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Sunday, 14 May 2006


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David, I'll assume that your mix-up over dates was an uncharacteristic error - even I know that Pearl Harbor was 7 December 1941, not 1940. It is also well documented that Roosevelt all but gave Japan a cash inducement to attack, as a way of engineering American public opinion behind US entry into the war. Lessons from military history, indeed.


Nice post.

While missing the carriers was not good from the Japanese point of view the biggest mistake was not destroying the harbor facilites.

While it may have been something of an inconvenience to the Battle of the Atlantic the loss of every ship in the Pacific fleet could have pretty much been made up ship for ship from the Atlantic Fleet. Pearl Harbor was still a base from which naval operations could be based. To say nothing of damaging a ship next to a dry dock where it will be repaired and leaving the dry dock untouched is not a long-term proposition.

My understanding is that the navy’s tactics called the dive bombers to cause the CAP and AA guns to be tuned to high attitude to oppose the the dive bombers while the torpedo bombers came in low and did the job. Stuff happens, at Midway it happened the other way around. But sometimes stuff doesn’t happen, the torpedo design was defective, if the torpedo bombers had gotten in and released the torpedoes there would likely have been four undamaged Japanese carriers.

John, you are kinder to me than I deserve! Why, oh, why, do I never get my dates right? I blame the gin. Mea culpa! I am intrigued by your comment which I have never heard of before concerning a cash inducement for them to attack!!!! Sources, please.

Hank, good to hear from you again. Part of the Japanese error lay, I think, in only sending in one wave against Pearl Harbour. despite the warnings of the flight commander that it needed a second attack. Presumably if that had taken place the aircraft would have been armed with HE for effect against port installations. Fortunately Nagumo decided not to push his luck and sailed away leaving a job half done.

I have to say, in my not very expert opinion, that in the annals of warfare the courage of those torpedo bomber crews in pressing home their attacks against overwhelming opposition has rarely been equaled.

Thought this link might interest - it's an older cousin of mine, buried with full military honours at Arlington early last year. (If you picture Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen, that was more or less him.)

His grave's on a slope, looking down at the walls of the Pentagon. And what he thinks of the current administration's military efforts, heaven only knows.

Fascinating, Hilary, thanks. You can picture the man without ever having met him.


There was indeed a third wave planned against the port facilities at Pearl, but Nagumo chickened out when he received word that the Americans had actually managed to get a couple of fighter aircraft up, and they had had a few successes against the Japanese fighter-bombers. The surprise factor was blown, his destroyers lacked the extra fuel needed for the extra loiter-time, and he weighed the possibilities of the missing bombers from the two big American flat-tops searching and finding his vulnerable task-force against the tempting targets of the dry-docks and ammo-dumps scattered all around Pearl and the islands!

The American victory at Midway was due to many things and actions meshing together: the fantastic luck of the Task force commander in botching the despatch orders of the two strike forces; the Intelligence gained by the American decodes of the Japanese Naval codes; the chance appearance of the Yankee dive bombers when all the Jap bombers were struck below to re-arm and the Japaneses C.A.P. were all at low level after engaging the American torpedo aircraft; and lastly the heroic actions of those same torpedo crews who flew towards certain death because it was their DUTY! The men of Torpedo Three, Six and Eight who drove in against overwhelming odds, with only one survivor from Torpedo Eight's thirty fliers giving some idea of the losses suffered by the slow torpedo squadrons.

Your header says it all, but the "shit" eventually fell on the heads of the Japanese, and it couldn't have happened to a more deserving bunch!

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