Dating of navy orders ww2
Painting of the future Lexington class battlecruisers, in the second planned configuration.
The latter proved absolutely vital in 1941 and prevented the unthinkable: Being driven out of the Pacific, and fighting the Japanese on American soil.
Therefore a prodigious effort was made to built these in greater numbers than any other nation in history, past, present, and probably future.
They made the US Navy the naval superpower that it has remained to this day, giving it a first-rate instrument for the defense of the “free world” during the Cold War and safeguarding its interests on the seven seas.
Thus, in addition to the obsolete 3 inches guns (75 mm), and too slow 4-inches (127 mm), the AA relied mostly in add-on multiple machine guns mounts, totally inadequate against modern fighter-bombers.
Pearl Harbor was going to be the earthquake that upset this state of affairs.
The former were canceled, the latter transformed into a pair of aircraft carriers.
After launch, the Lexington and Saratoga became the most efficient aircraft carriers in the world, bigger and faster than any other.
In 1941, they still lacked radars and an efficient AA artillery.Although admiring the previous demonstrations of Eugene Ely before the war, the Admiralty was more convinced of naval air power by the series of successful aerial attacks led by Colonel Billy Mitchell against obsolete battleships carried out in the early 1920s.Some of the top brass were persuaded that for the cost of a single dreadnought one could employ a hundred naval bombers, much more effectively for coastal defence, but based on land.While the bulk of the US Navy was actually mobilized in the Pacific, other battleships served on the European theater (Operation Torch, Sicily, Italy..) participated in operation Overlord and many other amphibious operations, escorted convoys in the Atlantic and Arctic.
But by 1942, their role had been clearly revised: Providing artillery support for ground operations and providing an extra anti-aircraft umbrella for the fleet.The fleet of the Pacific indeed gathered most of the US dreadnought force, but hosted a handful of aircraft carriers – fortunately absent from the day of the attack.