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  • Previously on Battle 360, Truk Lagoon, the Central Pacific.

  • Like a Hammer of Hell, Enterprise's airplanes nailed the Gibraltar of Pacific

  • and gave the Japanese Empire a Pearl Harbor of their own.

  • Now the Big-E turns towards the Mariana Islands,

  • one deadly step closer to the enemy homeland.

  • And the American submarines have the Imperial fleet locked in their sights.

  • USS Enterprise, a fighting city of steel

  • ---She is the most revered and decorated ship of the WWII.

  • On this 360 degree battle,

  • where threats loom on the seas, in the skies, and in the ocean depth.

  • the Enterprise's enemy can be anywhere and everywhere.

  • There is nowhere to run when the battles are all around you.

  • The Battle 360...USS Enterprise...D-Day in the Pacific.

  • Dawn, June 13, 1944, in the waters off Saipan, in the Mariana islands,

  • aircraft carrier USS Enterprise clears for action.

  • Her massive flight deck is alive with revving engines

  • as the TBF Avengers of Torpedo Squadron 10 prepare to hit enemy positions on Saipan.

  • In command of Torpedo 10 is Bill Martin.

  • He's a seasoned leader with 2 bloody years aboard Enterprise under his belt.

  • The finest officer you'd ever meet. Everybody trusted him.

  • He was an excellent pilot, he had been around quite a while,

  • and he'd been in a scouting squadron before.

  • So, he was just an all-around, good officer.

  • Flying in the big Avenger with Martin are radioman first class Williams and ordnance man W.R. Hargrove.

  • Their target is a Japanese flak battery on the southern tip of the island,

  • where in just a few days, ground troops will be slogging ashore.

  • The enemy stronghold is covered with anti-aircraft artillery and it's Enterprise's job to wipe them out.

  • We were dropping bombs on land targets and any ships or anything that happen to be there.

  • It was not like we had at Guadalcanal. We didn't have much opposition there.

  • BY THEN, WE HAD THE F6Fs, and we were pretty well-protected.

  • For 2 days, Enterprise and the fleet of American carriers have been launching air strikes against Saipan,

  • pummeling the island with bombs in anticipation of a major invasion by U.S. marines and soldiers.

  • 200 miles away, an American battleship division

  • moves within the range of the enemy island from a massive bombardment.

  • USS New Jersey and her sister Iowa-class battleships open fire with heavy broadsides from their 16" batteries.

  • These warships are the new generations of the fast battleships.

  • The Iowa Class battleship weighs in 45,000 tons with an overall length of 887 ft.

  • In addition to a dozens of 5", 40mm, and 20mm anti-aircraft guns,

  • they pack a ___ 9 16" 50 caliber rifles, capable of killing a target at 25 miles.

  • There's just one problem: The gunners on these ships are raw and inexperienced in shore bombardment.

  • 10,000 yards away, enemy machine gun nests, pillboxes, and bunkers weather the incoming fire.

  • Most of the 2,400 16-inch projectiles, each weighing nearly a ton, are simply wasted.

  • They barely scrape the surface of the Japanese positions.

  • The Japanese were very, very good at entrenchment, cover, and concealment,

  • so it was very difficult to even see their targets first of all,

  • much less being able to put effective naval gunfire on top of 'em.

  • It's going to take a lot more to wipe out the enemy defenses.

  • 10 miles away, Bill Martin's group of 7 TBF Avengers arrives over their target:

  • Japanese gun emplacements and bunkers.

  • Martin's plane peels off and heads for a Japanese flak battery.

  • He's got 2 500-pound bombs, enough ordnance to annihilate the enemy position.

  • But the Japanese see him coming and open fire.

  • At 12,000 feet, bursts of steel flak pepper the air all around his Avenger.

  • Martin rolls into a steep dive, heading right for his target at high speed.

  • Really, the plane should have been at about 250 knots for a diving profile.

  • This guy's going maybe 350, 360. It's pretty fast.

  • The plane wasn't really made for that. It's doing a mission it's not designed for.

  • At 350 miles per hour and in a near-vertical dive,

  • Martin's plane catches a load of shrapnel just as he releases his bomb load.

  • Martin's in a flat spin, out of control.

  • His Avenger begins a deadly, tumbling free fall towards the earth.

  • EXTREME NEGATIVE G's Are literally pulling the pilot out of his seat.

  • ?==>You might not be able to reach your stick of throttle.

  • (?)You might not be able to actually calm ___ and talk to your crew member.

  • The blood has been pushed into your face. You just need to keep thinking straight.

  • He tries to call Williams and Hargrove on the mic. No answer.

  • His plane is on fire. Only seconds separate Martin from a fiery death.

  • At the last possible moment, he releases his harness,

  • jerks the ripcord, and is pulled out of the burning aircraft.

  • Martin's parachute blossoms just as his plane slams into a lagoon.

  • His body makes a rough landing in five feet of water as charred debris falls all around him.

  • 30 ft away, his Avenger crackles under an oily, black plume, a funeral pyre for his veteran crew.

  • With Japanese machine guns and rifles firing at him from shore,

  • Martin slowly makes his way to a reef 1,000 yards away.

  • So he paddled outside the lagoon. They were shooting at him for a while but he got outside.

  • Somebody came in and picked him up.

  • Martin is later rescued by the cruiser Indianapolis.

  • And the next day, he is returned to the Big-E, very lucky to be alive.

  • And it is only the beginning.

  • ON THE NIGHT OF June 14th, An American submarine makes a startling discovery.

  • For the first time in more than 18 months, a massive Japanese fleet has taken to the seas

  • and it's headed right for Saipan and USS Enterprise.

  • Flash back. One month earlier, May 1944.

  • For 6 months, US fleet has been raising hell in the central Pacific,

  • and carriers like USS Enterprise have seen their share of the action.

  • Now the US command prepares for the next phase of battle,

  • a major drive on the central Pacific's Mariana Islands.

  • The US navy sets their sights on Saipan, the main focus of the operation.

  • (?)And the fleet is ___ ready for action.

  • By now the American war machine has built an Armada unlike anything ever seen.

  • That's what you have on the Pacific Fleet. It ends up with a large number of aircraft carriers.

  • These carriers can move quickly. More and more ships. Its bigger, faster, and much more deadly navy.

  • If the US can capture Saipan, the island will offer an ideal base

  • for the US Army B-29 Superfortress bombers.

  • From here, the massive warplanes can begin strategic bombing of the home islands.

  • We would be able to contribute to the battle

  • a major strategic air campaign against the Japanese home islands.

  • And it was thought that

  • by subjecting the Japanese home islands to a protracted, strategic air campaign,

  • the likes of which we were doing to the Germans in Europe, it would accelerate the end of the war.

  • Target: Saipan.

  • Objective: Seize the heavily defended enemy island; crush the Japanese garrison.

  • Strategy: Carriers like Enterprise will hammer the island with warplanes,

  • battleships will pummel it from the sea,

  • and US marines and soldiers will battle the enemy on land.

  • As Allied forces push in on the empire from all sides,

  • the Japanese army and navy will be divided, faced with fighting a multi-front war.

  • It poses a horrendous problem for the Japanese in that they're strained everywhere.

  • And planes that, you know, could be sent to the central Pacific navy,

  • in many cases, are going down to New Guinea to fight against the army down there.

  • By 1944, the Axis power was on the defensive.

  • As the Allies are prepared for the mass invasion in the Pacific, in France and Italy,

  • You can consider that the American forces are heavily engaged in combat in Italy

  • that the American forces are also about to conduct the landing in Normandy on June 6.

  • the US military is demonstrating its capable of engaging an broad offensive operations

  • on opposite sides of the world simultaneously.

  • Saipan will be one of the most important invasions of the war,

  • a Normandy of the Pacific. AND D-Day IS SET FOR June 15th.

  • At the Island base Majuro, the Marshall Island,

  • thousands of men from the Navy, Army and Marine Corps get ready for the invasion.

  • Most of the sailors and marines from different ships are strangers from every corner of USA.

  • Not all this fighting men are destined to get along.

  • By 1944, a 150 year rivalry still divides the marines of the fleet and the ship sailors.

  • Damage control men Pedro Sandoval from ___ of TX gets a close look at this rift

  • when he has a chance to run in a childhood friend from back home.

  • There is a marine came aboard ship, looking for me. He walked in the shop when I see him ___

  • He was just a brother to me before we even joined the service. And I gave him a big hug,

  • and everybody looked at me. What? What's wrong with him? You gave a marine a hug. You are..

  • The marines waiting there were surprised too.

  • As he was just like a brother to me and I hadn't seen him since I left for the war.

  • Enterprise will sail as the flagship of her task group, but she is only part of a massive armada of

  • 15 carriers, 7 battleships, 14 cruisers, over 50 destroyer escorts,

  • and a score of transports, oilers, and supply ships.

  • One of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen: There were 14, 15 big United States carriers there,

  • as well as light carriers and cruisers, destroyers.

  • I have never, in my life, seen such a bunch of ships getting together.

  • The entire naval force is under the command of Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher.

  • At 57 years old, Wisconsin native Marc Mitscher is a hard-fighting admiral and former naval aviator.

  • As a career veteran with more than 30 years at sea,

  • he knows how to use carriers like Enterprise and their aircraft in mortal combat against the enemy.

  • Among the 15 carriers that Mitscher commands are 6 of the new Essex Class fleet carriers.

  • Each of these giant flat top with displacement more than 36,000 tons fully loaded,

  • 10,000 more than Enterprise.

  • They also pack heavy armaments: 4 twin 5" guns, 8 single 5" guns, 8 quad mount 40 mms,

  • and more than 40 20 mm guns.

  • They can also carry 110 aircraft to Enterprise's 90.

  • June 6, 1944, Enterprise and her task group steam away from the island of Majuro, bound for Saipan.

  • As the ship cruises through the open seas, her Executive Officer comes on loud speaker

  • and announced the news of Normandy invasion in France. But the beaches of Normandy are half a world away.

  • Enterprise, the Pacific are heading for a D-Day of their own.

  • For the men of Enterprise, the road to victory and the way home is through Saipan and the Philippine sea.

  • But each time the Big-E heads into battle, her men can only wonder when their famous luck might run out.

  • Louisiana native and Enterprise marine Louis Michot already knows the risks after 6 months aboard ship.

  • You know your time might be coming which you keep-- you just get it off your mind and do your job.

  • Can't lie down. If you get hit, you get hit.

  • That's why war is hell. I knew I was in danger, but so was all my comrades.

  • And we were working like a team. We had to just keep going and do what we're trained to do.

  • This time, Enterprise, the fleet, and the marines are up against 32,000 Japanese troops.

  • Dug in on the hillsides of Saipan, like their brothers at Guadalcanal and Tarawa,

  • these defenders will fight to their death.

  • But for the first time since the battle of Santa Cruz,

  • a massive Japanese carrier fleet is also preparing for battle.

  • Battered by the bloodbaths at Midway, Guadalcanal, and Santa Cruz,

  • the Imperial Navy has finally rebuilt and is ready to meet the Big-E.

  • The Japanese navy has tried frantically to build their carrier force

  • into some sort of replica of what they had at the beginning of the war.

  • They have more carriers now.

  • Among the Japanese carriers are sister ships Shokaku and Zuikaku,

  • the very same vessels that the Big-E squared off against in the eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz.

  • And now they're back for a rematch with Enterprise.

  • So, we were longing for bearing(?) and we knew where they were and when they were coming.

  • The Imperial task force also includes the new mega carrier, Taiho.

  • It's unlike anything the Big-E has ever gone up against.

  • Taiho, which means "great phoenix," is 30,000 tons of imperial iron built by Kawasaki.

  • She has 2 enormous hangar decks, compared to Enterprise's one; 61 aircraft;

  • and instead of wood, her flight deck is plated with three-inch armored steel.

  • Her weaponry consists of 12 99-millimeter flak guns and 51 25-millimeter machine guns.

  • She is the flagship of the entire carrier force.

  • Commanded by Vice-Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa a.k.a. the Gargoyle.

  • He's six feet tall, has a chest covered with medals,

  • and is the mastermind of the empire's carrier fleet, veteran of Java, Sumatra, and Guadalcanal.

  • There's just one problem: Japan is running out of expert pilots.

  • Most of them wiped out in the first year of the war. Ozawa's pilots are raw and poorly trained.

  • There is a stark contrast to the fleet air arm that the Japanese began the second world war with,

  • when you consider that those were among the cream of the crop of naval aviation. But they're all gone.

  • And by this stage of the war, in their places are new, moderately trained pilots,

  • pilots who were not up to the task of going up against seasoned American naval aviators.

  • They were pretty far gone as far as skills concerned.

  • The differences between 1943 and 1944 was all the devils in the world. We had, they didn't.

  • June 11, 1944, D-Day, minus four.

  • The veteran Hellcat fighters called the grim reapers launch their first attack against the Marianas from the Big-E.

  • Admiral Mitscher, a former pilot himself, gives the reapers a simple order: "Cut their damn throats."

  • In the skies over Saipan, the Hellcats blast enemy aircraft and their pilots into the afterlife.

  • Next, the fighter planes strafe the airfields with hot .50 caliber lead.

  • Parked aircraft are destroyed and go up in flames.

  • Fuel tanks explode. And enemy gunners are blown to pieces.

  • For 2 solid days, American fighters and bombers ravage Saipan and the nearby islands

  • of Rota, Tinian, and Guam, doing all they can before the marines storm ashore.

  • Next, the Iowa-Class battleships turn their guns on Saipan.

  • And Bill Martin has a close call when his plane is blown out of the sky.

  • But after 3 days of hard fighting, Saipan is still a fortress island.

  • And for the crew of USS Enterprise, the battle for the Marianas has only just begun.

  • In response to the American attacks, Admiral Ozawa has taken to the seas,

  • headed for a showdown. He has one mission, crush the U.S. fleet.

  • June 15, 1944, D-Day in the invasion of Saipan.

  • Enterprise launches a major air strike of SBD dive bombers, Hellcat fighters, and Avenger torpedo planes.

  • It's part of a massive support mission. While the marines wade ashore,

  • planes from Lexington and Enterprise will hit the beaches and pillboxes with bombs and machine-gun fire.

  • The assault is led by commander William "killer" Kane of Enterprise.

  • The veteran pilot will lead 68 planes from the 2 ships in the brutal assault on Saipan.

  • This is before the marines landed. You'd go in first and hit all the anti-aircraft.

  • This is one of the major operations of the war as far as, you know, number of troops landing and all that,

  • 'cause the Japanese, they didn't want you to take Saipan at all. I mean That was a big blow to them.

  • As Kane's strike force heads into the deadly airspace,

  • they can clearly see the marines heading for the beaches.

  • As the American airmen batter the Japanese positions with round after round of bombs and bullets,

  • 20,000 US Marine wade ashore and face the Japanese defenders in hellish combat.

  • In one single day of battle, 2,000 Americans are killed or wounded on Saipan.

  • 2,000 Men for less than a half a mile of Japanese real estate.

  • A gruesome start to one of the biggest battles in the Pacific war.

  • 7:00PM, carriers Enterprise, Lexington, and Bunker Hill cruise the waters off Saipan.

  • As the sun begins to set on D-Day, the ships prepare for another night in the hostile central Pacific.

  • Suddenly, the main search radar on the Enterprise picks something up.

  • It's an incoming air assault. 22 miles away,

  • 7 land-based Fran torpedo bombers head right for Enterprise and carrier Lexington.

  • Within minutes, the enemy planes will be within striking distance.

  • 10 miles ahead of the Frans, spotters on Enterprise can now clearly see the incoming assault.

  • Seconds later, the guns of the task force roar into action.

  • 5" 38-caliber rifles from Enterprise and Lexington thump out a volley of explosive projectiles.