Earl Hinz - Saipan

"No match for heavier American tanks, the Japanese tanks were quickly immobilized."

The island of Saipan had been developed much as a Japanese homeland island after they took it over as a mandated territory following WWI. By 1938 Japanese represented 90 percent of the islands population and it became Japan�s primary source of sugar for consumption at home and later as a war material. As the noose contracted around the Pacific islands held by Japan, major defenses were set up on Saipan's 46 square miles of irregular terrain. These defenses ranged from beach head fortifications on the west side to caves in the northern mountains.

  When the lowlands were invaded by the American forces, the Japanese retreated to the north using their light tanks in the delaying actions. Unfortunately, their light tanks were no match for heavier American tanks, artillery and tank destroyers and more often than not, the Japanese tanks were quickly immobilized. The rugged terrain made tank warfare difficult and spotty but it was one of the few places in the island-hopping campaign where they could be used.

  Saipan was of such potential value to American forces as a base for launching bombing raids on the main Japanese islands that the flat southern land was quickly restored to military use with the result that few war relics were retained. Most relics are found in the cave areas at the north end of the island where the Last Japanese Command Post is located.


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