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  • Pearl Harbour radar warning acted upon

    WI the Opana radar message is acted on, and with 50 minutes warning, the Japanese find Pearl Harbour alerted, 50 Kittyhawks in the air and the Chicago Pianos manned and ready.

    The result: only one battleship is sunk, ground installation damage is far less, and 150 of the 350 Japanese planes don't return, instead of the 29 of OTL.

    How would this affect the Japanese resolve and strategy? Would they become more cautious or reckless, and with what effect on the Allies?


  • #2
    Even if it took the USS Ward sinking a submarine to finally raise an alert, I don't think the USAAC would have gotten more than a handful of planes in the air initially to go see what the blips were.
    The US Army at that point was not sufficiently in a war mindset or familiar with radar to do much more than that.
    But, even with that warning fewer ships would be sunk as they would already be at general quarters and fully set in zed. The California certainly would not go down on her original damage. If some got underway and were maneuvering it would have made the torpedo attacks difficult to carry out.

    As for the 1.1" most ships didn't have theirs in 1941. Some had the mounts installed and were waiting for the guns. Many ships had 3"/50 single guns instead of the 1.1" as a temporary addition for AA firepower. Many of the battleships were that way.

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    • #3
      The Air Warning Service Information Center was not ready to start functioning on Dec. 7th, 1941. The Public Works Department had been slow in turning the building over to the Army Air Force and they were still learning how to use radar at the time. The radars and plotters were on duty from 4 AM to 7 AM every day, then they shut down. Running the radars too long burned out the tubes and spares were in short supply. Pvts. Lockard and Elliott were actually doing some independent plotting that morning, Elliot wanted the practice. When they spotted a large flight of planes coming in from 357° they decided to call it in. The operator who answered the phone notified them that the staff had left 5 minutes earlier. After hanging up he noticed that one officer was still there, Lt. Kermit Tyler, a fighter jock there for familiarization. He had no assigned duties, just to see how it worked so he'd understand it better when he got orders from them after it was actually working. His boss had told him to be there from 4 to 8, evidently unaware of the actual hours. Being a good boy, Tyler stayed there when almost everybody else was gone. The operator asked Tyler to call Opana Point and Elliot advised him of what they were tracking. Tyler had been advised that when KGU-AM stayed on the air all night a flight of B-17s was homing in on it as they came in from Stateside. With this in mind he said, "Well, don't worry about it." and that's as far as it went.

      We must also remember that Ward's action had stirred up the Navy. The "five minute" destroyer had sortied. The "one hour" destroyer getting ready to head out. Kimmel had left Gen. Short standing in his front yard (they played gold every Sunday morning Kimmel was in port) and shagged down to the Harbor command center in Com14th's headquarters.
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      • #4
        Presuming the following:

        The DDs were scrambling, all ships were at GQ, and were firing boilers/making steam.

        The AAC got 50 fighters up.

        The result would be more Japanese planes shot down, and maybe 2-3 BBs saved. However, all 50 Kittyhawks would likely be shot down.....but this isn't a bad thing. We would have learned fully how superior the Zero was in a dogfight when compared to the fighters we had available at that moment, and the tactics we were using. And with all ships at GQ and therefore firing all available AAA, we would have also seen how our AAA needed to be adjusted much sooner.

        Potentially by mid 42 our warships are much more effective at stopping aircraft attacks, and our fighters and fighter tactics are also much improved.
        Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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        • #5
          Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
          Presuming the following:

          The DDs were scrambling, all ships were at GQ, and were firing boilers/making steam.

          The AAC got 50 fighters up.

          The result would be more Japanese planes shot down, and maybe 2-3 BBs saved. However, all 50 Kittyhawks would likely be shot down.....but this isn't a bad thing. We would have learned fully how superior the Zero was in a dogfight when compared to the fighters we had available at that moment, and the tactics we were using. And with all ships at GQ and therefore firing all available AAA, we would have also seen how our AAA needed to be adjusted much sooner.

          Potentially by mid 42 our warships are much more effective at stopping aircraft attacks, and our fighters and fighter tactics are also much improved.
          Not entirely sure that the Kittyhawk pilots would see being shot down as a good thing...in any event operating over their base may have given them some advantages.
          Last edited by Surrey; 03 Aug 14, 13:50.
          "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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          • #6
            I severely doubt that the US losses would be 100% or close there to.

            The first wave of Japanese aircraft consists of 89 B5N, 51 D3A, and 43 A6M.

            With 50 P 40 B/C and P-36 in the air and given the original USAAC scoring I'd think say the Japanese lose (or have sufficiently damaged to write the plane off) 25 B5N, 12 D3A, and 9 A6M with US losses running about 35 fighters shot down or damaged sufficiently to be taken out of the fight.

            I'd expect AA fire to take down another 2 or 3 B5N bombers and 8 to 10 torpedo planes, 2 to 6 dive bombers, and 1 or 2 A6M.

            That's a rough estimate but it gives an indication that fully intercepted the Japanese would have suffered near crippling losses on the first wave of attacks for far less effectiveness in return.

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            • #7
              It's also important to remember that the Japanese fighters weren't escorting the bombers and torpedo planes. The P-36s could have slaughtered the torpedo planes on their very predictable attack patterns while the P-40s kept the Zekes busy.

              As for sortieing, I wouldn't send the destroyers out without knowing the heavier ships would be leaving. The DDs guns were useful in harbor.

              Oh, and before anybody brings it us, they couldn't have blocked the channel by sinking Nevada. Her length was 568 feet, IIRC, and the channel was 1,200 feet wide. In the Malfoyverse the USN wouldn't be concerned with keeping it open, but in the real world they were. Even if a few ships had been sunk in the channel, unlikely given the weapons available to the IJN at that point in the fight, there were five dredges operating in Pearl the week before the attack, so 3-5 days tops to get it open again.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by OpanaPointer View Post
                It's also important to remember that the Japanese fighters weren't escorting the bombers and torpedo planes. The P-36s could have slaughtered the torpedo planes on their very predictable attack patterns while the P-40s kept the Zekes busy.

                As for sortieing, I wouldn't send the destroyers out without knowing the heavier ships would be leaving. The DDs guns were useful in harbor.

                Oh, and before anybody brings it us, they couldn't have blocked the channel by sinking Nevada. Her length was 568 feet, IIRC, and the channel was 1,200 feet wide. In the Malfoyverse the USN wouldn't be concerned with keeping it open, but in the real world they were. Even if a few ships had been sunk in the channel, unlikely given the weapons available to the IJN at that point in the fight, there were five dredges operating in Pearl the week before the attack, so 3-5 days tops to get it open again.
                In this scenario it is unlikely that any of the battleships are outright sunk. Fully set at Zed only Oklahoma and Nevada are really vulnerable. Arizona is moderately vulnerable. California, Maryland, Tennessee, and West Virginia would require more than 5 torpedo hits to sink and I really doubt that happening between aircraft defenses and AA fire against a maneuvering target.

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                • #9
                  Was the system in place where a warning even if acted by a superior on would have resulted in such a rapid response.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by redcoat View Post
                    Was the system in place where a warning even if acted by a superior on would have resulted in such a rapid response.
                    That's why I initially said that the likely response if the warnings are taken seriously are:

                    The USAAC puts up about a dozen fighters at most, maybe just 2 to 4, to go check out the detections. The USN starts getting steam up and recalling sailors on liberty to get underway. Several DD are getting ready to steam out to support the duty DD Ward in ASW patrols off the harbor entrance.
                    At Kaneohe NAS two or three Catalina (those available for flight immediately) are getting ready to take off and patrol the ASW exclusion area too (that one happened to a degree historically).

                    Once the Japanese raids are discovered (it is likely that the US fighters run into the D3A dive bombers with Zero escort first as they are ahead of the B5N attack planes being faster (historically they loitered off Northern Oahu for about 20 minutes waiting for the rest of the raid to arrive so they could make a coordinated strike. In fact, eyewitnesses reported seeing them but thought they were USAAC aircraft on some sort of exercise).

                    Once that happens the alert would be full bore and the US has about 30 minutes to respond. Ships would be starting to get underway and would be at general quarters with Zed set making sinking them very difficult compared to the historical surprise. The US Army would just be getting AA defenses manned up and would have more aircraft airborne but how many and what kind is a guess.
                    It is likely that at Ewa the Marines would have gotten a few F4F in the air as well.
                    Last edited by T. A. Gardner; 04 Aug 14, 14:08.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by OpanaPointer View Post
                      It's also important to remember that the Japanese fighters weren't escorting the bombers and torpedo planes. The P-36s could have slaughtered the torpedo planes on their very predictable attack patterns while the P-40s kept the Zekes busy.

                      As for sortieing, I wouldn't send the destroyers out without knowing the heavier ships would be leaving. The DDs guns were useful in harbor.

                      Oh, and before anybody brings it us, they couldn't have blocked the channel by sinking Nevada. Her length was 568 feet, IIRC, and the channel was 1,200 feet wide. In the Malfoyverse the USN wouldn't be concerned with keeping it open, but in the real world they were. Even if a few ships had been sunk in the channel, unlikely given the weapons available to the IJN at that point in the fight, there were five dredges operating in Pearl the week before the attack, so 3-5 days tops to get it open again.
                      Having p40s go for the fighters and the p36s go for the bombers asks for a bit too much coordination. The British did that with Spitfires and Hurricanes in BoB but they had prepared for it. In reality if the Hawks got airborne at all they would just try and intercept the nearest enemy aircraft.
                      "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by redcoat View Post
                        Was the system in place where a warning even if acted by a superior on would have resulted in such a rapid response.
                        When Elliott and Lockard went down the mountain from Opana Point they were passed by a truck carrying operators back up to the SCR-270B unit. The AWS Information Center was already manned up by that time.

                        It is to be noted that the Army didn't notify the Navy about the radar track until after noon. By that time Halsey was well south of Oahu, working on the assumption that the indications of IJN carriers near Johnston Island were accurate. (The intelligence was, in fact, based on call-sign intercepts which showed one or more carrier escort destroyers were down there. The DD was actually there to cover a seaplane scouting mission that didn't go off as planned.)
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                        • #13
                          I think too much is being expected of the US forces had an alert been sounded.

                          It was Sunday morning, in peacetime after a night of partying and with everyone except a few senior officers not even remotely worried about an attack. The likelihood of enough ground staff and other support personnel being ready and able to prep the aircraft for a 30 minute notice scramble would be a stretch as would getting the ships ready to sortie.

                          As it was, the forces only reacted as they did because the bombs were actually falling all around them and it was chaos. There was nothing close to organised resistance.

                          You might get a few planes in the air to meet the first wave, maybe a squadron, probably less than two. Anti-aircraft guns could be manned but is there time to ready enough ammunition, find the keys to depots, etc. In general, disbelief and chaos would reign for the critical period before the first shots. After the bombs start falling and a couple or three hours you may see some semblance of order but there would be no massacre of the Japanese aircraft, just heavier losses.
                          The Purist

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                            I think too much is being expected of the US forces had an alert been sounded.

                            It was Sunday morning, in peacetime after a night of partying and with everyone except a few senior officers not even remotely worried about an attack. The likelihood of enough ground staff and other support personnel being ready and able to prep the aircraft for a 30 minute notice scramble would be a stretch as would getting the ships ready to sortie.

                            As it was, the forces only reacted as they did because the bombs were actually falling all around them and it was chaos. There was nothing close to organised resistance.

                            You might get a few planes in the air to meet the first wave, maybe a squadron, probably less than two. Anti-aircraft guns could be manned but is there time to ready enough ammunition, find the keys to depots, etc. In general, disbelief and chaos would reign for the critical period before the first shots. After the bombs start falling and a couple or three hours you may see some semblance of order but there would be no massacre of the Japanese aircraft, just heavier losses.
                            A somewhat more detailed version of what I proposed the US Army would be doing. The USN was manning guns and setting Zed within minutes of the start of the attack. Against the first wave virtually all of the defense response was Navy.
                            It took the US Army up to half an hour or more to man positions, breakout ammunition, and such.
                            So, here we have a scenario where the USAAC responds by sending a handful of fighters (I suggest 2 to 4... A half section or a full section) to check out the radar tracks. They discover the Japanese and sound the alarm.
                            Now, either the Japanese, surprise lost, attack piecemeal (the dive bombers and fighters arriving ahead of the torpedo / attack planes) or they mill around as they did giving the defenses more time to ready themselves.
                            In the first instance, the dive bombers were to attack airfields primarily, not the ships. The Zero's would have to do likewise or fend off any fighters that got airborne.
                            That gives the ships more than sufficient time to get manned up and set Zed. That in turn means when the attack planes arrive they are going to get pounded and sink very few ships, if any.

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                            • #15
                              Ironically, that was the first Sunday in months the Army hadn't run a full-out drill.
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