Briefing Room: Japanese Onslaught

Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries
Briefing Room: Japanese Onslaught gallery, Road to Tokyo

On a replica bridge of the USS Enterprise, three large windows reveal fighter planes taking off over enemy waters. The Pacific war is underway. Photographs flanking those windows introduce military leaders—nine each on both Allied and Axis sides—along with an overview of US strategy in the Pacific theater: there will be not one but two paths to Tokyo. US forces (led primarily by the Army) will approach from the southwest Pacific, fighting across New Guinea and other occupied islands toward the Philippines.

Meanwhile, US forces (led primarily by the US Navy) will cross the vast waters of the central Pacific in a more direct path to Japan. But already spirits are low: newsreels report Japanese victories in Singapore and the Philippines and brutal treatment of American POWs. The Enterprise is steaming forward into hostile waters, and the odds for its survival—and the survival of the sailors, pilots, and mechanics on board—look grim indeed.

Made possible through a gift from Madlyn and Paul Hilliard