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  • Pearl has 30 minutes warning

    I was watching a documentary yesterday about the intelligence failures that contributed to Pearl Harbour being so unprepared for the Japanese attack. A quote from the documentary from one of the survivors who later became an Admiral was that if they had had 30 minutes warning then it would have made a huge difference. But would it?
    The documentary surmised that based on intercepts of communications between the Japanese embassy and Japan that there was going to be an attack on US assets somewhere in the Pacific at or shortly after 7.30 am Pearl Harbour time. There would have been no details about the nature of the attack or even the target, though given that Pearl was the obvious target that could be assumed. Proper analysis of the intercepts would have given the US much more than 30 minutes warning but for they sake of this scenario we will assume just 30 minutes.

    So at 7.18 am, 30 minutes before the real life attack commenced at 7.48 am Kimmel receives a warning to expect a Japanese attack within the next 30 minutes. The warning does not give any details other than an attack on Pearl is likely. Given the state of readiness of Pearl's defenses and the Pacific fleet at the time, what could Kimmel have done in such a short period of time to significantly reduce US losses.
    "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

  • #2
    Originally posted by Surrey View Post
    I was watching a documentary yesterday about the intelligence failures that contributed to Pearl Harbour being so unprepared for the Japanese attack. A quote from the documentary from one of the survivors who later became an Admiral was that if they had had 30 minutes warning then it would have made a huge difference. But would it?
    The documentary surmised that based on intercepts of communications between the Japanese embassy and Japan that there was going to be an attack on US assets somewhere in the Pacific at or shortly after 7.30 am Pearl Harbour time. There would have been no details about the nature of the attack or even the target, though given that Pearl was the obvious target that could be assumed. Proper analysis of the intercepts would have given the US much more than 30 minutes warning but for they sake of this scenario we will assume just 30 minutes.

    So at 7.18 am, 30 minutes before the real life attack commenced at 7.48 am Kimmel receives a warning to expect a Japanese attack within the next 30 minutes. The warning does not give any details other than an attack on Pearl is likely. Given the state of readiness of Pearl's defenses and the Pacific fleet at the time, what could Kimmel have done in such a short period of time to significantly reduce US losses.
    It's a good topic.
    Husband Kimmel, and Walter Short, have really few excuses. He had warnings for months of possible Japanese aggression- and yet Pearl harbor had very little in the form of patrols, submarine pickets, etc.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_O._Richardson
    Richardson protested this redeployment to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and to others in Washington. He did believe that advanced bases like Guam and Hawaii were necessary but that insufficient funding and efforts had been made to prepare them for use in wartime. He also believed future battles in the Pacific would involve aircraft carriers and more scouting forces would be needed to locate them. Richardson recognized how vulnerable the Fleet was in such an exposed and remote position, a logistical nightmare only made worse by the slim resources, and lack of preparation and organization.[3
    The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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    • #3
      30 min warning would have been sufficient time to:

      1) get some combat air patrols aloft, even if they could not completely scatter the aircraft
      2) sufficient ammunition to the AA guns
      3) watertight integrity on battleship row
      4) a few ships might have been able to sortie. Nevada was already close to doing so in the real attack
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      • #4
        With 30 minutes warning and the US Navy / Army acting on it, the Japanese are going to take some serious casualties. I could see:

        NAS Kaneohe getting several PBY in the air to conduct searches for the Japanese fleet. These were being readied for daily patrols and caught on the ground. There were also several more in the air locally that could be ordered into the search. This increase in search planes would be useful.

        Planes on the ground at various bases could have been moved to some degree making it harder to take them out.

        The USN would have ships at condition Zed or close to Zed. Even given the original results in terms of hits, this means the Arizona survives, the California remains afloat, the Oklahoma goes down without capsizing. Nevada might successfully clear the harbor and get to sea with some destroyers for an escort. This is a big one overall. The USN survives the attack in far better shape than they were in after the original.

        The USAAC has some fighter aircraft up to challenge the first wave. The worst of that is the Japanese dive bombers arrive early and without escort so they initially circle over northern Oahu where they are intercepted by some of the US fighters up. The ships put up a much more effective AA barrage right from the start, shooting down more attacking planes.

        With more of the ship's crews aboard, the ships are able to better control their actions and fight damage. More officers are aboard to take command and make decisions.

        More torpedo planes are shot down as they have to fly over cruisers and other ships in the dockyard at very low level to drop on the battleships.



        The US Army's response would have been slower because of locked ammunition storage, and general confusion over who's to do what. But, some AA batteries are manned and ready, some aircraft are in the air, and other aircraft are getting ready to take off, etc., as the attack arrives.

        The Japanese lose 30 to 50 aircraft total in the attack with more planes damaged. This limits the Kido Butai's actions for a month or more while the Japanese replace their losses.

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        • #5
          Remember the scenario assumes that Kimmel gets the alert 30 minutes in advance. He has to decide what to do and start notifying people. The communications will take time. Also I think he was in his quarters at the time probably eating breakfast so that would further delay things.
          "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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          • #6
            If he acts immediately and orders the simplest of commands (i.e. Man Battle Stations), they would at least be in motion (even if not at 100% readiness.) If the alert proved to be false, then he could dismiss it as just another drill.

            Regardless, any watertight integrity or movement towards combat readiness would be better than none at all.

            "American anti-aircraft performance had improved considerably during the second strike, and two thirds of Japan's losses were incurred during the second wave."

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack...te-Hoyt190-126
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Surrey View Post
              I was watching a documentary yesterday about the intelligence failures that contributed to Pearl Harbour being so unprepared for the Japanese attack. A quote from the documentary from one of the survivors who later became an Admiral was that if they had had 30 minutes warning then it would have made a huge difference. But would it?
              The documentary surmised that based on intercepts of communications between the Japanese embassy and Japan that there was going to be an attack on US assets somewhere in the Pacific at or shortly after 7.30 am Pearl Harbour time. There would have been no details about the nature of the attack or even the target, though given that Pearl was the obvious target that could be assumed. Proper analysis of the intercepts would have given the US much more than 30 minutes warning but for they sake of this scenario we will assume just 30 minutes.

              So at 7.18 am, 30 minutes before the real life attack commenced at 7.48 am Kimmel receives a warning to expect a Japanese attack within the next 30 minutes. The warning does not give any details other than an attack on Pearl is likely. Given the state of readiness of Pearl's defenses and the Pacific fleet at the time, what could Kimmel have done in such a short period of time to significantly reduce US losses.

              They had warnings, like the submarine sighting and the radar contact showing multiple aircraft approaching, but they ignored them, and Pearl itself did not have any serious anti-aircraft defenses to speak of. (none are ever shone in any of the many documentaries - only the anti-aircraft weapons on board various naval vessels. Requests to CONUS for more AA were ignored.

              https://www.answers.com/Q/In_pearl_h..._aircraft_guns

              https://www.ibiblio.org/pha/timeline/410207awar.html
              Last edited by Mountain Man; 09 Dec 19, 11:59. Reason: spelling error
              Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                With 30 minutes warning and the US Navy / Army acting on it, the Japanese are going to take some serious casualties. I could see:

                NAS Kaneohe getting several PBY in the air to conduct searches for the Japanese fleet. These were being readied for daily patrols and caught on the ground. There were also several more in the air locally that could be ordered into the search. This increase in search planes would be useful.

                Planes on the ground at various bases could have been moved to some degree making it harder to take them out.

                The USN would have ships at condition Zed or close to Zed. Even given the original results in terms of hits, this means the Arizona survives, the California remains afloat, the Oklahoma goes down without capsizing. Nevada might successfully clear the harbor and get to sea with some destroyers for an escort. This is a big one overall. The USN survives the attack in far better shape than they were in after the original.

                The USAAC has some fighter aircraft up to challenge the first wave. The worst of that is the Japanese dive bombers arrive early and without escort so they initially circle over northern Oahu where they are intercepted by some of the US fighters up. The ships put up a much more effective AA barrage right from the start, shooting down more attacking planes.

                With more of the ship's crews aboard, the ships are able to better control their actions and fight damage. More officers are aboard to take command and make decisions.

                More torpedo planes are shot down as they have to fly over cruisers and other ships in the dockyard at very low level to drop on the battleships.



                The US Army's response would have been slower because of locked ammunition storage, and general confusion over who's to do what. But, some AA batteries are manned and ready, some aircraft are in the air, and other aircraft are getting ready to take off, etc., as the attack arrives.

                The Japanese lose 30 to 50 aircraft total in the attack with more planes damaged. This limits the Kido Butai's actions for a month or more while the Japanese replace their losses.
                The Arizona cannot survive no matter what, A magazine explosion is the end of any ship.

                The Japanese blew it, quite frankly. They could have crippled the entire fleet in the first strike by simply blowing up the oil storage tank farm. Without fuel, the fleet and the aircraft were totally useless, especially since at that time there were only six oilers for the entire Pacific fleet. The fleet would have had to withdrawn to the West Coast, if it had sufficient fuel to get there, until the tank farm could be replaced and refilled, which would take at least six months or so.

                Source: SHO '42
                study by R. Marr for Proceedings, US Navy in-house journal
                Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

                  The Arizona cannot survive no matter what, A magazine explosion is the end of any ship.

                  The Japanese blew it, quite frankly. They could have crippled the entire fleet in the first strike by simply blowing up the oil storage tank farm. Without fuel, the fleet and the aircraft were totally useless, especially since at that time there were only six oilers for the entire Pacific fleet. The fleet would have had to withdrawn to the West Coast, if it had sufficient fuel to get there, until the tank farm could be replaced and refilled, which would take at least six months or so.

                  Source: SHO '42
                  study by R. Marr for Proceedings, US Navy in-house journal
                  The most likely chain of events in Arizona's loss has been repeatedly studied and documented. Arizona took a 1600 lbs. bomb hit between #1 and 2 turrets. This is a known fact. The performance of these bombs-- which were converted 16" naval shells from the Nagato class-- had mediocre penetration and performance.
                  For example, Tennessee took two hits from these "bombs," one on #2 and one on #3 turret roofs. Both penetrated the roof armor but failed to actually enter the turret before detonation doing only moderate damage to the turret interior.
                  In the case of Arizona, it was surmised that a hatch on the armored deck between the two forward turrets had not been secured and that the bomb's impact on the armored deck would not have led to a penetration. Instead, the flash from the bomb's explosion carried through the open hatch and into a small black powder magazine below it. This initiated the chain of events leading to the magazine explosion.
                  With that hatch secured, the bomb would have hit the armored second deck, detonated as it did in all other cases, and failed to penetrate the lower 3rd deck armor. Thus, with the Arizona fully at condition Zed, the bomb hit would have had only caused minor damage and the ship would likely have survived.



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                  • #10
                    Seeing how America missed several warnings already, I'm not sure how an extra warning would help.

                    So they get word that Japanese planes are headed in their direction, most likely answer to that would be "Impossible!".
                    You'll live, only the best get killed.

                    -General Charles de Gaulle

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                    • #11
                      Very true. They could have reacted as poorly as the Philippines, which had 9 hours warning.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by asterix View Post
                        Seeing how America missed several warnings already, I'm not sure how an extra warning would help.

                        So they get word that Japanese planes are headed in their direction, most likely answer to that would be "Impossible!".
                        It would have only taken one seriously taken and passed on. The USN would have been able to ready the fleet for an attack. I'm not so sure the US Army could have done likewise in 30 minutes. It's more likely they'd just be getting into action as the attack began. Historically, the USN response occurred within minutes of the attack while the US Army was still trying to get everything in action and organized well into the second wave.

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                        • #13
                          The question would be, would the Navy go for AA defense in place, or try to actually sortie? If Battleships had sortied out of the harbor, there's a likelihood that Yammamoto would have gone with a 3rd Wave directly targeted only at the ships outside the harbor.
                          Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by asterix View Post
                            Seeing how America missed several warnings already, I'm not sure how an extra warning would help.

                            So they get word that Japanese planes are headed in their direction, most likely answer to that would be "Impossible!".
                            unfortunately, that was the response to both the airborne radar and the sea interdiction of the IJN MIDGET SUBMARINES.
                            A PEACETIME MENTALITY appears to have had settled into the Pearl harbor garrisons. Walter Short had considered sabotage of his air fleet to be a "first concern.'
                            so no protective barriers, no dispersal, no fuel in the interceptors- ammunition locked away.
                            really- no air DEFENSE.
                            The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
                              The question would be, would the Navy go for AA defense in place, or try to actually sortie? If Battleships had sortied out of the harbor, there's a likelihood that Yammamoto would have gone with a 3rd Wave directly targeted only at the ships outside the harbor.
                              The naval instinct to search for sea room in which to manoeuvre would have compelled them to try and sortie. As the traditional wardroom toast goes, "A willing foe and Sea Room."

                              The additional flak damage inflicted upon the attackers from a (semi-)prepared defence would more than likely dissuade a third attack that had to be launched late in the day against dispersed targets that needed to first be located. It all takes more time.
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