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Aircraft Carriers in Wwii

In: Historical Events

Submitted By connorcohn
Words 3085
Pages 13
Connor Cohn
3/4/11
Curry, period 4
Final
Aircraft Carriers in WWII

Many of World War II’s greatest battles were fought at sea, making naval technologies crucial to all sides. Many kinds of ships, such as battleships, submarines, and aircraft carriers, had been used in previous wars, but the global nature of World War II made naval battles especially important. These vessels ranged from heavily armed warships to numerous support craft such as fuel ships and troop landing boats. Of all the ships used in the war, aircraft carriers were the largest. Thus, how and why were aircraft carriers so effective in World War II, specifically how was it more effective than a battleship, and how did both Japan and the US utilize this revolution in technology?
An aircraft carrier is a ship whose primary purpose is to bring airplanes closer to distant battle areas. Since most World War II aircraft had a range of just a few hundred miles, it was necessary to bring the aircraft to the battlefront, and using a ship to do so made a lot of sense in the Pacific, where much of the fighting took place on islands and along coastal areas.
The first true aircraft carriers were built by the Japanese in the 1920’s. Japan remained an innovator in aircraft carrier design and construction during the years leading to World War II, operating nine aircraft carriers by 1941. Their largest carriers of the war were the Akagi and Kaga, each capable of launching over 90 aircraft (doc. Navy), only 25% of these planes were fighters, which intercepted enemy search planes and air strikes and escorted the dive bombers and torpedo bombers on strike missions. The remaining 75% of the air wing were dive bombers and torpedo bombers (doc. Hughes 102). The Allies, however, also had extremely effective carriers. British ships, such as the Ark Royal and the Eagle, and American ships, such as Yorktown and Enterprise, each carried 100 aircraft or more (doc. Navy). The largest aircraft carriers, such as The Enterprise, were over 800 feet (245 meters) long and 100 feet (30 meters) wide, and carried almost 3,000 crew members (doc. Navy).
A World War II fleet aircraft carrier was a complex social network. Some officers and men executed tasks which were required on all warships, while others did jobs specific to the task of operating the planes from the carriers. These included, aviation machinists and electricians who serviced the planes in the hangars below deck, the aviation ordnance teams responsible for arming the aircraft, the catapults and flight deck officers, and the landing signal officer-who was usually a trained aviator, stood mainly on the deck using colored paddles to guide pilots attempting to land. Until 1943 the navy accepted no draftees (doc. Grant 313), so all crew members were volunteers, many going to sea to avoid being drafted into the army.
The first aircraft carriers had evolved from ordinary naval ships, which were fitted with landing strips built on to their decks. By World War II, however, most aircraft carriers were designed for this purpose from the beginning. Small aircraft were usually stored below the deck and taken to the landing strip on elevators. Because the strip was short, a catapult (usually a piston-type device driven by steam from the ship’s boilers) helped launch the craft into the air. U.S carriers used a hook on the bottom of the plane to catch a wire, strung across the deck, which helped bring the plane to a halt. A central control tower located to the side of the landing strip housed advanced radio communication and radar equipment used to keep in touch with aviators and track both friendly and enemy craft.
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt, speech to congress on December 8, 1941.The aircraft carrier allowed the Japanese Navy to successfully attack Pearl Harbor, a feat believed impossible at that time. Before Pearl Harbor, many naval tacticians did not believe that aircraft carriers and airplanes could play a major role in naval battles. After Pearl Harbor, they began to reconsider, but most still resisted this idea, preferring the old tactics of huge battleships pulling broadside and blasting away until one side retreated or sank. The Battle of the Coral Sea was the first naval battle conducted where the opposing fleets never saw each other. They fought via aircraft launched from carriers. This tactic proved so effective that the United States depended on it to protect and save Midway and scored the ultimate win by destroying the bulk of the Japanese carriers in the same battle.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was inspired by the sinking of the Italian fleet at the Battle of Taranto a year before by torpedo bombers of the Royal Navy. At Taranto, the Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft naval attack in history, flying aircraft from HMS Illustrious (a carrier in the Mediterranean Sea) and attacking the Italian fleet. The effect of the British carrier-launched aircraft on the Italian warships foreshadowed the end of the “big gun” ship and the rise of naval air-power.
What made the Aircraft Carrier important to every nation in World War II was that it allowed those nations to support air power over greater distances than could be done using only land based planes. This provided an advantage over the more traditional battleship led forces which had to wait until an enemy fleet came within gun range, and often brought themselves into the gun range of the enemy fleet as well. A carrier could launch planes from many miles away, strike at a target that is well beyond the range of their ship's guns and return with little direct risk to the fleet itself.
Carrier's also presented an advantage that one could not assume that the planes would always take the most direct route. Planes flown by people could make navigational errors or change course to suit a moving enemy. Battleships, by comparison, would give away their general position when they fired if they were beyond visual range by looking at the way in which their shells either hit the water or the targeted ships. A fired artillery shell can only be fired by the most direct route, giving the enemy the opportunity to triangulate the location of the force attacking it. And if a naval force moves, unless the battleship has good radar and/or scout planes over the enemy, a battleship is likely to expend ammunition on an empty spot of ocean more then once in the course of a sea battle. A plane, piloted by a human looking at his target can more easily follow his enemy and is more assured of making a hit.
This is why every nation in WW II either had aircraft carriers or was attempting to build them, to harness the carrier's advantages in battle against other navies. In Europe, because the fighting was largely locked around Western Europe, they contributed very little, largely because the USAAC (United States Army Air Corps) and the RAF (Royal Air Force) flew out of bases in Britain. But, aircraft carriers were invaluable in the Battle of the Atlantic against the German Kriegsmarine. In the battle, carriers, cruisers, and battleships were not the target, but submarines. The German U-boats, these small, but deadly, warships functioned best on the surface. At the time, diving was only a means of escape. Now, because Britain was threatened with invasion for much of the war, the Royal Navy couldn't cover the entire Atlantic to escort the convoys carrying supplies to keep Britain in the war. This meant that the only weapon the allies could use against the U-boat were aircraft. By 1942, land based bombers, like the B-24 Liberator, were able to cover vast stretches of the Atlantic, with the exception of the gap in the center of the ocean. It was in this gap that the Germans kept most of their U-boats.
To counter this threat, the United States built many small aircraft carriers, named escort carriers. These ships were built to provide the convoys with air protection across the Atlantic. Their aircraft would force German U-boats to remain submerged, shortening their range and reducing their speed. The use of the escort carriers quickly helped to turn the tide of the Battle in the Atlantic.
For nearly six years, Germany launched over 1,000 U-Boats into combat (doc. McDonald), in an attempt to isolate and blockade the British Isles, thereby forcing the British out of the war. It was a fight which nearly choked the shipping lanes of Great Britain, cutting off vital supplies of food, fuel and raw materials needed to continue fighting.
By the end of the war, German U-Boats in the Battle of the Atlantic had sent over 2,900 ships and 14 million tons of Allied supplies and ships to the bottom of the sea (doc. McDonald). In exchange, the Allies sank almost 800 U-Boats and over 30,000 of the 39,000 German sailors who put into action, never returned – the highest casualty rate of any armed service in the history of modern war (doc. McDonald); due to the effectiveness of the escort carriers and the aircraft they carried.
But it was in the Pacific theater where carriers were used the most. Here, they were used to provide localized air superiority, attack enemy fleets, and support Marine Corps operations. Carriers, with the exception of the night battles of Guadalcanal and the engagement at Surigao Strait in the Battle for Leyte Gulf, were the most important warships in every battle fought in the Pacific, for both the United States and for Japan.
Aircraft carriers of World War II revolutionized naval warfare. Early on, with the surprising, and effective, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when they sank many battleships, it became clear that naval power was now naval aviation power. It was simply a matter of reach. Sixteen-inch guns that could fire a shell over twenty miles could not match airplanes with a range of hundreds of miles. As the navies of the world competed with each other in the decades before World War II, they were limited by the Washington and London naval treaties, which restricted the weight of ships (doc. Stone).
The Battle of Midway on June 4-7, 1942 (doc. Eyewitness), was a turning point in the Pacific theater during World War II. A disaster for the Japanese navy from the beginning, the battle marked the end of Japanese naval superiority throughout the Pacific, allowing the United States to go on the offensive through its island-hopping campaign. Five of the seven carriers involved in Midway sank during the battle.
The United States sent three carriers to Midway—The USS Hornet, the USS Enterprise and the USS Yorktown. All were 20,000-ton Yorktown class carriers (doc. Friedman). The Hornet saw action at the Battle of the Coral Sea a month before Midway, and would eventually see action at the Battle of Guadalcanal. It was sunk at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October 1942.
The Enterprise was the only carrier at Midway to survive the war. After extensive service in the central and South Pacific, it was scrapped in 1958 (doc. Eyewitness). The Yorktown sank on the final day of fighting at Midway.
The Japanese placed four carriers into combat at Midway, the Akagi, the Kaga, the Soryu, and the Hiryu. All four participated in the raid on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, with the Akagi serving as flagship for the Japanese navy. The Akagi and Kaga were massive carriers at more than 30,000 tons each, while the Soryu and Hiryu were lighter at roughly 20,000 tons apiece (doc. Hoyt).
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese Combined Fleet Commander, brought his carriers to Midway hoping to destroy the U.S. carrier fleet and stop American progress in the Pacific. He also wanted to avenge the Japanese defeat at the Battle of the Coral Sea and prevent the United States from using Midway as an important refueling depot. U.S. intelligence discovered the plan after officials broke the main Japanese naval communication code, allowing Adm. Chester Nimitz, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, to plan an ambush with his carriers and planes. He hid his forces until the Japanese launched their ground assault on the Midway Atoll.
Nimitz ordered an attack on Japanese carriers as enemy planes returned from a bombing run against U.S. ground forces on Midway. By seven a.m., Navy ships and B-26 bombers launched torpedo strikes against the Japanese fleet, but were ineffective. A second wave of Marine Corps bombers and Army B-17s attacked at 7:55 a.m. (doc. Eyewitness), also with little effect.
Nimitz used the smaller attacks to mask the presence of his carriers, lulling the Japanese into a false sense of security. Yamamoto ordered Japanese planes refueled and armed for another strike against ground forces on Midway, when a scout plane spotted the U.S. carriers. Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo gave new orders to prepare the carriers for combat and to make way for the planes still returning from their earlier island assault. During this transition and confusion, the United States launched a third wave of planes armed with torpedoes. While they inflicted little damage on the Japanese ships, they slowed enemy efforts to prepare for combat, leaving the fully fueled and armed fighters on deck.
“I saw this Glint in the sun and it looked just like a beautiful, silver waterfall, these dive-bombers coming down. I’d never seen such superb dive-bombing.”US pilot Jimmy Thatch, recalling the battle of Midway, 1942. At 10:25 a.m., two squadrons from the Enterprise and one from the Yorktown attacked the Japanese carriers, hitting the exposed planes on the flight decks. Within minutes, the Akagi, the Kaga, and the Soryu were finished (doc. Grant 201).
The remaining Japanese carrier, the Hiryu, inflicted heavy damage on the Yorktown. The Hiryu, with no air support from the other carriers, was attacked by U.S. planes, finally sinking on the morning of June 5. The Yorktown, hit by a Japanese submarine during combat with the Hiryu, sank two days later (doc. Grant 202).
After the battle of Midway, it was even more obvious that the battleship became a secondary type of warship to the aircraft carrier, because of the carrier's ability to sink enemy ships with its aircraft without ever being in range of their heavy guns. After the battle of Midway, Japan still had 11 aircraft carriers of all types, but only five were available for operations, and only one was a large carrier (doc. Sullivan 7). It also lost many of its most experienced aviators and it could not quickly replace them. The US Navy had three large aircraft carriers in the Pacific, thirteen more were being built (doc. Sullivan 7), and there was no way Japan could match the American rate of production of aircraft carriers, aircraft, and well trained aviators. Japan was already fighting a war it could not win, and after the battle of Midway it was already beginning to lose it, just 6 months after it started it in Pearl Harbor. Despite all its remaining strength, after the battle of Midway Japan lost its superiority and initiative in the Pacific and was forced on to the defensive. Since that day, the Pacific Ocean was dominated by American aircraft carriers.
On December 2, 1941, the battleship Price of Wales and the battlecruiser Repulse arrived at the British base at Singapore, along with four destroyers. They had been sent in the vain hope of preventing the Japanese from going to war. The ships should have been escorted by a carrier, but a mishap left it under repair in the US. Admiral Sir Tom Phillips force, dubbed Force Z, was sailing north from Singapore to intercept the Japanese invasion of Malaya. His force was spotted by Japanese submarines and a reconnaissance aircraft. Phillips, knowing that he had lost the element of surprise turned back on the night of December 9th. Japanese naval aircraft of the 22nd Air Flotilla, based at airfields around Saigon in Japanese occupied Indochina, failed to find Force Z that night, but on the morning of December 10th, they located the ships off Kuantan. Force Z was not unprepared for air defense—Prince of Wales alone mounted 175 anti-aircraft guns (doc. Grant 311)—but waves of attacks by conventional bombers and especially torpedo bombers were overwhelmingly effective. The aerial assault began shortly after 11:00 a.m; Repulse sank at 12:30 p.m. and Prince of Wales at 1:20 p.m. Some 2,000 men were rescued by the destroyers (doc. Grant), though Admiral Phillips was among those lost.
The battleship ruled the seas until December 10, 1941. Battleships could send the largest shells the furthest distance and were the heaviest armored warships afloat. Aircraft carriers can launch airplanes, which can send the largest shells—bombs and torpedoes, hundreds of miles, with more accuracy. Whereas a battleship had to fire several shells to sink a target, it also had lesser range than an airplane. An airplane with its pilot/aircrew can also simulate a “smart weapon” by directing their payload right to the target, therefore being more accurate.
In short, an aircraft carrier is cheaper to build (less steel for all of the armor), can be built quicker, and launches aircraft that can sink any ship further, quicker, with less manpower and steel (less men required & less shells fired).
On December 7, 1941, the argument was; that the American battleships at Pearl Harbor had not been able to defend themselves, as they were not at sea and able to maneuver and fight back. The Prince of Wales and Repulse had their opportunity to prove their value against airplanes head on, and they were annihilated; the argument was settled. Aircraft carriers now ruled the seas. Even though the Japanese aircraft that sunk the British warships were land based Army planes; the issue was air power, regardless of whether they were carrier launched or land based. The aircraft carrier enabled every nation that utilized them (predominantly Japan and the US), to be a global force, in a global war—that was World War II.…...

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...To what extent was the Treaty of Versailles a cause of WWII? Treaty of Versailles was the main trigger that sparked the start of the most devastating war in human history. Due to its enforcement and terms, it caused the ideological fascist movement after WWI, German’s patriotism, and the violent expansion of Germany’s economy which violated terms of the treaty, ultimately resulting to World War II. After WWI the ideology of the Fascist movement became influential in Germany in reaction to the harsh terms of the Versailles Treaty. Fascistic views of political violence, war, and imperialism as a means to achieve national rejuvenation were appealed to the citizens (Wikipedia, 2014). This was in response to the Treaty of Versailles. After WWI, Germany was on a road to repair, but they were handicapped, and weakened by the terms of the treaty (History Learning Site, 2000). They had no major military or strong industry to support the growth of the country (Hikman, n.d.). The people were angered and infuriated by the ruinous effect of the Treaty. Hence, the nation realised that in order to regain the national strength, Germany would need to take on board a new form of political system that was iron-fisted and disregard anything but the restoration of pride (English Online, n.d.). This brought the rise of Hitler, the Nazi Party and Fascism. Adolf Hitler was a radical advocate who fought to overturn the harsh Treaty and restore Germany to her former glory (English Online, n.d.)....

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Aircraft

...An aircraft is a machine that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. It counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines. The human activity that surrounds aircraft is called aviation. Crewed aircraft are flown by an onboard pilot, but unmanned aerial vehicles may be remotely controlled or self-controlled by onboard computers. Aircraft may be classified by different criteria, such as lift type, aircraft propulsion, usage and others. History Flying model craft and stories of manned flight go back many centuries, however the first manned ascent – and safe descent – in modern times took place by hot-air balloon in the 18th century. Each of the two World Wars led to great technical advances. Consequently the history of aircraft can be divided into five eras: Pioneers of flight, from the earliest experiments to 1914. First World War, 1914 to 1918. Aviation between the World Wars, 1918 to 1939. Second World War, 1939 to 1945. Postwar era, also called the jet age, 1945 to the present day. Methods of lift Lighter than air – aerostats Aerostats use buoyancy to float in the air in much the same way that ships float on the water. They are characterized by one or more large gasbags or canopies, filled with a relatively low-density gas such as helium, hydrogen, or hot air, which is less dense than the surrounding...

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Carrier

...depreciated on a straight-line basis over a 5-year period starting from... Ocean Carriers Assumptions and Methodology Based on an NPV analysis considering multiple scenarios, Ocean Carriers should commission the construction of a new capesize carrier in the event they are operating with no corporate tax and chartering the ship for its entire 25 year life. Such is the recommendation assuming the forecasted hire rates and estimated costs are accurate over the long-term. However, if Ocean Carriers chooses to adhere to their policy of selling ships at market value after 15 years, they will incur a net loss on the investment regardless of whether operations are based in the United States or Japan. Future cash flows are based on given data including annual operating days, daily hire rates, daily operating costs calculated at 100 bps plus 3% inflation, net working capital growing at the inflation rate and the current capesize price and market value after 15 years. Cash flows were discounted at 9% and a top-down approach was used to derive the operating cash flows in every scenario. The first scenario assumes Ocean Carriers is a U.S. based firm subject to a 35% corporate income tax. The capesize depreciates straight-line over 5 years and is sold after 15 years at an after-tax salvage value of $3,250,000. In this case, the NPV is calculated at -$3,912,677.91. The next scenario assumes Ocean Carriers is not required to pay any taxes. Using the same depreciation method as......

Words: 856 - Pages: 4