Strategically, the "fleet in being" argument would have been an uncharacteristic one for the Royal Navy to make--doesn't it relate to capital ships of an inferior fleet, rather than to cruisers? I would argue that even at this late date, many planners still viewed aircraft carriers as relatively expendable compared to the battleships that would protect or contest amphibious operations. Certainly the US Navy was willing to risk half it's effective carrier force in the Doolittle raid for the chance of a morale-building win. It's conceivable that had Somerville sent his battleships back to Mombassa and risked only his carriers (as they often were in the Mediterranean), the Admiralty would have approved. Perhaps Boyd argues otherwise; I will have to read that book.
: For what it's worth, Malta based Swordfish had
: been making night torpedo attacks on Italian
: convoys. Not sure they were ever trained for
: it, but they got pretty good pretty quickly.
: I would think the pre-war FAA *did* train
: for night torpedo attacks. Bismarck was hit
: in appalling weather, although not
: technically at night. But, I agree, unless
: Nagumo lost his never after a lucky hit on
: one of the Japanese carriers, the next day
: wasn't going to be a good one for the RN.
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