The role of weather on December 7th, 1941 and a little known important indirect benefit

Guest post by Paul Dorian,

Overview

The weather on Oahu, Hawaii in the early morning hours of Sunday, December 7th, 1941 was not at all unusual for the time of year with mild temperatures and mainly clear skies. Unfortunately, the weather conditions on that particular day would play a role in the bombing of the U.S. naval base by Japanese fighter planes at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii. As Japanese fighters crossed the Pacific Ocean, they were given hope that their mission would succeed when the announcement was made of “clouds mostly over the mounts…visibility good”. It is believed that the decision to attack on that particular day had plenty to do with the projected favorable weather conditions.

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Actual hourly weather observations shown here as recorded by the weather observer at Hickam Field in Honolulu, Hawaii on the morning of December 7, 1941. The highlighted text appears to say “obstructions to visibility at this (scribbled)” and then what appears to be the word “terrified”. The obstruction to visibility at this time could have been “smoke”. The weather observer on this day was PFC Sherman Levine of the US Air Corps and he died during the attack, likely a few minutes after completing the last observation on this small slip of paper.  For more on the life of PFC Sherman Levine, click here.

https://undereverytombstone.blogspot.com/2013/11/he-died-on-december-7-1941-sherman.html

Discussion

In 1941, Hawaii was a territory of the US with statehood some eighteen years away. As early as the 1870’s, the US military had scoped out the islands for commercial and defensive potential and decided that Pearly harbor on the south side of Oahu about ten miles northwest of Honolulu fit the bill. With the persistent trade winds blowing from the northeast most of the year, this particular part of Oahu is in the rain shadow of the Koolau Range. While clouds and rain are common in the Koolau Range, the downsloping winds tend to dry out for southern side of the island. In fact, Honolulu averages only about 17 inches of rainfall in a given year due to the drying effects of the downsloping winds.

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Pearl Harbor is in the “rain-shadow” of the Koolau Range on the south side of Oahu

On the morning of December 7th, 1941, the weather observer at Hickam Field in Honolulu reported mainly clear skies each hour with mild temperatures and light east-to-northeast winds. There was nothing that would obstruct fighter pilots lines of sight, no heavy cloud cover and no heavy rains to make flight difficult on that fateful day. After crossing the rough waters of the North Pacific, the Japanese fighter pilots in more than 350 planes reported seeing a “long white line of coast” referring to Oahu’s Kakuku Point (according to National Geographic, AccuWeather). In summary, as far as the weather was concerned, all was favorable for the attack that had been planned “many days or even weeks in advance” according to President Roosevelt in his famous speech given on the following day.

Though the US suffered greatly on that particular morning due in large part to the generally clear sky conditions, the weather actually played an important indirect beneficial role for the nation. The USS Enterprise (CV-6) was coming back to Pearl Harbor from Wake Island and was actually scheduled to arrive on the morning of December 7th, but it was delayed due to rough seas. According to the former director for the US Naval Institute, Paul Stillwell, “the vessel was behind schedule returning to Pearl Harbor, and because of this was not present for the attack. The Enterprise played a substantial role throughout the remainder of the war, and had it been in port that day, things may have been very different.”

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Aerial view of USS Enterprise at sea in 1945 (courtesy Wikipedia)

USS Enterprise (CV-6) was the seventh U.S. Navy vessel to bear the name. Colloquially called “The Big E”, she was the sixth aircraft carrier of the United States Navy. A Yorktown-class carrier, she was launched in 1936 and was one of only three American carriers commissioned before World War II to survive the war. Had the mighty vessel made it back to Pearl Harbor on schedule, she would have been engaged by Japanese fighters and likely damaged or destroyed. As it turned out, the USS Enterprise earned enough commendations (20 Battle Stars) to become the most decorated US ship in World War II.

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Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg, PA has two of the guns from the USS Pennsylvania

One of the battleships damaged at Pearl Harbor was the USS Pennsylvania (BB-38). After a three month repair, it returned to action in 1942. On August 12th, 1945, three days before Japan surrendered, the USS Pennsylvania was extensively damaged by a Japanese torpedo at Okinawa. The torpedo’s impact caused a hole of approximately 30 feet in diameter in her stern. Twenty men were killed and ten were injured. Two of the ships 14 inch guns are now on display at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg, PA (source Dr. Jon Nese, Penn State University: video discussion courtesy YouTube:

Meteorologist Paul Dorian

Perspecta, Inc.

perspectaweather.com

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148 thoughts on “The role of weather on December 7th, 1941 and a little known important indirect benefit

  1. An interesting but little known fact from the pacific war occurred about a year later :-

    My father was a stoker(chief petty officer) aboard the British aircraft carrier HMS Victorious. Late in 1942 she refitted in the USA and was then loaned to the US Pacific fleet where she teamed up with ‘Saratoga’ to fight in the south Pacific. She was renamed the ‘USS Robin’ for the period of the loan and saw a fair bit of action.

    I could write a book based on the stories he told me, maybe I should 🙂

      • a couple of stories/anecdotes from my dad include the one about the crew swapping. Sometimes the US Squadrons would fly from the Victorious, sometimes the Brits would be based on Saratoga.
        The ‘Yanks’ loved being on board the ‘Limey’ ship because it was wet. US ships were ‘dry’.

        The Royal navy has a tradition of one eighth of a pint of rum , per hand, per day. Dating back to when Jamaica was liberated from the French , I think. US ships were alcohol-free.

        The Limeys loved being on board the Saratoga because they had ice cream and showers.

        The US Servicemen liked Victorious because they feared the Japanese Dive bomber after Pearl and other engagements. Victorious had a six inch armoured steel deck, almost bomb proof. It meant less space for planes, but the only real fear was the torpedo. And the yanks saw the Japanese torpedo bomber as an easy target.
        By comparison, the US fleet carriers had wooden decks but carried twice the number of aircraft.

        • From what I recall reading, those flight decks were practically Kamikaze-proof… But they made the interior of the ships unbearably hot at times in the tropics.

          • Kamikaze-proof, yes.
            At Okinawa, Victorious was back in the far eastern fleet, supporting US operations including the invasion.
            My dad told me they were hit several times by kamikazes.

            On the flight deck there were a couple of bulldozers. their job was to shove any debris over the side. The remnants of the Kamikazes were bulldozed.

            One attack, he was down in the boiler room at the stern. there was a wide gallery (like the stern on an old sailing ship) an open verandah.
            A kamikaze attacked and missed. It was floating off the stern.
            Dad ordered everyone to take cover, in case it blew.
            He stayed and watched the plane take on water.
            The water rose to the pilots chest, he was strapped in, no way out. seconds to live.

            my dad said they stared at each other. seemed for a long while.

            then the Japanese pilot smiled and saluted. then ‘glug’. down he went.

        • Had HMS Glorious had an armored flight deck, she might have surivived her June 1940 encounter with BBs Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, despite the abysmal performance of her submariner skipper and his staff.

      • Hms Victorious survived WW2 and was scrapped in 1967, she’d just comple9a refit when there was a fire. It suited government defence policy to scrap her and blame the fire. British fleet carriers had armoured flight decks due to the fact their anticipated deployment would be close to land, North Sea, Western Approaches and Mediterranean for example. US and Japanese carriers had wooden flight decks also for operational considerations. British carriers sacrificed aircraft for survivability. None were seriously damaged by kamikaze hits. HMS Illustrious survived 6 bomb hits from Ju87 dive bombers in 1941 and was repaired in the United States. HMS Formidable suffered 2 bomb hits in 1941 when attacked by Ju87s. Both were sisters of Victorious and survived the war. The Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm suffered in the early War years from the political decision to give control of the FAA to the Royal Air force., only when they were fitted with American aircraft were they truly effective.

        • I recall reading that when the BPF operated off Japan in 1945, that when one of the armored flight deck carriers was struck by a bomb or even a Kamikaze, damage control consisted of “Sweepers, man your brooms.”

          HMS Formidable was hit by two Kamikazes, which only briefly disrupted flight operations.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Formidable_(67)

          They were very effective operating Corsairs and Avengers.

        • Wooden flight decks were easier to repair but were more susceptible to damage. If you want to see and learn more about the US Navy and the aircraft carrier, come to Pensacola and go to the Naval Aviation Museum. The base and museum are closed this weekend because of recent events but should re-open in the coming days. And, the Pensacola area will rebound from the tragedy, just as others have before.

          Also, the US Navy has a history with wood. Go to the Naval Live Oaks area east of Gulf Breeze, FL to learn more about the Live Oak tree farms.

          (My apologies if I’m duplicating a post later in the thread.)

          • David, the museum is constantly expanding the number of exhibits so we go at least once per year, usually more. For all of you, this museum is world-class and a wonder to see and experience. Check their website. And, in the area are the Air Force Armament Museum at Elgin AFB (between Crestview and Niceville, FL) and the USS Alabama park (Mobile, AL).

        • The Armored decks for the British in the Atlantic and Mediterranean made sense. However the reality is those decks did not just cut down on the number of aircraft they could carry. It also cut down on the amount of munitions and aviation gasoline they could carry. Lack of ordinance or aviation fuel made the carrier ineffective as a weapon. The armored deck also cut down on the speed of the ship, a factor that in calm conditions could result in the curtailment of flight operations or at the very least limit the load that aircraft could take off with. Bottom line is that in the pacific the need during sustained operations for the British carriers to be replenished nearly twice as often as the American Essex ACs were was a significant burden. One that could only be borne due to the outstanding logistical arrangements provided.

  2. Some have called the weather forecast for D-Day the most important weather forecast ever. link The Allies had much better weather information than the Germans. The Allies made a good decision, and the Germans made a bad decision.

    Both sides realized the importance of weather forecasts. The Germans tried hard to get data but they were at a serious disadvantage. Even so, long after the war, secret German weather stations were discovered. link

    • There was an article in Canadian Geographic magazine sometime in the mid 80s about the Labrador site.

    • The weather in the NH generally comes from the west. This gave the allies a great advantage in Europe but put them at a disadvantage in the Pacific. Stalin would not allow allied weather stations in Siberia. The navy even set up a weather team in Manchuria to try and get better forecasting. Believe it or not weather calculations enter into long range naval gunnery. And once the B-29s started flying out of the Marianas the cost of poor forecasting became unacceptable. Thus LeMay switched to low level night saturation incendiary raids to try and accomplish the objectives that were not being met by the high altitude daylight bombing as the USAAF had used in Europe. Daylight “precision” raids continued with mixed though improving results but weather was always a factor even as the technique of bombing by radar improved.

  3. The aircraft of most interest at Oahu that day were not fighters (Mitsubishi A6Ms) but dive (Aichi D3As) bombers and torpedo bombers (NakajimaB5Ns) some of which instead carried bombs.

    Please do not fall into the modern trap of calling all military aircraft “fighters”

    • +42×1042

      Just like referring to all warships as “battleships” and all armored vehicles as “tanks”.

      • I have a pet peeve like that, when translators here make ‘gun” into ‘pistol’ in movies from the Cowboy age (i.e. John Wayne). it’s a REVOLVER! 😱

        • That’s another good example. An assault rifle, by definition, has selective fire (full auto capability). Civilian versions of the M16, M4 and AK47 do not have selective fire capabilities. I have a 1942 M1 carbine. It was classified as an assault weapon under the Clinton gun ban. My Smith & Wesson M586 .357 magnum has more “assault” value than my M1 carbine.

          • The gun grabbers, like the climate alarmists, rely heavily on deceptive and what they believe to be scary words, phrases, or nomenclature. Every “assault rifle” has full automatic or at least three round burst capability (M-16A2 and A4). It is in fact the single most important characteristic that makes it an “assault rifle”. If it’s semiauto only then it’s not an “assault rifle” no matter how large the detachable magazine or how raised the sights are or if it has a bayonet stud or not.

    • For a great true history of the Pearl Harbor attack and Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese pilot that planned and lead the attack, check out the book Wounded Tiger by T. Martin Bennett. Martin will be on The Huckabee Show this weekend. It will be aired tonight and tomorrow night (7th & 8th) on TBN but if you don’t get that channel, you can stream it from Mike Huckabee’s website. I’ve know Martin for a couple years now and highly recommend the book (4.8 stars on Amazon).

      • As a side note, by dad obtained his flight instructors rating just a few months prior to Pearl Harbor. Afterwards, he was given the choice of infantry or flight instructor – he chose the latter and as such, never saw active service but did fly for the Army Air Corps teaching cadets, most who later flew in the European theater. My father-in-law on the other hand was a medic in the Navy and survived Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Today my wife and I teach English as a second language (ESL) and some of our best friends are Japanese, Korean, Chinese, etc. The world does change!

    • Aircraft were important but experience is the king. Chuck Yeager proved that point when he ran into a Colonel complaining that the Mig 15 was superior to the F-86, Yeager had just finished testing the Mig 15 and the next day He put the Colonel in an F-86 he waxed his ass flying then Mig-15. Then he briefed the Colonel on the Mig-15 and let him get some flight time in it and then waxed his ass flying the F-86.

      The average Japanese pilot attacking Pearl had over 500 hours of flight time. The average American Naval pilot opposing them at the time less than 160 hours and the Army pilots somewhat less than that. The same was true at Midway. After their losses at Midway the Japanese foolishly put many of their most experienced naval aviators in the Solomon Islands where they were chewed up and their experience lost flying continual combat missions long distances to engage the US forces. From that point on the Japanese fell further and further behind the training curve.

      • I’ve read that Japan’s greatest losses at Midway weren’t the carriers, but rather the experienced pilots.

        • They never fully recovered. Zuikaku’s and Shokaku’s air groups were subsequently attrited away in battles around the Solomons in 1943. The Army also expended most of its experienced pilots attempting to neutralize Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.

        • Somewhat. The Japanese lost 90 aircrew at Coral Sea, 110 at Midway, 61 at Eastern Solomons, and 148 at Santa Cruz Islands. By the end of October 1942, they had lost at least 409 of the 765 aircrew who made the Pearl Harbor attack. Losing the carriers, however, meant that many aircrew were steadily lost to attrition flying several hours from Rabaul to Guadalcanal.

        • Superior Hellcats replaced tough but slow Wildcats as US naval fighters. No worthwhile upgrades to Zeroes.
          Turned the tables!

          • When the F6F was being designed a Zero was recovered intact enough to be repaired and evaluated. Changes were made to the Hellcat design based on that evaluation of the Zero. The F6F was credited with more air to air kills than any other US aircraft in the Pacific war. BTW the Vought F4U Corsair, Grumman, F6F Hellcat, and Republic P-47 were all powered by the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engine.
            My personal favorite US aircraft of WW II is the P-38. A fighter that remained in front line US service from before the war until after it ended and became increasingly effective as it did so. The two top US aces of WW II flew the P-38.

          • rah – as a kid, one of the models hanging from my ceiling was a P-38. I remember hearing my dad, who was a WWII flight instructor, tell about some of his students who later went on to fly P-38s in N Africa and how tough it was for them against the experienced Germans.

        • The Japanese were hamstrung throughout the war by a completely inadequate training system. Pre-war pilots benefited from extensive combat experience over China, but the flight schools produced a small fraction of the pilots that the US system did. They just couldn’t produce pilots at a rate any where near high enough to cover normal attrition, much less the intense losses from Midway and the Guadalcanal actions. By the Marianas Turkey Shoot they were sending up pilots with almost no training, and it was the complete failure of those units to strike home despite multiple opportunities that lead the Japanese to resort to Kamikaze tactics. The Japanese had a huge edge in search results during that battle, basically expending the entire Naval Air arm in strike on US carriers while the USN never got off a serious strike, with submarines accounting for the bulk of IJN ship losses.

          Japanese attrition was also aggravated by bushido. Japanese pilots often flew without parachutes, since if you went down over enemy territory you were going to get yourself killed afterwards anyway. The USN dedicated significant resources to rescue downed pilots, including detaching submarines as part of major fleet actions to do so. The Japanese would never detach combat resources for something like that, so any pilot who didn’t make it back was lost.

          If you’re interested in the topic – read Saburo Saki’s autobiography, “Samurai!”

      • The Japanese had a crack force of highly trained pilots, but it was a small pool. Fatigue and losses had a very large impact compared to the US which had a very large pool of semi trained pilots.

        Eventually the US pool gained competence, the Japanese pool got ‘burned out’

        In Europe, the UK ,with a similar population to Japan (and Germany) maintained a large pool of pilots and constantly rotated them. The UK produced very few aces compared to Poland, Germany, USSR, Italy, USA and Japan , but they managed to avoid burn out. they managed their pool very well.

        • The loss of airplane mechanics was also a very serious problem. The US had many mechanics because they drafted auto mechanics and retrained them. Japan had very few auto mechanics and had to train their mechanics and had to train their airplane mechanics from scratch, which took much longer.

          • Yep.

            And we had a major advantage over the Axis powers because a far higher percentage of Americans were accustomed to driving, maintaining and even hot-wiring motor vehicles.

          • A factor that many historians forget to mention in their accounts of the US forces breakout and pursuit in Europe. Another factor was the reliability of the US vehicles. Many a sad commentary has been written about the combat capability of the M-4 Sherman and the outstanding qualities of some German tanks and in particular the Panther (Panzer V). But what few seem to consider was the outstanding reliability of the Sherman, it’s relative fuel efficiency in all models, and the fact that every single tank and all spare parts and almost all the ammo to supply them came across the Atlantic and for months after D-Day Normandy most had to be landed without the benefit of a port. The fantastic pace of the pursuit phase in Europe could not have happened without the Sherman which was what it was designed for per US Army doctrine.

    • Thank you — I was going to mention that if no one else did.

      It’s especially annoying when the author knows there were 350+ attacking planes, including three kinds of bombers, and still calls them all “fighter pilots”.

      • We Brits owe a debt of gratitude to the US for the training facilities for pilots in Texas and elsewhere which allowed our pilots to gain flying experience without the risk of being shot down.

        • After learning to dead reckon navigate over the vast expanses of the US the British pilots that had been trained here had to find navigating over their home islands and Europe a relative breeze. The great British Ace Robert Tucker after surviving the Battle of Britain came to the US on a tour to pass his experience on the USAAF pilots that weren’t yet in the war. Flying he got lost and had to land, successfully, on a grave yard lane.

        • Visited museum at Terrell TX, British basic flight training in the United States. Some number of U.S. Flight training airfields were utilized across the southern U.S. After/because Battle of Britain basic flight training was not possible, British trainee/pilots came through Canada, removed their uniform and for visual purposes were American. When the United States entered the war, British pilots wearing their own uniform, utilized 5 air bases/basic flight training. Some crash fatalities are buried near by.

        • And we Americans owe a debt of gratitude to the Brits for allowing their student pilots in Texas and elsewhere to be unwitting gunnery targets for our anti-aircraft crews without the risk of them being bombed or strafed.

    • I honestly don’t see what her problem is….just make it against the law for muslims to carry guns

      …..fixed

        • George
          It depends on the circumstances. You don’t use a hammer for all carpentry. Similarly, guns may not always be the best choice.

        • Aren’t trucks better?

          The 14th July Nice truck attack killed more people than the Las Vegas lone gunman attack (with tens of riffles but only two arms, and no motive and a computer with no hard disk…).

      • You’re ignoring the First Amendment … “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

        Of course most Trump supporters in today’s RINO GOP – Republican in name only, indeed! – consider the US Constitution to be the problem that needs to be erased, instead of the guarantor of our freedoms from bigots in government.

        • Duane, I don’t know where you get the idea that Trump supporters “consider the US Constitution to be the problem that needs to be erased”. It’s simply not true. Trump supporters are supporters of the U.S. Constitution in every way.

          I assume you are complaining about something specific, but I don’t know what that would be. Help me out.

    • Protect ‘Armed’ service members from gun violence ?

      Either Warren is completely spaced out, or, I have unknowingly been deposited in some parallel dimension 🙂

  4. There were not 350 “fighters”. Most attacking aircraft were level and dive bombers.

    The two planned waves of IJN aircraft consisted of 143 B5N Kate torpedo bombers (many armed with armor-piercing bombs), 132 D3A Val dive bombers, and 79 A6M Zeke fighters. Ten planes failed to launch because of technical difficulties. A few aborted en route as well.

  5. “A date that will live in infamy”, and here we are Dec. 7 again. The weather was favorable to the Japanese surprise attack, but another two elements in their favor were: radar detected aircraft approaching Pearl Harbor from the north, and it was interpreted as an expected flight of US bombers, and the military staff, both nationally and locally, did not follow established protocol when they observed anomalies, the peace-time military is too complacent.

    • Ron L

      I refer to the book “The Man Who Broke Purple”. The Americans knew full well the attack was coming. Their super code-breaker had cracked one of the 28 Japanese diplomatic codes and they knew the plan.

      As the Japanese ambassador was recalled from Washington, he told the President about the attack.

      By accident of fortune, the fear of war had provoked the senior Navy officer in Pearl Harbor to have the ships moved out to drop anchor in a dispersed fashion only a few days before the attack. When news of this reached Washington an urgent message was sent back ordering the command reversed.

      The fear was that such a move might be interpreted as indicating the Americans had broken Purple. Which they had, but the local Navy commanders didn’t know that.

      The ships were placed in a line side by side in the berths – something which just about guaranteed their easy destruction. Bombs meant for one missed and hit the next.

      The delay of the Enterprise may not have been caused by rough seas at all. They may have been ordered to slow down so as to preserve it. It would be interesting to see the orders sent to the Captain. “Rough seas” is a good excuse.

      The early radar signal picked up on the tip of the island was not ignored accidentally. The base commander (at least) knew it was coming and let the report sit.

      Details like this are in the book above, including many other fascinating things that happened in the world of code-breaking in the War and the subsequent decades. A lot happens in order to hide critical information such as Turing cracking the Enigma codes – not admitted until the mid-90’s.

      • A pack of lies. No one suspected an attack on Pearl Harbor and it was clearly the best kept secret of the war. But the real disaster were the actions of Adm Kimmel and Lt Gen Short, who believed Kimmel’s claim that the Japanese navy was incapable of a fleet attack because of their restricted range (the Japanese had to invent a means of refueling at sea, andalso a torpedo that could run in the shallow Pearl Harbor anchorage) The breaking of the code refers to the code used by the Japanese embassies did not contain any mention of a Pearl Harbor attack, nor did any code reveal plans of the attack. The U.S.intelligence correctly scouted the Japnese fleet that was moving south against the Phillipines and Dutch East Indies. The attack on Pearl Harbor was carried out by a small number of vesssels. Cloud cover would have inhibited the high flying bombers the most – they had to fly high so that their bombs could prenetrate the decks of their battleship targets.
        The torpedo planes flew a few feet above the water and would not have been affected. The fighters were their mainly to oppose American fighters (which were not disposed to
        intercept ) and were largely non-existent. They flew low and machine gunned planes sitting on the ground, but that was of little importance. The dive bombers would not have been made inefffective by cloudy weather. Actually, when the second Japanese attack force arrived, their main visibility problems were die to the enormous amount of smoke over the target area. The people who have argued that Wash knew of the attack
        put forth incredibly stupid reasons as well as the silly notion that if pearl Harbor had been prepared the Japanese would have called off the attack. The Japanese EXPECTED to probably have to fight their way into Pearl Harbor. The vey last thing the U.S. wanted was a war in the Pacific. Read At Dawn We Slept, the most comprensive account of the
        Pearl Harbor attack. It leave out no sinificant details

        • ColMosby

          I think a little more restraint is in order. Argue with Ronald William Clark, not me.

          books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Man_Who_Broke_Purple.html?id=SF4W_jOB5k8C

          The Man Who Broke Purple: The Life of Colonel William F. Friedman, Who Deciphered the Japanese Code in World War II. Ronald William Clark. Little, Brown, 1977 – Biography & Autobiography – 271 pages.

          See the topic mentioned on the web page.

          The story of the Japanese Ambassador warning the President is well known and often repeated. I leave the description of the pacifist movements and how they were overcome to those historians who know them better.

          There are some fascinating stories from the life of Friedman about codes and who broke what. After the War the Brits suggested they had an unbreakable code (probably involving Turing) and sent a sample to the Americans. The Americans were anxious to have a US-based code. Friedman said cracking it was hopeless and then guessed that the short string meant, “This code cannot be broken.” It turned out to be correct and the decryption was sent back within hours. The Brits surrendered and the US codes were used thereafter (including the Enigma machine which everyone assumed was unbreakable).

          By the end of the War in the Pacific, 27 of the 28 codes that made up Purple had been broken by the team Friedman led.

          At present I am wading through the biography of Turing which contains many revelations about who knew what and when they knew it. War is extremely evil. Lies like, “It was a surprise attack,” are a dime a dozen. The catastrophic Dieppe Raid, in which a couple of thousand Canadians died, was known to the Germans in advance, and the Brits knew they knew, in advance. People are expendable. Secrets are not.

          • Interesting that you mention the Dieppe Raid in conjunction with code breaking because released documents have shown that the target of the raid was to get Kriegsmarine Enigma code books without the Germans realising it. In the destruction of the raid, the building containing the information was to be blown up as cover. If it sounds a bit James Bond then it might be because Ian Fleming was part of the team that planned this part of the raid. In 1942 Britain was losing the Battle of the Atlantic and being able to plot the locations of the u-boat wolfpacks in order to guide convoys away was an important part of turning the tables. When added to the closing of the gap for air patrols with longer range aircraft and inventions such as Huff Duff it made life in a u-boat increasingly short.

        • ColMosby said Read At Dawn We Slept, the most comprensive account of the Pearl Harbor attack. It leave out no sinificant details. I too have enjoyed “At Dawn We Slept” over decades and have assumed to some extent that it was a “perfect chronology”.
          However “At Dawn We Slept” does leave out Exercise 191 where Adm. Kimmel around 21 to 24 Nov 1941 sortied his fleet to the north of Oahu in the vicinity of the composer seamounts. The Lexington formed the Black attacking force against Kimmel’s White force. All this war-gaming was taking place near where the IJN air fleets were launched against Pearl in ~2 weeks time. Apparently Washington ordered Kimmel and his war games back to Pearl. The account of Ex 191 is given in the book “Day of Deceit” by Robert Stinnett and I have scanned several pages relevant to Ex 191 and that timeslot at my blog.
          http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=6381
          I am not necessarily a Stinnett enthusiast where he makes many claims re radio intercepts but in the back of his book he gives detailed notes to his sources in various US Archives and credit must be given where credit is due. If I was in the US I would try and eyeball those papers. All I can say from my location in Canberra is if the Exercise 191 account as described by Robert Stinnett “never happened” – then it is a very elaborate hoax.

        • Several items point to fact that DC expected target to be Pearl .

          Several shipments to USSR were diverted to avoid contact with Japanese fleet.

          Radio silence was NOT maintained. The fleet encountered a major storm which scattered the ships. For hours the airwaves were filled with traffic as an attempt was made to get everyone back together. The resulting DF of the traffic was not forwarded to Pearl.

          The Red Cross in Washington had secretly stockpiled tons of medical supplies unknown to locals, something not done elsewhere. So Washington knew and was preparing but did not want locals to be alerted.

          • An attack on Pearl Harbor was identified by
            Billy Mitchell, James Doolittle, and George Patton among others.

        • FDR wanted in the war in the worst possible way, as did the many Communists in his administration.

          He moved the US Battle Fleet from California to Pearl Harbor, against the adamant opposition of its CO ADM James Richardson, for which protests FDR fired him.

          He deprived the then Pacific Fleet of enough destroyers to scout around Hawaii.

          FDR tried to goad Japan into attacking USN ships in the seas off China, as a back door to the war with Germany which he desired. When that didn’t work, he sent BB Texas into the North Atlantic, in hopes it would be sunk, as was DD Reuben James on 31 October 1941. A U-boot did indeed try to sink Texas, but couldn’t get into position against her.

          Secretary of State Cordell Hull tried to avert war by leaking details of the plot to reporter Joseph Leib on 29 November, but except for, of all papers, Honolulu’s was the only periodical to pick up the story.

          The ultimatum given to Japanese negotiators was written by none other than Soviet spy Harry Dexter White.

        • ColMosby said Read At Dawn We Slept, the most comprensive account of the Pearl Harbor attack. It leave out no sinificant details. I too have enjoyed “At Dawn We Slept” over decades and have assumed to some extent that it was a “perfect chronology”. But here is a second example of a significant omission.
          There is no mention of the fascinating 7 Oct 1940 “eight action memo” written (thrown together quickly IMHO) by Lt Cmd Arthur H McCollum a far east expert in ONI Washington. Robert Stinnett says he found this memo in the 1990’s with a stack of FOIA papers he was given from Archives II. Quick timeline up to that date 1939 – Nazi-Soviet Pact – invasion & division of Poland – 1940 – German invasion Norway – British response disaster – Germany invades low countries & France – Dunkirk ~30June – France falls – Battle of Britain – mid Sept Tri-partite Axis Pact Japan signs on with Germany & Italy – U Boats on the rampage – I have not added Middle East dates – FDR up for election against Wilkie – Brits need surplus US destroyers – McCollum dashes off his memo and it looks as if a copy never went to Pearl – why tell them? If a copy was in Kimmel files you might think Gordon Prange would have mentioned it in “At Dawn We Slept”.
          Stinnett sees it as a means to provoke Japan into war. To me I think Japan had been for years heading for war with the US and western powers – and there was no obligation on the US to be nice to the Japanese warmongers.
          I assume the memo can be downloaded here. Or Mr Google should find downloadable versions.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCollum_memo

        • Read, with an open mind, “And I was there” Admiral Layton, breaking code, decipher. Book 600 pages, first bomb Pearl Harbor about pg 300. Layton was portrayed in recent movie Midway.

        • Chapt 31 p248 in my edition of “At Dawn We Slept” – recounts how in late Sept 1941 the Jap Foreign Office messaged their Honolulu Consulate who had been spying on the fleet and sending home cables about the fleet and state of PH since Jan 1941. This message instructed them to elevate their spying game another notch by asking that in future the Consulate spies use a gridded map of PH to specifiy where the various fleet units were and also specified how the various ships were to be classified.
          This message hit Washington intell people around 9 Oct and I leave up to readers to see how the various big-wigs ALL contrived to do NOTHING. Talk about Schultz “I see nothing!!”. Upshot was nobody flicked it on to Kimmel and Short but Prange’s account does cover the full gammut of reasons not to act. Even the most trusting of people could suspect there were unwritten instructions from on high “not to overload the busy Kimmel & Short with too much confusing info”.

      • They had evidence that an attack was coming, but most military analysts thought the target would be the Philippines.

        • We observed the Japanese invasion fleet headed past the PI toward Malaya. Its lack of carriers was noted.

          • Or, I should say, shortage, ie lack of the six fleet carriers, constituted in a tactical innovation as First Air Fleet, separate from First (Battle) Fleet and Second (Scouting) Fleet. Instead of being used in defense of the battle line, Yamamoto had approved formation of an offensive, long-range striking formation based upon big, fast carriers.

            He may have been influenced by the RN carrier raid on the Italian anchorage at Taranto, 11-12 November 1940.

      • The Japanese naval code had not been broken as of the Pearl Harbor attack. The simple fact that we didn’t know that Midway was the target of the Japanese naval forces is simple proof of that.

  6. Land, Sea, or Air, the weather gods rule the battlefields. On the ground what is great weather for defenders against an attack led by armor is in fact bad weather for defenders against enemy patrols. We in SF called rainy nights “Ranger weather” because it was the preferred weather for moving through or behind enemy lines. Throw in some cold and/or thunder and it’s even better. But for armor or the cavalry the mud persistent rain brings is a deadly enemy while the restriction of 10/10ths cloud cover on air enemy air support is an advantage.

    Just a few thoughts that I think many that have not studied the attack on Pearl Harbor may not know.
    Had the US fleet detected the approach of the Japanese or had happened to be off Pearl the ships that were eventually salvaged from the shallow waters of the harbor would have been lost forever in deep soundings.

    Nagumo screwed up. He failed to take out the oil storage tanks. Had he done so US fleet operations out of Pearl would have crippled far longer than they were. The battle of Midway as we know it may well never have happened.

    Have you noticed that none of the old Battlewagons that survived the attack at Pearl and were quickly repaired and ready to go were used in the Coral Sea or during any of the numerous and intense Naval engagement during the Guadalcanal campaign? The primary reason why is fuel. The Navy simply did not have the tankers/oilers nor infrastructure to keep those older, slower, fuel guzzling battleships running in the south pacific at the time. So they were limited to using the few newer, faster, more fuel efficient “fast battleships” until such a time the logistical capability to keep the old battleships in fuel became available.

    • Yep. If Kimmel had sortied the battleships, they would have been easily and permanently sunk.

      However, they were quickly repaired. They just weren’t suitable for fleet operations with the fast carriers. They did serve very well in support of amphibious operations. They kicked @$$ in the battle of Surigao Straight during the Leyte campaign, when the “crossed the T” and annihilated an IJN taxk force.

      Recovery work started immediately. Within three months most of the smaller ships and three of the battleships – the USS Pennsylvania, the USS Maryland, and the USS Tennessee – were either returned to service or refloated and steamed to the continental US for final repairs.

      Resurrection of the rest of the fleet took longer. The shallow water of the anchorage made work on the battleships possible, but not easy. The USS Nevada, for instance, had one large and many small holes in her hull. Her interior was full of water and many compartments were burned out.

      “Most significantly, her deficiencies in watertight integrity, which had led to her sinking in the first place, now had to be made good under very difficult circumstances,” notes the official Navy History and Heritage Command account of the effort.

      Two men lost their lives after breathing poisonous gases that had accumulated in the ship’s interior. Eventually she was refloated and shipped to Bremerton, Wash., for repairs. She rejoined the active fleet in late 1942.

      https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/Decoder/2012/1207/Pearl-Harbor-resurrection-the-warships-that-rose-to-fight-again

      • No, the fleet would probably have been better off at sea: moving targets are much harder to hit, they would have been sealed up much better without all the yardbird cables preventing closing hatches and doors, tanks and voids would not have been open for repair, and the crew would have gotten to battle stations much quicker.

        See “Attack on Pearl Harbor” by Alan Zimm. He shows how the attack itself was counter-productive strategically, how rushed and inflexible the planning was, how poorly the crews were trained (the two newest carrier pilots were still training in formation flying and taking off / landing at sea almost up to the last minute), how poor the execution was (Fuchida fumbling the signal flares, second wave dive bombers a complete waste), and how useless a third wave would have been.

    • Admiral Nimitz was ordered to Pearl after the attack to assess how it happened, and then relive the Admiral (his name forgotten to common memory) there to become in charge of all US Naval operations in the Pacific through the war.

      Fleet Adm Nimitz’s then classified report to the War Department and FDR concluded Japan made a major strategic error by not returning on the 8th to attack the undefended oil tank farms and the dry dock repair facilities. Pearl Harbor and Henderson Fields were in no state to mount a credible defense on the 8th. It would have taken at least 18 months to repair and replenish those fuel stocks at Pearl, which would have delayed all Pacific operations operations, including the US Navy defense of Midway and the decisive defeat delivered to Yamamoto there. The battle ships, cruisers, and destroyers that were salvaged and repaired would all would have been towed to the West Coast for repair (some would never have repaired as they couldn’t have made the towed voyage in time) rather than at Pearl’s dry docks further delaying their return to a fight.

      • Adm. Husband E. Kimmel. He and Army Gen. Walter Short were held responsible for the disaster and fired. In my opinion, Kimmel was made a scapegoat and railroaded.

        The main airbases around Pearl Harbor were Wheeler Field, Hickam Field (Army Air Corps), Ford Island Naval Air Station (Navy) and MCAS Ewa (Marine Corps).

        Henderson Field was later in the war, on Guadalcanal. It was named after Maj. Lofton Henderson, a Marine SBD pilot who was killed in the Battle of Midway.

        Military history, particularity the PTO of WWII, was my main hobby before climate science took over.

    • The Japanese super battleships (Yamato and Musashi) were “white elephants” because they were such fuel guzzlers. Yamamoto was nicknamed “Hotel Yamamoto” because it was so well appointed and rarely left port.

      The more I read about Yamamoto, the less I think that he ranks as a tactical genius. His successes were on unprepared or minor opponents. Pearl Harbor flew in the face of all the prewar planning the Japanese had for a naval war with the US. They were supposed to draw the US Fleet out to the South Pacific, use their subs to pick away at them on route and finish them off in a major sea battle. The attack on Pearl just enraged the US and gave Nimitz the chance to use the carriers he had and show that they were the wave of the future in naval warfare.

      Midway was totally opposed by the Japanese Army and the planning was abysmal plus they were were without two of their fleet carriers. With Zuikaku and Shōkaku it would have been six against three rather than four against three. His forces were also split up with some attacking the Aleutians and his main surface force well out of range to support the carriers and landings.

      • Yamamoto was the best the IJN had. Like all Japanese admirals, his plans tended to be overly complex and dependent on all of the parts working as planned. He may have been over-rated, but Nagumo’s incompetence didn’t help. Neither did the loss of Yamaguchi, when he chose to go down with Hiryu at Midway.

        • One cannot disregard the effect of the Doolittle Raid (April 18, 1942) on the thinking and demeanor of the Japanese high command. They were humiliated or in their vernacular they had “lost face” before the emperor and people to which previously they had promised repeatedly that the homeland would never be attacked.

          Up until the Doolittle raid Japanese operations were very well planned and executed even if they were sometimes overly complex. After the Doolittle raid their planning was reactionary. Had the Doolittle raid not taken place more than likely they were have never been an attack on Midway at the time it occurred if ever, and there most certainly would not have been operations against the Aleutians .

        • One other point about saving Midway. US submarines accounted for the vast majority of Japanese ship tonnage sunk until the last year of the war. Midway was a vital component of this. Subs leaving Pearl for patrol would top off their fuel at Midway. About every other patrol for subs working out of Pearl ended at Midway where the crews would rest and their ship be prepared for the next patrol. During the war US Subs grew longer and longer legs by having gaskets replaced in more and more of their ballast tanks and piping to allow the tanks to be used for fuel tanks. No unit or segment of comparable size in any service came close to the contribution to winning the war in the Pacific that the silent service accomplished.

      • I agree. But the all-important third strike at Pearl Harbour, that is to the storage and repair facilities, was never carried out even though Yamamoto had planned it. Had it been carried out repair and reconstruction of Pearl Harbour and its ships would have been greatly delayed.
        However, the Japanese, except for perhaps Yamamoto, never expected Yankee determination, capability, capacity and ability to be so great as to have the base and most of the ships back in action so soon. American “learn quick”, so they were able to develop superior training, tactics, strategy, and weaponry etc in short order and continue to do so until the end of the war. Yamamoto knew of America’s vast industrial potential, and feared it, but like both Germans and the rest of Japan he greatly underestimated the tremendous qualities to learn, adapt and innovate of the average Yank. Hitler thought America was only capable of making consumer goods, and America itself was “a degenerate state.” Some degeneracy, as Churchill might have said.
        As for the Japanese tactics. It was thought that the aircraft carriers would be immune from attack, so they were sent out in advance of the battleships, making them sitting targets. The Germans and the British knew of the vulnerability of all surface ships to attack from the air so built flack ships – the ugliest ships in creation to protect their fleets. But they worked. Had the Japanese had some of these the result of Midway would have been very different. America built very large aircraft carriers and packed them with anti-aircraft guns, so achieving the same result, but at a far greater cost and risk.

        • The IJN didn’t get around to adding significant anti-aircraft capabilities to their surface ships until late. The carriers were in charge of their own protection. They were also poorly equipped and trained in damage control. Another problem with their carriers was that the flight decks were wooden (as were the US) and the hangers weren’t open to the air (like the US carriers were). Couple that with the fact that they refueled in the hangers and didn’t purge their fuel lines with CO2 meant that a fire not only quickly could get out of control but meant that a fire was right next to the ordinance.

          • Yeah… If you look at the fast battleships, they had 40 mm quad Bofors gun tubs and 20 mm Oerlikon mounts everywhere they could squeeze them in. USN even had light cruisers designed for air defense (Atlanta class).

        • A third wave would have been a waste. They didn’t have enough bombers to bomb each fuel storage tank. Their guns would not have penetrated or started fires. Any damage they could have done to the repair facilities would have been pitifully weak and easily repaired. There were multiple power stations and they didn’t know where they all were. A third wave would have landed after dark and the crews had not practiced night landings. They had already lost 50 planes out of 350, had so many damaged that a third wave would have been small, and the alert defenders would have damaged even more.

          A third wave would have been worse for the Japanese than the Americans.

      • Bear
        You said, “The attack on Pearl just enraged the US …”

        I was born about a month after Pearl, so I have no personal experience. However, from what I have read, the sentiment in the country leaned towards pacifism or neutrality, which was why we had not declared war. It took an act of “infamy” to garner public support for entering the war. So, if FDR wanted to enter the war, there was motive to let the attack happen and deny any knowledge of the impending attack. It cleared out the battleships, leaving resources to build carriers. We’ll probably never know the truth behind the claims that FDR knew the attack was coming and let it happen. We’ll probably learn the ‘truth’ about the JFK assassination before it would be admitted that Pearl happened with tacit approval of the administration.

        • Another interesting couple of facts followed this.
          Firstly, despite the surprise attack, despite the fact that Japan and Germany were allied, the USA still did not enter the war against Germany.
          That only happened a few days later when Adolf Hitler declared war on the USA.

          Second, despite what happened in the Pacific, despite the political problems in joining the war in Europe, the USA committed over two thirds of their vast resources against the axis in Europe, rather than whack the enemy on their doorstep.

          IMO, they took one on the chin in order to help their friends and allies

          • Roosevelt and the US high command rightly assessed that Hitler was the greater threat. Despite that doctrine and the relatively huge investment for the time for both the US and Britian in Torch, the invasion of N. Africa, the US managed to send just enough to hold Nippon at bay in 1942. Watch Tower, the invasion of Guadalcanal was carried out 7 August 1942. Torch, the invasion of N. Africa on 8 Nov. 1942. The New Guinea campaign, the longest of all in the Pacific, began in January 1942 with the first Japanese invasion but the allies real push back did not start until the Battle of the Coral Sea in May. The New Guinea campaign did not technically end until the surrender of Japan.

        • re: “We’ll probably learn the ‘truth’ about the JFK assassination”

          Yeah, this is nuts. Even LHO’s brother understood Lee did it. So did the cops that day.

          On another note, you rate your fellow man’s ability to observe, analyze and understand pretty low to believe in all those far-fetched conspiracy theories.

      • Have seen in Japanese-English ‘To Ra To Ra To Ra’, several times/places. Have no idea what is correct translation.

    • My problem with Midway was that he tried to cover too much territory. The attack on Yorktown is almost a footnote for example. Otherwise excellent.

      I highly recommend “Shattered Sword” which fills in and corrects some beliefs about Midway using Japanese records and sources.

      • The movie would have been better-titled, “The Big E, Part One”. It was more about Enterprise and the men of Air Group 6, than the battle of Midway. I liked that it covered the post-Pearl Harbor operations in a fair bit of detail. I think it’s the first movie to do that.

        • You’re right about the title when it comes to the Midway part of the story. I just felt it tried to cover too much ground with the section on the Doolittle raid for example. That deserved it’s own movie though the original “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” was pretty good. I would have liked to have them show how the Yorktown crew fought to save her. Especially after they showed the damage that had to be miraculously repaired for her to be there.

          • From the IJN perspective, Yorktown could have been at least three different carriers. They thought the sunk her along with Lexington in the Coral Sea. It was a miracle that they were able to repair her in time for Midway. Then thought they sunk Hornet or Enterprise when she was first heavily damaged at Midway. The sunk, what they thought was the third carrier, when a sub torpedoed her while being towed back to Pearl. I agree, Yorktown deserves a movie of her own.

            From my perspective… I wish the movie had been about 12 hours long. It would be really cool, if they made a series of these movies. It’s hard to believe it was the same director as Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. Although, I have to admit that I like all of Roland Emmerich’s movies… I like bad science fiction almost as much as good war movies.

          • @David Middleton

            Yeah, 12 hours is about right :). The battle of Surigao Strait and the Battle_off_Samar, the fight of Taffy 3 (talk about a desperate battle against tall odds) both deserve movies IMO.

          • Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors. Excellent Book that. And that sacrifice to protect Taffy 3 and the effect it had on Kurita thus ending the Battle of Samar as a superior Japanese force retreated before a much inferior US force is to me is the defining story of the largest naval engagement in history.

          • I guess I ought to put this on here:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Samuel_B._Roberts_(DE-413)

            USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort of the United States Navy.

            Samuel B. Roberts participated in the Battle off Samar, an unlikely victory in which a relatively small force of U.S. warships prevented a vastly superior Japanese force from attacking the amphibious invasion fleet off the large Philippine island of Leyte.

            This destroyer escort, along with the handful of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and escort carriers of the unit called “Taffy 3”, was inadvertently left alone to fend off a fleet of heavily armed Japanese battleships, cruisers, and destroyers in this crucial action off the Island of Samar, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf of October 1944.

            Steaming aggressively through a gauntlet of incoming shells, Samuel B. Roberts scored one torpedo hit and numerous gunfire hits as she slugged it out with larger enemy warships before finally being sunk. After the battle, Samuel B. Roberts received the appellation “the destroyer escort that fought like a battleship.”[2] ”

            The “Fightin’ Sammy B” was a thinly armored Destroyer Escort and as it attacked the much larger Japanese ships, the shells the Japanese were firing were configured to be used against ships with very thick armor, so when the shells hit the Sammy B, most of them just punched holes in the sides and didn’t explode onboard.

            The Samuel B Roberts and other American ships attacked the Japanese headon and the Samuel B Roberts guns were not powerful enough to pentrate the sides of the cruisers it was up against but the Roberts put such a high volume of fire onto the superstucture (the exposed upper decks) of the cruiser that the cruiser finally had to withdraw from the battle having suffered extensive damage to all its systems.

            The Samuel B Roberts was sunk that day and the gunner was said to be still firing his gun as the ship sank under the waves.

            The survivors were in the water and as the Japanese fleet withdrew, it is said the Japanese crew were standing on deck at attention and saluting the Samuel B Roberts as they passed them by.

            We have our freedoms today because of people like that. We shouldn’t forget what they did or what freedom costs. They went when they were called. We should go when we are called, to continue what they built for us.

  7. One more comment concerning the CV-6 the Enterprise. When returning to the US ships would fly a battle streamer. The length of that streamer is 1 foot long for each day away from home. When the Enterprise returned home her battle streamer was so long that despite flying from the highest point on the ship it required several helium balloons to keep it above the water.

  8. “The USS Enterprise (CV-6) was coming back to Pearl Harbor from Wake Island and was actually scheduled to arrive on the morning of December 7th, but it was delayed due to rough seas.”

    I wonder if it was warned off. I’ve read that an ammo ship en route from California was warned not to approach Hawaii closer than 50 miles on the day or days preceding the attack.

  9. On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters every where you looked. As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, “Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?” Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?” Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?”
    Nimitz explained.

    Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk–we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

    Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

    Mistake number three: every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make, or God was taking care of America.

    • G-4 Wins Wars. Tenacity/guts wins battles. Mistake 3 – Japanese military planners of KETSU-GO (final defense of Japan) corrected the earlier concept of targeting Battle-War ships etc to targeting troop/supply ships. Casualties would have skyrocketed before any boots on the ground. Dry docks and Oil supply. The U.S. Battleships at Pearl were obsolete-non compatible with Naval Carrier Air power. Speed.

  10. Weather was just as important on 6 June 1944… and the meteorological arguments were far more interesting…

    • The weather forecaster who informed the Allies prior to D-Day, Group Captain James Stagg, was a very clever and courageous man. The whole success of which rested on his shoulders as he advised the postponement of one day from the original day planned and then forecast a weather window when the assault could take place.
      The German meteorologists forecast a period of rough weather, so several of the Generals including Rommel took time off and were not in place to take quick counter-measures which could have had serious effects.

      • In addition to the large amount of territory, failure to adequately prepare their armies for the higher latitudes of Russia in the winters of 1812/13 and 1942/43 doomed the French and Germans. For every 6 men in Napoleon’s army only 1 returned to France. For every 4 German soldiers in Stalingrad, only 1 survived.

        • Then there is the Germans in their failure to take Moscow. Patton’s forces in the Lorraine facing Metz when the all rains were about twice the average. And of course the battle of the bulge. In each of which the weather effected the course of the WW II. Much has been written about the weather effecting the amphibious operations of D-day Normandy (Neptune) and the subsequent storm which destroyed the Mulberry at Omaha beach. But the conduct of the amphibious invasions of north Africa (Torch) on the Atlantic coasts and the invasion of Sicily (Husky) were each effected by weather and the high seas it brought forth.

          • The cause of the storm damage to Mulberry was in the choice of the type of anchor used to moor the pontoons.
            The British ones used a new type of anchor designed by a Royal Engineer which was based on a ploughshare which dug itself further into the sea bottom the more strain was put on its cable.
            I think the American pontoons used conventional naval anchors, as did the line of ships supposed to protect the British harbour.
            During the storm the ships dragged their anchors and caused much damage to the pontoons, which however were able to resume duties fairly quickly.
            There had been a lot of argument between the army and navy about which type of anchor to use.
            I think the double ploughshare type of anchor is nowadays used by many of the yachting fraternity.

          • The US used only 1/2 as many anchors on their Mulberry as the British did on theirs. Also Omaha was more exposed to the elements. Anchors or no anchors the fact is much of the damage was caused by run away landing craft crashing into the floating roadways called “whales”. Smaller vessels like landing craft were not equipped with “spring lines” which provided some give in the anchor lines or chains and thus when caught in the open in the gale more often than not broke free from their moorings.

    • Weather also saved Kokura, Japan from FatMan’s devastation dropped by Bock’s Car.

      The original target for the bomb was the city of Kokura, but it was found to be obscured by clouds and drifting smoke from fires started by a major firebombing raid by 224 B-29s on nearby Yahata the previous day. This covered 70% of the area over Kokura, obscuring the aiming point…” – Wikipedia

      • As a matter of fact the US originally intended to use the B-29 in the same way as the B-17 and B-24 had been used in Europe, for high-altitude visual precision attacks, but after 6 months of failures due the almost constantly bad visibility over Japan LeMay decided to shift to low-level fire attacks by night, i e essentially the same tactics as the British Bomber Command had used against Germany. The effects were immediate and devastating, in fact much more destructive than the two atom bombs.

  11. Today’s Chinese Generals and Admirals no doubt had a good belly laugh in February 2014 when Obama’s US Sec State John Kerry was visiting in Jakarta Indonesia where he equated climate change as a “weapon of mass destruction, and climate change was the biggest security threat facing the world.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/kerry-calls-climate-change-a-weapon-of-mass-destruction-derides-skeptics/2014/02/16/1283b168-971a-11e3-ae45-458927ccedb6_story.html

    Chinese military leaders no doubt love such breathtaking ignorance and naiveté on the part of the baizuo like Kerry and Obama.

    When I arrived at the USAF Academy almost 40 years ago as new cadet, one of the quotes required for all doolies to memorize was this:
    “In the development of air power one has to look ahead and not backwards and figure out what is going to happen, not too much what has happened.
    — General Billy Mitchell (Winged Defense, no. 20, 1925)

    There should be little doubt in anyone’s mind that Communist China has long-range strategic plans for a similar crippling attack against the US 7th Fleet and US Air Forces stationed across the Pacific. Instead of a 4 ship carrier task force employed by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto against 1941 Pearl Harbor with simultaneous attacks in the Philippines, a surprise attack by China would look very different but have many of the same goals.

    Although the technology is vastly different today, the goals of militaristic imperialism across a wide swath of resource-rich western Pacific and south to Australia are little different 80 years on from Imperial Japan’s goals that drove their attack on Pearl Harbor. That attack had one strategic goal: cripple the US 7th Fleet to prevent a US naval intervention as Japanese forces seized islands and established a large perimeter with sea control in order. This was an action of economics, the need to secure mineral and fossil fuel resources for homeland Japan’s industries and military forces. One big difference is today, space assets and long range air forces would need to be neutralized as well for a Chinese attack to succeed. And the ability to drive a large surface naval task force as Yamamoto succeeded in doing, undetected by the US military, across the Pacific is non-existent today.

    China’s no doubt would rely on its growing substantial missile arsenal to simultaneously strike Pearl Harbor, Guam, and probably key US facilities in Japan in coordinated, massive, surprise attack that would make December 7, 1941 just another BAU day in 21st Century warfare. Because for such an attack to succeed in delivering crippling blows, nuclear weapons would be certainly required on key US naval and air force installations, also employing high altitude nuclear bursts to cripple satellite sensors and unleash an EMP against ground and naval communications and computer systems. To my estimation, China’s biggest military threat-problem they likely have no effective counter for is the US’s very stealthy nuclear-powered attack submarine fleet able to move undetected throughout the Pacific, and now with even quieter sub-drones, with torpedoes and mines, that would deliver devastating blows to any surface forces and quietly slip away, to strike again and again. So for China to believe it could succeed would require a different calculation, a calculation involving politics and human behavior of US leaders.

    And what kind of political environment overall would enable such a bold attack by the Chinese? The same kind of political calculus that the Japan’s Supreme Commander-Prime Minister Hideki Tojo made concerning US President FD Roosevelt. That is, Tojo needed an continued indecisive US President, publicly committed to keeping the US out of military conflicts, dithering until it was too late to stop Japanese forces securing a vast perimeter in the Western Pacific. Even better for China and Russia would be a US President like committed anti-nuclear, socialist Bernie Sanders who would likely as Commander and Chief order US nuclear assets to begin dismantlement on his first day in office. Which of course would extend to the US nuclear powered submarine fleet.
    We might as well hand over the Philippines and even Australia and save many hundreds of millions of lives to China if we commit such political suicide in the future. And the climate scam is just one of the enabling strategies that China and Russia are now leveraging along with the criminally complicit US baizuo.

    • Thank you for the term “baizuo”. Again this site provides a reason to do research and learn about not just climate “science” but other interesting subjects.

      Have just started this research, but what little I have read so far confirms my opinion of the Chinese rulers and reinforces my belief that TRUMP is doing the right thing in cutting China down to size in relation to international trade.

      He may sign some agreement on trade before the election to guarantee re-election. I think he may re-open the agreement after re-election to force even more favorable terms for the US. I think this would be possible because Pelosi would never allow approval of an agreement negotiated by Trump before the election and Trump could withdraw the agreement from congress after the election. See USMCA for reference.

      Note: China has long supported the Democrat presidential candidate, see Clinton and Gore fundraising, and subsequent release of technology to China. Notice NO ONE is mentioning China as the “existential” threat to worldwide peace. (Disregarding “minor’ skirmishes in the middle east.)

    • “…also employing high altitude nuclear bursts to cripple satellite sensors and unleash an EMP against ground and naval communications and computer systems.”

      The problem with that strategy is that the effect is not restricted solely to the enemy, friendly systems are also screwed.

    • All of those career politicians on both side of the aisle were bought and paid for years ago. Clinton getting $500K for a speach in Russia, McCain getting campaign funding from Soros, etc. etc, the swamp is very deep.

  12. The USS Phoenix survived Pearl Harbor unscathed and served in several battles during the war only to be sunk by the British in May 1982 as the General Belgrano (having been sold to the Argentine Navy in 1951 out of the US naval reserve).

    • In 1977 I acquired two nice 4′ x 8′ steel workbenches painted battleship gray from U.S. Surplus. — still using them

  13. Fortunately many of our capital ships were elsewhere that day. Of the five USN fleet carriers available the USS Enterprise as noted was returning from delivering aircraft to Wake Island. The USS Lexington was enroute to Midway to deliver fighters when it received notification of the attack. The USS Saratoga recently overhauled at Puget Sound was in San Diego to embark aircraft for the Pacific Fleet. The USS Ranger, Yorktown and Wasp were in the Atlantic Fleet with new USS Hornet yet to conduct its shakedown cruise.

    https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/c/carrier-locations.html

    The nine battleships not present in Pearl Harbor 7 December included USS Colorado in Bremerton WA for overhaul, the old battleships USS Texas and USS Arkansas in Casco Bay, ME and the USS New York in Newfoundland. The USS Mississippi and USS Idaho were in Iceland and the USS New Mexico was in Norfolk, VA. Of the two new fast battleships the USS North Carolina was in post shakedown cruise overhaul in Portland, ME and the USS Washington was conducting its shakedown cruise in the Gulf of Mexico.
    Likewise most of the USN heavy and light cruisers and destroyers were operating elsewhere during the attack.
    http://www.navsource.org/Naval/usf02.htm

  14. “It is believed that the decision to attack on that particular day had plenty to do with the projected favorable weather conditions.”

    If so it is believed wrongly. The date had been decided well in advance and the order to initiate hostilities on December 7: “Niitaka yama nobore 1208” was transmitted on December 2. By the time the Koku kantai received the weather forecast for Oahu there was no longer any turning back, good weather or bad. The invasion fleet for the Malaya invasion was closing in on the landing beaches and had already shot down a british Catalina.

    As a matter of fact bad weather did delay the first air attacks on the Philippines. Heavy morning fog over southern Taiwan delayed the planned dawn attack on the airfields around Manila until early afternoon. giving Mac Arthur’s forces several hours to prepare – which they quite incomprehensibly completely failed to use in any way whatsoever, even though carrier planes had already struck Davao in Mindanao.

  15. My late father-in-law, who passed away before I met my wife, was a civilian aircraft contractor working for the Army at Hickam Field in 1941. My wife’s parents had quarters on Hickam Field, although on the eastern edge of the base. The address was inscribed on old 8mm film boxes, and that location is now a vacant lot. The film was converted a few years ago, and shows their quarters with an air raid shelter dug into the front yard (post-attack), and my two older sister-in-laws as infants, who were both born during the war. There was no footage shot during the attack by my in-laws. The first link shows film shot by another resident (“The Oberg Color Film Footage of Pearl Harbor…”) much closer to the docks on December 7. Their post attack film of the air raid shelter in the yard is similar to what my is on wife’s family film. The second link is for a video (“Attack on Pearl Harbor 1941” by Montemayor) that breaks down the actual paths and effectiveness of the various attack waves of Japanese aircraft. It is clear that Mrs. Oberg had an excellent vantage point from her quarters.
    Oberg home movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b6auSQPvGs
    Japanese attack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6cz9gtMTeI

  16. Paul, I think the word at the end of the observation entered by PFC Levine is “terrific.” Primary usage of the word terrific in 1941 would be along the line of my mid-1970s Webster dictionary. 1a: exciting or fit to excite fear or awe. 1b: very bad. Modern usage has all been in line with 2: extraordinary, or 3: unusually fine.

    An example of old school terrific is the 1954 Perry Como hit heard on the radio this time of year, (There’s No Place) Home For the Holidays: “Gee, the traffic is terrific.” In other words, getting around on the highways in winter in the early 1950s is just as aggravating as it is now.

    • Vis a vis Korea,

      Was it not the case that the USSR were in fact boycotting the UN Security Council at the time the resolution to embark on the ‘Police Action’ was passed ? The film asserts they merely abstained. It should also be noted that China’s position and veto were at the time held by the Nationalist Chinese even though they had ceased to have any degree of control over mainland China, this being the cause of the Russian boycott.

      Needless to say, I doubt any of the veto holding members will ever boycott the council again 🙂

      • You’re right.

        But had the Soviet delegate attended the Security Council session and vetoed UN action, the US and its allies probably would have defended the RoK anyway.

        Dean Acheson might have mispoken, or could have been expressing Truman’s view about Korea.

        Stalin was more willing to back Kim’s aggression once he had the Bomb. He wanted to get even with Truman for forcing him to withdraw from Iran after the war, and for beating Communist guerrillas in Italy and Greece.

  17. Weather forecasting was beyond awful in those days. Forecasters had minimal information to work with. That changed after the war.

    The big weather event in WWII was the early winter in Russia. That stopped Hitler in his tracks and turned the tide. For the next 3 years Hitler was on the defensive fighting off our ally Uncle Joe with the help of our lend lease goods

    Japan never really had a chance. No resources whatsoever surrounded by China and Russia who were both supported with US arms and the US itself which had no enemies closer than 5000 miles to worry about and completely self sufficient with regard to resources. It was pretty much just a matter of time before they exhausted themselves. But they were cornered thanks to our sanctions so took a chance Hitler would knock off Stalin and keep us too occupied. That early winter in Russia hurt Japan as much as it did Hitler. Thank god Global Warming chose to sit out the war.

    Also, its pretty clear we knew the Japanese were attacking. FDR knew the only way to get support for US entry into the war was to be attacked. Hitler foolishly honored their agreement with Japan to declare war against the US in the event of war between the the 2 countries, and the war which started over Poland would reach its conclusion.

    Interesting thing about Poland. UK declared war against hitler for invading Poland but Stalin also invaded Poland and became our Ally against Hitler. At the end of the war Poland lost territory and also were left under Uncle Joes umbrella. Didn’t work out very well for them. In fact the biggest winner of WWII seemed to be communism. Soviets were able to expand their territory and Communists were allowed to take over China after we withheld aid to our allies in China while the communists were receiving our lend lease arms from Russia.

    Sanctions that led to war against Japan had to do with protecting China from Japan, much like war with Hitler was over Poland, and in the end China and Poland end up under Communist control. By 1948 half the world lived under Communism. Worked out well for us, with 5% of the population we controlled 50% of the worlds wealth, Bretton Woods made the USD the reserve currency which meant our only debt would be in our own currency which we could print at will (especially after dumping its tied to gold). Of course our share of the worlds wealth is down to 20% and half of that is owned by the top 1% but that still leaves 10% for the rest of us. Not quite as well off as we were following the war but at least its warmer.

    That said Communists in the Soviet Union and China have embraced neoliberalism, so there is no more communism, or maybe communism has just been repackaged as neoliberalism where the 1% who control the state live better than the rest of us and tell us what we can do.

    • Stalin’s forces invaded eastern Poland under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the Polish military officers, police officials, even many Catholic priests who surrendered to the Soviet Army were all held in Soviet NKVD prisons. They were systematically executed, many with a single pistol bullet to head, 30-40 a night for many months by specially selected NKVD officers. The NKVD officers who carried out these executions were never the same emotionally. Most went mad, committed suicide, or died at some point later in the war. This is now known as the Katyn Forest Massacre.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn_massacre

      The German Wehrmacht then captured the area in 1941 during Operation Barbarossa and discovered what had happened in 1940 with the many mass graves and reports of buried Polish NCOs and officers. In early 1943 with the war gong badly for Germany on the eastern front, they tried to use this Bolshevik barbarism as a propaganda tool to split the US and UK from the Soviets. The Germans then lost the area back to the Soviets in September 1943, which Joseph Goebbles correctly predicted the Soviets would then try to blame the Germans for the Polish prisoner murders.

      Such is propaganda. The Climate Change propagandists have a rich history of literature to learn from.

  18. But The authorities did have notice of the attack.
    90 minutes before the main attack a USN ship sank a Japanese midget sub heading for Pearl Harbour.

      • Confirmation came about 50 years later, when a research vehicle took one of the gun crew of the Warrd to see the sunken submarine.

  19. There is a lot of misunderstanding here about the possibility of a 3rd Japanese attack wave.
    First it was never planned. The military rarely change plans on the fly.
    Second, the Japanese fleet didnt have the fuel to hang around to launch and recover a third wave. They had only made it to hawaii by tricks like filling the bilges with fuel on some ships. Further delay would have made them terribly vulnerable to projected USN counterattacks, with potential crippling losses.

    Most of the mistakes were due to the USN not being at war, with a peacetime mentality. The major error was not fitting torpedo nets because ‘the harbour was too shallow’, despite the fact that the Fleet Air Arm had destroyed the Italian fleet with torpedoes at Taranto, a shallow harbour.

  20. Coupla remarks from a Brit former naval person. The US carrier building programme was astonishing – 13 fast carriers of the Essex class by 1946? And what about Nimitz’ choice of Raymond Spruance vice Halsey? Genius or what?

    • The amazing US ability to ramp up war production is covered in a fascinating series called War Factories on the Yesterday channel.
      It covers the way Germany, Britain, the USA and Russia used their industries to provide war material, and compares the efficiency of the various economic systems.
      One example, the US provided Russia with 400,000 trucks and jeeps, without which they would have been able to keep their troops supplied.

      • The US Army had by far the best vehicle recovery and repair systems during the war. Many of the trucks supplied to the ‘Russians were run until they broke down and abandoned which is another example of what happens when mechanization is quickly introduced to a society which has little training or experience in it.
        The Russians were almost totally reliant on British and US communications equipment and signal intelligence. A huge factor in coordinating the actions of their units over the vast expanses of territory they fought over. 1/3 of all aircraft they used were supplied by the US and Britain. Over 90% of the RR Engines, Rolling stock, and the rails they ran on were supplied by the US.
        This is not to belittle the Russian contribution. The losses they suffered in the struggle are almost incomprehensible.

  21. While fighters were present this type of aircraft was not the type that made the main attacks against US ships: dive bombers and torpedo bombers did.

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