“I will die on the deck of Nagato, and by this time Tokyo will be bombed 3 times”
- Admiral Yoroku Yamamoto
- Admiral Yoroku Yamamoto
The defeat of Japan in World War II seems so natural that there can be no options and different interpretations. The total superiority of the United States in natural, human and industrial resources, multiplied by a powerful economy and a high level of science development - in such conditions, America’s victory in the war became only a matter of time.
If everything is extremely obvious with the common reasons for the defeat of the Japanese empire, then the purely technical aspect of the sea battles in the Pacific is of genuine interest: the Imperial fleet of Japan, once one of the most powerful fleets in the world, died under the blows of numerically superior enemy forces. He died in terrible agony, suffering and agony. Armor recovered, and rivets flew out, sheathing burst, and streams of rushing water collided in a roaring whirlpool on the decks of the doomed ship. The Japanese fleet went to immortality.
However, before their tragic death, the Japanese sailors were marked by a number of bright victories. The “Second Pearl Harbor” near the island of Savo, the pogrom in the Java Sea, a daring raid of aircraft carriers into the Indian Ocean ...
With regard to the famous attack on the naval base Pearl Harbor, the role of this operation is greatly exaggerated by American propaganda: the US leadership needed to rally the nation in the face of the enemy. Unlike the Soviet Union, where every child understood that a terrible war was going on in the territory of his own country, the United States was to wage a naval war on foreign shores. This is where the tale of the “terrible attack” on the American military base came in handy.
Memorial on the corps of the deceased "Arizona" (the battleship was launched in 1915 year)
In reality, Pearl Harbor became a pure failure of the Japanese deck aviation - all “success” was the sinking of four decrepit battleships from the First World War (two of which were raised and restored by 1944). The fifth damaged battleship - "Nevada" was taken aground and returned to service by the summer of 1942. In total, 18 US Navy ships were sunk or damaged as a result of the Japanese raid, while a significant part of the “victims” escaped with only cosmetic defects.
At the same time, not a single bomb fell on:
- power plant, ship repair enterprises, port cranes and mechanical workshops. This allowed the Yankees to begin restoration work within an hour after the end of the raid.
- Giant dry dock 10 / 10 for the repair of battleships and aircraft carriers. The unforgivable mistake of the Japanese carrier-based aviation will become fatal in all subsequent battles in the Pacific: with the help of their superdoc the Americans will restore damaged ships in a matter of days.
- 4 barrels of oil! The capacity of the tanks of the US Navy refueling point in Pearl Harbor at that time exceeded all the fuel supplies of the Imperial fleet Japan
Fuel, hospitals, moorings, ammunition depots - Japanese pilots "donated" the US Navy the entire infrastructure of the base!
There is a legend about the absence in Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack of two aircraft carriers of the US Navy: they say, if the Japanese had sunk the Lexington and the Enterprise, the outcome of the war could have been different. This is an absolute fallacy: during the war years, the US industry passed the aircraft carrier 31 fleet (many of whom did not even have to participate in the battles). Destroy the Japanese all aircraft carriers, battleships and cruisers in the Pearl Harbor, along with Pearl Harbor and Hawaii - the outcome of the war would have been the same.
It is necessary to dwell separately on the figure of the “Pearl Harbor Architect” - the Japanese admiral Yoroku Yamamoto. No doubt, it was an honest military and competent strategist who repeatedly warned the Japanese leadership about the futility and disastrous consequences of the impending war with the United States. The admiral argued that even with the most favorable development of events, the Imperial fleet of Japan would last no more than a year - then the inevitable defeat and death of the Japanese Empire would follow. Admiral Yamamoto remained faithful to his duty - if Japan is destined to die in an unequal battle, he will do everything so that the memory of this war and the exploits of the Japanese sailors forever entered into history.
Japanese aircraft carriers on the way to Hawaii. In the foreground - Zykaku. Ahead - "Kaga"
Some sources call Yamamoto one of the most prominent naval commanders - around the admiral's figure, an image of an “Eastern sage” was formed, whose decisions and actions are full of genius and “incomprehensible eternal truth”. Alas, real events have shown the opposite - Admiral Yamamoto was completely incompetent in tactical issues of fleet management.
The only successful operation planned by the admiral - the attack on Pearl Harbor - demonstrated a complete lack of logic in the selection of targets and the abominable coordination of the actions of Japanese aviation. Yamamoto was planning a "stunning blow." But why were the fuel storage facilities and base infrastructure intact? - The most important objects, the destruction of which could really complicate the actions of the US Navy.
"They do not hold punch"
As Admiral Yamamoto predicted, the Japanese military machine uncontrollably moved forward for half a year, bright flashes of victories, one after another, illuminated the Pacific theater. Problems began later - the continuous strengthening of the US Navy slowed the pace of the Japanese offensive. In the summer of 1942, the situation was almost out of control - the tactic of Admiral Yamamoto with the fragmentation of forces and the release of "shock" and "anti-ship" groups of carrier-based aviation led to the disaster at Midway.
But the real nightmare began in 1943 year - the Japanese fleet suffered defeats one after another, the shortage of ships, airplanes and fuel became more acute. The scientific and technical backwardness of Japan made itself felt - when an attempt was made to break through to the squadrons of the US Navy, Japanese planes crumbled from the sky, like cherry petals. At the same time, the Americans confidently flew over the masts of the Japanese ships. There was a shortage of radar and hydroacoustic stations - increasingly, Japanese ships became victims of American submarines.
The Japanese defensive perimeter cracked at the seams - the colossal reserves allowed the Americans to land assault forces simultaneously in different regions of the Pacific Ocean. In the meantime ... more and more new ships appeared in the vast expanses of the Pacific theater - the US industry daily handed over a fleet of a couple of new combat units (destroyers, cruisers, submarines or aircraft carriers).
The ugly truth about the Imperial Navy of Japan has opened up: Admiral Yamamoto's bet on the carrier fleet has failed! In conditions of total superiority of the enemy, the Japanese aircraft carriers were killed, barely reaching the combat zone.
Japanese carrier-based aircraft achieved notable success in raiding operations - a raid on Ceylon or Pearl Harbor (if you do not take into account lost opportunities). The surprise factor and a large combat radius of aviation allowed to avoid return fire and return to the base after successfully completing the mission.
The Japanese had an equal chance of winning a squadron with the US Navy (Battle of the Coral Sea, Midway, Santa Cruz). Here, everything was decided by the quality of training of pilots, crews of ships and, most importantly, His Majesty Chance.
But in terms of the numerical superiority of the enemy (that is, when the probability of being hit by the return fire was equal to 100%), the Japanese carrier fleet did not have even a ghostly hope for any favorable outcome of the situation. The principle “to win not by number, but by skill” turned out to be useless - any fire contact ended with the imminent and inevitable death of an aircraft carrier ship.
It turned out that the once formidable aircraft carriers completely "do not take a punch" and drown like puppies, even with the weak influence of enemy fire. At times, for a sinking of an aircraft carrier, several hits from ordinary aerial bombs were enough. It was a death sentence for the Imperial Navy - aircraft carriers and carrier-based aviation were extremely ineffective in a defensive war.
On the disgusting survivability of aircraft carriers best told the battle of the Midway Atoll: the bursting group of 30 dive bomber "Dontless" under the command of Captain McClasky literally in a minute burned two Japanese attack aircraft carrier "Akagi" and "Kaga" (burned out, in a row, a line, a line, a line, a line, and a line, a line, a line, a line, and a wall, a line, a line, a line, a line, and a wall, a line, a line, a line, a line, and a wall, a line, a wall, a line, a wall, a line, and a wall, a line, a wall, a line, a line, a line, and a wall, a wall, a line, a wall, a wall, a line, a wall, a wall, a wall, and a wall, Kagan (KAA), burst on the air, burned two Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi and Kaga (burnt, ). A similar fate befell the same day the aircraft carriers "Soryu" and "Hiryu".
American attack aircraft carrier Bellow Wood after kamikaze attack
Everything is relative: in October 1944, the Japanese squadron of 12 battleships and cruisers walked for several hours under continuous attacks by more than 500 American carrier-based aircraft. Without any air cover and with primitive air defense systems. The result was only the death of the cruiser "Suzuya" and heavy damage to a couple of other ships. The rest of the squadron of Admiral Takeo Kurita safely left the zone of action of American aircraft and returned to Japan.
It is even scary to imagine what would happen if large aircraft carriers were in the place of the Yamato and Nagato battleships — a hail of small-caliber bombs would cause uncontrollable fires on the flight and hangar decks, and then a quick death of the ships from internal explosions.
The reason for the poor state of Nagato add-ons is a nuclear explosion with a power of 23 kt.
The old Japanese battleship was stronger than nuclear fire!
The old Japanese battleship was stronger than nuclear fire!
Admiral Kurita's squadron happily escaped death. In the meantime, a real massacre was taking place in the vast Pacific Ocean:
19 June 1944, the heavy aircraft carrier Taiho was sunk. The only hit of a torpedo from an Albacore submarine did not cause significant damage, but caused a depressurization of the fuel line. A small imperceptible problem turned out to be a catastrophe - after 6,5 hours after the torpedo attack, the Taiho was ripped apart by the explosion of gasoline vapors (1650 of the dead sailors).
The trick was that the new aircraft carrier "Taiho" was destroyed in its first combat campaign, just three months after launching.
One day later, 20 June 1944, the attack aircraft carrier Hiyo was killed under similar circumstances. With the only difference that the fatal torpedo dropped the deck plane.
The fantastic sinking of the Shinano supercarrier after 17 hours after its first outing into the sea is just an ordinary curiosity in the history of sea battles. The ship was not completed, the bulkheads are not sealed, and the crew is not trained. However, in every joke there is a joke share - eyewitnesses reported that one of the torpedo hits had to be exactly in the area of the aviation fuel tanks. Perhaps the crew of the aircraft carrier was lucky - at the time of drowning, the Shinano was going empty.
It seems that the aircraft carrier Sekaku has flight deck problems
However, aircraft carriers were out of order for less significant reasons. In the course of the battle in the Coral Sea, three bombs permanently knocked out the heavy aircraft carrier "Shokaku".
The song of the rapid destruction of the Japanese aircraft carriers would not be complete without mentioning their opponents. The Americans faced the same problem - the slightest impact of enemy fire caused terrible fires on board aircraft carriers.
In October, the 1944 of the year, just from hitting two 250-kg bombs, the light aircraft carrier Princeton completely burned down.
In March, 1945 was heavily damaged by the aircraft carrier "Franklin" - only two 250-kg bombs got into the ship, which caused one of the largest US Navy tragedy victims. The bombs fell in the center of the flight deck - a fire instantly engulfed the 50 fully filled and ready-to-fly aircraft. Result: 807 dead, completely destroyed air wing, uncontrolled fires on all decks of the ship, loss of travel, 13-degree lurch to the port side and readiness to sink the aircraft carrier.
"Franklin" was rescued only due to the absence of the main enemy forces nearby - in real combat, the ship would certainly be flooded.
The aircraft carrier "Franklin" has not yet decided - to stay afloat or sink
Survivors pack their bags and prepare for evacuation.
Survivors pack their bags and prepare for evacuation.
Kamikaze got aircraft carrier Interpid
Fire on the aircraft carrier "Saint-Lo" as a result of a kamikaze attack (the ship will die)
But the real insanity began with the appearance of Japanese kamikazes. The “living bombs” falling from the sky could not damage the underwater part of the hull, but the consequences of their falling on the flight deck lined with airplanes were simply terrible.
The case on the Bunker Hill carrier aircraft became a classic: 11 in May 1945, the ship was attacked by two kamikazes near the shores of Okinawa. In a terrible fire, Bunker Hill lost its entire wing and more than one crew of 400.
From all these stories follows a very obvious conclusion:
The imperial fleet of Japan was doomed - the construction of a heavy cruiser or a battleship instead of the aircraft carrier "Taiho" would have no meaning. Opponent had 10-fold numerical superiority, coupled with an overwhelming technical superiority. The war was lost at the very hour when Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor.
Nevertheless, it can be assumed that having highly protected artillery ships instead of aircraft carriers, the Imperial fleet, in the situation in which it found itself at the end of the war, could prolong its agony and cause additional damage to the enemy. The American fleet easily crushed the Japanese carrier group, but every time, when meeting with a heavy Japanese cruiser or battleship, the US Navy had to pretty much "tinker."
Admiral Yamamoto’s bet on aircraft carrier ships was disastrous. But why did the Japanese continue to build aircraft carriers until the very end of the war (they even rebuilt the last Yamato-type battleship into the Shinano aircraft carrier)? The answer is simple: Japan’s dying industry could not build anything more complex than an aircraft carrier. It sounds incredible, but 70 years ago, an aircraft carrier was fairly simple and cheap, much simpler than a cruiser or a battleship. No electromagnetic supercaptaps or nuclear reactors. The simplest steel box for servicing the same small and simple aircraft.
True, the aircraft carrier trough will sink even from small caliber bombs, but the aircraft carrier crew hopes that they will have to fight only against a deliberately weak and unprepared enemy. Otherwise - manners "overkil".
Low survivability inherent in the very idea of an aircraft carrier. Aviation needs SPACE - instead, it is driven to the cramped decks of a rocking ship and forced to carry out take-off and landing operations with a runway length three times shorter than the required one. The dense layout and density of aircraft inevitably serves as a source of increased accident rate of an aircraft carrier, and the general lack of security and constant work with flammable substances lead to a natural result - a serious sea battle is contraindicated to an aircraft carrier
8-hour fire on board the aircraft carrier Oriskani (1966 year). The explosion of a magnesium signal rocket (!) Led to a voluminous fire in the hangar, with the destruction of all aircraft in it and the 44 sailors from the crew.
A terrible fire on the aircraft carrier Forrestal (1967 year), which became the largest tragedy in the number of victims in the post-war history of the US Navy (134 dead sailor).
A repetition of similar events on board the aircraft carrier Enterprise (1969 year).
Emergency measures were taken to increase the survivability of aircraft carrier ships, automatic deck irrigation systems and other special equipment appeared. It would seem that all the troubles behind.
But ... 1981 year, unsuccessful landing of the aircraft EW EA-6B "Prowler". On the flight deck of the nuclear aircraft carrier "Nimitz" explosions thunder, flames rise above the ship's superstructure. 14 victims, 48 injured. In addition to the Prauler and its crew, the three F-14 Tomcat interceptors were burned in the fire. Ten Corsar II and Intruder attack aircraft, two F-14, three anti-submarine Viking aircraft and Sea King helicopter were seriously damaged. At one moment, the Nimitz lost a third of its wing.
A similar case on the aircraft carrier "Midway"
Inexhaustible problems with safety and survivability will pursue aircraft carriers as long as there is a circus called "carrier-based aircraft".