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Seconds from Disaster video about the Pearl Harbor Attack


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#1 DogFather

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 09:21 PM

I found this YouTube video fairly interesting: Seconds from disaster - Pearl harbor. [FULL EPISODE] - YouTube

Tosh Minohara, Japanese Military Historian and "intel expert" at Kobe University in Japan, comes to some of the same conclusions, that
Alan D. Zimm does in his article, The Pearl Harbor Myth (The Pearl Harbor Myth). I found the Zimm article in OpanaPointer's post: Pearl
Harbor attack one big SNAFU

Minohara claims a series of miscalculations and key errors were made in the tactical planning and operational control of the attack. The
failure to bomb the tank farm, being one of the biggest. He also questions the thinking that the plan was so brilliant, because it was
based on a false premise, that the destruction of the US Battleships would so demoralize the US, that we would lose the will to fight.
Because it had the opposite effect and united the USA as much as any event could have, for war against Japan.

The claim is made that, Vice Adm Nagumo, was not Yamamoto's first choice, instead he was chosen because of the traditions of the IJN.
And that Nagumo didn't understand that the carriers should have been the priority target and was also too cautious a man for the mission.
Supposedly, Nagumo rec'd intel just 6 hrs before the attack was to was to start, and could have called it off, due to the lack of carriers
in the harbor. This would have been Yamamoto's choice under the circumstances. However, that's not what others have claimed about
Yamamoto. Other say it was Yamamoto who failed to understand the importance of destroying the US Carriers, at least at that time.

According to the video, Adm Nimitz said that a lack of fuel would set back the US War Effort 2 yrs. That seems like a long time to me. But, that clearly
would have set back the US War Effort, and was a missed opportunity, along with the dry docks and sub base.

I think some of the failures discussed in Zimm article are just the Fog of War, that often takes place in battle and were due in part, to a lack of radios in
Japanese planes (ie flares would not have been used and that signal missed by some of the attacking planes). I do think though, Zimm is right about
right about poor planning not being noticed after the PH Attack, but then showing up again during the Battle of Midway.

Seconds from Disaster is a pretty good program from Nat Geo, who did very good articles on the 50th Anniversery of both Pearl
Harbor and the Battle of Midway.



#2 arthur45

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 07:35 PM

I saw that Nimitz quote about the tank farms,, but have also read expert opinion that the tank farm would have been impossible to <br>disable due to the way it was built - fire in one tank would not start a fire in another, usually, and there were so many tanks and they weren't all that easy to hit, especially  after the first ones started flaming and their smoke obscuring the others. Only a bomb apparently could start one on fire, not machine gun bullets. And the next day they would have to contend with US carrier air.  They also could easily be rebuilt. Nor apparently would it have been easy to significantly disable the repair facilities - they were distributed over a wide area and would require lots of bombs. 

#3 Carronade

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:02 PM

It's often said, even by Nimitz, that the American war effort would have been seriously hampered if the tank farms and base facilities had been destroyed, but the key word is "if". The idea that one more flight from the Japanese carriers could have wiped them out is fantasy. The entire bombload of Nagumo's force - which by the way would take two flights to deliver, just like the first two waves - was comparable to around fifty B-17s. How many times in WWII did hundreds of heavy bombers hit factories, refineries, and other industrial sites, just to have to come back and bomb them again a few months later? Hitting point targets like ships was what carrier attack planes were designed for; demolishing major industrial facilities is another story.

The target of the attack was the Pacific Fleet, whatever elements happened to be in harbor. Picking a Sunday gave them the best chance of catching the most ships, including carriers - Enterprise and her task force were scheduled to be in port that day but were delayed returning from Wake - but Pearl Harbor did not happen in isolation. It was part of a series of attacks all across the Pacific, for which Japanese forces were already in motion. The first shots were actually fired in Malaya the day before, when a British reconnaissance plane was shot down, and Japanese ships began bombarding and landing troops an hour before the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor.

#4 OpanaPointer

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:27 PM

The IJN never planned to hit the fuel tanks. I think Yoshikawa informed them it would be a waste of time. However, one Ensign did win a medal for going up on top of one to activate the smothering system.

The IJN had enough planes to damage the fleet, but not end it. Diverting all the power needed to attack the tanks would mean less damage to the fleet.

"One of our King Tigers could take five of your Shermans, but you always had six of them."


WWII Resources. Primary sources.
The Myths of Pearl Harbor. Demythologizing the attack.
Hyperwar. Hypertext history of the Second World War.
Pearl Harbor Attack Message Board
Veteran: USN, 1969-1989

#5 lwd

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:42 PM

Not to mention most of the tanks were close enough to the fleet to be covered by at least the heavy AA. That would likely have made the attack at least a bit more costly.

#6 OpanaPointer

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:10 PM

Not to mention most of the tanks were close enough to the fleet to be covered by at least the heavy AA. That would likely have made the attack at least a bit more costly.

And the 3" mobile AAA had to be on shore, and they would have covered the tanks as well.

"One of our King Tigers could take five of your Shermans, but you always had six of them."


WWII Resources. Primary sources.
The Myths of Pearl Harbor. Demythologizing the attack.
Hyperwar. Hypertext history of the Second World War.
Pearl Harbor Attack Message Board
Veteran: USN, 1969-1989

#7 steverodgers801

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:16 PM

Though hitting the Neosho which was full of fuel could have had serious consequences, I read years ago

#8 belasar

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:19 PM

This raises a interesting 'what-iffing" question.

Had Japan fore go striking at the ships entirely, but concentrated upon the tank farms solely with the intent of not destroying the US Pacific Fleet but immobilizing it, Would the US counter strikes be delayed anymore than than they historically was?

Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

(Poppy is occasionaly correct, or so I hear)

#9 OpanaPointer

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 01:47 AM

Though hitting the Neosho which was full of fuel could have had serious consequences, I read years ago

She had finished off-loading at 0700.

"One of our King Tigers could take five of your Shermans, but you always had six of them."


WWII Resources. Primary sources.
The Myths of Pearl Harbor. Demythologizing the attack.
Hyperwar. Hypertext history of the Second World War.
Pearl Harbor Attack Message Board
Veteran: USN, 1969-1989

#10 OpanaPointer

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 01:49 AM

This raises a interesting 'what-iffing" question.

Had Japan fore go striking at the ships entirely, but concentrated upon the tank farms solely with the intent of not destroying the US Pacific Fleet but immobilizing it, Would the US counter strikes be delayed anymore than than they historically was?

Not much. Merchant tonnage would have been commandeered or procured to move fuel by any means necessary.

"One of our King Tigers could take five of your Shermans, but you always had six of them."


WWII Resources. Primary sources.
The Myths of Pearl Harbor. Demythologizing the attack.
Hyperwar. Hypertext history of the Second World War.
Pearl Harbor Attack Message Board
Veteran: USN, 1969-1989

#11 steverodgers801

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 01:53 AM

The tanks them selves were easily replaced.

#12 lwd

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 03:11 PM

And the 3" mobile AAA had to be on shore, and they would have covered the tanks as well.

If the army gets men and ammo to them in time.

#13 OpanaPointer

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 04:40 PM

If the army gets men and ammo to them in time.

True, but I wouldn't put the attacks on the tanks any earlier than the second wave.

"One of our King Tigers could take five of your Shermans, but you always had six of them."


WWII Resources. Primary sources.
The Myths of Pearl Harbor. Demythologizing the attack.
Hyperwar. Hypertext history of the Second World War.
Pearl Harbor Attack Message Board
Veteran: USN, 1969-1989

#14 steverodgers801

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 06:15 PM

Did the army manage to get its AA guns out of lock up and in action?

#15 lwd

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 06:35 PM

True, but I wouldn't put the attacks on the tanks any earlier than the second wave.


I saw, I think on your site, a document that listed when the army AAA went on line at Pearl. From what I recall some of the guns weren't ready to go until the 2nd wave had landed back on the IJN carriers. Some were ready to fire at the second wave though. Would have to look to see which ones or I may be misremembering. In anycase I was thinking about the post where someone essentially said ignore the fleet. That means all those BB born 5" guns get into play, or if not all of them quite a few.

#16 Carronade

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 07:39 PM

Had Japan fore go striking at the ships entirely, but concentrated upon the tank farms solely with the intent of not destroying the US Pacific Fleet but immobilizing it, Would the US counter strikes be delayed anymore than than they historically was?

Again I think we're hypothesizing almost total destruction. Does anyone know how much fuel was stored at Pearl Harbor or much steaming (and flying) time it would equate to? It's tempting to say "Japanese attack X = X totally destroyed", but most likely when the smoke cleared (the smoke most of the attackers had to bomb through) we'd find a substantial amount of fuel had survived.

If we wanted to operate beyond Hawaiian waters, the key constraint would be fleet oilers, of which there were only three immediately available. We barely had enough to send small carrier task forces to Wake or the Marshalls; even on January 23, 1942 the loss of Neches forced Lexington to abort a planned attack.

Edited by Carronade, 30 January 2013 - 09:03 PM.


#17 OpanaPointer

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 11:37 AM

The issue of fleet oilers is a bit hyperfocused. Underway replenishment was a relatively new idea. Before that ships would come alongside a moored or anchored oiler and take on fuel. The skills to do this were still available in 1942, so if needed the fleet could have reverted to that system. It would have reduced operational efficiency for a while, but I think we would have been spewing out "Liberty tankers" by the end of 1942 latest.

"One of our King Tigers could take five of your Shermans, but you always had six of them."


WWII Resources. Primary sources.
The Myths of Pearl Harbor. Demythologizing the attack.
Hyperwar. Hypertext history of the Second World War.
Pearl Harbor Attack Message Board
Veteran: USN, 1969-1989




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