How the Japanese Carriers were so effective

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This video details how the Japanese Carriers were so effective in the early months of World War 2.

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Symonds, Craig L.: The Battle of Midway. Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK, 2011

Peattie: Mark R.: Sunburst. The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power, 1909-1941. Naval Institute Press: Annapolis, Maryland, 2007 (2001).

Parshall, Jonathan B.; Tully, Anthony P.: Shattered Sword. The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. Potomac Books: United States, 2007.

Evans, David C.; Peattie, Mark R.: Kaigun – Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy 1887-1941. US Naval Institute Press: United States, 2012.

Lundstrom, John B.: The First Team. Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway. US Naval Institute Press: Annapolis, United States, 2005.

Spector, Ronald H.: Eagle against the Sun. The American War with Japan. Cassell & Co: Cornwall, UK, 2000.

Drea, Edward J.: Japan’s Imperial Army. Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945. Kansas University Press, USA: 2009.

Spector, Ronald H.: Eagle Against the Sun – The American War with Japan

Cambridge History of the Second World War. Volume I: Fighting the War. Cambridge University Press: UK, 2015.

Parshall, Jonathan; Wenger, Michael J.: Pearl Harbor’s Overlooked Answer. In: Naval History Magazine, Volume 25, Number 6, December 2011

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46 thoughts on “How the Japanese Carriers were so effective

  1. Military History Visualized says:

    Sponsored by World of Warships! Register here  to receive 250 doubloons, 1,000,000 Credits, the USS Langley Aircraft Carrier premium ship, one port slot and 3 days premium time when you use code PLAYLANGLEY2019. Applicable to new users only.

  2. Robert Salvi says:

    Yes, they were effective right up to the point when they were destroyed by the tenacious warriors of the United States military. ✌ If the US didn't achieve an equal destructive and operational ability untill late 1943, what happened in the Coral Sea? The US didn't win, but we didn't loose. After that point the Japanese didn't win any substantial land or sea battle. ✌

  3. gamerx112 says:

    being an island nation, Im suprised they were banned from carriers in the first place

  4. Yet, for all their superiority how did the Japanese carriers do when they faced American carriers ? Lousy.

  5. David Norris says:

    Air dropped torpedoes were always problematical. When a torpedo is dropped it often does not hit the water cleanly. So it gets deflected. At the time the Japanese had a gyroscope that indicated the desired direction. The implemented full PID (proportional, integral, and derivative) control logic that would re-direct a torpedo to run true. The US did not develop a similar system till the 1950s. This made their torpedoes much more likely to retain their course when dropped

  6. Ardy Hagen says:

    One thing you might have missed was torpedo reliability. I think I have heard several times about how American torpedos in the early war often failed to explode

  7. The Reppuu and Shiden-Kai fighters were beast planes, too, but fortunately for democracy around the world (butterfly effect notwithstanding) they couldn't be produced in relevant numbers. A lot of planes never reached their full potential, either, because they could only get the shittiest fuel to put in them after a while, as the Allies found out to their surprise when they captured some after the war and put them through their paces.
    But it's a good lesson on hubris (I've seen Japanese portrayals of Midway that look at it as something like the Titanic), as well the blindness in leadership that comes from talking yourself into thinking you've got a ~heroic destiny as a people~, made of ordinary kids who in the end just want to stop the firebombing of the families and sweethearts they want go back home to.

  8. Gustavo Serrano Pérez says:

    The effectiveness of the Japanese empire was manifested against almost medieval countries and against the USA at the beginning of the war. In 1939 they lost in Jaljin Gol against the USSR and after Midway Japan only lost and retired.
    Japan was winning over poor and backward countries and attacking the USA treacherously. After the surprise, Japan only accumulated losses.

  9. F100 Super Sabre says:

    Who would win?

    The bulk majority of the Japanese naval armed fleet, carrying a strike force of the most dangerous and sophisticated naval fighters and bombers, while being protected by heavy, dangerous anti-aircraft guns


    A group diving bois

  10. Amish Caillou says:

    They were really effective until "Midway" through WWII

  11. 19canada67 says:

    Sure equipment matters but the advantage by thr Japanese wasn't that great. It's the tactics that decide the outcome. The one carrier task force by the US was used to scout the enemies fleet so the battle ships could engage with an advantage. Both sides thought that battleships would decide the fate of the war especially in the first two years. The US battle ship gang had their chance at Leyte and blew it chasing decoy carriers. It sealed the deal for carriers to be at the vanguard of the US Navy from then on. So early on the Japanese thought outside of the box with what can be done with carriers while the opposition thought they were incapable of such operations let alone using carriers to go on their own without supporting battleships in the decisive battle that would decide the war.

  12. Statalyzer says:

    Great vid, but gotta disagree with 8:03 through, it wasn't "9 carriers and 1 light" at the beginning of the war, it was 6 fleet carriers and 3 light carriers. He seems to be counting Shoho (which shouldn't be in the list at all, as it wasn't even available for another 2 months after the start of the war), Zuiho, and Ryujo as CVs – but they were definitely CVLs, even if they weren't totally outdated like Hosho was.

  13. They ruled because they had a plan. At the start of any war the side that starts it has a plan and the other side is trying to react to that plan. This is why the Germans were successful in the first couple of years. But once the plan has run its course and the war turns into attrition the side with the greater resources always wins. Hence the allies Britain, America and Russia were able to defeat Germany, Italy and Japan. They had greater resources which wore down the axis nations.

  14. Dead Poet says:

    But at the end of the day, 5-6 months later, the Japanese navy was stalled in the Battle of the Coral Sea, practically lost the war at Midway!

    During post Pearl Harbor rapid expansions and victories, the Japanese navy was practically unopposed while their antagonist were recovering. As soon as the US got its industrial might into play, the Japanese had no chance.

    Wars are won on logistics and amateurs talk about tactics and strategies.

  15. Squirrel E. says:

    Japanese aircraft carriers be like 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

  16. Đức Nguyễn Minh says:

    the IJN has 9 carriers at the start while the US only has 6
    US pumped out over 100 carriers thoughout the war
    IJN : the hell dude ? u are not Soviet !

  17. Costa Keith says:

    This is an interesting video on all the advantages of the Japanese carriers, but there's one little problem: the Japanese carriers weren't that effective. They did okay at Pearl Harbor, though they could have done much better had they had they followed orders and not overly focused on the battleships, but that was a surprise attack against ships in dock, pretty easy pickings. After that their success was minimal, with them either being turned back or defeated outright every time they met an American carrier. Maybe on paper they should have done better than they did, but they performed quite poorly in the real world.

  18. Admiral Beez says:

    I would argue the Japanese carriers not not effective. The victories listed at 0:38 are primarily IJA victories, with IJN transport. The carriers were not effective, because they had major deficiencies in both doctrine and technology. The Kido Butai's first major engagement after Pearl Harbour was the March 1942 attack on Ceylon. Not only did the KB fail to locate the British fleet, the IJN neglected to maintain a distant CAP and had no radar, thus luckily avoiding a RAF counter strike. Next at Coral Sea and finally at Midway, only six months in the war the decencies of still no radar, no radio direction or communication with/between its fighter aircraft (IJN radios were rubbish, and removed), terrible AA guns and useless damage control led the Kido Butai to disaster. Lastly the doctrine of the fighter pilots was one of the individual dog fighter, not team-focused fleet defender – if you attack and destroy ten Wildcats but you let a single Dauntless hit your carrier – you've lost. Give the Kido Butai radar, operational radios in their aircraft and a doctrine of coordinated fleet air defence and now you've got an effective carrier force.

  19. One weakness was the radar, which was a technological invention at that time, and suffered greatly since midway.

  20. Neutral American says:

    When it comes to world of warships the only strategy is to camp behind islands and lob shells for 20 minutes

    It’s freaking annoying

  21. Atomic Rooster says:

    How were the Japanese able to launch so many planes so quickly when compared to the American carriers? They must have had much better techniques not just training.

  22. Nayan Mipun says:

    World of war ships should also contain futuristic ships and today's ships, I am a bit fed up.with too much modern technology I need future and information age technologies

  23. Brian Patrick says:

    The japaness carriers were inferior to us carriers in that they lacked both damage control equbiment and training and anti aircraft and anti ship defenses. Once located they were sunk easier. US carriers survived repeated waves of japaness attacks. The sole advange was number of carriers in the pacific at start of the war. With in 6 months japaness carriers were no longer effective.

  24. Michael Davis says:

    Yeah, this is one reason why Japanese carriers were so effective in the early half of World War 2. But another reason I can think of why America didn't have better carriers until 1943, because the US was still drowned in the Great Depression before Pearl Harbor, and didn't think the Japanese would strike there to begin with.

  25. Michael Godbee says:

    It's called largefleet an good training but their big mistake was pearl harbor

  26. Matthew Bailey says:

    Excellent analysis.

    We are fortunate that the Japanese did not prepare the defend against the same tactics of their Carriers and Carrier Air Groups used by them against the USA and other Allies.

    Having converted ALL of its Battleships prior to the War (ESPECIALLY their “Fast Battleship Division” of the 4 Kongō-class Ships) to ships that stripped their entire “Secondary Battery” of 6” Naval Guns usable only against surface targets, and replaced them NOT with the Type 89 127mm DP Mounts that were not able to track modern aircraft, but the later Mounts we see on the Agano-class, and Oyodo-class Light Cruisers that held 2 3.9” or 10cm/65 Type 98 Dual-Purpose Guns in a variety of Mounts that were VASTLY FASTER TRACKING than the older Type 89 Dual-Purpose Mounts.

    The “need” of those 6” guns was non-existent. The Type 89 Mounts were FAR TOO HEAVY for their intended use. And cutting the Mounts for BOTH the 6” Secondaries, AND the Type 89 Mounts OFF the Kongōs (and all other BBs), raising the sides of the hull a bit, and then mounting 8 to 12 of the dual 3.9” Dual Purpose Mounts on these Ships would have allowed them to defend these ships from the Air Attacks that actually finished-off most of the IJN’s BBS.

    And we are lucky that in the late-20s and early-30s the Japanese closed their Radar Research for nearly a decade, when they were, at the time, the most advanced in terms of research-progress on Radar at the time.

    An IJN that had BOTH Search Radar AND Fire-Control Radar in all of those Night-Battles would be TERRIFYING.

    And we are fortunate that instead of building the Yamato-class Ships, they had instead used those resources in building NEW SHIPYARDS, and focused upon Streamlining the production of a SINGLE DESIGN of Anti-Submarine Ships (Sub-Chasers, or their version of “DEs”), AND a similar emphasis on Cargo Ships, Landing-Ships, and Aircraft Carriers, INCLUDING ESCORT CARRIERS to perform ASW sweeps of their Convoys from the “Southern Resource Area.”

    And… As you mention in terms of Training, we are REALLY LUCKY that Japan never learned how to properly train Air-Crews by rotating successful pilots back home to teach new Pilots how to survive, streamlining their production of MORE SKILLED PILOTS that were really in more need in many cases than Aircraft.

    Had the Japanese done these, and MANY other things that focused upon ACTUAL DEFENSE, it is very likely that they would have been able to prevent the Allies from being able to significantly threaten them until the late-40s, to Early-50s at best.

    The Japanese idiotic focus upon taking all of these isolated islands in the Pacific without the means to provide even ADEQUATE Logistical Support cost them untold resources that could have been better used to produce a line of bases ONLY along the line of the Shipping-Lanes from the “Southern Resource Area,” that could be better protected than the Island Bases that the Allies could just “Go Around.”

    Denying these Islands to the Allies would be FAR EASIER to do without actually “Manning” and fortifying these Islands. Cutting-off Allied Logistics supporting such Island Bases requires a fraction of the resources of occupying/fortifying these Islands.

    And shifting the resources that were used to take and hold these islands to New Guinea, the Solomons, Noumea, and Vanuatu to cut-off Australia/New Zealand from direct supply by the USA would have paid far-better dividends (not to mention not wasting resources to take places like Midway or the Aleutians) in terms of lengthening the amount of time the Imperial Japanese had to consolidate their Continental Possessions.

    Possessions that actually treating the Natives as “Equals” to “Defend against European Imperialism” would have paid-off even more.

    We are VERY LUCKY that the 20th Century Fascists’ Ideologies were so debilitating to producing Sound Strategies for waging War.

  27. High Tier Loot says:

    Got nerfed by next update

  28. James12345 James says:

    The japanese were roaming around south Asia without a purpose just for the sake of adventure.
    Their role should have been to open a front in Russia and make a naval blocade to prevent goods being shipped to URSS.
    That would have forced Stalin to split his forces and made them inefficient on the european front.
    This is an example of an uncoodinated war vs a coordinated war like allies had.

  29. B S Krishna Murthy says:

    I read somewhere that the Israeli pre-empt bombing of Egyptian planes in 1967 war was a copy of a similar bombing earlier.Pl let me know more.

  30. jim chavez says:

    In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success. Marshal Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

  31. Bev's Man says:

    But messing with a SLEEPING GIANT will get your toes stepped on.

  32. Please do something about this German accent.

  33. Michael Woods says:

    Mostly, though, the Japanese were so effective early on because they were much more numerous than US carriers. Once we got a few more and replaced the 1200HP F4F with the 2000HP F6F and F4U airplanes, the Japanese started losing everywhere. Also, the Japanese left their front-line pilots in combat until they were killed; the US sent experienced pilots back home to train new fliers, so after a while our guys were much better.

  34. Lisa Perry says:

    Why they weren't affected by the 12 point failure that the US and Europe signed after 1918 so they kept their military research active. While most of the other allies dropped to 100,000 men and women armies. They actually had 1.6 million and building up a huge navy to rival Europe and the United states. So by 1941 their navy ratio to the US and allies was 6 to 1.

  35. Nuancolar says:

    Trend-setting carrier tactics and a fighter designed for offense.

  36. Simply, they prepared war since long time ago.
    But, The United States never believed that it would be attacked.
    Because, Japan pretended never to attack.
    And, Japan is now pretending to be victims.
    Perhaps, They lacked the Little boy or Fat man.

  37. Douglas Wayne says:

    Japan is such a peaceful country today that it is difficult to believe that they were once very aggressive.

    After the War, the U.S. helped them rebuild their country but unlike China, Japan does not have global conquest ambition.

    China wants to surpass the U.S. to dominate the world.

    That is why the U.S. must stop them.

  38. They sure did but we sunk most of it and once the F6F came into service the Japanese had no chance and the speed that Americans produced why would they think they could destroy the sleeping giant well most of its at the bottom of the ocean

  39. Richard Unica says:

    Its like boxing .too much confidence lead to a defeat.

  40. A.J. Steinman says:

    It's more "kun TRIB yoo tid" than "KAAN tri boo ted."

  41. David Astle says:

    The U.S used multiple carriers working together with some success at Midway in 1942. 4-1 I think the score was.

  42. Renato Camurça says:

    A mix of best fighter of the world and best aeronaval pilots.

  43. Esencialidad says:

    What are you talking about? They were effective at the beginning because they had no opposition and sneaked attacked at Pearl. The first time the American carriers showed up (Midway), they got their asses kicked.

  44. Argo Dela Rea says:

    Guess what happened on midway

  45. Brian Sands says:

    Wow! This was an excellent and informative breakdown of early Japanese efficacy in the second World War. The visuals provided by your sponsor were impressive and the information provided was comprehensive and detailed for such a short video. I found your citations to be rather helpful and they prompted me to look up even further information. You must have crushed writing reports in school. Nice work, mate. I am now marathoning a playlist I've compiled of your other works.

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