Japan WAS
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History

"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."
-Admiral Yamamoto Isoruku

Yamamoto's words define the Japanese Navy (Nihon Kaigun) in World War II. Arguably, this fleet was the largest, most professional and organized navy on the face of the earth. It was unsurpassed in air operations and firepower.

First and foremost for the Combined Fleet was the First Air Fleet (Kido Butai). Japan possessed ten carriers (six fleet and four light carriers) and over 1500 trained and veteran air crews. Japan pilots and crew learned their trade on the oldest Japanese carrier Akagi. Additional experience came from combat over China. In addition to the carriers, Japan possessed a cadre of supporting ships: battleships, cruisers and destroyers. Japan's battleships were solid, though slightly out of date compared to their Allied compatriots. It was her core of cruisers and destroyers that were the core of Japan's surface fleet. The main weapon of the escorts was the Type 93 Torpedo also to be known in the Allied navies as the "Long Lance."

Japan's submarines had considerable range and quality. They scored many successes (including the coup de grace to Yorktown and the sinking of the Indianapolis) against Allied surface ships. However, Japan's bushido code did not allow for attacks on merchant ships. This was key since both Germany and the United States both unleashed their subs against the necessary shipping to keep war efforts alive.

Japan's airpower was lethal early in the war. This was due to the skill of the pilots in the Nihon Kaigun. The key aircraft was indeed the A6M "Zeke" or "Zero." This fighter was agile and well armed. Japanese pilots could tear apart almost any Allied fighter early in the war. It had much further range than any other fighter. But these advantages came at a cost in terms of survivability; if one could hit the Zero, it would be shot down. Through 1942 the Zero was still dominant, but was becoming outclassed by the United States's Hellcat.

Stat Table:

Fleet and Light Aircraft Carriers (CV/CVL):

Escort Carriers (CVE):

Battleships/Battlecruisers:

Heavy Cruisers:

Light Cruisers:

Destroyers:

Destroyer Escorts/Frigates/Corvettes/Escorts:

Submarines:

Torpedo Boats:

Auxiliaries:

Patrol Bombers:

Dive Bombers:

Torpedo Bombers:

Fighters:

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