A Tale of Two Doctrines: Japanese and American Naval Surface Warfare Doctrine, 1941-1943.
This article examines the tactical surface warfare doctrines that the United States and Japanese navies took into World War II. It examines them in the context of the profound technological changes that started in the inter-war years and continued through the war. In particular, it traces those doctrines –and especially American doctrines — in the first two years of that conflict. Such a review shows the dynamic play between the development of doctrine and the results of combat. Fundamentally, this interplay is a struggle to predict the future when the signposts of the past lose their meaning.

Japanese Amphib. Doctrine
In April and May 1942, the German Ambassador in Tokyo transmitted to Berlin the most important IJA guidelines for conducting amphibious landings. At that point in time, the Japanese rivaled the USMC for the title of the most competent amphibious force – the USMC had a more comprehensive doctrine, the IJA more experience.


Battleship and Cruiser Doctrine, Imperial Japanese Navy
This booklet is an introduction to Japanese battleship and cruiser tactics and doctrine. Standard cruising and attack formations are illustrated, based upon diagrams in original tactical documents. Torpedo and gunnery doctrine arediscussed in depth, though the former will betreated in more detail in a destroyer manual …

Japanese Carrier Formations (1942)
The following is disposition / formation diagrams taken from the Japanese history of their carrier force.

Japanese Navy Signal Flags (David Dickson)
Signals and Instructions » may a be a bit misleading since there is a lot more doctrine (i.e. instructions) here than signals. In my quest for translated Japanese texts on doctrine and tactics I kept encountering flag signals, something that I find fascinating. Recently I was able to compile the Japanese signal flag inventory and illustrate them in color. The title is taken from Sir Julian Corbett’s second volume on the Fighting Instructions of the Royal Navy in the sailing ship era; SIGNALS AND INSTRUCTIONS. …

Royal Navy armor
This document is a modern transcription of Admiralty record ADM 239/268. It addresses armour protection of various Royal Navy and foreign ships. The original file is held at the The National Archives at Kew, London. This Crown Copyrighted material is reproduced here by kind permission of The National Archives.

Japanese Carrier Operations: How Did They Do It?
the question, « How did they do it, and what were Japanese carrier operations like? » is asked frequently when discussing World ‘War II in the Pacific. Part of the answer is, much like ours but at the same time very different.

The battle of Midway (June 1942)

  • The Battle of Midway Why the Japanese Lost – by Dallas Woodbury Isom

    THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY CONTINUES TO GRIP the imaginations of those interested in World War II. This is true not just because it was the pivotal engagement of the Pacific theater but also because it was a battle the Americans should have lost—but instead won by one of the most lopsided margins in naval history. The Japanese entered the battle with an overwhelming advantage in ship-sinking firepower, but in the end they were soundly trounced. All four of their aircraft carriers were sunk, as against just one of the Americans’. Most dramatically, three of the Japanese carriers were destroyed in a span of just two minutes, and only minutes before those carriers were to have launched their own attack against the American carrier fleet. On 4 June 1942, Japan’s offensive naval air power was virtually destroyed in a single battle, and what little chance it ever had of winning the war in the Pacific went up in the smoke of its burning carriers. The titles of two popular books about the battle—Incredible Victory and Miracle at Midway—capture the momentousness of the event. Read more …

  • Doctrine matters – by Jonathan B. Parshall, David D. Dickson, and Anthony P. Tully

    Dallas Isom’s article “The Battle of Midway:Why the Japanese Lost” [NavalWar College Review, Summer 2000, pp. 60–100] is laudable for its use of Japanese sources and for the interesting points it raises. In particular, we applaud Isom’s interviews with Japanese survivors, which contribute new and useful information regarding Japanese aircraft rearmament procedures. This new data is crucial to building an accurate account of the events that transpired aboard the Japanese carriers on the morning of 4 June 1942.However, in our opinion, Professor Isom’s arguments appear to rely too much on a rather rigid (and highly debatable) interpretation of Japanese communications: namely, exactly when did Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo received transmissions from scout plane 4, launched by the cruiser Tone. Read more …

  • Dallas Woodbury Isom response

    Your reviewer of my MacArthur’s War in the Winter 2001 issue [Dr. Donald Chisholm, of the NavalWar College] must have had a bad-hair day.Not a single one of his nit-picking corrections, some of them already altered in the next printing, relate to the thrust of the book (largely ignored in the interest of demonstrating his superior naval expertise), which was that GeneralMacArthur bungled the command of the KoreanWar by failing to run a hands-on operation and by a pattern of willful and arrogant insubordination. Read more …


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