First, look at the geography of the two theatres and how it affected Allied strategies.
For example, the geography of the European theatre was a more simple, compact, cohesive battlefield. By simple I mean that once the Allied forces had stormed the beaches of Normandy, they were immediately put to the test by France’s “hedgerow country” which the text book describes as thick hedges lining roads and fields that the Germans utilized for defense positions. But once Allied forces had broken through they were able to advance at a rapid pace because they could go country to country within Europe more easily than in the Pacific. Another key component of the landscape was the majority of German forces were along the Eastern front fighting the Soviets. The Germans struggled holding back our forces from reaching Berlin once we reached the Rhine.
In looking at the Pacific theater, the geography was completely different. The war was fought amongst the world’s largest ocean on various islands. These islands were filled with anything from dense jungles, malaria-ridden swamps, and an enemy who was capable of digging in to impassable mountains. The sheer size of the Pacific Ocean caused many logistical problems of transporting materiel from island to island as they advanced towards Japan. It also led to the aircraft carrier becoming a key asset for victory. In order to obtain air supremacy over Japan, the US would need to secure airfields on islands such as the Marianas closer to Japan, and the aircraft carriers helped achieve this.
Secondly, the military capabilities of our opponents were again different. Germany had been dominating the European continent since the war broke out. With their Blitzkrieg methods they were able to successfully dislodge nearly all of their opponents. Despite Allied attempts to strategically bomb their industries, Germany was actually able to increase production. The textbook gives a statistic saying that they doubled their aircraft production from 1943-1944. They were also able to improve upon the quality of their machinery and even create “vengeance weapons” including the V2, which was a rocket that could not be intercepted by Allied defenses. This helped avert Allied strategic bombing to focusing on launching sites and not their industrial cities. The Japanese had caught America off guard with the attack on Pearl Harbor and had also an advantage in the number of ships and aircraft quality. The Japanese had the “Zero” fighter plane that in the beginning of the war was king of the sky. However as the war went along, the US was able to manufacture better planes. Cook gives a statistic of from 1941-44 the US produced 260,000 aircrafts, roughly 5x more than Japan. The Japanese also lost their dominance in the Pacific in terms of naval power after suffering defeats from the Allies.
Thirdly, the nature of the enemy was truly unique to each. The Germans fought with the skill and strength of a modern day army. The German’s have a long history of harsh military discipline and a strict obedience. The troops were demanded “blind obedience and unquestioning loyalty” to not only their officers but also the Fuhrer. The best troops as mentioned above were along the eastern front, in our lectures we talked about Germany “playing by the rules” with exception to the eastern front. “Hitler’s Army” supports these claims by pointing out that as the war on the eastern front went on, the discipline of soldiers was less and