Nothing you've written is convincing to me, George.
Nothing at all ! Not even a little?
First, it is a delight to discuss/dispute this with one so well informed (if a bit off the mark in interpretation).
Jean Bart was not in dry dock during the action at Oran, or if she was she couldn't fire her guns - the recoil would have knocked the ship off the blocks that supported it. (One experience walking under a large ship in drydock leaves a lasting and vivid impression of this.). We suffered over 500 killed at the Oran action and more in subsequent skirmishes. Using the usual 3:1 ratio for wounded to killed, I believe my use of the term "thousands of casualties" was correct. Your recitation of the somewhat tragic history of Admiral Darlan was accurate, and it demonstrates well the real attitudes of the Vichy government.
The Japanese "excursion " in the Indian Ocean cost the Royal Navy the only aircraft carrier it had East of Suez in a major (and decisive) naval battle fought near (then) Ceylon. This alone made the subsequent dispatch of Prince of Wales and Repulse a desperate folly. The British could not afford even the possibility of a major engagement with the Japanese Navy after that.
Yes, one can get to North Africa from Australia via the South Indian Ocean, the Cape and the South Atlantic. One can even go by Suez and avoid the Straits of Malaca - this was the route primarily used to support the African campaign. However it was risky. It is a very long journey, even from Perth, to the Cape (very little Mercator distortion exaggerating the perception of distance there.) and up the South Atlantic - I have sailed it. Moreover German submarines off Dakar made it costly.
We apparently agree about the European colonialism and duplicity that created the Post Ottoman situation in the Moslem world. We evidently do not agree on two key points, however. (1) I believe there is a widespread malaise (to use a Jimmy Carter word) in the Islamic world and it focuses on the post Cold War self-perception of their relative backwardness, compared to the West, and recently, even Asia. One can see its symptoms from Indonesia to Iran, Arabia, Egypt, and even Morocco. (2) Further I believe the roots of this unease are traceable to 1918 and before. While it is true that our (sometimes too unquestioning) support for Israel has made us the recent focus for much of this, it is also true that, prior to 1956, the French (particularly) and the British were the principal military supporters of the then new Jewish state. Beyond that, the whole issue of Zionism is a legacy of European misdeeds. It is convenient for Europeans to assume that history began with the development of the European Union, but it is not a fact.
Yes, of course, i was absolutely wrong to use the term "dry-dock." But i do believe that Jean Bart was alongside at the time of the engagement. As i think about it, Massachusetts shelled the shore facilities at Casablanca, and probably sank patrol boats and submarines. It may have been Augusta and aircraft from Ranger which put Jean Bart out of commission.
I don't have a lot of time to go run this down right now, as i'm at work. A site calling itself "the ultimate World War II site" states that: "The stiff Vichy resistance cost the Americans 556 killed and 837 wounded. Three hundred British troops and 700 French soldiers were also killed." The author of the site cites The War in the Desert, Richard Collier, and The Second World War: The Hinge of Fate, Winston Spencer Churchill.
I think the characterization of the engagement to which you refer in the Indian Ocean as "near Ceylon" is incorrect. It is perhaps a couple of days steaming from the Andaman Islands to Ceylon, but the Japanese, at least, had a healthy respect for the danger air power presented to naval vessels, and didn't attempt to attack Trincomalee or Columbo. I also believe you are incorrect about the Brit carriers. As i recall, Invincible and Indomitable were both based on Columbo, although neither was very much of an offensive threat, in my never humble opinion. Of the six carriers in the First Air Fleet which attacked Hawaii, at least four, Kaga, Akagi, Shokaku and Zuikaku, were all able to launch more aircraft than the combined forces of both English carriers. Yorktown, Hornet, Saratoga, Lexington and Enterprise were each able to launch more aircraft than that. In the Second World War, both the English and the Germans were absolutely clueless about air power in naval matters. While it is true that the English attack on Tarranto with torpedo bombers was carefully studied by the Japanese and the Americans, this was about their only significant naval aviation action in the war. They more than made up for it after the war with the steam-powered launch catapult, the landing lights signal array and diagonal flight decks--but during Dubya Dubya Two, they were definitely "suckin' hind titty." It is interesting to read the portion of Adolf Galland's war memoir, The First and the Last, in which he describes how he kept air cover over Scharnhorst, Gniesenau and Prinz Eugen as they ran the Channel in daylight. Had this been attempted against American or Japanese naval aviation, i doubt they would have gotten away scot-free--at the least, the Luftwaffe would have suffered heavy casualties.
After the Andaman Islands affray, i don't consider that the Imperial Navy had the resources to attempt the Indian Ocean again. First the Coral Sea, and then Midway began the rather rapid process whereby Imperial naval assets were whittled away. At all events, as i have pointed out, the Australians brought home significant large formations from North Africa after the fall of Corregidor. As Churchill points out in The Second World War, the British Empire had already decided to switch their convoy routes to go via Capetown and Freetown by this time. German submarines launched prior to 1942 weredesigned to operate in the Baltic, and were completely inappropriate for blue water operations in the south Atlantic. That they did is more a testimony to the courage and devotion of the Kriegsmarine than it is to the wisdom of the policy. The Brits slowly hunted down the commercial ships which were being used as sub tenders in Spain, and even before the United States entered the war, the USCG was patrolling the North Atlantic west of Iceland, the Carribean and the mid-Atlantic waters off the coast of Venezuela, the Guyanas and Brazil. In fact, USCG aviation patrols helped locate Bismark after she separated from Prinz Eugen, and help guide Mountbatten's destroyers to the target. After the American landing in North Africa, and the debacle in Tunisia, the Germans abandoned any serious efforts to interdict Allied shipping coming up from Freetown in Sierra Leone. Thereafter, they concentrated on the North Atlantic, and the Royal Canadian Navy paid the butcher's bill, herding more convoys across the pond than the Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy combined.
I don't dispute the origins of the problems with the "Arab Nation" in the middle east--France and Britain both fought very bloody uprisings after the Great War. What i am saying is that the European nations have long ceased to matter in the equation. That their position is hypocritical doesn't alter cases; that they are no longer in the bullseye and don't wish to go back there should surprise no one. I do believe that had a better case been made, or had there been cause to make a better case (which i don't believe) we might have had more support from the UN and not just Europe. Among all the rest which disgusts me about the Shrub and Company and their dirty little war, the "shoot-from-the-hip" cowboy attitude ranks up there with the worst of their traits.
I also have some work to do.
You are correct that the British carriers were smaller than those of the Japanese and the U.S. They were the first in this area and we were the imitators. By 1940 we, and the Japanese, had a generational lead on them in ship size and aircraft development. Competing requirements for economic resources more than any other factor kept the Brits a bit behind. However they were quite capable. As you noted, even after WWII, the British were the real innovators in carrier aviation. We just did things on a bigger scale.(As an aside I even have a few traps on the last of the British (real) aircraft carriers, Arc Royal. It was in the mid '70s in Buccaneers.)
Hornet was a good deal smaller than either Lexington. or Saratoga, or even Enterprise. The Japanese carriers varied quite a bit in size and capability. The biggest were certainly the equal of Lexington, and they started the war with better aircraft.
In another thread we had a discussion of the Japanese aircraft. While they outperformed U.S. aircraft, they were not nearly as survivable, and it is not even appropriate to speak of armor on those aircraft. The Curtiss Tomahawks in Chenault's "Flying Tigers" used their superior structural strength and better armor to deal with Japanese aircraft by diving through their formations, firing as they went. The Japanese could not follow in a power dive. This became even more of a gap when the Navy deployed Corsairs and then Hellcats--the Japanese never caught up, and even "green" American pilots had a better survival chance in a dogfight. Small wonder the pilots referred to the destruction of the Truk air forces as the "Mariannas Turkey Shoot."
Lexington and Saratoga were both built upon hulls originally intended for cruisers, but which would have been scrapped after the London Naval Treaty, had they not been converted to carriers. I never investigated, but i guess i always assumed that this was the reason for their relatively large size--for the 1920's.
In regard to your comment about the variation in size of the Japanese carriers, this was never more evident than in the beginning. The First Air Fleet under Nagumo which steamed to Hawaii had, in addition to the four other carriers i've mentioned, Hiryu and Soryu (i probably misspelled those names), and these six carriers were the largest in the Imperial Navy. The entire Eleventh Air Fleet, tagged to escort the task forces of the "Southern Operation" could not put aloft as many aircraft as any two of Nagumo's ships.
O F F T O P I C
But interesting nevertheless.
The Japanese kept their first line pilots on active Fleet duty without rotation. We rotated our combat experienced vetrans back to the Training Command to teach new pilots. The result was that after Midway the Japanese had lost nearly all of their combat experienced and well trained Navasl Aviators and, with them, the ability to train replacements. By the Marianas campaign they were putting up new pilots just out of basic flight training, and they were shot down by the hundreds.
All this is indeed off topic, but Set and I have struggled to a draw on this issue and are having fun. (Actually I think I am just a little bit ahead !)
George, you know i would never you deny you the pleasures of your self delusion.
Just out here gamboling with the strawmen.
I remain rather fond of my own locution, you know . . . an Irish trait . . .
Please do your own research on Kerry...
You only need to listen to this guy...
Just for the record:
WWII began with the invasion of Poland Sept. 1, 1939
Sept. 3, 1939 England and France declared war on Germn.
The alignments had been:
1. Germany, France and England against the Soviet Union.
2 Germany against France, England and the Soviet Union.
3 Germany and Soviet Union against England and France.
And the third alliance was to change back to number two.
(An amusing aspect - Some of the top British military sincerely believed that Poland would successfully defeat Germany because Poland was an aristocracy and had an aristocratic military which would prevail. Just as stupid as the leaders of the Reich who were convinced that America would not intervene in a war in Europe. And as stupid as the 60,000 members of the America Firsters with the prestige of their chief propogandist Charles Lindberg who warned the American Jews to "Shut up---or else.")