Date of Award

2-2016

Document Type

Capstone-Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Program Name

Military History

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Robert Young

Abstract

The following is a study of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s heavy cruiser force, from the signing of the Washington Treaty in 1922 until the end of the Pacific War’s first year. It traces Japanese heavy cruiser development in the context of prewar imperial strategy and naval doctrine, and goes on to examine this force’s impact on the naval campaigns of 1941–1942. The study argues that while Japanese heavy cruisers were finely honed weapon systems—being tactically and technologically advanced, with highly skilled crews—their successes were largely squandered by lackluster senior leadership. While the cruisers inflicted significant damage on the Allied fleets in the Java Sea and in the Solomons, they were wedded to a navy undone by institutional shortcomings, inadequate logistics, and myopic doctrine.

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