World: Play That Failed

Watching her Okinawa outpost crumble before U.S. attack, a desperate Japan played small cards for high stakes last week—and lost. In two disastrous days 417 Jap planes went spinning into the sea. In 30 fateful minutes of the second afternoon, two cruisers, three destroyers and her last naval trump, the 45,000-ton battleship Yamato, were battered to the bottom.

The plan had been simple. The Japanese admirals proposed to launch the heaviest air blow they could muster against the U.S. ships off Okinawa, perhaps sink a few. The next day the blow would be repeated, in hopes that the jittery fleet would scatter....

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