After four days of furious fighting, the World War II Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest air-naval battle in history, ends with a decisive American victory over the Japanese. With the U.S. liberation of the Philippines underway, the desperate Japanese command decided to gamble their combined naval fleet to repulse the Americans. On October 23, the enemy fleets collided, and hundreds of warships and thousands of aircraft battled for control of the Gulf of Leyte in three simultaneous battles. On October 26, what remained of the devastated Japanese fleet retreated, leaving the Allies in control of the Pacific Ocean. After the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Allies waged an escalating bombing campaign against the Japanese home islands, finally forcing Japan’s surrender in August 1945.