I just answered an interesting question in the YouTube comments:Question:
[Paraphrasing] You mention that both American and Japanese aerial reconnaissance was "equally terrible" during the early stages of the war. Every documentary I have seen in the past said the Japanese were significantly worse in this area. What's the deal?Answer:
Straight from the excellent article I was referencing:
"Among the reasons for defeat at Midway, one of the most routinely cited is the “inadequate” morning search made by Kidō Butai, wherein seven aircraft were launched to cover most of the fleet’s eastern flank. The analysis made by the U.S. Naval War College’s Admiral Richard Bates in 1948 was one of the first to put across this idea, and in many respects it has stood the test of time. Likewise, it bears noticing that in attempting to fix blame for the defeat, Fuchida and Admiral Ugaki Matome, chief of staff of the Combined Fleet at the time, both chose to criticize retroactively the search methodology used at Midway. However, upon closer examination, it can be seen that Nagumo’s searches were on par with Japanese conventions at that time. Indeed, they were also not worse than contemporary U.S. carrier searches, given similar prebattle intelligence...
In cases where carriers were not expected, searches could be scanty to downright nonexistent. For instance, Admiral Yamaguchi, despite his reputation for alertness and aggressiveness, did not bother launching a long-range advance search when CarDiv 2 arrived off Wake Island to deliver its attack on 21 December 1941...
Nor were Japanese searches markedly worse than those used by the Americans at this time. For instance, during
the U.S. carrier raids in February and March against Makin, Kwaja-lein, Jaluit, Marcus, and other locations, there
were apparently no morning searches before the attack launches. Had the three Japanese carriers anchored at Truk in early February (Akagi, Kaga, and Zuikaku) had timely intelligence, they might have surprised the Americans, with disastrous consequences...
In sum, Nagumo’s searches at Midway may have turned out to be inadequate, but they represented the norm for
both sides at this point in the war. They were certainly not especially different from that norm or lacking in some special way. They cannot be described as “mistaken,” unless one chooses to criticize the bulk of 1942 carrier searches (which would be, perhaps, fair enough). The flaws of Nagumo’s and Genda’s search plan at Midway were systemic and characteristic of everyone’s “learning curve” at the time."
Tully, Anthony and Lu Yu. “A Question of Estimates: How Faulty Intelligence Drove Scouting at the Battle of Midway.” Naval War College Review 68:2 (2015): 85-99.
This article is publicly available, and I highly recommend giving it a read.https://www.usnwc.edu/getattachment/fb6 ... nce-D.aspx
As for when this behavior in search patterns changed for both sides, I can't say off the top of my head. Both the Japanese and Americans dramatically improved their air searches throughout the war. There was never a clear advantage of one side's aerial recon over the other when you look back over the carrier battles. They spotted each other at roughly the same time on some occasions (i.e. Battle of Santa Cruz Islands), on others the Americans spotted the Japanese first (i.e. Battle of Midway), and on others the Japanese spotted the Americans first (i.e. Battle of the Philippine Sea, not that it helped them any).
This is a brand new argument (a little over a year old) by Tully and Yu, so no documentaries address it. Even good ones tend to rely a lot on badly dated historiography around the Battle of Midway, most notably Fuchida's largely fabricated chain of events.