pathology_doc: Ginny Weasley (film) clutching Riddle's diary: Ginny/Horcrux OTP (Default)
Pearl Harbour, 70 years on.

And yet, so the story goes, if the diplomats had delivered the declaration of war just a little bit earlier it would merely have gone down in history as one of the best-timed surprise attacks in the history of warfare.

Historical Background.
Oddly enough, the seeds had been laid down as long ago as the First World War, when the Royal Navy - frustrated by their German counterparts' (justifiable) refusal to come out for another stand-up fight1 - had hatched a plan to attack the High Seas Fleet in harbour with carrier-launched torpedo bombers.2

They had the carriers and they had the bombers. They even had previous experience with carrier-launched air strikes, although the aircraft had returned to land bases afterwards. The one thing they didn't have was time, for the war was over before preparations for the mission were complete.

The planning exercise served the British well, however, for in the next war they dusted off the idea and used it against the Italian fleet in Taranto. Three battleships were put onto to the bottom of the harbour, one for good. They did it with biplanes too, albeit more modern ones with more modern torpedoes3, proving that the basic idea of 1918 was sound.

The Japanese, who had shamelessly (and justifiably and openly) been copying Royal Navy methods from the late 19th Century to the first part of the 20th4, took the hint, and pulled off one of the most stunningly successful air strikes in history. The damage it did in material and prestige was immense. Alas, unlike Japan's even more stunning naval victories over the Russians in the war of 1904-05, it did not destroy America's naval capability - and Japan paid dearly for that.


1. They would have been butchered. The British deficiencies that led to the loss of three battlecruisers and the failure to sink more German capital ships at Jutland had largely been repaired and both sides knew full well how it would have gone, to the point where the High Seas Fleet mutinied when ordered to try.

2. The British are often accused of being hidebound, unimaginative and lagging well behind other nations in their development or adoption of technology. This is rubbish. Even in the context of World War One, they were (among other things) the first to take aircraft carriers into combat, the first to scramble fighters from a warship to defend against an air threat, and the first to develop and deploy the tank.

3. Anti-aircraft provisions in the battleships of World War One were next to non-existent, limited to a few high-angle small-calibre guns. The profusion of light and medium automatic weapons which characterises the battleships of the WW2 era was a thing for the then-distant future. Surface defences in the harbour might have been a different matter.

4. Shogunate Japan had paid dearly for annoying the West in the 1850s and 60s, and Western warships formed a major part of that embarrassment. The Japanese decided they must have a surface fleet of their own, that it must be fit to fight against the best of the West, and that the British - with their very long history of naval supremacy - were the best people to copy. Admiral Togo, who masterminded the destruction of the Russians at Tsushima in 1905, was an open admirer of Nelson, while many Japanese ships were either designed by British naval architects or built in British yards. One of them, Togo's flagship Mikasa, is a museum ship to this day, the last survivor of the battleship line designed by Sir William White. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and until such time as the Japanese decided on their own naval doctrine it served them very well.
pathology_doc: Ginny Weasley (film) clutching Riddle's diary: Ginny/Horcrux OTP (Default)
Today (September 15) is Battle of Britain Day. This winner-take-all contest was won by a bunch of very brave men whose government realized in the nick of time why having both the best weapons and the most advanced technology (and in adequate quantities) is essential for survival, and whose people were determined never, ever, ever to knuckle under to dictators, demagogues and murderers.

Rantage )


pathology_doc: Ginny Weasley (film) clutching Riddle's diary: Ginny/Horcrux OTP (Default)

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