This is the previously untold story of one of the most ferocious and prolonged air/naval battles in history: the battle at the radar picket stations during the American assault on Okinawa in spring 1945. It weaves together the experiences of the ships and their crews, Navy, Army, and Marine Corps pilots, and Japanese kamikazes in an account which provides the complete story of this infamous battle. The US fleet and its accompanying airpower that took station off Okinawa was of gigantic proportions, such that the Japanese could only rely on suicide attacks to inflict critical damage. While losses in the main fleet have been well covered in the literature, less well known has been the terrific battle waged on the picket line, the fleet's outer defence against the swarms of Japanese marauders. Of the 206 ships that served on radar picket duty, twenty-nine percent were sunk or damaged by Japanese air attacks, making theirs the most hazardous naval surface duty in World War II. The great losses were due in large part to the relentless nature of the kamikaze attacks, but also to the improper use of support gunboats, failure to establish land-based radar at the earliest possible time, the assignment of ships ill-equipped for picket duty, and, as the battle went on, crew fatigue.The intricate nature of the US air cover is also described in full. Toward the end of the battle, the radar picket ships became the prime kamikaze target as Japanese pilots despaired of getting through the 'big blue blanket' of American fighter planes to reach larger prey at Okinawa.

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