The Battles at Dawn: The Japanese and American Battles that shaped the World War in the Pacific An Alternate History

May all be healthy, safe, and the love stay with the new little ones,

Congrats and may you all have many more years of Happiness.
FYI, just finished "Tower of Skulls" by Richard Frank
it is superb and some of the information will be incorporated in the revision
FYI, just finished "Tower of Skulls" by Richard Frank
it is superb and some of the information will be incorporated in the revision
I hope the new grandchildren provide a good counterpoint to the bleakness of the book. And bring joy to your life. Spoil them rotten and when old enough tell them embarrassing stories about their parents as children.
Part IV The Battle at Dawn: Hawaii and Midway December 1941
Part IV Battle at Dawn: Hawaii and Midway December 1941

The Japanese air attack on Oahu on December 7, 1941 began the greatest naval war in history. But it was not the only battle in the Hawaiian chain that fateful period. While an avalanche of war news plus an historic speech by President Roosevelt bombarded America and the Western Allies, the American and Japanese fleets would meet in battles near Midway. The American defense of the Hawaiian Island Chain was painfully expensive but it would have results that would affect the entire course of the war and were painful to the Japanese Navy.

The series of battles around Hawaii and Midway were the first major engagements in the Pacific War and the first of a series of battles that ultimately over the course of the next three years result in the triumph of the US Navy and the destruction of the Imperial Japanese Navy as an effective force. The twin battles were the first to involve massed naval aircraft in a full scale naval engagement in open water, as well as a notable increase in power compared to what the British Royal Navy had already practiced in the War in Europe. The battles proved once and for all that the aircraft carrier was going to be the principal capital ship for the war to come, while the battleship was now a secondary player.

That the United States Navy learned this lesson to a greater degree than the Japanese Navy was perhaps the most ironic and important fact of the three day battle.

Hawaii also proved that the Japanese had superb aviators and aircraft but the American Army and Naval air forces were a tough and ultimately equal opponent to the Japanese Naval Air Force.

Many important lessons were learned during the battles around Hawaii and while the cost of learning these lessons where very high, they would be learned very well indeed
Nov. 27, 1941
FROM: Chief of Naval Operations
INFO: Cinclant, Spenavo

This dispatch is to be considered a war warning. Negotiations with Japan looking toward stabilization of conditions in the Pacific have ceased and an aggressive move by Japan is expected within the next few days. The number and equipment of Japanese troops and the organization of naval task forces indicates an amphibious expedition against either the Philippines, Thai or Kra Peninsula or possibly Borneo. Execute an appropriate defensive deployment preparatory to carrying out the tasks assigned in WPL 46. Inform district and Army authorities. A similar warning is being sent by War Department.

Spenavo inform British. Continental districts Guam, Samoa directed take appropriate measures against sabotage.

Copy to WPD, War Dept.

NIITAKA-YAMA NOBORE 12 08” (新高山登れ12 08?).

“Climb Mount Niitaka, 1208.
December 2, 1941 Message Headquarters Combined Fleet to all Japanese naval forces

Tora! Tora! Tora!”
Message Commander Fuchida as the attack commenced


--Telegram from Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC) to all ships in Hawaiian area, December 7, 1941
Forces Hawaiian Island Chain and nearby areas December 1941
US Navy Hawaiian area 0400 Hours, December 7, 1941
Task Force 9 Picket force
Destroyer minelayers Gamble, Ramsey, Montgomery, Pruitt, Tracy
submarines S-18, S-23, S-34, Gudgeon, Plunger, Tambor, Thresher

Air Search (North sector)
Navy VP11, VP12, VP14, VP21, VP22, VP23, VP24 (69 PBY, 53 available), Army RS 23, RS 31 (12 B17D, 8 available)

Air Search (South sector)
Army 18th Bomb Wing (33 B18, 21 available), Navy VJ1 (9 JRF Goose, 9 J2F Duck, 6 of each available) plus 8 SOC Seagull float planes from the battleships assigned to local patrol off the harbor entrance.

Scouting Force (Halsey)
Task Force 2 (Brown) carrier Lexington (w 37 Dauntless dive bombers, 18 Devastator torpedo bombers, 17 Buffalo fighters), carrier Yorktown (36 Dauntless dive bombers, 18 Devastator torpedo bombers, 18 Wildcat fighters) heavy cruisers Chicago, Portland, Astoria destroyers Porter, Drayton, Flusser, Lamson, Mahan, Cummings, Case, Tucker,

Task Force 3 (Halsey) carrier Enterprise (37 Dauntless dive bombers, 18 Vindicator Dive bombers,18 Devastator torpedo bombers, 14 Wildcat fighters), heavy cruisers Northampton, Chester, Salt Lake City, destroyers Blach, Maury, Craven, Gridley, McCall, Dunlap, Benham, Fanning, Ellet

Task Force 8 (Fletcher) heavy cruiser Minneapolis, destroyers Farragut, Aylwin, Monaghan, Farragut, destroyer minesweepers Chandler, Hovey, Boggs, Lamberton, fleet oilers Platte, Tippacanoe, Santee, Sangamon

French Frigate Shoals
Passing nearby: (returning from Midway) Seaplane Tender Wright (civilians aboard), Tranport Burrows (en route to Wake Island),
station: small seaplane tender Swan, Destroyer minelayer Sicard, patrol gunboat Sacramento

small seaplane tender Avocet, destroyer minelayer Breese,

assembling off Honolulu harbor (as of 0600 hours)
TF 15 Light Cruiser (Rear Admiral Fairfax Leary) Helena, Phoenix, destroyers MacDonough, Phelps, Chew, Allen

In port Pearl Harbor

110 Dock: battleships Oklahoma (moved 0400 hours) target ship Utah (outboard)
California (inboard, moved 0400 hours), minelayer Oglala (outboard)(moved 0400 hours)
submarine Cachelot
Drydock: battleship Pennyslvania, destroyers Cassin, Downes
Floating drydock: destroyer Shaw

Naval Station docks: heavy cruisers San Francisco, New Orleans, St Louis, light cruiser Honolulu destroyers Jarvis, Mugford, Bagley, Cummings, minesweeper Greebe, destroyer minesweeper Trever, Zane, Perry Wasmuth, destroyer minelayer Breese, oiler Ramapo, repair ship Argonne, Rigel,

Southeast Loch (submarine base) docks: submarine tender Pelias, rescue ship Widgeon, repair ship Sumner, stores ship Castor, submarines Narwhal, Dolphin, Tautog,

Carrier Row: Seaplane Tenders Tangiers, Curtis, seaplane tenders (converted destroyers) Thornton Hulbert

Middle loch: repair ship Medusa, hospital ship Solace (moved 0400 hours)

Battleship Row
battleship Nevada (inboard), destroyer Dobbin (moved 0400 hours)
battleship Arizona (inboard), repair ship Vestal (outboard)
battleship Tennessee (inboard), destroyer Hull (outboard)
battleship Maryland (inboard), destroyer Dewey (outboard)
tied to Ford Island dock: Oiler Neosho
battleship West Virginia (inboard), destroyer Worden (outboard)

East Loch
destroyers: Henley, Patterson, Ralph Talbot
destroyer tender: Whitney, destroyers Conyngham, Reid, Tucker, Case, Selfridge, Dale

harbor entrance
destroyers Blue, Ward, Helm, 4 minesweepers, 1 Coast Guard Cutter

Principal Commanders:
Admiral James O Richardson, CINCPAC / CINCUS
Vice Admiral William Pye, Battle force
Vice Admiral William F Halsey, Aircraft, Battle force
Vice Admiral Wilson S Brown, Scouting Force
Rear Admiral Patrick Bellinger, Aircraft, Scouting Force / Hawaiian Air Search Command
Rear Admiral John S McCain, Western Hawaiian Islands Scouting Force
Major General Millard Harmon, US Army Hawaii
Major General Joseph Stillwell, US I Corps
Brigadier General McConnell, US Army 14th Pursuit Wing/ Hawaiian Air Defense Command
Brigadier General Robert Burgin, US Army Fortress Command Oahu

Japanese Naval and Ground Forces Operation AI
Kido Butai (First Air Fleet) (Striking Force)
Carriers Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku, Zuikaku, battleships Hiei, Haruna, Kongo, Kirishima, CA Tone, Chikuma, CL Abukuma, 14 destroyers, 12 fleet oilers, 414 combat aircraft (54 Zero fighters for fleet defense, 354 for striking force including 81 fighters, 143 B5N Kate torpedo/level bombers, 135 D3A Val dive bombers) plus 20 float planes for scouting

6th Fleet (submarines)
31 fleet submarines plus 5 special attack (midget) submarines

Midway Island Bombardment Force

CA Aoba, Furutaka, Kako, Kinugasa, destroyers Shigure,Yugure,

Midway Island Invasion Force
2 destroyers, 2 gunboats, 6 submarine chasers, 1 seaplane tender, 2 tenders, 9 transports, South Sea Force (4,886 troops)

Operation AI support forces (including all fleet oilers and some of the destroyers of Kido Butai above)
Refueling Group 1 – 3 oilers, 1 destroyer (en route to Japan after refueling fleet on December 6)
Refueling Group 2 – 5 oilers, 3 destroyers,(approaching planned refueling point for December 8)
Refueling Group 3 – 2 oilers, 1 destroyer (with Midway Invasion Force)
Refueling Group 4 – 2 oilers, 2 destroyers (off Marcus Island)

Principal Commanders afloat
Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, CINC Combined Fleet / Commander Operation AI (aboard CA Tone)
Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, commander 1st Air Fleet (aboard CV Akagi)
Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa, commander surface forces (aboard BB Hiei)
Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, commander 2nd Carrier Division (aboard CV Hiryu)
Rear Admiral Chuichi Hara, commander 5th Carrier Division (aboard CV Shokaku)
Rear Admiral Aritomo Goto, commander Midway bombardment group (aboard CA Aoba)
Rear Admiral Shikazo Yano, commander Midway Island invasion force (aboard seaplane tender Kamoi)
Major General Tomitarō Horii, commander South Seas Detachment (144th Infantry Regiment, reinforced drawn from 55th Infantry Division)
Chapter 6 Avalanche of War
Chapter 6 The Avalanche of War

Warnings for Hawaii and Countdown to War

In early November, General Harmon finally gets a deputy commander in the form of General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell who takes command of the newly organized I Corps. Although the corps lacks any significant support units, it does have 2 infantry divisions (the newly organized 24th and 25th Infantry Divisions that formed from the Hawaiian Division), a Coast Artillery Command, and a Anti Aircraft Command. He and General Harmon both urgently request additional engineer units, feeling that a couple of regiments would not be underused, but none are yet available. General Stilwell ends some of the peacetime practices that still remain, such as the emphasis on athletics over readiness, and backs his division commanders as they get rid of deadwood.

In the Kuriles, the Japanese First Air Fleet finishes its training regime by the middle of November and makes final preparations for their mission. Meanwhile the Midway Island Invasion force leaves port in Formosa and begins its voyage toward the Marshal Islands which will be their jumping off point.

The avalanche of war begins to slide toward Hawaii at increasing speed.

November 17, 1941
Lewis Clark Grew, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, sends a message to U.S. secretary of state Cordell Hull. He emphasizes the need "for guarding against sudden military or naval actions by Japan in areas not at present involved in the China conflict."

November 20, 1941
Japan issues an ultimatum to the United States, demanding American noninterference in Japanese relations in Indochina and China.

November 25, 1941
The Axis renews the Anti-Comintern Pact for five years. Signatories include Italy, Japan, Spain, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Denmark, Finland, Manchukuo, and Japan's puppet government in Nanking.

Admiral Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, sends a war warning to all Pacific Commands, as does General Marshall. Admiral Richardson orders a steady stream of air raid drills for the Pacific Fleet while they are in Pearl Harbor itself. Although it disrupts the routine of maintenance, he continues them over the next few days until he is satisfied that even in port the Fleet can prepare for combat within at least 15 minutes. He also orders the Yorktown task force (TF 16) to see to patrol the southwestern approaches to Midway and Hawaii. Standing orders are now that at least one carrier task force will be at sea at all times.

The Japanese Carrier Striking Force leaves the Kurile Islands steaming east.

November 27, 1941
In Washington, Secretary Knox issues a general warning to all naval commanders in the Pacific telling them to expect an “aggressive move'' probably aimed at “the Philippines, Kra Peninsula or possibly Borneo”. Admiral Richardson decides this should also include the possibility of a strike at Hawaii as well.

November 28, 1941
From a Magic intercept originally sent November 19th: "In case of emergency...the following warning will be added in the middle of the daily Japanese language short-wave news broadcast:

1. In case of Japan-U.S. relations in danger: EAST WIND RAIN.

2. Japan-USSR relations: NORTH WIND CLOUDY.

3. Japan-British relations: WEST WIND CLEAR.

when this is heard, please destroy all code papers, etc."

In Washington, President Roosevelt convenes another "War Council". The implications of a large Japanese naval force sailing through the South China Sea towards British Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines are discussed. It is agreed that Roosevelt should send a message to Emperor Hirohito urging peace and address Congress about Japan' aggressive actions. However, it is also added that unless Congress should previously declare war, the U.S. cannot attack this Japanese force.

November 30, 1941:
From a Magic intercept of a cable from Tokyo to the Japanese ambassador in Berlin:

"The conversations between Tokyo and Washington now stand ruptured. In the face of this, our Empire faces a grave situation and must act with determination. Therefore, immediately interview Chancellor Hitler...and confidentially communicate to [him] a summary of the developments. Say to [him] that there is extreme danger that war may suddenly break out between the Anglo-Saxon nations and Japan through some clash of arms and
that the time of the breaking out of this war may come quicker than anyone dreams."

December 1, 1941:
In a Magic message, Japan's Foreign Minister advises his ambassador to prevent the U.S.

"from becoming unduly suspicious" and emphasizes to them that it is important to give the impression that "negotiations are continuing." Meanwhile, Japan's ambassador in Berlin has reported Hitler's assurance that "should Japan become engaged in a war against the U.S., Germany, of course, would join the war immediately." Japanese Prime Minister Tojo, then tells the ambassador to inform Hitler that "this war may come quicker than anyone dreams." At sea Admiral Yamamoto receives his orders to attack ("Climb Mount Nitaka!")

December 2, 1941:
Additional Magic messages indicate that Japan is still preparing for war, probably in Southeast Asia. Admiral Richardson discovers that naval intelligence has no real idea where the Japanese aircraft carriers are and is displeased. The Lexington Task Force (TF 2) leaves Pearl Harbor on a mission to deliver a Marine fighter squadron and scout bomber squadron to Midway Island. Orders are sent to Task Force 16 to link up with the Lexington and its task force and once the aircraft are delivered, Admiral Brown is ordered to scout the area between Midway and the Japanese Mandates. Admiral Halsey is sent orders to link up and take command of all three task forces once he completes his mission of delivering fighters to Wake Island. Richardson has orders not start a war with Japan, but he wants his fleet to be as concentrated as possible.

December 3, 1941 (Wednesday):
In Washington, an old Magic intercept, dated November 15th, is finally translated. It urges the Japanese consulate in Hawaii to make twice-weekly reports on the location of American warships in Pearl Harbor. No particular significance is attached to the message in Washington as it is assumed that the Japanese are merely updating their intelligence files on the U.S. Navy. However Admiral Richardson sees this entirely differently, and he persuades the Territorial Governor Poindexter and General Harmon to pressure the FBI to keep closer tabs on Japanese diplomatic personnel. A couple of days later, Lieutenant Commander Yoshikawa of the Imperial Japanese Navy, who is posing as diplomat, suffers a serious car accident and is hospitalized, where he remains until his internment once the war begins.

Task Force 9, consisting of 4 oilers and 4 destroyers is ordered to sea where it is to link up with heavy cruiser Minneapolis and Rear Admiral Frank Fletcher will will lead this service group and escorts to rendezvous with Halsey and the carriers as Richardson wants them at sea longer.

December 4, 1941 (Thursday):
In Washington, the available Magic intercepts give a clear indication of Japanese intentions to go to war. For example, they urge Ambassador Nomura to destroy one of his special code machines. Admiral Halsey and the Enterprise task force (TF 3) delivers 12 F4F Wildcats to Wake Island. The American carriers and their supporting ships are moving toward a rendezvous.

December 5, 1941
Richardson sends orders to Halsey and Brown to conduct maneuvers in the area south of Midway, with the Enterprise task group as a Red Force, and the Lexington/Yorktown task group as the Blue Force. Halsey is to simulate an attack on Midway from the North, while Brown is to move to simulate an attack on Red Force. As part of the exercise the Marine dive bomber squadron (equipped with 18SBU2 Vindicator dive bombers) will deploy to the island where it joins 12 PBY patrol bombers and 6 float planes that are already present. Heavy seas and rain prevent Halsey from conducting operations that day and the exercise is postponed for 48 hours. Brown orders his air groups to do a maintenance stand down aside from routine submarine patrols, air searches and fighter patrols.

Yamamoto and his fleet are battling these high seas as well but continue to encounter no traffic. Yamamoto is disappointed that a final report he was expecting from the Japanese Consulate in Honolulu is not transmitted. His best information is that two carriers, 8 battleships, 14 cruisers, and over 100 other warships are in Pearl Harbor. American air search aircraft, which are ranging 1,000 miles from Pearl Harbor, fail to spot the Japanese force in the gloom. The Japanese also fail to hear or spot the American B17D as it flies overhead in the late afternoon. That B17D also fails to spot the enemy fleet due to weather conditions and poor visibility.

President Roosevelt—convinced on the basis of intelligence reports that the Japanese fleet is headed for Thailand, not the United States—telegrams Emperor Hirohito with the request that “for the sake of humanity,” the emperor intervene “to prevent further death and destruction in the world.”

The Royal Australian Air Force sights Japanese escorts, cruisers, and destroyers while on patrol near the Malayan coast, south of Cape Cambodia. An Aussie pilot managed to radio that it looked as if the Japanese warships were headed for Thailand—just before he was shot down by the Japanese. Back in England, Prime Minister Churchill called a meeting of his chiefs of staff to discuss the crisis. While reports were coming in describing Thailand as the Japanese destination, they began to question whether it could have been a diversion. British intelligence had intercepted the Japanese code “Raffles,” a warning to the Japanese fleet to be on alert—but for what?

Britain was already preparing Operation Matador, the launching of their 11th Indian Division into Thailand to meet the presumed Japanese invasion force. But at the last minute, Air Marshall Brooke-Popham received word not to cross the Thai border for fear that it would provoke a Japanese attack if, in fact, the warship movement was merely a bluff.

Meanwhile, 600 miles northwest of Hawaii, Admiral Yamamoto, commander of the Japanese fleet, announced to his men: “The rise or fall of the empire depends upon this battle. Everyone will do his duty with utmost efforts.”

“The son of man has just sent his final message to the son of God,” FDR joked to Eleanor after sending off his telegram to Hirohito, who in the Shinto tradition of Japan was deemed a god. As he enjoyed his stamp collection and chatted with Harry Hopkins, his personal adviser, news reached him of Japan’s formal rejection of America’s 10-point proposals for peace and an end to economic sanctions and the oil embargo placed on the Axis power. “This means war,” the president declared. Hopkins recommended an American first strike. “No, we can’t do that,” Roosevelt countered. “We are a democracy and a peaceful people.”

Japanese submarines are now in position in their patrol areas, with the special attack submarines moving into position to launch their mini-submarines. There are seven I-boats deployed in a semicircle southwest to southeast of Oahu. Another 3 are deployed in a line to the northeast of the island, one is due north, 3 are deployed in the waters between Oahu and Kauai, with two more deployed south of them and 5 boats are approaching the entrance of Pearl Harbor to launch their attack craft.

First Blood 1538 Hours December 6, 1941
A PBY piloted by Ensign G. Whitman is on its inbound track returning to base 530 miles north northeast of Oahu when the starboard waist gunner spots what he thinks are a fleet of ships 20 miles of to his starboard. The PBY turns toward the sighting and at that moment is jumped by a flight of 3 Zeroes who blast the aircraft out of the sky. The radioman gets a partial distress call but is cut off in mid sentence and the signal is garbled. Kaneohe Naval Air Station is only able to determine that the aircraft is in trouble but does not identify why. Ensign Whitman and the 9 other men of his crew are determined to be the first American deaths in the Pacific Theater in World War II.

The destroyer mine layers Gamble, Ramsey and Montgomery are deployed in an arc 400 miles north of Oahu, and at 1600 hours report of an aircraft in distress reaches Admiral Richardson, who orders Fleet Operations to send the nearest, the Gamble, to the last reported position to look for survivors. It is at least 3 hours before the ship can reach the crash site however. Still uncertain as to what happened, Kaneohe is prepared to send another PBY out on a search and rescue mission, but it will be dark (sundown is 1719 hours) and the soonest the aircraft would reach the site would be 2 hours past twilight. This flight is thus canceled and rescheduled for early morning to reach the area at first light.

Aboard the Soryu, the fighter pilots land and make their report, and a signal is sent to the Akagi (Nagumo's flagship) and Tone (Yamamoto's flag). Yamamoto is forced to decide that the risk that the Americans got off a radio message is simply too high to assume that they did not. He orders Admiral Sentaro aboard the Abumkumo, a Nagara class light cruiser, and 4 of his destroyers (the Urakaze, Isokaze, Tanikaze, and Hamikaze) to steam further ahead of the fleet to a position of 20 miles in their van. They are to engage and sink any ships that they see.

December 7 1941
The first clash 0230 Hours 375 miles northwest of Oahu

The destroyer mine layer Gamble (D.A Crandell commanding) has his crew set to battle stations, boats ready to put over the side, extra lookouts ready and is steaming north at 25 knots with his recognition lights on and he and his crew are prepared to conduct what they hope will be a successful rescue but fear will be a hopeless search. His ship is plowing through heavy seas (heavy enough that the planned launch of the air strike by the Japanese will be delayed later that morning).

Meanwhile the Japanese advance screen picks up a series of radio exchanges between the Gamble and Pearl Harbor and moves to engage, spotting the American ship at 15,000 yards in the dark. The superbly trained Japanese lookouts with the best available binoculars and excellent doctrine have little trouble finding the American ship still running with recognition lights. A spread of torpedoes is fired by the destroyer Isokaze quickly races through the water and one detonates in her engine room spaces and nearly blows her in half right then. A frantic radio message from the Gamble reporting her position and that she has been torpedoed is all that her radio manages to get off before the ship is smothered in 6 inch and 5 inch shells, blasting her superstructure apart and a second spread from the Urukaze puts two more torpedoes into her, blasting the Gamble apart. Only a few dozen of her crew manage to get over the side as she goes down literally under them. Only six survivors, none of them officers or senior enlisted men, manage to survive until rescue on December 9.

Well within his 24 hour decision point to continue the attack whether discovered or not, Yamamoto orders the fleet by signal lamp to proceed to the launch point as planned.

Pacific Fleet prepares for action
Meanwhile, the report that the Gamble has been torpedoed, in light of the loss of a PBY at the same time, convinces Richardson that an attack is imminent. He sends an urgent cable to Washington at 0330 hours (where it is 830 Sunday morning and efforts to decode the 14th part of the Japanese message are already occurring). Richardson issues a string of orders.

First the entire fleet is put on alert, and all officers and men are to be ordered to their ships at once. A string of phone calls begins to ship commanders from base operations, followed by more calls to other officers and men. The Army is immediately notified and the Air Search Center is ordered to get every available plane in the air at dawn, while Harmon, concerned that the a bombing raid may be coming to support that evident Japanese submarine attacks offshore, orders that all squadrons are to be prepared for combat no later than dawn.

In the harbor, all US ships are ordered to make steam and the outboard battleships of battleship row are moved while destroyers are moved alongside the battleships West Virginia (which is herself moved by tug), Tennessee, Maryland and Nevada. All ships are to go to general quarters right away, and if no sign of submarine activity occurs in the harbor in the next few hours can go to lower readiness. He is concerned that submarines may be trying to break into harbor, much like the Germans pulled off when the sank the Royal Oak, and orders the alert destroyers to reinforce the Ward.

Richardson also decides to send a task group to sea to reinforce the picket line, just in case that the Gamble met something other than a submarine which with the loss of a PBY seems not unlikely. He orders Admiral Leary to take the cruisers Phoenix and Helena, along with some destroyers, north to the position where the Gamble was lost to search for survivors and investigate the situation first hand.

By 0400 hours the harbor is a flurry of activity and meanwhile General Harmon is requesting an appointment with the Territorial Governor for 0800 hours, while Richardson schedules a conference between himself, Admiral Pye and Admiral Kidd aboard the Arizona at the same time.

A Breaking Dawn
0345 Hours
Aboard the carriers Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu, the aircrew of the First Wave man their planes and start engines.

The Plan for the First Wave
Impressed by the success of the night attack on Taranto, Admiral Yamamoto pushed Genda to revise his attack plan after news of Fleet Problem XXII reached him from intelligence sources. The older four carriers all have air groups trained in night flying. A torpedo attack just before nautical twilight is possible. There will be sufficient darkness to reduce visibility for anti-aircraft gunners, while all reports are that Hawaii has not instituted black out procedures so the towns and cities on Oahu will be brightly lit and indeed reports are that the fleet base is still lit up at night. The ships being targeted will be back lit by harbor lights, and their size will make them obvious, standing out from the shadows. The biggest difficulty will be avoiding crashing into the harbor waters if the approach is misjudged, or hitting a crane or another ship. To reduce the chances of that, a special mission will attack the aviation storage facility on Ford Island which will create flames that will bounce enough glare off the water to give the pilots something to orient themselves with. It will also provide some extra illumination of Battleship Row. Between that and the first bit of daylight, the pilots should be able to see their targets and the water, while the lights on buildings should enable them to avoid those obstructions.

While the practice exercises did result in the lost of several aircraft and crews, by the time the fleet sailed the handpicked crews for the torpedo attack mission are ready. Genda and Murata (commander of the torpedo attack force) both feel that operational losses and losses to flak will be far less than attacking in daylight against an alerted fleet, which they feel is the most likely result. The only potential flaw is that if the Americans decide to install torpedo nets. As of the time the plan was drawn up and practiced, the Americans still had not done that, and indeed up to the last report on December 3 the intelligence reports are that they still have not done so. However, the Americans do frequently have auxiliary vessel alongside one of the battleships. The answer to that is to set the torpedo depth so that run below the draft of most of the American auxiliaries, 25 feet or so, and have them run at 32 feet (the draft of the American battleships run at 35-40 feet). The other option is to instruct the pilots to aim for the parts of the battleships not screened by the auxiliaries, such as the Vestal which is frequently anchored near one of the battleships conducting repairs.

Another problem is avoiding detection for as long as possible. While flying directly across the island would be relatively simple in terms of navigation, a better option would be to avoid preventable discovery. To do that requires navigation check points, and as it will still be dark for the duration of the approach, rally points for the final attack run. Two submarines are assigned the mission of surfacing off the western and southern coast of Oahu and to turn on a low power radio signal that will be brief enough that the Americans are unlikely to determine its location or purpose before the mission parameters are met. They will also turn on a search light aimed at the sky for 2 minutes to provide a visual cue for the aircraft. Yamamoto feels that both submarines will likely be destroyed but losing two submarines in exchange for serious damage to the American fleet is considered worth the cost.

The final rally points will be over Pearl City and Honolulu (depending on the group) which will likely still be showing lights in the early twilight. From there the torpedo planes will make their attack runs on the ships of Carrier Row, the 110 Dock, and Battleship Row.

First Wave takes flight
At 0405, the first planes take off, in spite of heavy seas and an overcast sky. One plane, the number 3 plane lifting off from the Kaga piloted by Shigeharu Sugaya is caught by a large wave that breaks over the bow of the Kaga as he takes off, and he and his two other aircrew are the first Japanese deaths in the Pacific War against the United States at 0406 hours.

The aircraft begin making their way in groups of threes, still using their running lights for the first hour of the flight. Their first check point is the destroyer Arare, 130 miles north of Oahu, which has its running lights on for 15 minutes before departing the area at its best speed to rejoin the fleet.

Pearl Harbor 0400- 0600 hours
Meanwhile, Admiral Richardson is still not done deploying his fleet. He orders the Utah moved up alongside the California, and orders the Oglala moved to East Loch as the possibility of Japanese submarines laying mines off the harbor entrance cannot be precluded and he wants Pacific Fleet Mine Force, Admiral Furlong and his ships ready to take action to once daylight makes operations practical. The destroyer Selfridge is ordered to move alongside the Oklahoma and to remain at ready status to reinforce the Blue, Helm and Ward should it be necessary, and the remaining destroyers of the fleet are to prepare to sortie once daylight begins.

At Ford Island, Lieutenant Commander Logan Ramsey is modifying the daily patrol plan and orders are sent to all patrol aircraft to be armed with depth charges or bombs and to attack suspected submarine contacts. A fleet message is sent to American submarines to remain submerged for the first few hours of daylight to avoid accidental attack by American aircraft, particularly Army planes who are less skilled in ship identification than Navy aircrew.

At the air defense command center, General McConnell is in command and has placed his pursuit squadrons and army anti-aircraft gun crews on alert. Even if the Navy is wrong, and whatever happened to the Gamble was an isolated incident or simply a submarine attack and not a prelude to an air attack, a full scale alert will be valuable practice.

At Wheeler Field, 2nd Lieutenant “Gabby” Gabreski of the 45th Pursuit Squadron is helping his mechanics make sure that the proper ammunition load is aboard his P-36 Hawk, while at Haleiwa Field Lieutenants Kenneth Taylor and George Welch of the 47th Pursuit are running similar checks on their P40B Warhawks. All three pilots are about to have a very big day.

Over the Pacific, a flight of 11 B17E Flying Fortress bombers are en route to Hickam Field under the command of Major Truman Landon receives a message to be prepared to land at Hilo if so directed. A final message will be sent at 0630 hours to allow them sufficient fuel for that alteration to their flight plan. However the music being broadcast by CBS Radio station KGMB continues to play to aid the aircraft in their navigation. It is also a useful navigation tool for the Japanese bombers already flying toward the island of Oahu.

The first light of dawn
At 0554 Hours, the USS Ward and USS Helm both pick up sonar contacts near the harbor entrance and the Helm moves into attack position. The target, a Japanese special attack midget submarine is trying to make its way to the entrance of the harbor.

The first shots of the Battle of Pearl Harbor are about to begin.....
It's wonderful to see you back in action GB and thanks for the series of updates. Definitely going to be the flapping of butterflies and the winds of change will flow until the end of the Japanese Empire.