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The Irresistable Force (Jan 1944 - Dec 1944)

The Irresistable Force (Jan 1944 - Dec 1944)

The Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) was the World War II area of military activity in the Pacific Ocean and the countries bordering it, a geographic scope that reflected the operational and administrative command structures of the American forces during that period. (The other areas of the Pacific War -- the China Burma India Theater, the South-East Asian Theatre, and Manchurian Theatre -- had their own respective command structures, independent of PTO.)

The Pacific Theater of Operations was one of two areas in which the United States initiated offensive combat operations against the Axis in late 1942. This included operations by the 32nd and the 41st Infantry Divisions on New Guinea, the Americal Infantry Division on the Gilbert Islands, and the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal. The other area was the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, beginning with Operation Torch in November.

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US Navy Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - Ensign Frederick Streig, VF-17 "Jolly Rogers", Rabaul, January 1944 US Navy Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - Ensign Frederick Streig, VF-17 "Jolly Rogers", Rabaul, January 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizeable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built.

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Imperial Japanese Navy Mitusbishi A6M3-22 Zero Fighter - CPO Takeo Okamura, 201st Air Group, September 1944 Imperial Japanese Navy Mitusbishi A6M3-22 Zero Fighter - CPO Takeo Okamura, 201st Air Group, September 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Aside from the early-morning raid on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, perhaps the biggest shock for American forces in the Pacific was the outstanding performance of the Imperial Navy's main carrier fighter, the beautifully proportioned Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero-Sen.

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US Navy Grumman F6F Hellcat Fighter - Lt. Ray Hawkins, VF-31 "Tomcatters", USS Cabot (CVL-28), 1944 US Navy Grumman F6F Hellcat Fighter - Lt. Ray Hawkins, VF-31 "Tomcatters", USS Cabot (CVL-28), 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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US Navy Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - Ira Kepford, VF-17 "Jolly Rogers", Bougainville, Solomon Islands, 1944 US Navy Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - Ira Kepford, VF-17 "Jolly Rogers", Bougainville, Solomon Islands, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizeable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built.

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US Navy Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - Ira Kepford, VF-17 "Jolly Rogers", Bougainville, Solomon Islands, 1944 [With Collector Magazine] US Navy Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - Ira Kepford, VF-17 "Jolly Rogers", Bougainville, Solomon Islands, 1944 [With Collector Magazine] (1:72 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizeable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built.

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USAAF Republic P-47D-5 Thunderbolt Fighter - Major Gerald Johnson, 9th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group, Gusap, New Guinea, 1944 USAAF Republic P-47D-5 Thunderbolt Fighter - Major Gerald Johnson, 9th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group, Gusap, New Guinea, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Nicknamed the "Jug" for its bulky shape, the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was considered a monster of a machine. Despite its size, the Thunderbolt proved to be a fast and maneuverable warbird able to hold its own in combat. In fact, when Allied pilots climbed aboard a P-47, they knew the were in control of a fighting machine with enormous power.

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USAAF Bell P-39Q Airacobra Fighter - Lt. Col. William Shomo, 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 1944 USAAF Bell P-39Q Airacobra Fighter - Lt. Col. William Shomo, 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The P-39 was one of America's first-line pursuit planes in December 1941. It made its initial flight in April 1939 at Wright Field and by the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, nearly 600 had been built. Its unique engine location behind the cockpit caused some pilot concern, but this proved to be no more of a hazard in a crash landing than with an engine located forward of the cockpit.

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US Navy Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat Fighter - Minsi II, Cdr. David McCampbell, Commander Air Group 15, USS Essex (CV-9), 1944 US Navy Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat Fighter - "Minsi II", Cdr. David McCampbell, Commander Air Group 15, USS Essex (CV-9), 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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US Navy Grumman F6F-5N Hellcat Fighter - William Henry, VF(N)-41 "Black Aces", USS Independence, (CVL-22), September 1944 US Navy Grumman F6F-5N Hellcat Fighter - William Henry, VF(N)-41 "Black Aces", USS Independence (CVL-22), September 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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US Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - Lt. William C. Moseley, White 9, VF-1 "Firebirds", USS Yorktown (CV-10), June 1944 US Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - Lt. William C. Moseley, "White 9", VF-1 "Firebirds", USS Yorktown (CV-10), June 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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USN Curtiss SB2C-3 Helldiver Dive-Bomber - VB-18, USS Intrepid (CV-11), Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, October 1944 [Open Dive Brakes] USN Curtiss SB2C-3 Helldiver Dive-Bomber - VB-18, USS Intrepid (CV-11), Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, October 1944 [Open Dive Brakes] (1:72 Scale)

The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was an American aircraft carrier-based dive bomber aircraft produced for the United States Navy during World War II. It replaced the Douglas SBD Dauntless in US Navy service. Despite its size, the SB2C was much faster than the SBD it replaced.

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USN Curtiss SB2C-4 Helldiver ASW Aircraft - White 114, VB-3, USS Yorktown (CV-10), Late 1944 USN Curtiss SB2C-4 Helldiver ASW Aircraft - "White 114", VB-3, USS Yorktown (CV-10), Late 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was an American aircraft carrier-based dive bomber aircraft produced for the United States Navy during World War II. It replaced the Douglas SBD Dauntless in US Navy service. Despite its size, the SB2C was much faster than the SBD it replaced.

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Limited Edition USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - Commanding Officer VMF-214 Black Sheep, Vella Lavella, December 1944 Limited Edition USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - Commanding Officer VMF-214 "Black Sheep", Vella Lavella, December 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built.

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Limited Edition USN Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - Lt. Cdr. Roger R. Hedrick, VF-17 Jolly Rogers, Bougainville, March 1944 Limited Edition USN Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - Lt. Cdr. Roger R. Hedrick, VF-17 "Jolly Rogers", Bougainville, March 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built.

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USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - VMF-111 "Devil Dogs," Gilbert Islands, September 1944 [Dive Brakes Down] USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1A Corsair Fighter - VMF-111 "Devil Dogs," Gilbert Islands, September 1944 [Dive Brakes Down] (1:48 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built.

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USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1D Corsair Fighter - VMF-312 "Checkerboards," Okinawa, 1945 [Dive Brakes Down] USMC Chance-Vought F4U-1D Corsair Fighter - VMF-312 "Checkerboards," Okinawa, 1945 [Dive Brakes Down] (1:48 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built.

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USN Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - Lt. Cook Cleland, "White 39," VB-16, USS Lexington (CV-2), June 1944 [Dive Brakes Up] USN Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - Lt. Cook Cleland, "White 39," VB-16, USS Lexington (CV-2), June 1944 [Dive Brakes Up] (1:72 Scale)

The Dauntless was the standard shipborne dive-bomber of the US Navy from mid-1940 until November 1943, when the first Curtiss Helldivers arrived to replace it. Between 1942-43, the Dauntless was pressed into service again and again, seeing action in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal campaign.

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USN Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Fighter - USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60), January 1944 USN Grumman FM-1 Wildcat Fighter - USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60), January 1944 (1:48 Scale)

The Grumman F4F Wildcat was the standard carrier-based fighter of the United States Navy for the first year and a half of World War II. An improved version built by General Motors (the General Motors FM Wildcat) remained in service throughout the war, on escort carriers where newer, larger and heavier fighters could not be used.

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US Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - Lieutenant JG Alexander Vraciu, VF-6, USS Intrepid (CV-11), 1944 US Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - Lieutenant JG Alexander Vraciu, VF-6, USS Intrepid (CV-11), 1944 (1:48 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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US Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - Commander David McCampbell, CAG 15, USS Essex (CV-9), 1944 US Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - Commander David McCampbell, CAG 15, USS Essex (CV-9), 1944 (1:48 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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RNZAF Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive-Bomber - 5th Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Group, Bougainville, 1944 RNZAF Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive-Bomber - 5th Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter Group, Bougainville, 1944 (1:48 Scale)

The Dauntless was the standard shipborne dive-bomber of the US Navy from mid-1940 until November 1943, when the first Curtiss Helldivers arrived to replace it. Between 1942-43, the Dauntless was pressed into service again and again, seeing action in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal campaign.

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US Navy Douglas SBD3 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - Cook Cleland, VB-16, USS Lexington (CV-16), Battle of the Philippine Sea, June 1944 US Navy Douglas SBD3 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - Cook Cleland, VB-16, USS Lexington (CV-16), Battle of the Philippine Sea, June 1944 (1:48 Scale)

The Dauntless was the standard shipborne dive-bomber of the US Navy from mid-1940 until November 1943, when the first Curtiss Helldivers arrived to replace it. Between 1942-43, the Dauntless was pressed into service again and again, seeing action in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal campaign.

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USMC Douglas SBD3 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - Elmer Glidden, VMSB-231, Marshall Islands, 1944 USMC Douglas SBD3 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - Elmer Glidden, VMSB-231, Marshall Islands, 1944 (1:48 Scale)

The Dauntless was the standard shipborne dive-bomber of the US Navy from mid-1940 until November 1943, when the first Curtiss Helldivers arrived to replace it. Between 1942-43, the Dauntless was pressed into service again and again, seeing action in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal campaign.

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USMC Chance-Vought F4U Corsair Fighter - Captain Philip Delong, VMF-312, USS Bataan (CVL-29) USMC Chance-Vought F4U Corsair Fighter - Captain Philip Delong, VMF-312, USS Bataan (CVL-29), 1944 (1:48 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizeable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built. Originally thought to be too powerful to fly from a carrier, the Corsair weaved a path of destruction in battle after battle during WWII, totally outclassing the much-feared Zero.

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US Navy Chance-Vought F4U Corsair Fighter - Lieutenant J.G. Ira Kepford, VF-17 Jolly Rogers, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, February 1944 US Navy Chance-Vought F4U Corsair Fighter - Lieutenant J.G. Ira Kepford, VF-17 "Jolly Rogers", Bougainville, Solomon Islands, February 1944 (1:48 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built. Originally thought to be too powerful to fly from a carrier, the Corsair weaved a path of destruction in battle after battle during WWII, totally outclassing the much-feared Zero.

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US Navy F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - Lt. H. Mac McWorther III, VF-9 Cat O Nines, USS Essex (CV-9) US Navy Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter - Lt. H. "Mac" McWorther III, VF-9 "Cat O' Nines", USS Essex (CV-9) (1:48 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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USMC Chance-Vought F4U Corsair Fighter - Greg Pappy Boyington, VMF-214 Black Sheep USMC Chance-Vought F4U Corsair Fighter - Greg "Pappy" Boyington, VMF-214 "Black Sheep", 1944 (1:48 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizeable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built. Originally thought to be too powerful to fly from a carrier, the Corsair weaved a path of destruction in battle after battle during WWII, totally outclassing the much-feared Zero.

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USAAF Douglas A-24B Banshee Dive-Bomber - Lt. Schwab, 8th Bomber Squadron, 3rd Attack Group, 3rd Bombardment Group USAAF Douglas A-24B Banshee Dive-Bomber - Lt. Schwab, 8th Bomber Squadron, 3rd Attack Group, 3rd Bombardment Group (1:48 Scale)

The Dauntless was the standard shipborne dive-bomber of the US Navy from mid-1940 until November 1943, when the first Curtiss Helldivers arrived to replace it. Between 1942-43, the Dauntless was pressed into service again and again, seeing action in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal campaign.

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US Navy Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair Fighter - "Eight Ball / Dangerous Dan," VMF-213, Guadalcanal, 1943 US Navy Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair Fighter - "Eight Ball / Dangerous Dan," VMF-213, Guadalcanal, 1943 (1:48 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built.

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Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A6M3 Model 32 Riesen Zero Fighter - 6 Kokutai, Solomon Islands, 1944 Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A6M3 Model 32 Riesen Zero Fighter - 6 Kokutai, Solomon Islands, 1944 (1:48 Scale)

The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was a light-weight carrier-based fighter aircraft employed by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service from 1940 to 1945. It is universally known as Zero from its Japanese Navy designation, Type 0 Carrier Fighter (Rei shiki Kanjo sentoki), taken from the last digit of the Imperial year 2600 (1940), when it entered service.

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