Little was known about them until an Australian airplane got some photographs showing large land installations and many ships in the lagoon. It quickly was dubbed the "Gibraltar of the Pacific", a name that proved a myth in time.
The Japanese Commander remarked after the war "I feared, lest the Americans find out how weak it was". Nevertheless, Truk was an important staging base for supplies, airplanes, and ships sent south to the Solomon Islands and New Guinea as well as being a major submarine base.
Its defensive fortifications were minimal compared to Tarawa and consisted mostly of moderate size coastal guns and the airplanes, ships and submarines that were stationed there or passing through. Eventually Allied ships and airplanes bombed and bombarded it into rubble and it was bypassed until the end of the war.
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