Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Theory About Favorable Pearl Harbor Attack

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by BigEFan, Dec 10, 2019.

  1. BigEFan

    BigEFan recruit

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2011
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Has anyone heard the theory that the results of the attack on Pearl Harbor 7 Dec was the best possible results for the US? I saw a documentary that said if the US knew about the attack, and prepared for it and confronted the Japanese, the US could have suffered even more damage, and lost more ships in deep water. The US may have even suffered the loss of all of its' carriers in a major initial battle. The US was very lucky the Japanese attack happened the way it did. Luckily of course, all the US carriers were absent during the attack. The oil supply was not touched, nor were the submarine docks destroyed. What else was lucky about 7 Dec 1942?
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    Messages:
    12,969
    Likes Received:
    3,047
    How many AA guns in the harbor that day, how many got into action on the first wave? How many ships didn't have water-tight integrity set? How many of those rolled over or just sank? How many fighter aircraft were NOT in the air to meet the incoming planes? How many Army AAA pieces didn't have ready ammo that morning?

    If you wanted to screw up the Japanese torpedo planes, just anchor a line of destroyers down the channel east of Battleship Row, that would foul the range for the Nagasaki special torpedoes.
     
    bronk7 and Carronade like this.
  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    Messages:
    12,969
    Likes Received:
    3,047
    BigEFan, I've heard that sinking the battle line saved the US from doing exactly what the Japanese wanted, i.e. to come charging up to Japan with all guns blazing. BUT the US wasn't going to oblige the Japanese in that fashion, definitely not after the ABC-1 Talks. That conflab set the "Germany First" policy.
     
  4. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    2,682
    Likes Received:
    533
    Naturally it depends on what we do with the knowledge. Sailors' instinct is to get to sea, as several ships did during the attack, but that likely wasn't the best idea. How much advance knowledge would we have, and in what level of detail? If we knew the Japanese would be ~200miles north of Oahu at dawn on Dec 7, the battle fleet might have tried to intercept, and if they did it would be a rude shock; any seriously damaged Japanese ship would likely be doomed, 2000 miles from friendly bases. However, anything but a perfect interception would leave our fleet subject to repeated air attacks, with sunken ships permanently lost. It could be an interesting scenario. Our BBs were about seven knots slower than Kaga, Nagumo's slowest carrier, but our half-dozen cruisers and about 20 destroyers could engage. If our force happened to be to windward, the Japanese would have to get clear before they could conduct flight operations. Any damage which reduced the speed of Japanese ships would present Nagumo with a dilemma - leave them to their fate or engage our powerful battle line. On the other hand, if the two sides were say fifty miles apart at daybreak, our command would face the choice of trying to close or heading back to Pearl, under air attack either way.

    I've often had the same thought as Opana, that we'd be better off riding out the attack in port: guns manned, ships buttoned up, over 100 fighters ready to take off. Although air intercept techniques were not well developed, radar warning would allow our fighters to launch at the right time and have plenty of fuel to engage. Presumably a larger numbers of PBYs would be searching, and the B-17s might be sent on a search/attack mission; at that time it was thought that they would be effective against ships. Shorter ranged bombers would probably wait until the Japanese carriers were located.

    US destroyers were excellent AA platforms, with dual-purpose 5"/38 main armament and the fairly effective Mark 33 gunfire control system. I'd spread them around the harbor so they'd have clear fields of fire.

    Ships in port would have steam up and be ready to sortie if the situation made it desirable.

    Use of our carriers would be an interesting question. Enterprise returning from Wake passed Lexington outbound to Midway on Dec 6; one of Halsey's scout planes spotted Lex. With advance warning, the two could rendezvous for a combined attack. Two against six, but the belief at the time was that carriers were quite vulnerable and that the "battle for the first salvo" could be decisive. If our carrier planes could hit the Japanese while they were conducting flight operations, either against Pearl Harbor or our fleet at sea, it could be just like Midway. The Japanese would probably get in some return blows, but the losses might favor the USN. Once again, damaged Japanese ships were likely doomed, while Americans might make it to port.
     
  5. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    Messages:
    12,969
    Likes Received:
    3,047
    The Air Information Center (AKA Fighter Information Center) was functional on the day of the attack, but the Public Works Officer didn't want to let go of this new toy so minimal training had been done.

    As for the radar, if the Army had told Kimmel of the Opana Point track Halsey would have been directed north instead of south. The reason they decided on Johnston Island was because of radio traffic intercepted there a few days previously.
     
  6. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    4,346
    Likes Received:
    232
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    ....like almost all the '''IF"" theories, there's a million counter IFs/problems/unrealistic/etc
    ....maybe the IJN would lose a carrier also-maybe we'd lose one...
    ...the IJN would lose a lot more of its pilots/planes/etc
    ...maybe it would be like Midway--where they attack the land base and get caught pants down
    etc
     

Share This Page