It is an unfortunate but true axiom of warfare that when a war is about to begin, the highest levels of the military command are fully prepared, to fight the previous war. Ironically, it was the eventual winners of the Second World War that suffered from this fate while the losers understood the value of the newest weapons. In Europe, it was the Germans that so effectively used air power and the massed tank to blitz across Europe and it was the Japanese that gained their initial victories using carrier based air power. When the Japanese launched their attack against Pearl Harbor, they had a decided advantage in carrier strength against the American navy, which still relied heavily on the battleship. Therefore, the most significant outcome of the Japanese attack was not the damage done to the battleships at rest at the docks, which turned out to largely be irrelevant, but the fact that there was not a single scratch to an American carrier. Had the Japanese been able to severely damage or destroy a few of the American carriers, it would have been years before there could have been a significant American counterattack. This is the story of the rise of the aircraft carrier in naval battles, outside of a few engagements in the Pacific, there were almost no shots exchanged between opposing warships. While skill was always involved, there was a great deal of luck involved in the American victory at Midway. In less than 15 minutes and with only a few well-directed American bombs, most of the quality aerial strike capability of the Japanese navy was destroyed. Another key point made at the end of this tape is that the aircraft carrier remained the essential component of naval strike capability for decades after the Second World War, as demonstrated in both the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts. Given the range and intelligence of modern drone missiles, it remains to be seen if the aircraft carrier is still a decisive weapon. Although by necessity this tape cannot give a thorough description of all of the operations carried out by aircraft carriers in the Pacific theater during World War II, it does have enough depth so that the viewer can understand the role they played in deciding the outcome. However, a great deal of the combat footage is choppy in sequence and not necessarily historically precise.
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