers,
2 escort ships,
several smaller warships sunk
306 aircraft destroyed,
392 aircraft damaged[1]

The attacks on Kure and the Inland Sea by United States and British naval aircraft in late July 1945 led to the sinking of most of the surviving large warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). The United States Third Fleet's attacks on Kure Naval Arsenal and nearby ports on 24, 25, and 28 July sank an aircraft carrier, three battleships, five cruisers, and several smaller warships. During the same period the British Pacific Fleet attacked other targets in the Inland Sea region and sank two escort ships and several smaller vessels as well as damaging an escort carrier.


In July 1945 the IJN's remaining large warships were concentrated near the major naval base of Kure. The ships were effectively immobilized due to fuel shortages and were being used only as stationary anti-aircraft batteries.[2] Admiral John S. McCain, Sr., the commander of the Fast Carrier Task Force, strongly opposed attacking Kure as he and his staff believed that the ships only posed a minor threat.[3]

In his memoirs Admiral Halsey gave four reasons for why he attacked Kure despite McCain's objections. First, he believed that the attack would boost US morale and retaliate for the Attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Second, it would ensure that the Japanese could not disrupt the planned Soviet invasion of Hokkaido. Third, it would prevent Japan from using its fleet as a bargaining point to secure better peace terms. Finally, he had been ordered to conduct the attack by his superior officer, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.[3]

Despite operating as a task group of the US Third Fleet, the British Pacific Fleet was excluded from the attack on Kure so that Britain would not be able to claim a part in destroying the Japanese fleet. The BPF was instead used to attack airfields and the port of Osaka.[2][3]

Kure had been subjected to several major attacks prior to July 1945. On 19 March 1945, 321 US Navy aircraft attacked Japanese warships in and around the city. This attack was unsuccessful, with no Japanese ships being sunk, though an escort carrier and a light cruiser were badly damaged.[4] On 5 May B-29 Superfortress bombers of the United States Army Air Forces successfully bombed the Hiro Naval Aircraft Factory. B-29s laid naval mines in the approaches to the port on 30 March and 5 May, and 40 percent of the city was destroyed in a major air raid conducted by Superfortresses on 1 July.[5]

Participating in the attacks were Task Force 38 for the Americans and Task Force 37 for the British. Task Force 37 included the carriers HMS Formidable (67), Indefatigable (R10), and Victorious (R38).[6]


Tone under attack on 24 July

The Third Fleet's attack against Kure began on 24 July.[7] US carrier aircraft flew 1,747 sorties on this day against Japanese targets.[8] The attacks were successful, and resulted in the sinking of aircraft carrier Amagi, and the cruiser Ōyodo, which at this time was acting as the Combined Fleet's flagship. The battleships Hyūga, Ise, and Haruna, the heavy cruisers Tone and Aoba, and the outdated armored training cruisers Iwate and Izumo were all heavily damaged and settled in shallow water.[6] The shallow anchorage precluded the use of torpedoes. The US aircraft attempted to reduce their losses from the large number of anti-aircraft guns in the area by the use of variable time-fused bombs.[2][6]

The British Pacific Fleet's attacks against Osaka and targets in the Inland Sea damaged escort carrier Kaiyo and sank the escort ships No. 4 and No. 30 for the loss of four aircraft.[2]

US strikes against Kure resumed on 28 July and resulted in the further damaging of the battleships Ise and Haruna, and the heavy cruiser Aoba.[2] The aircraft carrier Katsuragi which had largely escaped attack in the earlier raid, and the unserviceable light aircraft carrier Ryūhō were attacked, with Katsuragi suffering heavy damage.[8] These air strikes were among the largest conducted by the US Navy during the war, and were the most destructive of shipping.[8]

The USAAF also launched an attack on the Japanese ships at Kure on 28 July. This raid was made up of 79 B-24 Liberators based on Okinawa. Four bomb hits were made upon the beached cruiser Aoba. The bomb strikes further damaged the vessel, and caused her stern to be broken off. The raid suffered the loss of two B-24s shot down and 14 others suffered damage.[9]

Allied losses included 102 aircrew and 133 planes lost in combat or accidents during the attacks. These losses were higher than those suffered by the Third Fleet in most of its operations, and were the result of the heavy anti-aircraft defences around Kure.[1]


The Allied attacks on Kure and the inland sea left Nagato at Yokosuka as the only remaining capital ship in Japan's inventory. The destruction of the battleships and heavy cruisers at Kure was seen by British official historian Stephen Roskill as avenging the losses suffered by the United States at Pearl Harbor.[10] The attacks allowed the Soviet Pacific Fleet to operate without fear of interdiction in the Sea of Japan.[11]




  1. ^ a b c Halsey (1947). Admiral Halsey's Story. p. 264.
  2. ^ a b c d e Royal Navy 1995, p. 223
  3. ^ a b c Halsey 1947, p. 265
  4. ^ Tillman 2010, pp. 128-132.
  5. ^ Craven & Crate 1953, pp. 649, 668–669, 675
  6. ^ a b c Rohwer, Hummelchen & Weis 2005, p. 424
  7. ^ Potter 1985, p. 345
  8. ^ a b c Morison 1960, p. 331
  9. ^ Craven & Crate 1953, p. 698
  10. ^ Roskill 1961, p. 374
  11. ^ Frank 1999, p. 158


  • Craven, Wesley; Cate, James (1953). The Pacific: Matterhorn to Nagasaki. The Army Air Forces in World War II. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Frank, Richard B. (1999). Downfall. The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-41424-7.
  • Halsey, William F.; Bryan, J. (1947). Admiral Halsey's Story. London: Whittlesey House.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (2002) [1960]. Victory in the Pacific. History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Champaign: University of Illinois. ISBN 0-252-07065-8.
  • Potter, E.B. (1985). Bull Halsey. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-691-9.
  • Rohwer, Jurgen; Hummelchen, Gerhard; Weis, Thomas (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945. Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2.
  • Roskill, Stephen W. (1961). "Part II 1st June 1944 – 14th August 1945". The War At Sea 1939–1945. History of the Second World War. III The Offensive. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.
  • Royal Navy (1995). War with Japan. VI Advance to Japan. London: HMSO. ISBN 0-11-772821-7.
  • Tillman, Barrett (2010). Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan 1942–1945. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781416584407.

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