Action of April 3, 1945
Part of Okinawa Campaign
Action off Okinawa
Zeroes attack USS Isherwood, USS Balanon, USS Laws, and several other warships.
Date April 3, 1945
Location South of Okinawa
Result Pyrrhic US victory
Flag of USA US Navy Flag of Japan Imperial Japanese Navy
Commanders and leaders
John E. Booth Soemu Toyoda
Murobe Kakanobe †
2 PBY Catalinas
2 destroyers
6 battleships
20 Corsairs
3 merchant vessels
200 Zeroes
50 PT Boats
Casualties and losses
1 PBY destroyed
all battleships damaged
378 sailors killed
All merchant vessels destroyed
113 Zeroes
The Action of April 3, 1945 was a naval engagement occurring south of Okinawa between the Imperial Japanese Navy and the US Navy when the IJN sent a fleet of kamikazes to attack a force of 5 battleships off the coast of the island during the Okinawa Campaign. Two PBY Catalinas blew up three Japanese merchant vessels, but responded to the distress call and blew up several kamikaze aircraft.

Background Edit

Japanese Rear-Admiral Soemu Toyoda ordered for some of the Japanese Merchant Fleet to began running ammunition and supplies from Kyushu to Okinawa, which was under siege from the Marines. The Japanese commonly commandeered civilian cargo ships for use in the Pacific War, and the three ships were unmarked when they were sent to Okinawa. 

Unfortunately for the Japanese, Major Charles Gordon, who was in charge of the mission, designated them as targets, as they were a part of the enemy war machine. Two PBY Catalinas who were flying south of Okinawa came upon the merchant ships, who were guarded by around 15 PT Boats and had crews of several IJA soldiers and IJN sailors. 

Around the same time, Toyoda was commanding a major kamikaze effort in the area, targeting a fleet of US battleships: USS Isherwood, USS Balanon, USS Halford, USS Charrette, USS Laws, and several others. On the night of April 3, battle began.

== Battle == 

Japanese Merchant Fleet Sunk Edit

The PBY Catalinas, code-named Mantaray and Hammerhead, assaulted the fleet after being given orders to destroy the ships. They flew over the fleet, who were moving in single-file in a straight line, and they opened fire with a .20-mm Cannon and machine-gun turrets, blowing up the ammunition stored on the decks. The "Black Cats" punched out the spotlights on the front and rear of the ships, and they also shot up the oil containers, causing damage to the ship and eradicating some of the crew members on the deck.

After three passes, the three vessels were crippled, but Officer Booth ordered the two Catalinas to wrap the operation up, using the grenade launchers to blow up the ships, sinking all of them and killing all of their crew members. Also, 13 of the PT Boats were destroyed.

Kamikaze Attack Edit

At the same time, some fighters of the Imperial Air Force attacked the US flotilla, crippling most of the vessels and killing most of the crew. The Catalinas were called to extract any survivors that were left in the water, but while flying to the fleet, the crew members engaged a whole wave of Zeroes, numbering in the hundreds. "Hammerhead"'s number two engine was damaged, and their gauge was on red, and were not prepared for any more action. However, they had to engage, and were destroyed by a strafing Zero.

The USS Balanon and USS Halford were nearly sunk by the kamikazes, while USS Isherwood, USS Laws, and USS Charrette managed to hold out, despite numerous hits from Japanese fighter planes. USS Gatling, USS Rooks, and USS Cassin Young were not damaged, however, and fought off the Japanese attackers. "Mantaray" rescued four survivors in the water, while Booth called for help in picking up other naval men. Their PBY Catalina's cannons ran out of ammunition, but soon after, several Corsairs arrived and fought off the last of the Zeroes.