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Japan pushed southward and invaded New Guinea and landed on the Solomon Islands from which they threatened Australia. Their conquests were finally checked by a crucial naval battle fought in the Coral Sea in May 1942. An American carrier task force, with Australian support, inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese. For the first time in history, the fighting was all done by carrier-based aircraft, and neither fleet fired a shot directly at the other. Japan then tried to seize Midway Island. From here it could launch devastating assaults on Pearl Harbor and the weakened American Pacific fleet. The Battle of Midway was fought on June 3 to 6 1942 under Admiral Chester Nimitz and Admiral Spruance. The fighting again was done by aircraft and the Japanese broke off action after losing four carriers. Midway was a pivotal victory, but the Japanese did get two islands off of Alaska. The US feared an Alaskan invasion and diverted defense to Alaska. Japanese overextended in 1942, suffered from victory disease and they should have stopped when they are ahead.

After the victory at Midway, the United States seized the initiative in the Pacific . American ground forces gained a hold on Guadalcanal Island in the Solomon Islands. An early naval defeat inflicted by the Japanese shortened American supplies dangerously, and for weeks the U.S. troops held onto the island, but after several sea battles the Japanese troops evacuated Guadalcanal in February 1943. Japanese losses were 20,000 compared to 1,700 for the Americans. American and Australian forces, under General MacArthur were hanging on to the southeastern tip of New Guinea, the last buffer to protecting Australia. American naval victories and submarines inflicted lethal loses on Japanese supply ships and troop carriers. Conquest of the north coast of New Guinea happened under General MacArthur. The U.S. Navy with marines and army divisions were "leapfrogging" the Japanese-held islands in the Pacific. Instead of going directly in for Tokyo, they instead employed the tactic of island hopping and bypassing some of the most heavily fortified Japanese posts, capturing nearby islands, setting up airfields on them, and then neutralizing the enemy bases through heavy bombing. Deprived of essential supplies from the homeland, Japan's outposts would slowly collapse. In January and February key outposts of the Marshall Islands were won by the Americans, especially important were the Marianas, including Guam. From bases in the Marianas, the United States new B-29 super bombers would carry out round-trip bombing raids on Japan's home islands. U. S. .naval forces sank several Japanese carriers in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The Japanese navy never recovered from these massive losses of planes, pilots and ships.