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Pearl Harbor A Massive Defeat--For The Japanese

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  • Pearl Harbor A Massive Defeat--For The Japanese

    It is mid-day at Pearl Harbor, December 6, 1941 and you are Admiral Husband E. Kimmel. One of our submarines has reported sighting a large naval force northwest of the Hawaiian Islands. Contact with our sub is lost before a more detailed report as to exact location and composition of this possibly hostile force can be transmitted.

    Assuming The War Dept. has authorized you to take whatever action is necessary, what do you do?

    The forces at your disposal consist of: 7 BBs (PA is in drydock), 2 CAs, 6 CLs, numerous DDs, 200+ AAF & USMC fighters, 30 medium bombers and 30 PBY's at Pearl Harbor, TF-8 (Enterprise, 3 CAs, 9 DDs under Halsey) is near Wake Is. and TF-12 (Lexington, 3 CAs, 5 DDs under Newton) is near Midway Is.
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  • #2
    I would:
    1) Ask the Army to launch a couple of recon flights out there.
    2) Contact the Navy department concerning my right to open fire on fleets operating that close to Hawaii.
    3) Send the bombers to other islands in the Hawaii chain while concentrating all available fighters in and around Pearl.
    4) Recall the carriers.
    5) Send the fleet out and to the Southwest.
    6) Send the subs to screen/intercept the enemy fleet.
    7) Ordered that the civilian radio stations be off the air at midnight.
    8) Had the radar manned 24/7.
    9) Recalled all naval personnel.
    10) Had the AA positions manned and ready at dawn.

    The reasons:
    1) The army was responsible for recon around the islands.
    2) I wouldnít want to start the war if they didnít want me too.
    3) Medium, and heavy bombers are practically useless against a fleet at sea. By concentrating the fighters an incoming attack could be decimated. (Japan lost 29 planes against an unprepared defense)
    4) To get them closer so that they can support the Battleships.
    5) To get them out of the harbor where they are sitting ducks, also by sending them Southwest they are moving away from the direction of attack until air cover is available.
    6) Might get lucky and pick off a few ships.
    7) So that any air attack has nothing to home in on.
    8) So that we could see an attack coming in.
    9) Going to need them to man the ships, planes, AA guns, etc.
    10) Obvious.
    Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy. -- Ernest Benn

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    • #3
      It's hard to believe we had no CAP up that morning, with all of the warnings and alerts that were actually issued. But then again our planes got caught on the ground at Clark Field a few days later.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by The Doctor
        It's hard to believe we had no CAP up that morning, with all of the warnings and alerts that were actually issued. But then again our planes got caught on the ground at Clark Field a few days later.
        Especially considering a large carrier task force was reported leaving Japanese waters a few days earlier and it had disappeared from all intelligence reports after.
        If you can't set a good example, be a glaring warning.

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        • #5
          Re: Pearl Harbor - What if?

          Originally posted by The Doctor
          It is mid-day at Pearl Harbor, December 6, 1941 and you are Admiral Husband E. Kimmel. One of our submarines has reported sighting a large naval force northwest of the Hawaiian Islands. Contact with our sub is lost before a more detailed report as to exact location and composition of this possibly hostile force can be transmitted.

          Assuming The War Dept. has authorized you to take whatever action is necessary, what do you do?

          The forces at your disposal consist of: 7 BBs (PA is in drydock), 2 CAs, 6 CLs, numerous DDs, 200+ AAF & USMC fighters, 30 medium bombers and 30 PBY's at Pearl Harbor, TF-8 (Enterprise, 3 CAs, 9 DDs under Halsey) is near Wake Is. and TF-12 (Lexington, 3 CAs, 5 DDs under Newton) is near Midway Is.
          Given that I have already received several "urgent" reports from the Navy Department indicating an "imminent Japanese attack" on December 2 that did not in fact happen -- and also that the Navy Department's directions to date have concentrated on reducing risk of sabotage attacks -- here's what I would do:

          (1) Scramble all my Marine Hawaii-based fighters into CAP.
          (2) Move the surface fleet at Pearl due west. Have the sub fleet create a 50-mile radius "bubble" around them.
          (3) Alert the 2 TF's and have them immediately steam back to a rendevous with the surface fleet, due west of Pearl and NE of their current positions. Direct them to send up their CAP.
          (4) Ask the Army Commander to send up his CAP and recon.
          (5) Man all AA; declare an Air Alert, because I remember what recent exercises have shown - my ships are vulnerable to surface torpedo attacks from enemy planes.
          (6) Cable the Naval Department regarding the lost sub contact and request assistance.
          (7) Call up all Sailors and Marines from shore leave and have them guard the Naval & Marine installations against sabotage.

          I don't have radar yet, and the radar stations in Hawaii are under Army command. I don't understand the technology and don't trust it, so I won't use it.

          I can't order the bombers anywhere, they are under the command of the US Army.

          I do realize that I am risking my entire Naval career on just 1 lone sub message, which could be garbled and could also just be faulty radios. But I've been part of the Naval Department War Games, so I have seen several versions of a Japanese Naval attack against Pearl and that scares the poop out of me even more than losing my career. Which I probably will in any case.
          -Love Protects-

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          • #6
            US battleships sunk in deep water are gone permanently.....

            US CV's [likely not supporting each other] running into the Japanese TF would most likely be sunk...

            Japanese air assault not finding ships at Pearl may very well decide to blow up all that Oil in storage that was miraculously missed the first time

            I think the US did ok with this raid..Loss of BB fleet led to a focus on carrier warfare, the US amazing ability to salvage got the BB's repaired in time to support amphibious operations.

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            • #7
              Recall The Carriers
              The only problem I have with this is that they were the target. The Japanese Naval Command,felt if they could nock out the taks forces, then they would have a better chance. Having them deliver planes at Wake and Midaywas what actually saved them .So one could say it was totally not all Kimmel's fault.
              Govenour Of Texas and all southern provinces. Kepper Of The Holy Woodchipper.

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              • #8
                I think we can all agree that had Kimmel ordered the BB's to intercept the IJN fleet it would have been far worse than the actual historical outcome. We were also fortunate that the carriers were out of position to do anything. Even a coordinated effort would have cost us Enterprise and Lexington. Our carrier pilots were too inexperienced and far too outnumbered.

                If we only had patrol planes out and a CAP up, we could have give the Japaneese a very bloody nose.

                Was Kimmel unfairly treated?

                How about the Army commander, Gen. Short?
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by The Doctor
                  Was Kimmel unfairly treated?
                  I think he was!

                  How about the Army commander, Gen. Short?
                  Not at all -- while Gen. Short was responding to War Department warnings and directives that the biggest threat was sabotage (which is why he had all the Army planes lined up nice and pretty in neat little rows ready for strafing), he was still responsible. He too had participated in War Games (altho' the Navy had better Pacific Theater war games than the Army).

                  Gen. Short's primary failure was that he didn't link the existing SYSTEMS for Hawaii defense together. All the radar stations connected to the main Army base ... which had one Officer On Duty with minimal staff support. "Emergency" met that a Corporal had to bicycle over to Gen. Short's quarters, and the "Emergency Plan" turned out to be to send another Corporal to the Western Union station to cable the War Department...

                  Gen. Short could have conducted Air Defense exercises that would have integrated the radar stations, the air bases and his HQ. Those exercises would have revealed deficencies, which he could have addressed (lay more telephone wires - post an assistant with secure phone at Western Union - set up coded land lines between Army installations) to the War Department.

                  But he didn't. So, sacking him was correct...
                  -Love Protects-

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                  • #10
                    Agreed -

                    Kimmel took a bad hand and did the best he could. Maybe he could have had PBY's out patrolling, but unless he knew which direction to patrol, it would have been like finding a needle in a haystack. There simply weren't enough PBY's to cover the western 180 degrees effectively. There weren't enough USMC F4Fs at Ewa to provide a CAP - that's why he wanted Halsey and Newton back ASAP, he wanted Naval Air covering the BBs.

                    Short took a bad hand and made it worse. Maybe not trusting or understanding the RADAR was understandable. Maybe wanting to provide extra security against sabotage was wise. But having over 200 P-40s and P-36's bunched in the middle of runways and taxiways seems to have been insane. Hindsight is always 20-20, but the fighters were based there for a reason - AIR DEFENSE. Air defense of the military installations in the Hawaiian Islands was the responsibilty of the Army Air Corps. Short seems to have been extremely negligent in this regard.

                    Both were fired and their careers ruined. It's ironic that Kimmel is the name most associated with the debacle and not Short.
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                    • #11
                      The interservice rivalries between the Army and the Navy didn't help matters any.............
                      Lance W.

                      Peace through superior firepower.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lance Williams
                        The interservice rivalries between the Army and the Navy didn't help matters any.............
                        The only good interservice rivalry occurs in Philadelphia, once a year at the Army-Navy Football Game!
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                        • #13
                          Well, I saw a historical wargame once on the history channel about this.

                          in it the had historians and military experts play a wargame where the americans discover the japanese fleet and attack.

                          now i cant remember if the aircraft carriers were recalled or not, but im pretty sure they wernt (in time) so the American BB's would sail out without decent aircover.

                          now, the BB's get pounced by the well trained, equiped, and experienced Japanese pilots while America has unseasoned soldiers without a fighterscreen.

                          because the battle is fout in deep water, any ship sunk is lost forever while at Pearl Harbor, all but the Arizona were refloated or scrapped. alos, the casualties would be higher because the men would be forced to abbandon ship in the middle of the pacific.

                          just a though

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                          • #14
                            It is hard to second guess what you'd do if you were in Kimmel's positinon.

                            1. If I were CINCPAC, I would have cancelled all liberty and put the Fleet out to sea, stationed them around the Kuai or Maui. and done so at night.

                            2. Put all bases on alert and sent out PBYs as well as dispersed the fighters to out lying fields like Haleva, Barbers Point, Bellows as well as to Kuai, Molokai.

                            3. I also would put the subs out in a picket line North of Oahu.

                            4. I would kept things "normal" radio traffic at normal peace time levels to keep the enemy thinking I was un aware as to what was coming. Once the first wave was detected, I would scramble my fighters and ambush the beggers.

                            But then we also have to look at a couple of actual things that contributed to the success of the strike.

                            1. The war Dept had cried "wolf" so often that Short and Kimmel both were not sure as to believe the warning.

                            2. It was peacetime and Americans then just as we were on 9-11, didn't believe that our enemy would have the nerve to hit us. We were safe behind two great oceans and knew that the AXIS wouldn't hit us.

                            3. We feared the "5th Column " more than the actual force. We were contemputous of the Japanese, viewing him as a myopic somewhat less than capable warrior. We were arrogant in our belief in our own superiority. Hence when the first Zekes tangled with our P-40s, and F4Fs and flew rings around them we were caught dumbfounded and had to improvise methods to counter the fighter's nimbleness.


                            Now If you look at the attack from a differnt perspective, Pearl was more of a tactical victory than the strategic it appeared to be.

                            1. The Japanese did not hit the oil farms, nor did they hit the drydocks and maintence areas of the harbor. Had they hit the 1010 area and took out the giant cranes there, they would have eliminated Pearl as a repair center and staging area. The Fleet would have had to withdraw back to Diego in order to repair the damaged ships.

                            2. They did not hit the subs. Even as the BBs settled on the harbor, the sub force sotied out in search of the strike force.

                            3. By sinking the BBs they forced the Navy to step up the fast battleship program and to modernize the salvaged BBs . They never would have been able to keep up with the new ESSEX class carriers as well as the NORTH CAROLINA class and IOWA class BBs that came later. The salvaged BBs were used as primarly shore bombardment and AAA.

                            4. They forced the Army, Navy and Marine Corps to reeval the plans and come up with better tactics. The primary US war plan was known as RAINBOW and the main thrust was to have the Pacific Fleet steam out and meet the Imperial Navy in a surface battle between the BBs. Air power was a side show. After Pearl, the emphasis shifted over to the carrier admirals who showed what a carrier was capable of doing at Coral Sea and Midway.


                            Had Pearl never happened the US would have had a harder go as it would have been using obselecent equipment and tactics against a more mobile enemy.


                            As for Kimmel and Short's treat ment... Both were as commanders responsible for their commands and their actions. But I feel that the blame should have been passed on up the chain as it was a failure in communication from the War Department to the commanders. The warning were vague and did not make what was expected clear, and we were caught flat footed.

                            What should have happened was that both flag officers should have been demoted and reassigned to rear areas until such time as they were retired. After all look at Halsey in 1945 when he let the fleets blunder into 2 Typhoons with in a week of each other. He lost several destroyers in the storms and had major damage to several and yet was not relieved of command and sent back to ConUS.

                            My oppinon of course.

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                            • #15
                              IINM I believe that both Kimmel, and Short offered their resignations. I donít think that they were relieved.
                              Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy. -- Ernest Benn

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