In 1942 Something unimaginable happened. The Japanese army occupied Singapore. It was the most devastating defeat ever for the British Empire and, in a historical sense, it was the beginning of the end of European empires.
Critical to the success of the Japanese operation was the ability of their long-range naval attack aircraft to sink two of Britain’s largest warships. It was indeed a shattering event for the British. Years later, Winston Churchill described his feelings that day, saying that the news affected him almost physically. Lacking any form of reliable air cover, the Royal Navy attempted to defend itself using tripod-mounted anti-aircraft guns fired at the scene. The Japanese would lose only a small number of their 88 on their attack planes, no space large enough to save the British from disaster.
Later in World War II, the Americans would do better, deploying carrier-based fighters whose sole purpose was to defend their fleet against Japanese aircraft. The introduction of the proximity fuse further enhanced their protection. Incredibly, the Americans invented a radar-controlled anti-aircraft shell that detonated at the point of closest approach to its target, increasing the effectiveness of anti-aircraft fire by a factor of five. This was a technique that was later borrowed by the British in their efforts to shoot down the infamous V1 flying bombs in the late stages of the war in Europe. It is perhaps best known for its success against Japanese kamikaze pilots in the mid-1940s.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /