After one and a half years' absence from the Pacific War Theater, Gilbert Cant, TIME military writer, has just completed an air tour of the chief Pacific bases. These are his impressions of the vast U.S. build-up since 1943:

The Pacific is no longer the same ocean. Its blueness and its vastness remain, but all else is changed since that hazy, calm September dawn in 1943 when the new Hellcat fighters flew against Marcus Island from the new Essex-and Independence-class carriers in their first combat mission.

It is not only that millions of square...

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