The Battle of Rennell Island was a WWII naval battle fought between the US Navy’s Task Force 18 and Japanese Navy medium bombers, on January 29-30, 1943, off the coast of Rennell Island, near Guadalcanal, Solomons Islands, South Pacific.
By early 1943, the US Marines, supported by US warships, had successfully and permanently secured Guadalcanal and other nearby islands. It was part of a military campaign that had begun in August 1942. In order to cover and protect the surviving troops evacuation of Guadalcanal island, Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of the Imperial Japanese fleet operating in the area, decided to launch a surprise air attack on the US Navy’s task force. A total of 43 Mitsubishi G4M and G3M bombers took off from the Japanese naval base on Rabaul and attacked US TF18. As a result, one cruiser and one destroyer were sunk, killing 90 American sailors. This air raid forced a temporary withdrawal of the US fleet from the area, which allowed the Japanese to evacuate their beaten troops from Guadalcanal.
Task Force 18 was composed one aircraft carrier, two escort carriers, six cruisers, and eight destroyers. During the engagement, the US fighters, which had been scrambled from the carriers, shot down twelve enemy bombers. The position of the US fleet had been spotted by a Japanese submarine.