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In the movie Midway after the Battle of Coral Sea Henry Fonda as Nimitz made the comment they had started out with a 3 to 1 carrier advantage was he implying the Pacific fleet had more carriers?

Did he not know how many carriers Japan had or was it a mistake by the writers of the script?

Japan had a total of 12 carriers of all types in commission by the battle of Midway.

After Coral Sea the US Pacific Fleet had 4 carriers Saratoga was undergoing repairs on the West Coast and arrived one day after the battle had finished in Hawaii.

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I think this is the way it's phrased (which is quite badly).

Nimitz is trying to say that they started off working against a Japanese superiority of 3-1 and so they definitely can't afford to trade carriers on a one-for-one basis.

We can't trade the Japanese carrier for carrier, Matt. We started with a 3 to 1 superiority.

In December 1941 it was 11-4 and in May 1942 (10-3) so the actual numbers would seem to bear this put.source

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