Aircraft carrier battles

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While aircraft carriers have dominated naval warfare from World War II on, there have been surprisingly few aircraft carrier battles: engagements in which both sides had aircraft carriers, and indeed may not have seen one anothers' ships. By most accounts, there have been five such battles, as suggested in the title of a novel by naval historian Barrett Tillman, The Sixth Battle, about a hypothetical future battle. [1]

True carrier battles

The accepted battles, all between the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy are:

Germany and Italy, in the Second World War, did not have operational aircraft carriers. British carriers in the early Pacific war were sunk by land-based aircraft, and, once the British carrier task force joined the Western Pacific forces, no Japanese carriers were left.

Carrier raids

There are a great many operations, starting with the Battle of Taranto and the Battle of Pearl Harbor, and continuing through the Gulf War, in which carrier-based forces attacked land targets. A special case, the Battle of Cape Engano, involved attacks by U.S. carrier aircraft on Japanese carriers that had no aircraft.

Threatened battles

During the Falklands War, Argentina had a carrier, but it never deployed operationally against the British force. Argentine Navy planes operated from land.


  1. Barrett Tillman (1992), The Sixth Battle, Bantam