Originally Posted By Rick-OShay:
Originally Posted By ceverett:I would propose that the idea that aircraft carriers were the future was already known to much of the leadership on each side by Pearl.
It was proposd by some, who came to be very influential as the war progressed. However, the "black shoe" admirals were very much in charge on all sides ante bellum, and this can be seen in the procurement programs of all combatants. Carriers had to be improvised from ocean liners, battleships (Japan), light cruisers, fast merchant ships, (U.S., Britain) because the priorities for building did not reflect an enhanced value for naval aviation.
They had already been used with success in Italy, and you already brought up the sinking of the Bismark. I would agree that the sinking of the battleships forced the issue for us, and that WAS an unforseeable consequence. But again, consider the Japanese were attacking Pearl exclusively withe aircraft carriers, and that they were concerned about the location of those carriers, it seems apparent that they did get the value of them.... And then they just said, "screw it, attack anyway" I think that was a HUGE error.
They didn't have a choice
about the timing - a declaration of war was being sent, and simultaneous operations were underway for the Phillipines, Indonesia, the British possessions, China, etc. They had no choice but to execute, and execute RIGHT NOW.
Which would have only covered ships within a few hundred miles of the islands, but not offensive operations. Sending battleships alone to the Coral Sea or midway would have been a bloodbath.
This is a good point.
Like I've said before, they should not have launched even the first wave unless they could get the carriers. And if you want a negotiated peace, going after the battleships is a bad plan. Yamamoto understood the symbolism of those ships.
I think Saratoga or Enterprise would have had a similar effect if hit.
I agree that would have been hard to do. But I seem to recall that we almost did have a couple sunk in the channel.
One. Nevada IIRC. But you can't count on that kind of luck or timing.
I get that the whole thing was a huge gamble for Japan, and I think their leadership (at least the admiralty) understood that. But I think they got a lousy hand and failed to fold... And then they didn't even play the cards they did get well.
Were I in charge of Kido Butai, I would have launched at least one more strike.