Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Perspective

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pp. ix-x

At the start of the 21st Century the navies of major nations as well as several small states continue to have a major role in international politics, crises, and conflicts. The aircraft carrier is a dominant factor in several of those navies. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

Many people have helped, and they share the responsibility for any merits that this book may possess; the burden of any shortcomings is mine alone. Several individuals must be thanked at the beginning of this list: ...

Glossary

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pp. xv-xvi

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1. Wings Over the Sea

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pp. 1-22

The concept of an aircraft carrier—a ship capable of launching and landing aircraft—is as old as the military use of flying machines. The first detailed proposals for an aircraft carrier are believed to have been published in 1909, the same year that the U.S. Army purchased the world’s first flying machine for military service. ...

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2. The First Aircraft Carriers

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pp. 23-38

The year 1917 was the year of the first true aircraft carrier. The advantages of wheeled airplanes over seaplanes were well-known by this time, especially for combat with Zeppelins. The problem was how to take airplanes to sea. F. J. Rutland, promoted to flight-commander and now referred to as “Rutland of Jutland,” became a leader in the effort to equip ships of the Grand Fleet with airplanes. ...

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3. Between the Wars

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pp. 39-52

The U.S. Navy observed British carrier development with interest during World War I. When the United States entered the conflict on April 6, 1917, its naval air arm had only 54 operational aircraft. When the war ended 19 months later the Navy’s flying force had 2,107 aircraft. ...

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4. Building Carrier Fleets

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pp. 53-70

When the USS Langley joined the operating fleet in 1925 she began to take part in the annual exercises or war games. The exercise of April 1928—known as Fleet Problem VIII—was held in part in the Hawaiian Islands, with the Langley’s planes making a surprise attack against military facilities on Oahu. ...

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5. Preparing for War

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pp. 71-94

The British and Japanese had led in the construction of keel-up carriers at the end of World War I with the Hermes and Hosho. With the next keel-up carrier, the Japanese began the third generation of aircraft carrier development. ...

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6. War in the West

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pp. 95-112

World War II officially began in Europe when German forces began a blitzkrieg against Poland on September 1, 1939. Two days later Britain and France entered the conflict when Germany rejected their demands to halt its assault on Poland. ...

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7. War in the Mediterranean

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pp. 113-140

When the new carrier Illustrious joined the Mediterranean Fleet in September of 1940 she flew the flag of the Rear-Admiral Aircraft Carriers—Arthur Lumley St. George Lyster. Although not a pilot, during World War I he had served with a British flying squadron based at the Italian fleet anchorage of Taranto at the bottom of the Italian “boot.” ...

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8. War in the Pacific

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pp. 141-164

The Second World War began officially in the Pacific on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, when 350 aircraft from six Japanese aircraft carriers struck the U.S. Pacific Fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbor and the nearby airfields on the island of Oahu. The Japanese attack—given the codename Operation Hawaii—was the largest carrier operation ever undertaken ...

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9. Date of Infamy

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pp. 165-178

The Kido Butai turned into the wind, and at 6 A.M. (Hawaiian time) the 183 planes of the first wave began their runs down the pitching decks of the Japanese carriers.1 Led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida in a three-man Kate bomber from the Akagi, the first wave consisted of 43 Zero fighters to gain control of the air over Oahu and strafe the island’s airfields; ...

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10. Japanese Triumph

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pp. 179-194

Remote Wake Island—some 1,900 n.miles west of Oahu—was also a target of the Japanese.1 Five hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wake was bombed by 36 twin-engine Japanese bombers flying from Roi in the Kwajalein atoll of the Marshall Islands, 600 miles to the south. ...

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11 Offensive Defense

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pp. 195-210

The U.S. Navy’s war plans had called for the Pacific Fleet to steam across the Pacific, striking Japanese-held islands, distracting the enemy away from the East Indies, and reinforcing the Philippines.1 Destruction of the Battle Force at Pearl Harbor had ruined that plan, and the burden of the sea war in the Pacific now fell upon aircraft carriers. ...

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12. The First Carrier Battle

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pp. 211-222

The Battle of Coral Sea was history’s first naval battle in which the participating warships neither saw nor fired upon their opponents: It was the first naval battle to be fought entirely by carrier aircraft. It was also the first Japanese setback of World War II. ...

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13. Midway

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pp. 223-246

Japan’s thrust into New Guinea and the Solomons was only one phase of a renewed strategic offensive. The capture of Midway and the occupation of the Western Aleutians was intended to be the second phase of this operation, which would extend Japan’s defensive perimeter and force the U.S. Pacific Fleet to enter into a decisive engagement with the Combined Fleet.1 ...

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14. Midway Aftermath

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pp. 247-258

Despite the destruction of his four fleet carriers, Admiral Isoruko Yamamoto still sought to engage the U.S. task forces and to land an assault force on Midway. He ordered his battleships and cruisers to prepare for a night surface engagement with U.S. ships. ...

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15. Building Aircraft Carriers

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pp. 259-280

The Battle of Midway in June 1942 had established beyond doubt that the aircraft carrier was the principal warship of major fleets. All other warships would serve primarily in supporting roles—if carriers were available. The clearest evidence had been Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s withdrawal from the Midway action with 11 battleships untouched by American bombs or torpedoes, ...

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16. The First Assault

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pp. 281-300

The first U.S. amphibious assault of World War II began on the morning of August 7, 1942. During the night of August 6–7 a large U.S. invasion force entered the Solomon Sea: 3 aircraft carriers (with 240 aircraft), 1 fast battleship, 14 cruisers (3 of them Australian), 31 destroyers, 5 destroyer-minesweepers, 5 oilers, ...

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17. The Solomons Won

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pp. 301-310

In late October 1942, after the Battle of Santa Cruz, the U.S. carrier force in the South Pacific theater consisted of only the carrier Enterprise, undergoing hasty repairs at Nouméa, New Caledonia. At that moment both the U.S. and Japanese commanders made efforts to reinforce their embattled forces on Guadalcanal. ...

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18. The European War

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pp. 311-330

The year 1942 dawned with the Axis star at its highest and the Allied star at its lowest in the European theater as well as across the broad Pacific. In the Atlantic, German U-boats were embarking upon what their commanders would call the “second happy time,” the first having been from July to October 1941, when Allied shipping suffered staggering losses. ...

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19. The Invasion of Europe

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pp. 331-354

The British had long looked forward to the entry of the United States into the European War; the soldiers and destroyers of the New World had been the saving factors in World War I and were again eagerly awaited. When the United States did enter the war Britain’s fortunes continued to sink as the Axis went on the offensive in North Africa and in the Far East. ...

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20. Across the Broad Pacific

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pp. 355-376

In the late summer of 1943 the U.S. Navy opened another front against Japan, in the Central Pacific, and adopted a new operating doctrine. This was possible because of the availability of a large number of new fast carriers. At the same time, a major administrative change took place within the U.S. Navy that would influence the command and manning of these ships and their air groups. ...

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21. The Biggest Carrier Battle

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pp. 377-400

By early 1944 the strategic situation in the Pacific had undergone a profound change with the capture of Kwajalein, Majuro, and Eniwetok in the Marshalls by U.S. forces, and by the fast carrier raids against Truk, the Palaus, and the Marianas. The American occupation of key points in the Marshalls and the related carrier strikes constituted the first major breaks in the Japanese defensive perimeter. ...

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22. Marianas Aftermath

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pp. 401-408

As Task Force 58 was completing its night recovery after the Battle of the Marianas, on board the battered carrier Zuikaku Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa received orders from the Commander-in-Chief Combined Fleet to retire from the battle area. The First Mobile Fleet still numbered 6 carriers, 5 battleships, 13 cruisers, 33 destroyers, and 4 oilers, a sizable force. ...

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23. Leyte: Setting the Pieces

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pp. 409-422

Into mid-1944 the Allied offensive in the Pacific was advancing on two widely separated routes. Under the direction of Admiral William (Bull) Halsey and, later, General Douglas MacArthur, Allied forces moved northwest from Guadalcanal, through the Solomons, the Bismarck Archipelago, and along the northern coast of New Guinea. ...

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24. Leyte: The Battles

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pp. 423-444

The first reports of the approaching Japanese warships came from U.S. submarines stationed along the approach routes to the Philippines. The first blood was drawn on the morning of the 23rd when two U.S. submarines closed with the First Diversion Attack Force—the large battleship-cruiser force—off the Philippine island of Palawan. ...

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25. The End of the Japanese Fleet

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pp. 445-462

During the first few days of December 1944 the U.S. Fast Carrier Force replenished and rested at Ulithi. Because of the Japanese suicide attacks the task force was reorganized and its defensive tactics were revised. The veteran fast carriers Belleau Wood, Franklin, and Intrepid returned to the United States for repairs; the Bunker Hill was still in overhaul; ...

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26. The Final Battles

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pp. 463-494

The 116 U.S. warships of the U.S. Fifth Fleet cleared Ulithi’s spacious lagoon on February 10, 1945, and two days later rehearsed close support techniques with Marines on Tinian in preparation for Operation Detachment, the invasion of Iwo Jima. Iwo Jima—Japanese for “sulphur island”—is a small, 4½-by-2½-mile island in the Bonin group. ...

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27. New Ships and Planes

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pp. 495-508

As the war in the Pacific neared its thunderous conclusion, new aircraft carriers and new aircraft were joining the U.S. Fleet. By the spring of 1945 the U.S. Navy had 88 aircraft carriers of all types and sizes in commission. Another 25 were under construction and an additional 31 on order. ...

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28. Carriers to Japan

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pp. 509-528

By the summer of 1945 U.S. naval and air forces were closing on the Japanese home islands. After two weeks at Leyte, a rejuvenated Fast Carrier Force was led to sea by Admiral William F. Halsey and Vice Admiral John S. McCain. There were initially 14 fast carriers and a large number of supporting ships in the Third Fleet. ...

Appendix A.

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pp. 529-530

Appendix B.

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pp. 531-532

Appendix C. Convoys to Malta, 1940–1942

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pp. 533-534

Notes

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pp. 535-556

Index

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pp. 557-574

Author Biographies

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pp. 575-576