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SeaKnight_1990

Most Decisive Naval Airstrike

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The title pretty much explains everything: What do you consider to be the most decisive airstrike in naval history? This only takes into account air attacks launched against targets on the high seas, so no Taranto or Pearl Harbor. 

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29 minutes ago, SeaKnight_1990 said:

The title pretty much explains everything: What do you consider to be the most decisive airstrike in naval history? This only takes into account air attacks launched against targets on the high seas, so no Taranto or Pearl Harbor. 

According to your rules there are only 2 choices, and midway is the only correct answer because while coral sea proved the ijn was not invincible, Midway inflicted irreparable damage to the ijn and signaled the end of the war. The time and lives needed to complete the war were merely a formality after this battle.

Edited by monpetitloup
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50 minutes ago, monpetitloup said:

According to your rules there are only 2 choices, and midway is the only correct answer because while coral sea proved the ijn was not invincible, Midway inflicted irreparable damage to the ijn and signaled the end of the war. The time and lives needed to complete the war were merely a formality after this battle.

Go tell that to those who fought at Savo, Eastern Solomons, Cape Esperance, Santa Cruz, Guadalcanals I and II, and Tassafronga plus those who fought on Guadalcanal itself. It took attritional surface warfare to knock the IJN down to the point where they realized the war was no longer winnable. These were almost all defensive battles for the USN, and the two air/sea battles between the carrier groups of both navies were in support of the forces on the ground and the surface warriors in both navies. The South Pacific theatre was littoral warfare with a vengeance, folks. As for carrier battles. Midway stopped the IJN cold, and Phillipine Sea ended the IJN carrier threat for good by destroying the air assets. Leyte Gulf, as huge as it was for the number of ships involved, demonstrates just how far the USN had come from August 1942, in raw power and in battle skills at almost all levels. The 1942 battles were fought essentially by the old professionals, and the later battles by the newbie amateurs whose thirty months in the school of hard knocks had taught how to fight, and experience made professionals of them. War is the hardest school of all.

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Good Afternoon!

Actually, I might make the case for a couple of other decisive strikes.  While the Coral Sea and Midway were indeed highly important, the word decisive makes me take a slightly different view.

The torpedo hit on the Bismark was the decisive strike in that operation.  If not for that, the ship would likely have gotten away, which would have shifted priorities for months to come.  That would have tied up air and sea forces that would have been more effective elsewhere.

The Battle off Samar (center Leyte Gulf) has been described as one of the greatest last stands in history (Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors) .  If the aircraft off the Jeep carriers had not thoroughly rattled the Japanese there would have been carnage among the troop transports later on.

Have a great afternoon!

 

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I'd say the Marianas' Turkey Shoot / Battle of the Philippines sea.  While Midway was a serious blow to the IJN, it hardly finished them.  There were carrier battles afterwards where the USN and IJN traded blows like Eastern Solomons or Santa Cruz.  The Marianas battle was absolutely decisive as it finished Japanese naval air power pretty much totally.  Afterwards, the IJN was reduced to a mere shadow of their former strength and never recovered while the USN just kept getting stronger.

After Midway, the USN had three fleet carriers still operating in the Pacific:  Enterprise, Hornet, and Saratoga.  Wasp would be sent to join them.  The Japanese had Shokaku, Zuikaku, along with several light carriers and the Junyo and Hiyo, so bean counting they were still able to put parity into an operation with carriers.

The Japanese lost 3 of 5 large carriers they brought into the Battle of the Philippines sea along with over 500 aircraft.  USN losses were mostly aircraft lost to ditching after running out of fuel or crashing on landing.  Few of the Japanese aircrew were recovered whereas most of the USN ones were.  USN CAP operations were devastating.  Most Japanese raids were decimated long before they even spotted any US ships, while IJN CAP proved largely ineffective in stopping US aircraft from plastering their ships.

Unlike Midway, where luck and circumstance played a big role in the victory, here both sides had the opportunity to fight on pretty equal terms as far as intelligence, tactics, strategy, etc. went.  Head to head, the IJN of 1944 simply was no longer anywhere close to the competence level the USN had achieved and it shows in the lopsided defeat the Japanese suffered.

The whole Bismarck episode is really irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.  Had Bismarck made it back to port somehow, the ship would have been in repairs for months and then bottled up much like Tirpitz was.  Bismarck would have become almost irrelevant to the Battle of the Atlantic, just like Germany's other capital ships were by 1942.

The RN carriers / FAA never produced a decisive outcome in a naval battle worth comparison to those in the Pacific.

If there was one decisive carrier battle it is Philippines Sea.

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On 11/8/2019 at 1:36 PM, Murotsu said:

I'd say the Marianas' Turkey Shoot / Battle of the Philippines sea.  While Midway was a serious blow to the IJN, it hardly finished them.  There were carrier battles afterwards where the USN and IJN traded blows like Eastern Solomons or Santa Cruz.  The Marianas battle was absolutely decisive as it finished Japanese naval air power pretty much totally.  Afterwards, the IJN was reduced to a mere shadow of their former strength and never recovered while the USN just kept getting stronger.

After Midway, the USN had three fleet carriers still operating in the Pacific:  Enterprise, Hornet, and Saratoga.  Wasp would be sent to join them.  The Japanese had Shokaku, Zuikaku, along with several light carriers and the Junyo and Hiyo, so bean counting they were still able to put parity into an operation with carriers.

The Japanese lost 3 of 5 large carriers they brought into the Battle of the Philippines sea along with over 500 aircraft.  USN losses were mostly aircraft lost to ditching after running out of fuel or crashing on landing.  Few of the Japanese aircrew were recovered whereas most of the USN ones were.  USN CAP operations were devastating.  Most Japanese raids were decimated long before they even spotted any US ships, while IJN CAP proved largely ineffective in stopping US aircraft from plastering their ships.

Unlike Midway, where luck and circumstance played a big role in the victory, here both sides had the opportunity to fight on pretty equal terms as far as intelligence, tactics, strategy, etc. went.  Head to head, the IJN of 1944 simply was no longer anywhere close to the competence level the USN had achieved and it shows in the lopsided defeat the Japanese suffered.

The whole Bismarck episode is really irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.  Had Bismarck made it back to port somehow, the ship would have been in repairs for months and then bottled up much like Tirpitz was.  Bismarck would have become almost irrelevant to the Battle of the Atlantic, just like Germany's other capital ships were by 1942.

The RN carriers / FAA never produced a decisive outcome in a naval battle worth comparison to those in the Pacific.

If there was one decisive carrier battle it is Philippines Sea.

This.

Midway was a disaster for the IJN, but they still had plenty of veteran pilots, the 2 Shokaku-class Carriers still around, and the USN still respected that power.

 

The Shokaku-class acquitted themselves well given the situation that Japan was in post-Midway and through the bitter fighting for Guadalcanal.  But during the losses in aviators from Midway, thru Guadalcanal, thru the Solomon Islands campaigns of 1942-1943 was a horrendous level of attrition to the IJN's aircrews.  Their aircrew training was too long, too hard, and provided very few aviators.

 

What made the Battle of the Philippine Sea so disastrous, so conclusive was in several ways.

1.  The Carrier Losses - Taiho was brand spankin' new, the first for Japan, an Armored Flight Deck CV.  She'd be lost.  The loss of Shokaku was harsher, she was a veteran ship, one of the 6 original Pearl Harbor Strike CVs, and her crew saved her numerous times from disastrous battle damage, but what happened to her in this battle was just too much.

2.  The horrific loss in aviators - In particular is the loss of CARRIER trained aircrews.  Those losses the IJN aviation incurred from 1942-1943 were heavy, so bad that their Carriers weren't a factor for 1943.  It took the IJN a whole year to get together enough new replacement pilots to put full, proper air groups on their Carriers once again.  The problem was the proficiency of their aviators was no longer there.  Those pre-war, early war aviators were all mostly gone.  So when the IJN sent these green, inexperienced pilots against veteran US aircrews operating off those Carriers... It was a disaster.

 

Philippine Sea broke the back of Japanese Naval aviation.  Never again will you see Japanese Carriers operate with a solid air group any more after this battle.  Only a few months after this, when CV Zuikaku was sent to Leyte Gulf in late 1944, she had a token amount of planes and was really a sacrificial decoy.  When Zuikaku went down, any trace left of the old Kido Butai sank with her.

 

It was so bad that even by 1945, Japan had 3 new Fleet Carriers, the Unryu-class.  Unryu, Katsuragi, Amagi.  But the Battle of the Philippine Sea was so thorough in what it did to the IJN, none of these 3 new Carriers ever had an operational air group on them.

 

Hell, if Yamato-class conversion -> CV Shinano was completed and not sunk like she did in November 1944, she would still have been irrelevant.  Because all the IJN naval aviators were killed off in the Battle of the Philippine Sea of June 1944.

 

Edit:  I just realize how much of an apocalypse June 1944 was to the Axis.

Operation Overlord by the Western Allies for France in early June.

The amphibious operation by the US to seize Saipan, which triggered the Japanese counter and led to the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

Operation Bagration by the USSR in late June, just ripping apart the German military in the East.

 

The worst is yet to come.

 

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

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A little unorthodox, but I would say the aerial torpedo attack against a Turkish supply in the Sea of Marmara in August 1915.  While not devastating from the perspective of later WWII standards, this one was devastating in that it had never happened before.  It was the first time a ship was sunk by torpedo from an airplane while at sea.

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I have you agree with most here, Midway just proved we can fight and win and that we really did crack the IJN's code. USN got battered also in the battle. Now the Battle of the Philippine Sea is for sure is the winner here but I will also Pearl Harbor is up there, it was a successful surprise attack with great damage done for little losses

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