The United States is a Nation whose history is punctuated by conflict. It was born out of conflict in the American Revolution, expanded its borders through conflict, and continues to police conflicts throughout the world. Among all of these various conflicts, one in particular stands out in history as one of the greatest of all-time: World War II.
World War II was significant not only in its magnitude, but also in the great technological changes that had found their way into the battle space. One such technological innovation was the advanced role of Naval Carrier aviation. This gave Navies the ability to project airborne power anywhere on the globe, within a short amount of time. In early 1942, there were two people in particular who understood the advantages and dangers of Carrier aviation, as well as how to best utilize it. One was Admiral Chester Nimitz, the United States Navy’s Commander-in-Charge of the Pacific fleet. The other was Japanese Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku. (Symonds, Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles That Shaped American History 5)
The centerpiece of the Japanese Navy was a group of ships known as the Kid¬o Butai. Kido Butai most literally translates to “mobile force,” but generally is understood to mean “attack force.” (Symonds, Pivotal Moments in American History: Battle of Midway 25) Normally comprised of six Aircraft Carriers, two Battleships, and several Cruisers and Destroyers, the Kido Butai was theoretically capable of putting approximately 412 aircraft airborne at any given time. (Symonds, Pivotal Moments in American History: Battle of Midway 25) During World War II, the Kido Butai roved the Pacific Ocean freely, conquering territories and defeating enemies. To the Japanese, as well as much of the world, it was seen as an unstoppable force. It was, in fact, the Kido Butai, under the orders of Admiral Yamamoto, that had launched the attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7th, 1941. (Symonds, Pivotal Moments in American History: Battle of Midway 25)
The United States Navy, by contrast, normally operated as “Task Forces.” A Task Force normally consisted of a single Aircraft Carrier, being screened by several Cruisers and Destroyers. (Symonds, Pivotal Moments in American History: Battle of Midway 25) This gave the US Navy the flexibility to conduct several attacks, or to support multiple missions simultaneously. If needed, multiple Task Forces could be combined for a larger operation. The US Navy still operates in a very similar manner to this day.
By April 1942, just four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto began to seek out a plan for the total destruction of the US Pacific Fleet. He was disappointed in the results of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and feared a US attack on mainland Japan. (Symonds, Pivotal Moments in American History: Battle of Midway 99) Yamamoto also knew that Japan had a numerical advantage in the Pacific Fleet that would not last long. In April of 1942, the...