Notes for 1st half of 20th century
How is this as a starting point? Cold War requires more thought, as well as significant naval battles between lesser powers (e.g., Eilat sunk by missile boats). The Suez operation was combined arms, but did it finally turn on naval power?
During conflicts among major conflicts of the 20th Century, there were several major themes, some carried out, some not:
- Decisive Mahanian defeat of the other fleet:
- In WWI, Writ on a small scale, that the Goeben got away was symbolic of missed opportunities. Heligoland Bight and Dogger Bank were in the right direction, but not hard enough. The Battle of Jutland was as close as one might get to the decisive battler inconclusive.
- In WWII, the Japanese, using ships and naval aviation, did savage ABDA fleets and bases in the fixt six months, but there was a particular style that seemed to infuriate the Japanese: an Allied commander would hurt a major part of their fleet, such as Spruance near Midway, but then decline decisive battle on Japanese terms. Naval operations at Guadalcanal were impressive but never decisive. Successive battles coupled with incredibly poor Japanese management of their pilot training and replacement made Japanese air irrelevant by Leyte Gulf. The Japanese responded, significantly with the Kikusui kamikaze raids at Okinawa, with an indication of how strongly the home islands would be held
- Line of communication/commerce raiding: often a very near thing
- First World War U-boats also came very near cutting Britain's supply lines.
- The Battle of the Atlantic was a close thing. Was COMINT the key, such that if Doenitz had maintained radio silence (or at least made it one-way from land), an adequate number of U-boats would have survived to break sealift across the Atlantic?
- How severe a threat were German commerce raiders?
- U.S. submarines did obtain decisive results against Japanese shipping. Japanese ASW was too little, too late, while they squandered their own submarines, first in a fleet context and the supplying garrisons.
- Combined arms
- In WWI, there seemed an unwillingness to go all-out: forcing the Dardanelles, Galliooli. It's hard to judge the cost-benefit of Zeebrugge.
- WWII Allied operations steadily got better in Europe and the Mediterranean. The balance of attacking the truly important islands, but refusing battle and simply raiding Truk, Rabaul, etc., must have frustrated the Japanese, with the allies simply not cooperating in a decisive WESTPAC battle.
- Even from the bad outcomes, such as Dieppe, the Allies kept learning. Guadalcanal was a shoestring seesaw, to coin a questionable metaphor. Tarawa was full of bloody surprises, but Allied amphibious warfare in the Pacific turned into a well-oiled, if blood-spattered thing.