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Akitsu Air Battle
秋津沖航空戦
Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II
Date October 10–20, 1944
Location Off the eastern coast of Akitsu
Result Inconclusive, Akitian and American tactical victory, decisive Japanese defeat
Belligerents
Akitsuflag Empire of Akitsu Flag of Japan Empire of Japan Flag of the United States United States
Flag of Sierra Sierra
Strength
532 fighters and bombers ~900 fighters and bombers
US Forces
17 aircraft carriers
6 battleships
4 heavy cruisers
10 light cruisers
58 destroyers
Sierran forces

5 light cruiser
6 clippers
Casualties and losses
98 fighters and bombers ~500 fighters and bombers
40 warships and auxiliaries sunk
US losses
148 aircraft
2 carriers damaged
1 heavy cruiser seriously damaged
2 light cruisers damaged
2 destroyers damaged
Sierran losses
2 light cruisers
1 clippers

The Akitsu Air Battle (Japanese: 秋津沖航空戦, Akitsu-oki kōkū-sen) was an aerial engagement between Akitsu, Japan, and the United States and Sierra that took place between October 10, 1944 and October 20th, 1944. It has been called a three-way battle by some, though many historians believe it is more a battle that took place in three phases, one pitting Japan against the Allies, the second pitting Akitsu against the Allies, and a third pitting Akitsu and the Allies against Japan.

Background

In the summer of 1944 the Japanese became aware of encroaching Allied military operations. It was believed that an Allied invasion of Japanese-occupied land was only a matter of time. As Allied bombing raids came closer and closer to the Japanese home islands the Japanese became more and more convinced that an invasion was imminent. As such, the Japanese withdrew what aircraft they could to two divisions, Sho-1 assigned to Okinawa, and Sho-2, assigned to an airbase in southern China. Finally, on October 10, 1944 the Allies conducted a massive air raid on Okinawa. Convinced that this time an invasion was coming. Japanese admiral Soemu Toyoda then ordered that Sho-1 and Sho-2 attack the Allied task force in the area.

Meanwhile, Akitsu had been preparing for a defense of it's home islands in the event of an invasion by either the Allies or Japan. To this end, 532 aircraft were deployed on the ready on the eastern side of Akishima and another 564 were deployed ready on the western side. More aircraft were in the reserves, to be mobilized the moment a battle was to begin.

Battle

First Phase

The Allies then send the first of three waves of attack against Okinawa. The Japanese forces responded with unexpected resistance, with Japanese fighters and interceptors outnumbering Allied aircraft 3 - 2. However, the Japanese forces were undersupplied and untrained. As a result the Japanese lost one third of their aircraft in the first wave. Much of the remaining forces were lost in the second wave. The third wave went virtually unopposed.

When Japan and the Allies engaged each other, Akitian military forces detected the Japanese and American movements. The Akitian military chose to not tolerate such a massive military engagement so close to their borders and general mobilization of the Akitian military was ordered. The Akitian aircraft which were active was immediately deployed.

Second Phase

On October 13, Akitian forces intercepted Allied forces. Akitian forces demanded that the Allied forces turn around, but Allied forces refused. In response to this Akitian aircraft attacked Allied aircraft, damaging some. Akitian forces, which were much better equipped and much better trained than Japanese forces at the time, held their own against the Allied forces. However, the Allied forces also held their own against the Akitian forces. The engagement between Akitsu and the Allies ended inconclusively, with both sides withdrawing from the battlefield. Akitsu lost roughly 56 aircraft and the Allies lost roughly 44.

On that very same day the Japanese made a counterattack against the Allied forces, however the Japanese again failed to cause any substantial damage to the Allied task force. This routine would continue on to October 14, with the Japanese conducting a number of failed counterattacks against the Allies.

Third Phase

However, the Japanese forces that managed to return reported a dramatic successes, and these accounts were believed by the Japanese military leaders. Though the Japanese pilots admitted to losing around 300 aircraft, they claimed that they had shot down 132 Allied aircraft in return. Furthermore, they also reported sinking 11 aircraft carriers, 2 battleships, 3 cruisers, and 2 destroyers. They furthermore, the ones that had witnessed Akitian aircraft or had overheard Akitian radio communications enthusiastically reported that Akitsu had joined the war on Japan's side.

Meanwhile, by the time evening of October 14 came around, Akitian and Allied military generals had entered into contact with each other. In exchange for assurances that the Allied forces would leave swiftly the Akitians agreed that they would no longer attack Allied forces so long as the Allies never made any moves towards the Akitian mainland.

On October 15, the Japanese believed that they had delivered a crippling blow to the Allied forces. Another 600 aircraft was transferred to their mission, and Japan set off for another counterattack against the Americans.

Akitsu detected this and demanded that the Japanese halt. However, the Japanese forces believed that Akitsu was on their side and assumed that this was a tactic to attempt to confuse the Allies. As a result, the Japanese forces made no moves to halt their operation. Akitian forces in response moved to intercept Japanese forces.

On October 16, 1944 the last of the Japanese attacks took place. By this time, Akitsu had begun intercepting Japanese aircraft in the area, taking the Japanese by complete surprise. The Allies also fared very well against the Japanese. The untrained Japanese forces were no match for the Allies and Akitians, and Japan lost most of their forces in the battle.

Result

The fight between the Allies and Akitsu is often believed to be inconclusive, however it is acknowledged that the Japanese suffered a massive defeat in the battle. The Japanese lost most of their air forces in this battle and as a result could no longer hold on to air superiority in other areas, leaving the Japanese forces with virtually no air cover in battles that were to come.

Akitsu and the Allies maintained a tense relationship following the battle. The Allies never completely trusted Akitsu and indeed suspected that Akitsu would join the war on Japan's side. Invasion plans for Akitsu were drawn in case of this scenario, though the plans were not to be carried through unless Akitsu declared war on the Allies due to the high amount of predicted casualties in the battle.

Japanese military leaders were enraged at what they percieved as Akitian betrayal at this battle. However, knowing that they could very well be humiliated should the truth of the incident come out the Japanese falsified their public media reports regarding the incident. One Japanese headline following the incident read "Decisive Victory! Japan-Akitsu Allied Forces destroy American navy!" (決戦!日秋同盟軍が米海軍を壊滅!). Furthermore, in an effort to boost morale the Japanese claimed that Akitsu had officially joined World War 2 on Japan's side and claimed that they had sunk 45 Allied ships, including 11 aircraft carriers and four battleships.

See also

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