Ozawa was Commander of the Japanese Mobile Fleet from November 1942 until the end of the war. The ablest strategic thinker of the Japanese Navy and one of the first to realize the possibilities and significance of carriers, Ozawa did not take over the Carrier Force until after Japan had lost its superiority at sea and most of its trained aviators. Appointed after the dismissal of NAGUMO, Ozawa was Commander at the Battle of the Philippine Sea in which he lost his flagship, the carrier Taiho, and 340 planes. Two other carriers were damaged and on the next day Ozawa made the mistake of lingering near the battle site which cost him three more ships. The Japanese could never again face the Allied Navy with equal strength; Ozawa wanted to resign but was persuaded to stay.
At the Battle of Leyte Gulf, 24 October 1944, Ozawa’s Mobile Force was to act as a decoy to lure Admiral HALSEY’s Fleet away from the San Bernardino Strait. This Ozawa accomplished with tremendous skill, but the battle had already been lost—the Japanese Navy could no longer challenge the US.