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

Guest post by Paul Dorian

H:\SI weather web site\Blogs\12_07_1941_weather_obs.png

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 

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. 

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

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.  

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 high winds and 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.”   

USS Enterprise (CV-6)

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. 

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 (Credit Dr. Jon Nese, Penn State University: video discussion courtesy YouTube).  

Meteorologist Paul Dorian 
Perspecta, Inc. 
perspectaweather.com 

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Climate believer
December 7, 2020 6:16 am

I would thoroughly recommend Dan Carlin’s recent HCH on the Pacific War, exceptional story-telling.

John Tillman
Reply to  Climate believer
December 7, 2020 6:46 am
Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 8:45 am

Another great read is Wounded Tiger by T. Martin Bennett. It’s the true story of the pilot who planned and led the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Wounded Tiger has a 4.8-star rating on Amazon.
https://www.amazon.com/Wounded-Tiger-T-Martin-Bennett/dp/0991229045

John Tillman
Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
December 7, 2020 10:44 am

To put it mildly, Fuchida’s veracity has been called into question.

None
Reply to  John Tillman
December 8, 2020 4:26 pm

So now even the Asia fire of destruction is due to Climate Change

We we know whose side this crowd is on.

Mike Sexton
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 10:50 am

I have that book on my Nook very good

John Tillman
Reply to  Mike Sexton
December 7, 2020 11:46 am

Barrett’s book on Enterprise?

If so, great that you found it very good. If you like naval aviation history, he’s your guy.

Erik Magnuson
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 2:58 pm

I’ve got that book in my collection as well as the book on the “Turkey Shoot” and “Whirlwind”. All good reads.

On a related note, the book “Shattered Sword” was interesting in part due to the author’s discussion of the role of weather in the Midway battle.

Mike Sexton
Reply to  Erik Magnuson
December 7, 2020 4:11 pm

I have all those as well

John Tillman
Reply to  Erik Magnuson
December 7, 2020 4:12 pm

Thank you!

That’s quite a collection, making you an expert.

Normally I say there are no experts in science, only specialists. But history has different standards.

Mike Sexton
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 5:05 pm

I consider myself an amateur ww2 history buff since jr high
My MILs late husband was on the USS President Jackson down Guadalcanal way he was also a frat brother of Don Malarkey who I met at his book signing in Eugene

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 7:17 pm

Mike,

I never had the honor of meeting Don Malarkey, but I think his mom might have been descended from pioneer Elbridge Trask, for whom the Trask River and mountain are named.

My granddad’s company built the Wolf Creek Highway, which became the Sunset Highway, aka Highway 26 to Cannon Beach, and the Seaside seawall, among other well known structures in Oregon.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Erik Magnuson
December 7, 2020 5:01 pm

Shattered Sword is VERY good.

Mike Sexton
Reply to  Craig from Oz
December 7, 2020 5:07 pm

Great photos in that one

John Tillman
December 7, 2020 7:03 am

Enterprise was returning from delivering Wildcat fighters to Wake Island. Lexington was delivering Vindicator dive bombers to Midway, but turned around after the attack.

Conspiracy theorists suspect that absence of both carriers was intentional rather than fortuitous. Vindicators had the range to fly to Midway from Oahu, and did so later in December.

But it appears that ADM Kimmel ordered the aircraft transfers without direction to do so from DC. Obviously, Kimmel didn’t know that IJN carriers were going to raid Pearl that Sunday morning.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 8:26 am

I would guess that delivering the fighters by carrier helped conserve local fuel reserves for Wake and Midway. I don’t think that either one had extensive supplies.

John Tillman
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 7, 2020 9:55 am

The fighters had to be delivered to Wake by carrier, regardless. The dive bombers however could and did fly to Midway.

The islands were supplied with fuel by auxiliaries. They didn’t need a carrier group, with its escorting cruisers and destroyers, plus aircraft patrolling around it, to conserve fuel.

Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 10:25 am

Flying them in from Oahu was the less desirable option. Not the fuel requirements, but maintenance time on the airframes.

The original mission was for carrier operations training.

John Tillman
Reply to  Writing Observer
December 7, 2020 10:48 am

Vindicators were soon to be replaced by SBDs anyway.

Yes, delivery by sea was preferable, but after Pearl, risking a carrier group to ferry obsolete bombers was not an option.

We didn’t even risk Enterprise and Lexington to rescue Wake Island.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Writing Observer
December 7, 2020 5:00 pm

John wrote, “Vindicators were soon to be replaced by SBDs anyway. ”

True, but misleading in context.

You fight with what you have on the day, not what you have on order. It happens and in many cases it leads to ‘heroic’ actions with the constantly asked question of when does a piece of older equipment go from ‘better than nothing’ to ‘worse than nothing’.

Vindicators were still operational during the Midway battle seven months later. They were reinforced with newer aircraft piloted by inexperienced aircrew and the decision was made that the existing pilots would take the newly arrived SBD and the new pilots switch into the Vindicators. In hindsight this was probably the worst of both worlds. The existing pilots were unfamiliar with the SBDs and unwilling to attempt true dive bombing attacks. They attempted a glide bombing approach (long slow dive) and suffered for it. The Vindicators now combined older aircraft with inexperienced aircrew who didn’t know the type. That attack also went badly.

(for those confused with the narrative, this is the US attacks from Midway itself, not the later carrier strikes)

“We didn’t even risk Enterprise and Lexington to rescue Wake Island.”

Misleading, John.

Enterprise? No, not involved in operations related to Wake during the period discussed.

Lexington? TF-11, sent to raid the Marshall Islands in support of TF-14.

Saratoga? TF-14. Sent to Wake to reinforce the garrison.

That was the plan.

What happened was the Japanese, seriously embarrassed by failing to capture Wake in the first assault, diverted Second Carrier Division and an extra 1500 ground troops to ensure they had overwhelming force. They applied said force. It overwhelmed. TF-14, which was reinforcing and in no position to conduct amphibious assault, withdrew. TF-11 received reports (in hindsight incorrect) that there were two enemy carriers nearby and fearing counterstrike, also withdrew.

Also remember that in context the timeline for Wake was first assault on the 11th and second/final assault on the 23rd. Pearl was on the 7th. So the US forces had 4 days between Pearl and first assault to process the fact they were at war and major surface units were now out of action, then on the 11th they process that Japan is definitely making an effort to capture Wake.

So then the US needed to decide if Wake was a one off, or a bluff, or part of a sweeping grand offensive (while still assessing damage at Pearl and processing the attacks in the Philippines and the fact they are now also at war with Germany) and decide if they are going to reinforce Wake and if so, what units are going to be deployed to do so. Then collect those units, load the stores for the garrison (after collecting them in the first place0 and then physically leave port.

The US, in a time when they were facing great uncertainty, deployed two carrier task forces to support Wake.

I feel the ‘didn’t even risk’ comment is a tad unfair to the US military under the circumstances.

John Tillman
Reply to  Writing Observer
December 7, 2020 7:31 pm

Craig,

Yes, Vindicators were still operational at the time of the Battle of Midway. My comment was meant to address the issue of airframe wear and tear in flying them from Oahu to Midway.

As for the relief of Wake Island, I don’t feel that my assessment was too hard on US forces. It was a tough call.

Admiral Frank Fletcher’s Task Force 14 was assigned relief of Wake Island, while Admiral Wilson Brown’s Task Force 11 was to raid the island of Jaluit in the Marshall Islands as a diversion.

TF–14 consisted of fleet carrier Saratoga, fleet oiler Neches, seaplane tender Tangier, heavy cruisers Astoria, Minneapolis and San Francisco, and eight destroyers. The convoy carried the 4th Marine Defense Battalion and fighter squadron VMF-221, equipped with Brewster Buffalo fighters, plus other equipment, ammo and reinforcements.

TF–11 consisted of fleet carrier Lexington, fleet oiler Neosho, heavy cruisers Indianapolis, Chicago and Portland and the nine destroyers.

At 21:00 on 22 December, after receiving information indicating the presence of two IJN carriers and two fast battleships (actually heavy cruisers) near Wake Island, Vice Admiral William Pye, Acting CinCPac, ordered TF-14 to return to Pearl Harbor.

ColMosby
December 7, 2020 7:17 am

The Japanese were scheduled to attack Dec 7 “come what may” (i.e. even if detected and attacked by U.S. aircraft). Gordon Prange wrote the exhaustive history of the Pearl Harbor attack.

Reply to  ColMosby
December 8, 2020 8:20 am

I have read ADWS a few times over decades and had regarded it as one of the great books of all time. Then I got Stinnett’s book “Day of Deceit” which I enjoyed but at first was not fully impressed. Stinnett mentions in detail how units of Kimmel’s Pacific Fleet conducted Exercise 191 north of Oahu in the vicinity of the composer seamounts to meet a hypothetical threat from an intruder “Black Fleet” the central force of which was played by the US carrier Lexington. The defensive forces part of Exercise 191 were termed “White Fleet”.
This exercise was terminated on 24 November 1941 apparently on orders from Washington
My story is here
http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=6381
last year I found with google that Exercise 191 was very real – so the halo of At Dawn We Slept slipped a whisker in my adulation. I am about to see my library again after half a year house-hunting so in 2021 I am writing a timeline of all the many warnings of the Pearl Harbor attack.

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  wazz
December 8, 2020 6:30 pm

G’Day wazz. There is the start of a list of “warnings” in “Eagle Against The Sun” by Ronald Spector – 1985. He goes into the Japanese military/political pre-war aspects somewhat deeper than I’ve seen elsewhere.

Found the book in a thrift store last wednesday – made a start during lunch yesterday. His many ‘sources’ are listed at the end of each chapter. His “Acknowledgements” cover almost two pages.

Reply to  Tombstone Gabby
December 10, 2020 11:18 am

Thanks for that tip Tombstone Gabby – I will buy the book through Abebooks – something for my mailbox to look forward to.

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  wazz
December 10, 2020 7:09 pm

G’day again wazz. Chapter 5, “The Issue Is In Doubt” deals with who knew what and when., and what they did about the knowledge.

I did run into one sentence at lunch today that I have doubts about. He references “Strategy and Command”, Morton. “Australia and New Zealand possessed considerable military and naval forces but these were mainly occupied in the local defense of those countries.”

Australia’s population at the time was just over 7 million. The 7th Div. was fighting in North Africa, and the 8th Div., largely untrained, was in Singapore when it surrendered.

Materials? At the outbreak of WW2 there were exactly three sub-machine guns in Australia (officially). And one of those was a Thompson brought in by a ‘retired’ US gangster and his two bodyguards. Confiscated.

My dad was a radio amateur, at that time VK4ZT. He finished up with the US Army in communications, studying captured radio equipment. The only comment he ever made many years later, “The Japs were using pentodes, the US was still using diodes and triodes.”

So “… possessed considerable military … forces … mainly occupied in the local defense.” Not too accurate.

Joel O’Bryan
December 7, 2020 7:35 am

The on-going Democratic Party-led destruction of Hawaii and its economy will be far more impact than the attack from Japan.
Hawaii’s electricity costs are the highest in the nation. An LNG import terminal on each island is what they need to produce clean, affordable electricity. The gas could come from Alaska’s North slope fields, piped to Seward, but Dems resist that too.

Ironically, it was the Japanese failure to followup the attack on Pearl Harbor with bombing raids on the millions of gallons of bunker oil in tank farms that allowed the US Navy to maintain naval operations in the Western Pacific in the years after the Pearl Harbor attack. Energy from petroleum has always been vital to allowing modern life on such islands. All their food is brought in by regular ship deliveries from the US West coast, using massive amounts of oil to do so.

griff
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
December 7, 2020 8:11 am

Well hang on: the whole point of Hawaiis renewables programme is to REDUCE costs, by not having to ship in expensive fossil fuel…

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  griff
December 7, 2020 8:31 am

Are you starting to get the picture, griff? Unreliables will never be cheaper that fossil fueled electricity. The only way people (like you) can support the argument is by ignoring government regulations requiring stupidly expensive feed-in tariffs, indefensible carbon “taxes”, direct subsidies, and renewable energy targets. Pull those back, and the only windmills going up in the US would be for filling stock ponds or tanks.

HD Hoese
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 7, 2020 11:13 am

Both windmills and solar panels do turn up with some utility, especially shoreline, on sailboats, latter also on RVs. Solar panels take up significant space horizontally, windmills vertically. Neither provide more than a small energy supply and are a serious impediment to sailboat operations.

My father was an airplane mechanic for much of the war (after attack) at Hickam. Our generation was spared, but understand what is serious.

Hans
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 8, 2020 1:59 am

Hear, hear, Mr Hawkins, a brilliant rebuttal if I may say so!! :<))

And the use of "Unreliables" should enshrined into our collective
diction!

DipChip
Reply to  griff
December 7, 2020 9:40 am

A little comedy is always a relief when facing the reality of unfulfilled dreams.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  griff
December 7, 2020 11:26 am

So you are for covering vast quantities of extremely expensive and ecologically diverse real estate with solar farms and wind turbines?

Or maybe those folks on the Big Island need to trek up to the Kilauea caldera and toss in baskets of money as climate reparations?

Personally I think the latter idea might be more effective in fighting climate change.

Dan-O
December 7, 2020 7:57 am

I was a seaman deuce on sea n anchor detail on the bridge leaving Pearl in the early
70’s going WestPac on December 7th The pilot was a navy Pearl Harbor veteran and
he gave us his recollection of that morning in vivid detail as he remembered it. I don’t
remember all the specifics but it made an impression on all . The
entire group on the bridge was mostly silent during the entire trip. As I recall he
was on a smaller ship and they made a run for it and got out mostly unscathed. He would
move from one side of the bridge to the other and tell us what was sunk or burning along the
way. He would describe the fighter aircraft coming in on any target. It was surreal for me .

The weather that morning was overcast and had a strong wind off the starboard
side as I recall with a good amount of chop..

DipChip
Reply to  Dan-O
December 7, 2020 10:26 am

On Dec 7th 1941 I was a first grader at church for the 11 o’clock service. It was a covered dish afternoon to plan and practice for the Christmas program. About 2 PM some older boys had been listening to their dad’s car radio and came in saying they bombed Pearl; no one knew who Pearl was until the adults checked and found the news. The word was, we are surely at war now we must pray for our young men and our country.

Janice Moore
Reply to  DipChip
December 7, 2020 5:42 pm

Yes, even a small child could sense the gravity of what had happened.

I asked my mom recently if she could remember anything about December 7, 1941. I didn’t expect her to recall anything at all, for she was only 5. But, she did.

She could still, nearly 80 years later, remember…. how very grave all the grown-ups became when they heard of the attack.

No one raised their voice. No one banged the table with their fist. But, a little 5 year old girl could tell from the furrowed brows and solemn tones of a roomful of Sunday dinner relatives that something “terrific” had happened.

And they were going to do something about it. The “sleeping giant” was awake.

griff
December 7, 2020 8:10 am

Recent research has also revealed the role of the wind in allowing the RAF to intercept the German raid on London on 15th September 1940… a very strong headwind delayed German bombers, while bringing RAF fighters including Bader’s ‘Big wing’ more rapidly to the fight.

tty
Reply to  griff
December 9, 2020 3:03 am

“Recent research”?

Read Stephen Bungay (2000): The Most Dangerous Enemy, p. 321.

As a matter of fact headwinds is normal for aircraft approaching London from the east.

Bob boder
December 7, 2020 8:36 am

“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”

Ok for once I get to quibble, the base and ships were bombed by Val dive bombers and Kate torpedo bombers that were escorted by fighters.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Bob boder
December 7, 2020 11:09 am

I noticed that also.
A fighter attacking a battleship would do little or no damage. All they had was machine guns.
If he’d said “Japanese planes” instead, no problem.

tty
Reply to  Gunga Din
December 9, 2020 3:07 am

Further nit-picking, the fighters did do considerable damage by strafing airfields, particularly since Zero fighters had two 20 mm cannon in addition to two machine guns.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Bob boder
December 7, 2020 5:07 pm

Thanks Bob. 🙂

My nit pick as well.

Vals and Kates bombed Pearl. Zero’s did not.

Gary Pearse
December 7, 2020 8:50 am

Too bad the Enterprise didnt get a peek at the attacking aircraft in time for a scramble at Pearl. Obviously she was not near the flight path. Anyone know if the carrier carried any aircraft back as a precaution for its own defence?

I had heard after the war (I was a toddler in 1941 and a schoolboy in 44) that the Japanese had bought millions of tonnes of US scrap iron over several years prior to the war.

Interestingly, our activist Dr Suzuki was interned with his parents by the Canadian government when Pearl Harbor was bombed. There was a community of Japanese Canadians farming on the Fraser delta just south of Vancouver at the time – a potential risk to the country being on the Pacific coast.

John Tillman
Reply to  Gary Pearse
December 7, 2020 10:08 am

Enterprise carried her air group as well as the USMC Wildcats ferried to Wake. One of her dive bombers was scouting ahead, flew into the maelstrom of AA fire and frantically radioed that it was American.

Gunga Din
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 11:29 am

And so, indirectly, she was involved at Pearl Harbor (even though it was via her plane(s?) coming under friendly fire).
Hind sight being 20/20, she should be the museum ship at Pearl next to the USS Arizona. (Her or the Arizona’s sister ship, the USS Pennsylvania.)
And the surrender should have been signed on her deck.
But it wasn’t. Oh well.

John Tillman
Reply to  Gunga Din
December 7, 2020 7:56 pm

Enterprise lost seven of 18 SBDs involved in the battle. Her scout/dive bombers shot down, either by enemy action or friendly fire, cost eight k!lled and two wounded of the 14 aircrew.

So, yes, Enterprise was a veteran of Pearl Harbor.

tty
Reply to  John Tillman
December 9, 2020 3:12 am

As a matter of fact Enterprise was the only vessel of any type, on either side, that took part in all carrier vs carrier battles in the Pacific. Coral Sea, Midway, Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz, Philippine Sea and Cape Engano.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Gunga Din
December 10, 2020 6:39 am

“she should be the museum ship at Pearl … And the surrender should have been signed on her deck.”

Near the end of the war a bomb exploded below decks propelling one of her elevator-decks far skyward (there film of it), sending her back stateside. She was deemed expensive to repair and not worth repairing in light of the need for longer-decked carriers for jets. A fund-raising effort to save her from the scrapyard failed after the war.

Fred Middleton
Reply to  Gary Pearse
December 7, 2020 12:44 pm

USA Scrap Iron to bombs. Somewhere in the 70’s read this in 2-3 books (unrelated). 1938 (memory?) UK attempting to appease the Japanese expansion in East and South East Asia ‘all We need is iron and Coal/oil’. The USA was asked to participate in giving up scrap iron for the ‘appeasement’ folly. FDR Liked the idea very much. So did USA scrape iron holders.

Coeur de Lion
December 7, 2020 9:13 am

The names Yorktown, Enterprise, Hornet will live in glory for ever. OK, Raymond Spruance had good intel, but his three fundamental decisions won Midway and turned the course of the Pacific war. As a ‘former naval person’ in the British navy my pick for best general of WW2 is Douglas MacArthur- Liddell Hart and Alanbrooke agree with me- and for naval
Commander in Chief Chester Nimitz and Andrew Cunningham. By 1946 American shipyards had produced inter very very much alia, thirteen 30,000 ton fast carriers of the Essex class. whew.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
December 7, 2020 5:25 pm

MacArthur huh?

Defence of the Philippines, 1941-42. Discuss.

(bonus points for not using the phrase ‘Dugout Doug’).

Midway is best described as a battle won in spite of the command decisions, not because of them. Then again the Japanese ‘master plan’ was an utter dog’s breakfast as well. Midway was won on the skills and bravery of the pilots and crews and many of the command decisions were… questionable.

(hey, let’s launch our fighters, with the lowest range, first so they can circle around burning fuel while the torpedo bombers get ready. I am sure they wont run out of fuel before they reach the Japanese and force our torpedo bombers to attack unsupported…)

Also remember that Hart was one of those rare people blessed with the opportunity to write his own performance reviews. He is, in my opinion, someone who’s views are best taken with a healthy does of surrounding context.

John Peter
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
December 8, 2020 1:04 am

I would vote for Spruance as well. Don’t forget the great turkey shoot off Saipan and Guam and compare with Halsey and his disappearance from Leyte at the critical moment.
MacArthur definitely improved after making a mess of The Philippines in 41/42. Eisenhower was not as decisive. He could have completed the business in Europe in 1944. How do you launch a major and potentially decisive offensive on a poor road that needs to cross three bridges?

Joel L Hammer
December 7, 2020 9:15 am

The biggest contribution of the weather to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was bad weather in the North Pacific, enabling the Japanese task force to approach Hawaii without being detected.
Of course, since Roosevelt striped Hawaii of a large part of its B17 force (to send them to the Philippines), the Hawaiian navy guys couldn’t perform 360 degree surveillance of the islands with these long range bombers as was the plan. So, they used their limited number of B17’s to watch for an attack from the Mandated Islands, in the opposite direction from where the Japanese came.
Bad luck, I’d say.
For more details, read I Was There by Edward Layton. There was a lot of “bad luck” involved in the fiasco.

John Tillman
Reply to  Joel L Hammer
December 7, 2020 10:02 am

After FDR moved the Pacific Fleet from CA to HI, Kimmel also begged for more destroyers to patrol Hawaiian waters.

Joel L Hammer
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 10:29 am

Let us not forget that FDR fired the Admiral who told him not to move the fleet to Pearl.

The problem was FDR had been Sec of the Navy, without any background for the job, and he thought he knew naval military matters better than his admirals. No different from Churchill or some other politicians I cannot name.

John Tillman
Reply to  Joel L Hammer
December 7, 2020 10:52 am

FDR wanted the Japanese to attack the Pacific Fleet, in order to get the isolationist US into the European war by the back door. Hitler obliged him by declaring war on Dec. 11.

Joel L Hammer
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 11:15 am

So true. FDR gave this country The Great Depression and World War II. Yet, he is highly honored.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 1:11 pm

True to his Democrat tendencies, FDR also provided Japanese-Americans in the Western US with free room and board for 4 years.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 3:25 pm

“FDR also provided Japanese-Americans in the Western US with free room and board for 4 years.”

Along with a number of Germans and Italians that were also considered potential national security risks.

We always need to mention the Germans and the Italians. Otherwise, some people might think it was racist to incarcerate the Japanese. It wasn’t racist, it was for national security.

Ill Tempered Klavier
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 5:46 pm

Also under that heading: My parents and grandparents, along with the rest of our people were evacuated, er, rounded up and dragged off our islands then dumped in cannery warehouses on the panhandle to camp for the duration. Afterwards our villages had been so trashed there was nothing to go back to. That was how I ended up being born in Tacoma. It was supposed to get them out of the line of fire or something however, few of us of Aleut ancestry feel overwhelmed with gratitude.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 5:54 pm

one person’s “national security risk” is another person’s polical prisoner.
There is no doubt the racism that was rampant within the Democrat Party fostered all those internments.
As they will again one day if we let them keep acquiring power over us and limiting our liberties. There is a reason they are coming after the 2nd Amendment. And it is not because they want to stop some punk gang banger from another mall shooting.

December 7, 2020 9:52 am

Climate change caused everything.

Olen
December 7, 2020 10:14 am

Speculation

Why attack the US when Japan could have gone about its business of taking all the territory it wanted without opposition from another and more powerful foe. At the time there was no public support for entering the war until the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Japan had skills, they could have dominated the Pacific area just as Germany could have economically dominated Europe with commerce, inventions and innovation. And without all the destruction. On the down side the space program would have been delayed. Only a what if. Real historians can probably rip this apart.

John Tillman
Reply to  Olen
December 7, 2020 11:00 am

Japan needed oil from the Dutch East Indies, rubber from Malaya and other SE Asian resources.

She felt her vital sea lanes were threatened by the US in the Philippines. The regime thought Japan would have fight the US after it overran SE Asia, so wanted to knock out our navy to give its forces free rein to conquer the needed territory. American “volunteer” aviators were already aiding China.

Mike Sexton
Reply to  Olen
December 7, 2020 11:11 am

That’s what how Yamamoto wanted it
He wanted the US out of play but I think he miscalculated they should have taken out the oil tank farm. We wouldn’t have been able operate from Hawaii for a while if they were destroyed

John Tillman
Reply to  Mike Sexton
December 7, 2020 11:54 am

The USN was lucky to have had VADM Chuichi Nagumo as opponent. Despite his disastrous dithering at Midway, he didn’t kill himself until he lost Saipan in 1944.

Kemaris
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 4:06 pm

“Disastrous dithering” is more a matter of adhering to doctrine and the physical limitations associated with how the attacks from Midway and the torpedo squadrons came in. To get an attack off against the US carriers, he’d basically have had to launch and have them orbiting BEFORE any of the Midway strikes arrived.

John Tillman
Reply to  Kemaris
December 7, 2020 7:47 pm

When report of US carriers came in, he could have launched with whatever his planes had, as did USN escort carriers at Leyte against IJN’s big gun Center Force. Instead, he kept aircraft on deck rearming for antiship strikes, with both land and sea armament on deck when SBD dive bombers struck. His fighters and AA fire did manage to wipe out antiquated American torpedo planes, but their attack brought Zeros down to the deck, oblivious to the doom from above.

Mike Sexton
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 4:20 pm

Nagumo wasn’t even a carrier guy he was a big gun man
Should have had a man who believed in air power in charge

Roger Knights
Reply to  Mike Sexton
December 10, 2020 6:48 am

“Should have had a man who believed in air power in charge”

That was his underling on the 4th carrier, who objected to Nagumo’s dithering at the time, and who pressed the attack when only his carrier was left.

Joel L Hammer
Reply to  Olen
December 7, 2020 1:59 pm

From what I have read, FDR, at his famous Atlantic Charter meeting with Churchill, committed the USA to go to war with Japan if Japan attacked English or Dutch “possessions” in the Far East, namely Indonesia.

About Germany dominating Europe with its economy. Germany was broke. It was crushed by war reparations, and then, when Germany renounced those, it went on a military spending spree.

This was the era of closed markets and tariffs. Germany had to import too much (like food) and did not have the export markets. The USA, due to its huge internal market, dominated international markets by low pricing due to mass production which no nation in Europe could challenge.

As a matter of fact, the Europeans always saw America as an economic threat, before and after both world wars. After WW II, the Germans achieved their goal of a European Common Market, which they dominated.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel L Hammer
December 7, 2020 5:58 pm

There was that little matter of “racial purity” they pursued with abandon though that was interwoven into everything they did and thought. Your comment is like asking Mrs Lincoln what she thought of the play and the actors multiplied by 20 million.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Olen
December 7, 2020 7:50 pm

Olen: Nearly all the commerce, inventions and innovations of great commercial interest were British and American. UK had 135 Nobel Prizes, US 390 out of a total of more than 800.
Think steam engine/locomotive, steamship, airplane, agricultural machinery, hydroelectric power,
….

R.A.
December 7, 2020 10:23 am

The definitive book about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is Day Of Deceit–The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor, by Robert B. Stinnett. It was published in 2000 and is currently out of print, but can be found used. Here is what John Toland, Pulitzer Prize winning author of “Infamy” has to say about Stinnett’s book:

“Step by step, Stinnett goes through the prelude to war, using new documents to reveal the terrible secrets that have never been disclosed before to the public. It is disturbing that eleven presidents, including those I admired, kept the truth from the public until Stinnett’s Freedom of Information Act requests finally persuaded the Navy to release the evidence.”

Among other things, Stinnett shows that the U.S. Navy deliberately re-routed all military and civilian shipping so as to avoid the north pacific, giving the Japanese attack fleet a clear path to approach unobserved. U.S. intelligence knew they were coming, they let them come, and concealed this knowledge from Admiral Kimmel at Pearl Harbor.

Dave Anderson
December 7, 2020 12:13 pm

His last note sent shivers down my spine.

God bless you PFC Levine.

John Tillman
Reply to  Dave Anderson
December 7, 2020 4:19 pm

https://airforce.togetherweserved.com/usaf/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=70876

A great American among almost 3000 who perished so that FDR could achieve world domination.

Which is not to say that defeating European Fascism and Japanese hegemonism weren’t worthy goals.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Dave Anderson
December 7, 2020 5:27 pm

“God bless you PFC Levine.”

Amen. Shalom.

The linked bio of Levine is moving. It is especially poignant in view of the peril the United States of America finds itself in at this very hour. The socialists have never come so close to crushing Liberty as they are right now. God willing, they will fail.

It is despicable that the Democrats and RINOS are willing, gleefully willing, to effectively bulldoze under the gravestone of the American soldiers who gave their all for Liberty.

Gravestones like this one —

================================
🔯

SHERMAN LEVINE
ILLINOIS
PFC AIR CORPS
WORLD WAR II

JUNE 29, 1923 DEC 7 1941

=================================

Hans
Reply to  Janice Moore
December 8, 2020 2:33 am

Pvt Levine, a great American and a war hero.

The blooming flower of our nation youth, sacrificed their
lives for our liberties and the defense of the Republic.

May he sit, rightfully so, on the right-hand-side of The Father.

renbutler
December 7, 2020 1:57 pm

It’s probably “terrific,” not “terrified.”

In today’s English, “terrific” almost always means something good, but it comes from “terrificus,” meaning “causing terror or fear.”

Over time, it came to mean anything of a large magnitude, and then it evolved into something almost uniformly positive in magnitude.

Windsong
December 7, 2020 2:03 pm

Paul, I believe the word you highlighted to be “terrific.” In 1941 the primary definition of terrific was much different than common usage today. My old 1975 edition of Webster’s defines terrific as, 1 a: exciting or fit to excite fear or awe; 1 b: very bad. Synonymous cross-reference: Terrible.

Robert MacLellan
December 7, 2020 3:05 pm

Admiral Kimmel was busily engaged in war preparations as was his duty, concentrating his units and fully provisioning them in preparation for a surge. Oahu was perceived as a safe harbour as it was thought to be too shallow for torpedo attack. The lessons of the british attack at Taranto a year earlier had not been learned. Taranto had also been believed to be too shallow for torpedos. Imho his worst failing was having no luck.

John Tillman
Reply to  Robert MacLellan
December 7, 2020 4:14 pm

Kimmel had failings, but basically was a sacrificial lamb.

Mike Sexton
Reply to  John Tillman
December 7, 2020 6:38 pm

I don’t know, have to consider Short also.
But my opinion is after they were both given “war warnings “ they should have been at a higher state of alert. They could have been flying PBYs on search grids to cover the anchorage and their asses
PBYs had good range

John Tillman
Reply to  Mike Sexton
December 7, 2020 7:42 pm

PBYs did, but Pearl had just one squadron, VP-14, in December 1941. One of its three planes on patrol on December 7 attacked a Japanese midget sub.

Sustaining patrols far to the north would have taxed the squadron to the max.

Tom Abbott
December 7, 2020 4:39 pm

December 8 is freedom day. Freedom from having to listen to any more Medicare advertisements for another year. Today, December 7, is the last day to sign up.

Hans
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 8, 2020 2:47 am

Mr Abbott, how ironic that Medicare plans end on Pearl Harbor Day?

One of the best series of comments by posters, I have ever read. A number
of them were quite brilliant indeed. [Craig of OZ]

It should be noted, that today’s nightly network pseudo news [ABC, CBS, NBC]
had no segment devoted to the attack on Pearl Harbor, other than just a
fleeting comment.

America, is again under attack but this time from it’s own “fifth column.”
May God have mercy on us!!

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Hans
December 8, 2020 8:37 am

“Mr Abbott, how ironic that Medicare plans end on Pearl Harbor Day?”

Well, much to my chagrin, the Medicare commercials are still being broadcast today!

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Hans
December 8, 2020 8:47 am

As for Pearl Habor Day, we should publicly honor the veterans who took part, and the Leftwing Media is derelict in their duty by not even mentioning it.

There’s no need to punish the Japanese further for the big mistakes some of their leaders made in the past. We are friendly now, and we should remain so, to the benefit of both, because we understand each other a lot better now than then, and we don’t have to fight each other to advance our interests, we can cooperate instead, and it works out a lot better.

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