Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific . . .
bd, The first Essex class were launched in 42, but didn't become operational until mid to late 43...a lot of that had to do with developing the Hellcat for them too, they MIGHT have been rushed up a little sooner had the carriers all been lost earlier, but we were down to only banged up Enterprise not too long after we invaded Guadalcanal, and had to "borrow" a couple from the Brits, so I'm not sure we could have gotten them up much more quicker....you'd think they would have been trying like heck already....
...now converting the light cruisers into the CVLs just might have happened sooner, the Intrepid class CVLs didn't take long to convert once they got the idea, and actually carried a decent complement of 35-50 planes and were fast too.... Generally speaking two Intrepids actually had slightly more power than one Fleet carrier, were more flexible, and smaller targets, they just couldn't take the damage a CV could, and couldn't operate in as rough seas...but they served well until the end.
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