Senate Pearl Harbor

Discussion in 'Community' started by Skywalker8921, Dec 7, 2013.

  1. Skywalker8921 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2011
    star 4
    With today being the 72nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor, I want to take a look at the events that occured before the attack.

    President Roosevelt clearly felt that the Japanese would likely attack the United States somewhere in the Pacific, likely the Philippines, but probably didn't expect the attack to come when it did; the administration thought they would have more time to reinforce the islands. Hawaii wasn't given't much consideration. Also, Admiral Kimmel and General Short failed to respond adequately to the war warnings flashed out to Pearl. Controversy is still raging over a mysterious message known as "East Wind Rain" supposedly picked up at Cheltenham, Maryland, in early December less than a week before the attack.

    If both the Philippines and Hawaii had both been adequately reinforced before December 7th, if Kimmel and Short had taken the warnings seriously, could the attack have been prevented, or at least blunted? What are your thoughts?

    BTW, for those who haven't, I would recommend reading John Costello's novels The Pacific War and Days of Infamy. He traces the events leading up to Pearl step by step and discusses both Hawaii and the Philippines in detail.
    Last edited by Skywalker8921, Dec 7, 2013
  2. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    star 9
    Strategically, Pearl Harbor was actually a bit of a fail; missed the aircraft carriers, and well, we saw how that turned out at Coral Sea and Midway, plus most of the ships that were sunk were able to be recovered because of how shallow the harbor it. Politically though it carried a lot of oomph, and I think, definitely set the tone for the rest of the Pacific War, which was about as brutal as warfare gets-quarter definitely wasn't given by either side at just about any confrontation.
  3. Skywalker8921 Jedi Knight

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    Jun 9, 2011
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    I've never understood why the Oklahoma couldn't be salvaged when the other six battleships were. Does it have something to do with thef fact that it capsized, or were the number of torpedo hits just too much?
  4. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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  5. beezel26 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 7
    Hawaii needed to be invaded not just bombed. But the whole nature of the pacific really meant that long and drawn out naval and army engagements. There was larger and less populated islands that could have been invaded and used for resources. Make no bones about it, America was a really lousy target. China was not and it had many more resources. If the generals had been smart they would have continued to take over any and all islands in the pacific including Philippines. With five thousand miles in between California and Philippines, MacArthur would have been abandoned in favor of keeping out of a war. America was the sleeping dragon. Yamamoto wasn't in charge. He was just charged with doing the attack. Japan wanted to look good on the world's stage. Reality was growing slowly would have worked better. The name of the game in the pacific isn't territory but resources. Oil, iron, and aluminum. Needed to drive an army. Of course if America did enter the war they needed a few islands to keep them going. That's the only islands you need to keep them from to strong.
  6. CloneUncleOwen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2009
    star 4

    Pretty much. The USS Oklahoma was obsolete at the time she was sunk, and combined with being capsized for fifteen months before she was salvaged,
    the vessel was hopeless. There is a wonderful photograph available of an overhead view of the USS Wisconsin moored next to the hulk of the USS Oklahoma
    before she was towed from Pearl Harbor. Compared to the USS Wisconsin, the poor hulk of the USS Oklahoma looks like a chubby little antique tugboat.
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  7. Skywalker8921 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2011
    star 4
    Haven't forgotten this thread - just been too busy since Saturday to post much, plus our Internet conked out. So ....

    The Japanese used armor piercing bombs and torpedes, as well as their machine guns, at Pearl Harbor. Not much could have been done to stop hits from a machine gun or bomb, except to have more AA guns trained on the sky, and there were too few of those from the start. In a twist of irony, the torpedo attack could have been foiled; in The Pacific War, John Costello mentions that Kimmel had refused to lay down antitorpedo net barriers around Battleship Row as suggested by SOW Stimson. This was just a year before the attack. The Japanese torpedos only worked because of the breakaway fins that prevented them from diving straight into the mud of Pearl's 40 foot depth, which was less than 2/3 of the 75 foot depth required for a sucessful torpedo attack. Had Kimmel listened to Stimson and laid the barriers down around Battleship Row, even if it did restrict traffic as he argued in his refusal, then the battleships could have been spared the toprpedo hits. The Arizona's fate likely would not have changed, of course, since it was a bomb that doomed her, but the Oklahoma and the others might have come through with far less damage.
    Last edited by Skywalker8921, Dec 10, 2013
  8. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    The trouble with that, though, is that the shallowness of Pearl Harbor, and the obsolescence of the ships in question, made Pearl Harbor rather non-strategic. Was it a great psychological move and a well-designed plan? Sure. The trouble, though is that 1) the ships there weren't decisive in the coming war and 2) were largely recovered anyway. If it'd been an actual, at-sea battle and carriers had been sunk, the war probably would have been extended a good while.
  9. Skywalker8921 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2011
    star 4
    True enough. However, Pearl was significant in the Japanese mind. The Pacific Fleet was the only substantial force that could have responded if Japan had made moves toward the Philippines, Singapore, or Australia - the British were so busy with Germany during the first two years of the war that they couldn't spare more than a few ships for the Far East. Japan would have known that, and they wanted to keep the Fleet from charging out across the Pacific when they made their move on the British and US held islands. Look what happened at Midway. Japan most likely would have defeated PACFL in any case if they had come out of Pearl in response to a move before Dec. 7th, but I get the feeling they wanted to be free to do what they wanted without the possibility of interference, hence the attack.

    If the carriers had been caught at Pearl instead of being at sea, and if the fuel and oil installations ahore had been destroyed in a third bombing run, then it would have been a true strategic and tactical victory for Japan. Instead it was only a weak tactical victory that was completely reversed 6 months later. It's interesting that the only 3 ships that were complete losses were battleships.

    Not only that, but nearly all of the airplanes at Pearl were damaged or destroyed. Had the carriers been in port, their planes would have suffered the same fate and really made things difficult for the Navy.
    Last edited by Skywalker8921, Dec 10, 2013
  10. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    I'd say that six-month lead would have been extended by a year to eighteen months at best even if the carriers had been sunk-the USA's industrial muscle would have gone to war regardless and that's what the Japanese simply could not fight as an equal.
  11. CloneUncleOwen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2009
    star 4
    The Japanese Navy dropped the ball in so many ways when they attacked Pearl Harbor. Perhaps their worst failure was not destroying the tank farm which held
    the US Navy's fuel oil. If they had done this, the entire fleet would have been effectively out of commission for months. Gordon W. Prange, author of At Dawn We Slept,
    wrote that the US Navy estimated that rebuilding the tank farm would have taken four months, and refueling it via tankers from California would have taken another six.
    All the while, these tankers could possibly have been under assault by Japanese submarines.

    Another failure by the Japanese Navy was to not attack the fleet oiler USS Neosho, which was moored at the south end of "Battleship Row". Fleet oilers were always prime
    targets in any navy, but the attacking Japanese aircraft didn't so much as give her a scratch, which was fortunate for the US Pacific Fleet. Some sources write otherwise,
    but, in fact, she was still fully loaded with her cargo, and had she been torpedoed, bombed or strafed, 146,000 barrels of high-octane aviation fuel would have detonated
    and enveloped all of Battleship Row.
  12. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
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    That's interesting. I wonder how the Japanese could have missed an opportunity like that. I almost wanna say their warrior-centric military culture caused them to focus on the battleships; Christ knows it caused them to do other dubious things, like the Kamikaze attacks late in the war.
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  13. Skywalker8921 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2011
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    Nine battleships(including the ex battleship UTAH), three light cruisers(RALEIGH, HELENA, HONOLULU), three destroyers(CASSIN, DOWNES, SHAW), the seaplane tender CURTISS, repair ship VESTAL, and minelayer OGLALA. That's only 18 of the 100 or so ships in Pearl that morning - and the majority of the destroyers, the other 3 light cruisers, the 2 heavy cruisers, and the tankers weren't touched. The only ship group that got a complete pasting was the battleships, and that was because the Japanese believed battleships would be decisive in the war. Midway proved them wrong.

    http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq66-2.htm A Co mplete list of ships in Pearl Harbor on the 7th can be found at this link.

    It's odd that the Japanese didn't, like @CloneUncleOwen pointed out, go after the NEOSHO or her sister tanker RAMAPO at the beginning. If they had, and destroyed all the shore installations as well in a third bombing run, PACFL would have been forced back to California and given the Japanese a free hand in the Pacific for months; Admiral Nimitz suggested it would have prolonged the war by as much as 2 years. As it is, even though it defies belief, Admiral Nagumo's decision not to order a third strike spared us from complete ruin at Pearl.
    Last edited by Skywalker8921, Dec 11, 2013
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  14. CloneUncleOwen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2009
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    There'se nothing I can do about it...

    I have to jam
  15. CloneUncleOwen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2009
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    I'm sorry about the edit mess.
    Last edited by CloneUncleOwen, Dec 12, 2013
  16. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Its fine, send me a PM with what you want to change and I'll fix it up.
  17. CloneUncleOwen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2009
    star 4
    Thanks, Boba. :)

    By the way, I would appreciate it if anyone would offer further insight and opinions on Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's behavior concerning Pearl Harbor.
  18. EvilQ Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 8, 2013
    star 1
    She had even more bad luck after the truly gargantuan effort that was put into righting and salvaging her. While the hulk was being towed back to the West Coast for scrapping, it sank in a storm and very nearly dragged the tugs down with it. D:
  19. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    It's kind of mentioned in the opening post, but one also has to factor in the overall goals of the Japanese Imperial military in relation to Pearl Harbor.

    The bulk of the Imperial navy was focused on grabbing new territories in East Asia and the Philippines. The attack on Pearl Harbor was simply a way to degrade the US Navy's ability to intercede against Japan's true design to create a Pacific Empire. Most of Japan's targets were British and Dutch colonies, not American ones. (except for the Philippines) As such, Yamamoto knew that the Royal British Navy was already tied up in the Atlantic. The specific goal of Pearl Harbor was to degrade the US Navy to the point that it couldn't intercede in the Pacific.

    Rear Admiral Takijiro Onishi's pre-invasion study on Pearl Harbor is fascinating. (Onishi was Chief of Staff of Japan's 11th Fleet, and kind of the 2nd influential naval officer after Yamamoto.) The most interesting aspect of the study is that nearly no one in the Japanese Navy wanted a full scale war with the US, even though the same officers wanted to adopt a more aggressive strategy. The entire Japanese officer corps thought that the US would stay in support of the British in the Atlantic, and that the US would never become involved in direct naval battles in the Pacific. This is why Japan only committed 6 carriers, out of Japan's 24+ carrier fleet (including escort carriers) that it had to Pearl Harbor. Beside the element of surprise, this is why there was no formal declaration of war before Japan attacked, and why Tojo, Japan's Prime Minister, issued it after. It might also explain why so much of the US fleet at Pearl Harbor was untouched. Onishi studied everything- from handpicking Sunday as the day that would be most successful, to determining the time in the morning (as all the sailors would be returning from weekend passes and hung over..), to training the Japanese pilots to hit specific points on US ships in order to target the torpedo strikes.

    After the attack, Yamamoto thought it was too successful, despite the fact that he was the one who ordered it. His "sleeping giant" quote, which he may or may not have actually said, was the famous representation of that sentiment. At the time, I think it was a completely foreign concept to the Japanese that the US public would take the attack on Pearl Harbor "personally." I think the Japanese navy was more like the Godfather in this regard. To the Japanese military, the attack was "business, and not personal..." However, the exact opposite happened within the US. Since the US is more ideologically based, the US became completely focused on exacting revenge against Japan in the Pacific, and the direct naval engagements that the Japanese command thought would never happen became the focus of the US Navy.

    Yamamoto actually had a quote which was more predictive of the result of Pearl Harbor than his sleeping giant one. He said " " I(The Japanese Navy) can run wild for six months. After that, I have no expectation of success.." As was mentioned, the battle of Midway took place almost exactly 6 months after Pearl Harbor.....and the Japanese Navy's die was cast.
    Sarge likes this.
  20. thebadge Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 15, 2002
    star 4
    The Fleet Carriers were everything. The USA started the war with fine fleet carriers, the major drawback was the Devastator Torpedo Planes were utterly useless, and the ZERO flew circles around all US Fighters till the Hellcat,P-38 and Corsair arrived (1943).
    US Fleet Carriers on Dec 7, 1941
    Lexington and Saratoga older sturdy Carriers built on Capital ship hulls.
    Sister Ships and the precursor to the ESSEX Fleet Carriers built in the dozens by wars end.
    They were: Enterprise, Yorktown, Hornet, Wasp
    The Ranger was built lightly and aging on the East Coast it was never used.
    The light Carrier Langley was aging and also on the EAST Coast (as was WASP-but she was ordered back to the Pacific after going to Malta)
    This left Nimitz with 5 large powerful, fast, sturdy well designed fleet carriers. Each carrier had a separate command center one for the Captain
    to run the ship and one for the flag where the Admiral and staff could kick ideas around, argue, etc without disturbing or being disturbed by ships ops.
    The US Pilots all well trained had no combat experience but they were professionals (see Dick Best at Midway) or Jimmy Thatch.

    Japan started the war with 10 carriers 6 fleet (lethal fleet carriers) and 4 light carriers (all nominally useful at best)
    The RAID on Pearl Harbor included on the the 6 Fleet carriers (KAGA, AKAGI-both like the SARATOGA and LEXINGTON built on sturdy capital ship hulls and thus tougher against torpedoes in particular. The Hiryu and Soryu were fast sister ships, but lightly built. Finally the ZUIKAKU and SHOKAKU
    were brand new and fine ships upgraded versions of the Hiryu Class. The Japanese Carriers were elite in every way. The crews superbly trained and had all been together for sometime. 75% of the Japanese Pilots had extensive combat experience in China for years and without question this force of six fleet carriers would have without question sunk each and every American Carrier and done so to the extreme as two raids did hit Pearl that day.

    Ideally eliminating the US Fleet Carriers by definition alone would render the US powerless in the Pacific in all 1942, not a single new carrier except the light carrier San Jacinto joined the US fleet for all for of the the carrier battles (not counting Pearl). Coral Sea, Midway, Santa Cruz Islands and Eastern Solomons.

    Wiping out the repair docks and aviation storage facilities was criminal and this alone would have really stressed the US Pacific Fleet to for instance
    repair the Yorktown after Coral Sea.

    Nimitz knew he had a winning hand no matter what even if the US Fleet were bereft of Carriers Hawaii was a logistical impossibility for Japan period.
    As it was he knew he had well trained sailors, great Admirals Fletcher, Halsey, Spruance and when the Midway showdown he was able to to deploy 3 fleet carriers plus 200 planes on Midway against only 4 Japanese Fleet Carriers. After Coral Sea Shokaku had a torn up flight deck and Zuikaku
    air group was shredded.

    While the US Moved Heaven and Earth to repair Yorktown (the best US Carrier in 1942) the Japanese made to effort to load Zuikaku with Shokaku's air groups plus perhaps enhanced by the remainder of Zuikaku's own air group. It was not a hard thing to do compared the the US efforts fixing bomb hits and busted fuel tanks in 72 hours………..

    So yes Japan lost and entire year of total freedom to consolidate and add a couple carriers of its own. Then perhaps in late 1943 the US would have moved on Guadacanal and a huge showdown on with the the bulk of the IJN perhaps 8 fleet carriers and its huge battleship cruiser and destroyer force along with 200 planes on that Guadacanal Airstrip supporting the IJN and of course a fully manned garrison perhaps two full divisions to defend the Island. Also while the US could do do very little except send out subs, Japan may have (almost certainly) taken New Guinea freeing up several divisions to defend the island perimeter or maybe with the British a non-factor pound them with all the light carriers and land at a couple key Cities with great Drydock Facilities,,,,,,who knows. In the end if made no difference the US would have crushed Japan its not like today Japan was industrial but her economy was less than 10% of the US including all her conquests such as Borneo, Singapore and many others.

    What if Japan did use its subs effectively in 1943 in the alternate scenario harassing the US Fleet from Pearl all the way to Guadacanal.

    Again Hawaii was untakable due to garrison size without question 1,000 aircraft defending it and the Japanese did not have and of the assets to mount an invasion on Hawaii.

    Who knows the US may just have waited till 1944 taken one island hopping chain and wait for the B-29's and eventually the two bombs.

    But many people don't remember that the US Fleet was forced away from Guadacanal and for several months was down to 1 yes 1 AIRCRAFT CARRIER in the Pacific, the Enterprise scarred and battered only one elevator worked for hoisting planes. But Lexington was sunk at Coral Sea, Yorktown at Midway. Saratoga torpedoed again and back to the West Coast for repairs. WASP sunk in the later 1942 Carrier Battles and Hornet damaged and her and Enterprise traded off till they both could finally stay operational near the end of the year.

    Good stuff to ponder.
  21. thebadge Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 15, 2002
    star 4
    Onishi was known as "the God of Operations", his staff made him put his cigarette butts in a glass of water because he would work days at a time without sleep chain smoking, I always liked that.

    At sea Nagumo relied on Commander Minora Genda a brilliant aviator and strategist but he tasked him to do everything himself, no staff and Nagumo
    would just rubber stamp his plans. Genda himself was brilliant but needed other brains to help hammer out the plan and Nagumo was avoiding his job of at least reading through the plans and having a good long discussion on major points.

    Sadly for Japan before the war Nagumo based on it being his turn to move up took over the Carrier Force and Vice-Admiral Ozawa a much more
    Carrier savvy Commander was promoted to another post. Due to the idea of Shame more or less (its a very Japanese thing that and saving face)
    Nagumo retained command even though Yamamoto did not even like Nagumo (it went that way in the IJN Admiral Yamaguchi tried to knife Nagumo
    when he though the Hiryu and Soryu would not be included- this occurred at the Empresses' garden party………….disfunctional to say the least.
  22. Alpha-Red Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    From what I've read, the Philippines were actually not defensible, and a number of American military leaders proposed to simply abandon it before hostilities could break out. However, this was politically impossible to do and instead we fed troops and aircraft into the region, and when war did break out well...we all know what happened.

    The Pearl Harbor attack I think, could only have been averted if the Japanese had a stroke of bad luck. Sure, we didn't have sufficient defensive measures in place, but at the time nobody really understood the capabilities of the aircraft carrier, let alone anticipated that the Japanese would be so bold to use them the way they did.