Passing the Baton: World War II’s Asian Theater and the Coming of Age of the Aircraft Carrier

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The saga of aircraft carriers in the Asian theater took a unique course be-
fore World War II. A conspicuous token of this uniqueness was the Im-
perial Japanese Navy (IJN), which in April 1941—seven months before
the outbreak of the war—formed a kidō butai, a separate striking force of
carriers, the only one of its kind. Soon, this force was to shock the world,
but the rise of Japan to the rank of a naval superpower and an innovative
world leader in the operation of naval airpower did not occur instantly. As
an island nation increasingly dependent on external supplies and possess-
ing growing colonial ambitions on the Asian mainland, a strong navy was
expected to mitigate Japan’s geo-strategical vulnerabilities and facilitate its
aspirations. Established in the early 1870s, the IJN expanded rapidly as
Japan prepared to face its continental foes: Qing China in 1894, followed
by tsarist Russia a decade later. The continental conflicts with China and
Russia demonstrated that dominance in the seas was vital to any Japanese
decisive land victory
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-73
Number of pages6
JournalEducation About ASIA
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014


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