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

Part One Preparing for War 1935 -1940
  • Part I Preparing for War 1935-1940
    In the first few months of the Pacific War the American and Filipino soldiers and airmen led by General Dwight D Eisenhower fought an inspired and hard fought battle against the Japanese invasion of Luzon. Most historians now credit the fine performance of the US Army Far East in what would ultimately be a hopeless stand to the fine work of Eisenhower in creating and developing the Filipino forces that fought so well alongside the American forces and inflicted an embarrassing and serious check on the Japanese during the early days of war in the Pacific.

    Although some historians think that General Douglas Macarthur, who briefly served as Field Marshall of the Philippine Army and who had much grander plans for the Philippine Army would have done better, his tragic death in an auto accident while visiting New York City soon after his wedding on May 1, 1937 to his wife Jean makes that a 'might have been'. This historian believes that his genius, if any, will remain unproven and his ideas of making the Philippines into the “Switzerland of the Pacific” and the ambitious plan to create a 300,000 army for the Republic of the Philippines unrealistic. Considering the financial constraints of the Philippine government (which was hard pressed to maintain a $12 million a year defense budget during the years leading up to 1941) could never have created such a thing.

    While the prewar years in the Philippines and indeed much of that campaign are well known only to military historians nearly all Americans and Japanese know of the series of battles around Hawaii in the opening week of the war between Japan and the United States. The “Date which will live in Infamy” was how President Franklin Roosevelt put it in his speech while the battle was still raging, and indeed the shock of the sudden Japanese attack united America behind the war effort like nothing else could of.

    But the fateful battle that would change naval air warfare forever did not just last one day, but three exhausting desperate days, and only the foresighted leadership of Admiral Richardson and General Harmon, the dogged aggression of Admiral Halsey and the tireless determination of Admiral Yamamoto brought about the result that followed. The fighting which began on December 7 and did not end until the December 10, 1941 saw the first carrier versus carrier fight, the first surface actions between the Japanese and United States Navies, and great air battles between Japanese and American aviators that would prove that both were brave and skilled combatants.

    These two campaigns would cost America terribly in lives and assets but would also inflict a cost on Japan that would cripple it and limit its options when the decisive South Pacific Campaign began in 1942 and it was that campaign that would result in the United States retaining the initiative in the Pacific Theater for the remainder of the war. The Philippines and South Pacific Campaign would also make Eisenhower a hero and ensure that he would get the command of the Invasion of Europe in 1944 and ultimately become President of the United States.
     
    Chapter 2
  • Chapter 2 Preparations for War in the Philippines
    In September 1939, the Second World War begins in Europe and the United States Military finally starts to begin to receive resources it needs to prepare for war as the War in Europe spreads throughout 1939 and 1940.

    Federalizing the Philippine Army
    In the Philippines, reports reach Parsons over the effectiveness of Japanese tanks against the Chinese Army as well as the reports of the effectiveness of the German panzers in Poland. He and Eisenhower had several deep discussions over the previous year, and Eisenhower is convinced, with tank support, and the formation of 3 infantry divisions with the trucks to move them, that a mobile force could attack the Japanese when they inevitably land at Lingayen Gulf (the assumed Japanese landing site for over 37 years) then there is a chance that the Japanese might be pushed back into the sea and valuable time purchased for the Philippines and the US Navy to fight its way to the rescue. The other choice, retreat to Bataan and hold out for six months will definitely delay the Japanese, but also will almost certainly not delay them long enough for rescue.

    It is a risky strategy but if it fails, the mobile force should be able to retire to Bataan, where as a safety measure, the Philippine Army will be digging in and preparing the defense. If nothing else it will buy time to move everything useful to the final bastion defense and it will increase the Japanese casualties.

    Parsons sends his recommendations to General Marshall in March 1940, where they are examined closely but Marshall simply has nothing to send him until September 1940, when the Selective Service Act is passed, the National Guard is federalized and massive defense spending is approved.

    Parsons has actually asked for relatively small amount of reinforcement. The 65th Infantry Regiment (with its high number of Spanish speaking Puerto Ricans), a tank brigade, another cavalry regiment or the funds and equipment to raise one, permission to form two divisions out of the Philippine Scouts and US infantry (plus the reinforcing infantry regiment requested) to be designated the 12th and 23rd Infantry Divisions. He also requests sufficient artillery, vehicles and other equipment to form the planned Philippine Army 1st Division earlier than planned as well as some corps artillery and heavy equipment for his engineers. Parsons also wants some modern fighters and bombers, at least a group of each and Marshall begins talking to Hap Arnold about what can be provided and who can be sent to command it. The most urgent thing that Parsons asks for is a signals regiment, or at least a battalion as he is critically short on such support.

    The main issue is that Marshall has only what can be spared after Lend Lease, US Army expansion, Hawaii, Panama and Alaska, leaving the Philippines far down the list in terms of what can be found to send them. For the rest of 1940 this will not be much, but he does order the 65th Infantry sent in September, authorizes the formation of the two divisions, and sends General Grunnert to assume command of the US I Corps, which will consist initially of only a headquarter but eventually, if Marshall can scrape some up, will have additional support and combat support units. While small arms can be found for the Philippine 1st Infantry Division, and extra machine guns and even the trucks, the problem of artillery units remains one of shortage. Marshall does persuade Roosevelt to part with some discretionary funds however, matching dollar for dollar what the Commonwealth spends, and thus doubles the available budget for the Philippine Army. He also manages to increase funds for the Philippine Department by 20% and finds a National Guard Signals Battalion to send. Additional reinforcements will have to wait until 1941 however.

    General Marshall and Secretary of War Stimson (who takes office in 1940) are able to persuade to Navy to release any spare artillery in the Philippine Islands to the US Army, which is in dire need of artillery for the expanded Filipino coast artillery branch. Mines for use in Lingayen Gulf are also found from Navy and Army stocks and ordered sent urgently. However in spite of their best efforts Stimson and Marshall are not able to persuade Roosevelt to order the Philippine Army into federal service as he is concerned that this will further antagonize Japan and he is trying to buy time.

    However Parsons and new High Commissioner Sayre manages to persuade Quezon that a formal request from him might do the trick, particularly when in Japanese move into French Indochina in September 1940 and also signs the Tripartite Pact. In November 1940 Roosevelt is forced to accept Quezon's request, particularly in light of the fact he has already federalized the US National Guard. Thus in early December, the Philippine Army is brought into Federal Service as an element of the US National Guard system and pay is increased to match that of soldiers in the US Army.

    By January 1941, the US and Filipino armies have the following forces available:

    The Philippine Department US Army January 1941
    Headquarters US Army Philippines (Parsons)
    Mobile Force
    US I Corps (Major General Grunnart) (1,200 men)
    26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts) (800 men)
    12th Infantry Division - 31st US Infantry regiment, 43rd Philippines Scouts (PS) infantry regiment, 57th PS infantry regiment, 86th Field Artillery regiment (PS), plus support (10,000 men)
    23rd Infantry Division - 65th US Infantry regiment, 45th PS infantry regiment, 47th PS infantry regiment, 88th field artillery regiment (PS) plus support (10,000 men)

    attached
    Philippine Army (PA) 1st MP regiment (1,200 men)
    PA 1st Engineer brigade (1,200 men)

    Lingayen Gulf defense area (Ord)

    2nd PA Engineer brigade (1,200 men)
    11th PA Division (provisional) w 1st PA Coast Defense regiment (lacks artillery)(1,600 men) 2nd PA MP regiment (1,200 men)
    21st PA Division (provisional) w 2nd PA Coast Defense regiment (lacks artillery)(1,600 men) 3rd PA MP regiment (1,200 men)

    Bataan defense area
    4th PA MP regiment (1,200 men)
    3rd PA Engineer brigade, 5th PA engineer brigade (1,200 men each)

    Airfield construction central Luzon
    4th PA engineer brigade, 6th PA engineer brigade (1,200 men each)

    Manila
    6th, 11th, 12th PA MP regiments (1,200 men each)
    1st PA Infantry Division (forming)(10,000 men)

    Harbor Defense Command (Subic and Manila Bays)
    Harbor Defense Command HQ (1,000 men)
    59th US coast artillery regiment, 60th US coast artillery regiment (antiaircraft) (1,000 men each)
    91st PS coast artillery regiment, 92nd PS coast artillery regiment (1,000 men each)
    Marine Corps detachment Subic Bay (a small battalion in size) (800 men)
    5th PA MP regiment (1,200 men)

    outside of Luzon
    7th and 8th PA engineer brigades (1,200 men each)
    7th, 8th, 9th, 10th PA MP regiments (1,200 men each)

    Total US Army (includes Philippine Scouts) 27,000 men
    Total US Marine Corps 1,000 men (includes various detachments)
    Total Philippine Army 27,000 men

    The Asiatic Fleet
    The US Navy Asiatic Fleet between 1937 – 1940 continues it's mission of showing the flag, acting as a trip wire force and continuing to maintain an American presence in China. It suffers it's first combat loss with the sinking of the USS Panay in 1937 (and the first deaths it would suffer from the Japanese attack). Until the end of 1939 Admiral Yarnell, a man with considerable diplomatic skills as well as a fine commander, is in command and he and General Parsons get along very well, in contrast to the relationship Yarnell (or lack of one) had with previous Philippine Department Commanders or with MacArthur.

    Yarnell is supportive of the idea of the Philippine Coast Guard and he directs the commander of the 16th Naval District to provide training to Filipino junior officers and persuades Washington to allow Filipino mess attendants in the US Navy, who have damage control training just like all US sailors, to transfer without prejudice to the Philippines Coast Guard.

    The Creation of the Philippine Coast Guard
    The official beginning of the Commonwealth naval force is January 1, 1939. A large number of Filipino fishermen, coastal sailors and shipyard workers all apply, and the initial force of 500 men is easily recruited. Training is at Subic Bay and Cavite naval stations and aboard the USS Bittern (an elderly minesweeper). Late in the year, a 55 foot and a 65 foot torpedo boat arrive from Britain built by Thorneycroft, and engines needed for the construction of 4 more also arrive (all of which are under construction and should be ready for action in 1940). The Commonwealth government also acquires 6 fishing boats with diesel engines, 2 old tugboats, 4 motor yachts (varying from 30-50 feet) and 4 inter-island steamers (all under 1,000 tons) for use by the naval force, and equips them with machine guns and in the case of the larger steamers, a pair of 3 inch guns.

    In 1940, the motor torpedo boats are formed into a squadron and along with an armed tug and 2 fishing boats are sent to a naval station that has been constructed at Aliminos on the shores of Lingayen Gulf. The station is only a few dozen men including the crews, but a small stock of naval mines is acquired and the tug and the fishing boats are equipped as minelayers. The small force is periodically serviced by trips to Cavite. A small sea plane ramp is added in 1940, and permanent detachment of a MP company from the Philippine Army is also assigned as well as a battery of coast defense troops equipped with pre World War I era 8 inch guns released from US Navy stocks in the US.

    The remainder of the little fleet is at Cavite and Subic Bay training as of the end of 1940 and personnel have expanded to 1,500 men total.

    In 1940, Admiral Hart takes command of the Asiatic Fleet and is persuaded to continue the cooperation that the US Navy has provided so far. He is not able to provide any ships at present, but as a plan is already underway to move the gunboats and other vessels out of China, he begins considering a plan to transfer them to the Filipino's as they will be of little use in the war plan he is developing and the trained crews on those ships, particularly the heavily experienced petty officers, would be valuable aboard his fighting ships. He sends a letter to Admiral Stark recommending that and receives an affirmative response late in the year but only if China is evacuated, which is not yet politically possible.

    However there is more money available for training, not only for the Asiatic Fleet but also to pay for more fuel and supplies for the Philippine Coast Guard, and this is used to good effect. The older ships in the Coast Guard are able to get much needed repairs and servicing, and weapons such as machine guns can now be more easily passed from the US Navy to the Republic of the Philippines Coast Guard.

    Philippine Department Air Force 1940
    As additional funds that have become available with the general increase in the US Defense Budget once the War begins in Europe, there is now funds so that the air power that is in the Philippines can reorganized and efforts are made to expand and modernize it.

    The first Filipino pilots to complete their twin engine training are ready for aircraft and they form the first transport squadron of the Philippine Air Army Force when they receive 12 DC3 transport aircraft in early 1940. The US Army also transfers all 15 of its observation aircraft in the Philippines (as it lacks the pilots to fly them in any event). Parsons puts the Filipinos to work conducting a thorough aerial mapping survey of the island as a review of defense plans determines that there is a severe issue with many of the maps of the islands being outdated or minimal in terms of information to begin with. The first priority is Bataan, the Central Luzon Plain, as well as likely Japanese landing sites. The 2nd Composite Group, Philippine Army Air Force, is formed with one observation squadron and one transport squadron.

    Construction engineers have built a basic airfield at Del Monte in Mindanao, Baguio, Del Carmen, Cabanatuan, Rosales, Pilar, Mariveles, and Bataan (larger field near Pilar) in Luzon, as well as Matan on Cebu. Discussions continue about improving Nichols Field as well as building a hard surface concrete runway for Clark (the new home of the Filipino air transport squadron) but money will not be available until 1942. In the interim, all the airfields are completed by the end of 1940 and are able hold up to a squadron of aircraft although their principal role is training and for giving the transports someplace to land.

    The 4th Composite Group, US Army Air Corps, is primarily serving as a training unit for the Philippine Air Force at this point, and as it has no modern aircraft, its pilots are working as flight instructors and squadron leaders for the PAAF. Parsons finds that his senior two aviators, Colonel Harrison Richards (Department Air officer) and Colonel Lawrence Churchill (commander 4th Composite Group) are incapable of working constructively together. Deciding he needs Churchill more (as he is working well with the engineers) he sends Richards to develop a potential air ferry route via Australia as well as missions to discuss coordination with the Dutch and British, thus moving him out of the way. Churchill is given a brevet promotion to Brigadier General, PAAF, and placed in overall command of that organization as well as that of his own 4th Composite Group and all Filipino and American units are officially designated Philippine Department Air Force in August 1940.

    Parsons requests modern aircraft and at least a fighter group, although he would like a light bomber group, an air defense center, and at Ord's urging, he also requests radar. He also requests at least 2 more coast defense artillery regiments (antiaircraft) or sufficient training staff and weapons to form 2 for the Philippine Army.

    Meanwhile the PAAF buys another 12 Beechcraft for use as light transport aircraft, which will allow the PAAF to form a third squadron for its 2nd Composite Group. For 1941 requests are made for 48 fighter aircraft, 24 light bombers and 12 float planes to form the 3rd Composite Group. As there are shortages of just about every type of aircraft due to Lend Lease and US military expansion, the request goes to Hap Arnold who is already considering a plan of his own.
     
    Part 2
  • Part 2 Countdown to War
    While the Philippines shifted from a sleep colonial garrison to an armed force preparing to defend an eventual independent nation and US ally, the Pacific Fleet continued its peace time rituals throughout the 1930s. It is not until the Fall of France and the new aggressive diplomatic moves by Japan aimed at the Dutch East Indies and French Indochina that the US Navy shifts to becoming a deterrent force and preparing for a potential war. The US Military receives even greater resources and the US Navy begins a shooting at German U-Boats in the Atlantic and being shot at as well. President Roosevelt determines that Japan must be deterred from war so that the United States can concentrate on the Nazi threat, and the commanders in the Philippines and Hawaii both take active and indeed aggressive steps to prepare their forces for war in the hopes of deterrence.

    That this deterrence failed is of course well known. But the steps commanders took in the Philippines and Hawaii, as well as decisions made in Washington, were to ensure that when war came, the United States and the Republic of the Philippines military forces would put up an effective fight. The Americans and Filipino's developed a very robust defense force in the Philippines, while in Hawaii the development of a unified air defense command and parallel scouting force would lay the important groundwork for joint operations by US Navy and Army forces in the Pacific and Europe for the entirety of World War II and in the years since.

    It is the seizure of northern French Indochina in September 1940 and the Japanese signature of the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy that made it clear that the United States would have to move more quickly from peace to readiness for war in the Pacific.
     
    Chapter 3 The Philippines prepares for war
  • Chapter 3 The Philippines prepares for war
    As part of the general shift in US Military preparedness to deter Japan from war, a major effort is made to develop the Philippines into a base to strike at the Japanese by air should they make further aggressive moves toward the British and Dutch colonies in Southeast Asia or toward the Philippines. Repeated requests for air reinforcements from Parson as well as the new policy toward Japan prompts Marshall and Arnold to respond in October 1940 after the Japanese seizure of northern Indochina.

    Some horse trading with the Chinese results in 27 CW21 interceptor aircraft which were en route by ship to China (via Burma) are instead diverted to Manila and the Philippine Air Force. The Chinese are sent 54 P35s fighter aircraft instead, which while old, are sturdy aircraft well suited for local conditions there. The CW21s will be assigned to the Philippine Air Force as the basis of a fighter squadron (with spares). The remaining P26s in the Philippines will be provided to the PAAF as a second fighter / light attack squadron. The remaining ten Martin B10 bombers in the Philippines are transferred to the PAAF as the basis of a patrol squadron. The 4th Composite Group is in effect stripped of aircraft and all personnel are transferred to the PAAF officially as an advisory and support group.

    The American Volunteer Group
    As an interim measure, to get some additional air power into the Philippines until a final decision is made about what else to send to the Far East, and while discussions are underway concerning the creation of the American Volunteer Group to send to China, Arnold persuades Marshall and then Roosevelt to send the AVG to the Philippines for their training. They can trained at the new airfield at Cebu, which is well away from prying Japanese intelligence agents in Manila and Davao but in an emergency can help defend the Philippines until they complete their training in early December 1941. By adding some DC2 transports to move their ground echelon to the mix, the P40s and transports can ferry the entire force via Singapore to Burma and then to China when the time is ripe. By August 1941 the AVG and Claire Chennault are in Cebu assembling their aircraft and testing them in flights over the central Philippines, well away from prying eyes. In all the AVG will have 100 P40B Warhawk fighters and 12 DC2 transports, as well as nearly 300 personnel by October 1941 and plans to begin shifting to Singapore beginning on December 12, 1941 and to be in China by December 17.

    The Deterrent Force
    In July 1941 General Hap Arnold proposes that a force of 340 B17 heavy bombers and 260 fighters be stationed in the Philippines as a deterrent force against Japan as tensions continue to rise between the US and Japan. He selects Major General Walter Frank, who has formerly commanded the Hawaiian Air Department and currently commanding Air Army Force units involved in the Louisiana Maneuvers and has gotten along very well with ground force commanders. He is ordered to the Philippines right away, along with the 5th Air Base Group, reinforcements for the 20th Air Base Group (the tenant unit at Clark Field) and personnel and equipment to form the 4th Air Base Group (using Filipino and American personnel).

    By early August General Frank reports that the Philippines is not ready for the mass deployment of B17s, and that there is a critical need for oxygen plants (among other things). He urges that the first reinforcements consist of 2 fighter groups and 1 light bombardment group, with the first B17s to arrive in October and for them to be fitted out for long range reconnaissance as target data for Japanese bases in Formosa is very limited and almost unknown for their bases in Indochina and in the Palau Islands. He also makes his own plea for antiaircraft units. That plea is met in part by the arrival of guns stripped from the 197th, 198th and 200th Coast Artillery regiments (National Guard) which are broken up to provide personnel to other anti aircraft units in the United States. This provides the Philippine Army with 36 3-inch guns (older models with a range of only 27,000 feet as that is what can be spared), searchlights, 96 37mm AA guns, and dozens of heavy machine guns. Two of the PA regiments are assigned to air field defense with the third assigned to defend Manila.

    The first air units to arrive are the 24th Fighter Group (Colonel Harold George commanding) with sufficient pilots and support personnel to reform the 17th Pursuit squadron (with 31 P40Bs). Additional fighters are already one the way, but the first thing General Frank orders upon the arrival of Colonel George is his promotion to commander V Fighter Command and for George to work with Claire Chennault in setting up an air warning network for Luzon using a company from the Department's signal battalion as well as training Filipino volunteers and setting up special lines with the telephone company and telegraph company. The American fighters are assigned to Del Carmen Field, which is undergoing improvements, including a 6,000 foot concrete runway and revetments built by the Philippine Army engineers.

    Of pressing concern is the terrible conditions at Nichols Field. A typhoon has inflicted serious damage to the base, making more clear than ever its vulnerability. As the principal depot for the Department's aviation element, including those of the Asiatic Fleet, its vulnerability is no longer acceptable. General Frank orders that the supplies and parts be dispersed so that none are concentrated at any airfield, with Navy stores sent to their naval station at Mariveles and a fortified facility be constructed at the Army field built at Mariveles which can transport needed bulk supplies by barge to Manila and then by road and rail to other bases in Luzon. He also orders a secondary facilities be constructed at Cebu and Del Monte and that revetments be constructed for all airfields.

    Philippine Army Air Force growth
    With the arrival of sufficient aircraft the 3rd Composite Group has been formed, and the PAAF is now up to 2,500 men. The 1st Group (training) remains at Zablan Field (Lipa, Batangas) and continues as a flight training organization. The 2nd Group with its transport aircraft is headquartered at Clark Field, but has detachments in Mindanao, Cebu, as well as the various fields around Luzon. Regular transport service is greatly easing the movement of critical supplies and couriers throughout the islands for the military. The new 3rd Group is formed at Nichols Field and has a fighter squadron of CW21 interceptors while the other squadron of P26 light attack aircraft is sent to the new field at Baguio. The new B18 patrol squadron is assigned to Clark Field and the 2nd Group, as the Douglas bombers are sufficiently similar to the DC2 assigned to the AVG (which are also there) and DC3s assigned to the PAAF to ease maintenance. The bombers are all old cast offs from the Hawaiian Department and prone to break down.

    Final aviation reinforcements Fall 1941
    In October 1941 more reinforcements arrive in the form of sufficient P40Cs and personnel to reform the 17th Pursuit Squadron, as well as 28th Reconnaissance Squadron (reformed from the 28th Bombardment squadron) equipped with 6 B17C. After consultation with Captain Pappy Gunn (whose has joined the PAAF as a civilian advisor and is its senior engineering officer with a handsome salary), the aircraft are converted using field expedient measures that strip them their guns, their waist blister mounts removed and additional skin added to improve streamlining and their bomb bays converted into fuel tanks. With these modifications, based out of Del Monte, the B17s can reach the Palau Islands and from Clark can easily reach anywhere in Indochina or Formosa. It also improves their cruising speed by 10% and their top speed by 5%, and giving that aircraft a speed of 325 miles per hour as a top dash speed. It also can fly somewhat higher giving it a ceiling of 37,000 feet (allowing it to fly well above the A6M Zero fighter).

    The 17th Pursuit squadron is moved to Del Monte, along with a battalion from the 4th PA Coast Artillery (AA) as it is a critical stop on the air ferry route from Darwin and General Frank decides it needs protection. The B17s are to be dispersed so that no more than 3 are present at any single airfield. They also begin flying very high altitude missions over Formosa and French Indochina in late November and at their height and speed generally remain undetected although on a couple of occasions the Japanese attempt in vain to intercept them on their departure from the area.

    The needed oxygen equipment arrives along with the 27th Bomb Group and 54 A24 (Army versions of the Navy Dauntless dive bomber), along with their crews and ground echelon arrive in November 1941. Also arriving are planes and pilots for the 3rd Pursuit squadron which is reactivated and has 24 P40E Kittyhawks. The fighter squadron is assigned to Cabantuan Field, while the 27th Bomb Group disperses its dive bombers to Nichols, Del Carmen and makes its headquarters (along with 1 squadron) at Iba Field. The first radar sets have also arrived, and one is placed at Clark Field and the other is set up at Nielson Field (near Cavite) which is headquarters for the Far East Air Force and has an air strip but no aircraft permanently assigned except for a detachment of PAAF Beechcraft light transports. It is however the location of the air defense headquarters and this allows radar coverage for Cavite, Manila and Nichols Field. The remaining sets are quickly raided for parts to keep those two working but the air transports of the PAAF are able to make frequent trips to Australia and Singapore, where air transports from the United States can quickly bring urgent spares.

    Strung out between Port Moresby, Darwin and Del Monte is the air element of the 19th Bombardment Group, which has 30 B17s organized into 30th and 94th Squadron. Additional B17s for another Bomb Group are approaching Hawaii when it is attacked while their ground element was still in California loading aboard ships.

    Expansion of the Philippine Army
    An infusion of money so that this new air force can be defended allows the Philippine Army to call up over 30,000 conscripts in January 1941, enough to bring all 14 brigades of the Philippine Army up to strength as well as replace those who volunteer for service in the Philippine Scouts. The work over the last years to expand training camps and make them habitable pays off this year as well as the efforts to obtain sufficient weapons for the troops. The Army is able to raise an additional 2 MP brigades, and with the arrival of heavier guns fro the US Army and Philippine Scouts, as well as stripping 120 75 mm guns from formations elsewhere (plus those released from the Scouts) the Philippine Army is able to form 10 light artillery battalions of 12 guns each. With the addition of artillery, the 20 MP regiments are reorganized into 6 light infantry divisions (3 regiments infantry, 1 battalion light artillery, 1 engineer/pioneer battalion each) with 1 division each (31st and 41st) at Mindanao and Cebu, and the remaining 4 (11th, 21st, 51st, and 61st) organized into 2 small corps. Each corps is also assigned an engineer brigade (1st and 2nd), while the remaining 2 MP regiments are assigned to Manila and far northern Luzon, while 1 engineer brigade (3rd) is assigned to the Del Monte area and another continues work on improving airfields in Bataan (along with an American aviation engineer battalion) as well as providing engineer companies to continue work improving airfields in Luzon.

    Another division, the 1st Division, is raised from cadres supplied by the Philippine Army and Philippine Scouts. Sufficient artillery is found to raise a full regiment of guns (36 75 mm guns) for this division, and sufficient trucks for them as well plus move one of its three regiments at a time. More trucks are on order but they will not reach the Philippines until sometime in 1942. It is assigned to the Mobile Force providing that formation with a third division, although one less well equipped or trained than the other two.

    What is missing though are sufficient machine guns and any anti tank artillery for the other 6 divisions of the Philippine Army. Lacking any other choices, the 2.95 inch mountain gun, dating back to the last century, are given trucks and although they have wooden wheels they can be broken down they are mobile enough to move to a vital area although once placed will likely not be able to withdraw. With this expedient a total of 48 anti tank guns are put into service, enough that each of the 4 divisions in Luzon is able to field an anti tank battalion of 12 guns each, which are also were the bulk of the few heavy machine guns that the Philippine Army has available are concentrated (aside from those assigned to air defense). However each company has only 3 light machine guns, and each platoon only 3 BARs, although a few old Lewis guns are found to put into service by companies lucky enough to find them.

    However the Coast Artillery finally gets weapons that it needs. A sufficient number of 8 inch guns are found for use by the 1st and 2nd Coast Artillery, Philippine Army, giving each 3 firing batteries and spare tubes. The other 6 batteries in each regiment are given World War I era 155 mm guns. The 1st Coast Artillery is assigned Lingayen Gulf, while the 2nd Coast Artillery is deployed so that a battalion each covers the Iba/Palauig area, Lamon Bay, and Balayan Bay. The Marines of the 1st Provisional Battalion (USMC) and elements of the US 59th Coast Artillery cover Subic Bay, while the remaining US and all of the Philippine Scout units are manning the Manila Bay fortifications.

    US Army reinforcements
    The most important arrivals are the 192nd and 194th tank battalions organized into the 1st Provisional Armored Group, which has in all 108 M3 Stuart tanks and 46 halftracks fitted with 75 mm guns and the provisional tank group also has an armor ordinance company as well. General Weaver is assigned command of a provisional brigade sized force called 6th Cavalry Brigade (provisional) consisting of the 1st Provisional Armored Group, the 26th Cavalry (PS) Regiment, and the newly arrived 112th Cavalry Regiment (Texas National Guard) giving him nearly 2,600 armored and cavalry troops. The remaining reinforcements are sufficient personnel to bring the US units in the islands up to strength.

    Two regiments of 105 mm guns, as well an infantry regiment are en route, as well as an aviation engineer brigade and heavy equipment such as bulldozers and other earth moving equipment and vehicles are aboard the Pensacola convoy. These reinforcements would not reach the Philippines before the war broke out and would see service in the South Pacific.

    A new commander October 1941
    In September, now past retirement age and in increasingly poor health, General Parsons is forced to ask for relief. Although General Grunnert is briefly considered for the position, in the end it is decided that as General Krueger has done very well in the recent Louisiana Maneuvers, and has the rank and experience commanding an army, he will be sent. With him is sent his Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Dwight Eisenhower. Both men get a brevet promotion with the job, Krueger to four star general and Eisenhower to Major General.

    They arrive aboard the Manila Clipper and the change of command ceremony occurs on October 21, 1941. Sent home with Parsons is General Grunnert who is being given an assignment in the US and General Wainwright is given command of the US I Corps, while General Ord remains commander of the Philippine Army.

    Further Expansion of the Philippine Coast Guard 1941
    In early 1941, the Philippine Coast Guard gains the old hydrographic vessel “Pathfinder” from US Coast and Geoditic Survey office, which is converted into an officer training ship, and orders are placed for 4 minesweepers to be delivered in 1942 (former USN vessels). The Coast Guard also acquires 8 J2F Duck amphibious aircraft, enough to start a detachment at Cebu and another at Davao to patrol over the southern and central islands.

    In late 1941, the light cruiser Boise escorting a convoy, and the heavy cruiser Louisville escorting a different convoy, arrive in the Philippines and are assigned to the Asiatic Fleet. The Louisville gives Admiral Hart a heavy cruiser division (along with the heavy cruiser Houston), while the light cruiser Boise is a very modern light cruiser. The older and obsolescent light cruiser Marblehead is detached as it has orders to proceed to the Atlantic Fleet to join her sisters there. She escorts the convoy out of the Southwest Pacific and is near the Santa Cruz Islands when war begins, along with her charges.

    As the Marblehead leaves, the Yangtze Patrol Gunboats, as well as the 4th Marine Regiment arrives over the week between December 1 and December 5. The Marine Regiment (with its 2 battalions) is moved to Subic Bay, where it joins the 1st Separate battalion, which is organized as an air defense artillery battalion and has its own radar. The gunboats are assigned to assist the Philippine Coast Guard, although many of their senior petty officers and indeed most of the crew members are quickly reassigned to help out with seriously undermanned ships of the Asiatic Fleet, however orders have barely been cut when the war begins.

    The British Deterrent Force and final Allied naval reinforcements
    In the fall of 1941, worried about growing tensions with Japan, Winston Churchill proposes reinforcing the Eastern Fleet with a pair of fast heavy warships, as well as a carrier for air support. Initially he proposes sending the Prince of Wales, the Repulse and the Indomitable, along with 4 destroyers. However fate soon deals a blow to that plan. On September 27, the Prince of Wales, covering a convoy to Malta, is torpedoed by Italian aircraft, and while she survives, has suffered sufficient damage to knock her out of action for several months. The carrier Indomitable hits an uncharted rock in the Caribbean on her maiden voyage, requiring repair time for her as well.

    Frustrated in his initial plan Churchill decides that a force of fast battle cruisers and heavy cruisers would serve as the deterrent force, being able to make fast slashing raids against any Japanese invasion forces and then escape before the older Japanese battle line could catch them and thus they would serve as the deterrent force he wants. He is gambling, but considering how desperate the situation is looking in late November 1941, with the possibility of Soviet defeat as well as the critical situation in North Africa, he feels a gamble is justified. On November 27, the Renown and light cruiser Trinidad are ordered to the Indian Ocean where they will join the Repulse and form the basis of Force Z, which will be commanded by Admiral Phillips. It it expected that the three ships, along with what cruisers and destroyers can be scraped up from the Eastern Fleet will arrive in Singapore no later than December 12, 1941.

    Informal discussions between Roosevelt and Churchill (and their staff) during the meeting at Argentan Bay propose that in the event of war, British, Australian, and American surface forces will combine to defend the Malay Barrier alongside the Free Dutch. A command structure is still being determined even as war comes. However, the clear importance of air cover after the losses and damage suffered by the Royal Navy off Norway and in the Mediterranean makes it clear that clear that additional air reinforcements are needed to cover the Eastern Fleet if it is to operate out of Singapore and 5 squadrons of Hurricanes are sent to Malaya, arriving on December 6. They are still being uncrated and the squadrons are still forming when war begins.

    Mounting Urgency in the Pacific
    The arrival of General Krueger and his staff, along with a increased tensions between the United States and Japan brings with it a new urgency to the Philippine Department. After a few days of inspections by General Krueger and analysis of plans by General Eisenhower, a flurry of orders begins flowing out of the Manila Hotel where both Admiral Hart and General Krueger (for a brief time) live. Both commanders agree to move their headquarters initially to Fort McKinley, adjacent to Nichols Field and within a few miles of Cavite after Eisenhower convinces Generals Krueger and Frank that it would be highly desirable for Admiral Hart to have use of a DC3 or Beechcraft at his beck and call, and that such a gift would improve cooperation. For the first time in the history of the Department the two services have staff working at the same location.

    Eisenhower persuades Krueger, who needs little such, that the best thing to do is to get the USAFE out in the field for some field training, including the entire I Corps. Live fire training is particularly needed for support weapons and artillery, and on November 11th, for over a week, the units of I Corps do just that, while it is the first such ever for the Philippine Army Divisions. Many problems are found, but some of the more pressing are that nearly 80% of the mortar ammunition for the 3 inch mortars that provide the bulk of company and battalion firepower for the Philippine Army are duds. An urgent message is sent to the United States for immediate resupply, while every available ordinance sergeant in the Far East is put to work looking for solutions that can be done locally.

    Eisenhower meanwhile discovers that little has been done to prepare the movement of supplies to Bataan in the event that War Plan 3 (the back up plan) gets put into effect, and he bargains with the Navy, Army Air Force and just flat out strips I Corps of their medium and heavy trucks, and organizes them into truck companies with Philippine Army drivers, along with Military Police Companies. These companies remain assigned to their units but on the issue of a code word, they are assigned to the Quartermasters who will use them to move supplies from base areas on the Luzon plain as well as government warehouses such as the NARIC warehouse as well as corporate warehouses along the south harbor of Manila will be seized on issue of that same code word. Supplies will then be moved to Bataan by barge, craft and ship. Eisenhower also orders General Moore to immediately fill his warehouses for his harbor forts and ensure that stocks for 12 months are on hand at all times.

    Another maneuver is set for January 1942, where the I Corps will prepare in cooperation with the newly arrived 27th Bombardment Group (and their A24 dive bombers) as well as naval forces to practice a counterattack on a potential Japanese landing at Lingayen Gulf. However, the first war warning on November 30 makes it clear that time is increasingly running out. Krueger orders his troops to hurry their maintenance stand downs and get everything back up and running as quickly as possible. He also finalizes his command structure. He remains as theater commander, but he places Eisenhower as commander of all forces in Luzon. Under him is General Wainwright, commanding the US I Corps, General Ord, commanding the II Corps, and General King, commanding the III Corps, plus General Moore commanding the Harbor Defenses of Manila Bay, Subic Bay, Lingayan Gulf, Lamon Bay and Balayan Bay. General Frank commands US Army Air Forces Far East (USAAFFE) but his responsibilities have been expanded to include liaison and cooperation with the Australians, Dutch and British. After an inspection of the American Volunteer Group, Generals Frank and Eisenhower send a cable to Washington urging that Claire Chennault be given a reserve commission of Brigadier General and Eisenhower, Frank and Hart quietly work out a plan to make use of that organization in case war comes before it leaves.
     
    Chapter 4 Hawaii prepares for war
  • Chapter 4 Hawaii and tension in the Pacific
    On October 8, 1940, in response to Japanese pressure that leads to the stationing of their troops in French Indochina, and the Japanese government signature on the Tripartite Pact, President Roosevelt decides to station the Pacific Fleet permanently at Pearl Harbor in hopes of restraining further Japanese aggression. Admiral James O Richardson, Commander in Chief US Fleet, who commands the Battle Force and Scouting Force in the Pacific, protests the move. He is ordered to Washington by Navy Secretary Frank Knox, who is worried that his outspoken but highly valuable commander is about to get himself into political trouble by challenging the President. In discussions that at times grow heated, the Secretary talks Richardson into agreeing to listen to the President and follow orders and most importantly, keeping his mouth shut.

    Over the next few days Roosevelt and Knox meet privately and then with Richardson and Roosevelt promises to do what he can to strengthen Pearl Harbor but insists that the fleet must stay. Admiral Richardson finally accepts the decision, although it becomes clear to Roosevelt that Richardson is not the man he needs for Chief of Naval Operations, which means Admiral Stark will keep his job, but the Admiral accepts the decision to take what is in effect a partial demotion to Commander Pacific Fleet as the growing threat of Germany requires a new position, Commander Atlantic Fleet, which will require taking some ships from the Pacific and sending them to the Atlantic. Husband Kimmel is promoted to his new rank of Commander Atlantic Fleet in November 1940. Kimmel, with extensive experience with destroyers, cruisers and battleships, is viewed as a good choice for facing the possible war with Germany and the submarine threat from them, while Richardson, who is one of the authors of War Plan Orange, is best suited for the Pacific and the possible war with Japan.

    Richardson does however manage to get a few things from his President. Plans to send the carrier Yorktown to the Atlantic are canceled, as Richardson argues that he needs every scout plane he can get, and instead the planned experimental escort carrier Long Island, as well as the carriers Wasp and Ranger, plus the new Hornet when she is completed, will be assigned to the neutrality patrol. He does lose the battleships Idaho, New Mexico and Mississippi, plus all of the Omaha class cruisers plus several heavy cruisers and numerous destroyers. Richardson is not pleased but considers it a worthwhile trade for keeping 4 carriers in the Pacific. He does manage to talk Stark and Knox into giving him a few more fleet oilers however, arguing that as the Atlantic Fleet is primarily patrolling the western Atlantic, that fleet does not need oilers as badly as his fleet does, and that it will extend the range of the Pacific Scouting Force. He gets 6 oilers that will arrive in mid 1941.

    Richardson, who like Halsey is a strong proponent of carrier aviation, also asks Admiral Harry Yarnell, recently retired from his post as Commander Asiatic Fleet, to come to Hawaii for a visit and manages to get permission to conduct Fleet Problem XXII, which was planned for the Spring of 1941 and recently canceled be reinstated. The Admiral points out that as the Army is conducting its own maneuvers it is important that the Navy do so as well. Roosevelt, who still considers the Navy 'his service' agrees and Knox grants permission and the necessary funds for it.

    On February 8, 1941, Lieutenant General Walter Short, an infantry commander with extensive experience and considered a 'comer' is sent to Hawaii to take command of Army forces there. Soon after his arrival, on February 17, Secretary Stimson sends a letter to General Short that the Secretary had received from Secretary Knox, warning as follows:

    “"If war eventuates with Japan, it is believed easily possible that hostilities would be initiated by a surprise attack upon the fleet or the naval base at Pearl Harbor." The letter proceeded: "The dangers envisaged in their order of importance and probability are considered to be: (1) Air bombing attack (2) Air torpedo plane attack, (3) Sabotage, (4) Submarine attack, (5) Mining, (6) Bombardment by gunfire."

    Admiral Richardson, who has already received this letter, begins pushing for the strongest possible measures be taken by the Army to prepare for the first two likelihoods, considering sabotage reasonably unlikely with at least basic security measures, the next two a Navy problem, and the final possibility highly unlikely but certainly what the coast defense guns are supposed to defend against. He pressures General Short and General Frederick Martin, commander of the Hawaiian Air Force, to allow the assignment of Marine Corps and Navy personnel to the Air Information Center. The Admiral is also dissatisfied with the degree of anti aircraft protection his three naval air stations (Ewa, Ford Island, and Kaneohe Bay) have and assigns the 2nd and 4th Marine Defense Battalions (less their batteries of 5 inch guns which will be assigned to the 1st Battalion slated for Wake Island, and the 3rd Battalion slated for Midway). This gives Ewa and Kaneohe Bay each 16 3 inch guns and 48 .50 caliber machine guns, plus 2 machine gun companies (48 .30 caliber machine guns) to provide security for the bases (and which can also be sent to Wake or Midway once facilities are available). Richardson requests an additional Marine Defense Battalion once its available for Ford Island. War would come before he got that wish fulfilled. By November 1941 both bases have their Marine defenses completed and ready for war.

    However, Richardson finds that Short simply does not understand the air threat, and indeed seems unusually concerned about the sabotage threat of the very large Japanese-American population in Hawaii. The General is also focused more on his infantry and preparing for an amphibious assault which Richardson believes is unlikely in the extreme due to Japanese shipping constraints. Several meetings in March and April are unproductive and Richardson realizes that only Fleet Problem XXII is going to serve to make his point.

    Fleet Problem XXII May 1941
    In a complex plan developed by Richardson and Yarnell, the fleet is divided into two forces. The Red Force, which will be commanded by Halsey (commander Aircraft Battleforce) and given the carriers Saratoga, Lexington, Enterprise, plus 6 heavy cruisers, 12 destroyers and all 3 available oilers, and told to recreate Fleet Problem XIII. CINCPAC (Commander Pacific Fleet) purposefully neglects to inform the Army, or indeed Admiral Bellinger (commander US Navy Aviation Hawaii) of the first part of the problem, which will be a simulated surprise attack aimed at Pearl Harbor. Admiral Pye, commander of the Battle Force is appointed senior referee, as are several other senior Naval officers, while Admiral Anderson is given the Blue Force, which consists of the battleships and their escorts, and Admiral Brown is given the carrier Yorktown, the remaining cruisers and some destroyers as the scout force for Anderson. Most of the submarines are given to Blue Force as well.

    Deciding that as the Red Force is simulating the Japanese, and thus the most likely approach is from the southwest (in the direction of the Japanese held Marshal Islands), Anderson sends Brown in that direction, while keeping his slower battleships in the harbor as directed. Bellinger, with only 40 available PBY Catalina long range flying boats, cannot patrol everywhere, and is forced to make choices. He decides to primarily support Brown, leaving only a handful for the northern search.

    Halsey, fully aware of the limitations of the PBY, manages to avoid contact with all but one, and the referee determines that the fighters of his task force would have shot it down before it got off a contact report. The submarines, which are deployed mainly to the west and south, also miss him, and thus Halsey comes to within 200 miles of the north coast of Oahu on June 19. He launches 90 SBD Dauntless dive bombers, 36 TBD Devastator torpedo bombers and 36 Wildcat fighters as a strike. The dive bombers are to eliminate the primary Army airfields of Wheeler and Hickam fields, as well as Ewa and the two Navy patrol plane bases, while the TBDs will act as glide bombers and attack the fleet machine shops, drydocks, and oil tank farms. The fighters will provide cover and conduct simulated strafing attacks on the airfields. Convinced that the shallow depth of Pearl Harbor precludes a torpedo attacks with aerial torpedoes, Halsey ignores that possibility as Yarnell and Richardson also believed this.

    The result is a stunning embarrassment for the Army. The Army has not yet received the new SCR270 radar sets and indeed has allocated minimal staff or preparation for them. The Air Information Center is still minimally staffed, and indeed the Marine Corps Liaison, 2 clerks and a lowly Army fighter pilot are the only staff present when the first Dauntless begins its dive on Hickam Field. The Army Anti aircraft units are either parked in storage, or for those guns that are present, their crews are too far away to man them quickly and their ammunition supply is locked. Only a handful of fighters manage to get off the ground during the simulated attack and the referees rule that they are destroyed and their bases wrecked. Only at Ewa and Kaneohe do the defenders score successes, as the Marines are closer to a war footing, although the referees rule that as these units are still below strength and lacking equipment and thus the bases are considered damaged. The strike on the fleet facilities is unopposed as Short has not yet deployed batteries to defend the base, and the referees decide that it would be a total loss.

    In short, the Red Force has eliminated the ability of the Army to defend the fleet, and for the Navy to support the fleet. A fully detailed report is soon on the way to Secretary Knox.

    The next part of the problem is designed to see if the fleet can intercept the Red Force or prevent further attacks. The Blue Force fleet sorties (which takes several hours), while Admiral Brown and his scouting force hurries north to try and find the Red Force. However Halsey steams due north and then swings north and west to put himself within strike range of Midway, which the referees rule is destroyed (particularly as no aircraft have yet arrived for the airfield). A report of this is also sent to Knox, although Brown is commended for his aggression in attempting to find Halsey.

    The remainder of May and into June is spent conducting operations in the Midway area to simulate an amphibious invasion as well as to allow the battleship divisions to practice gunnery and maneuver.

    A new Army Commander
    Knox is appalled when he reads how successful the humiliation has been of the Army and thus the likely elimination of the ability of the Pacific Fleet to operate out of Hawaii. He forwards the report to Secretary Stimson and asks to meet with the President. In a short meeting, General Marshall and Secretary of War find themselves highly embarrassed by the debacle suffered by the Army, and soon after that Marshall decides that an aviator is needed for senior command in Hawaii. General Hap Arnold, commander of the Army Air Corps, decides he has just the man.

    Brigadier General Millard Harmon, recently returned from his duties as an observer in the British Isles and one of the most senior pilots in the entire Army Air Corps, seems like just the man. He has a good understanding of the uses of radar, has watched the RAF use it and he is promoted to Lieutenant General, skipping an entire rank, and sent to Hawaii on July 19, 1941. General Walter Short is sent back to the United States and given command of the 2nd Army in Tennessee, which at present is a training organization where he will spend the next four years.

    Hawaii goes to a war footing
    In Hawaii, General Harmon takes charge and after inspecting dispositions and plans, asks for a new commander for the 14th Fighter Wing, as well as a corps commander for the ground forces to take charge of their training. He also orders his fighter group and squadron commanders to review the points made by Claire Chennault in his visit in July and insists that his squadrons begin operational training using those tactics. He requests Brigadier John McConnell, who had experience in Hawaii as a fighter squadron commander in 1938, as a new commander for the Hawaiian Air Force and although Hap Arnold had other plans for him, the embarrassment of Fleet Problem XXIII means General Marshall is inclined to give Harmon what he wants.

    By the middle of October General Harmon has persuaded Admiral Richardson to create a joint air defense command headquarters, which will have authority over all fighters stationed in Hawaii as well as visiting units while their carriers are in port. Instead of intensive alerts that wear out crews and aircraft, a longer term rotating schedule of retaining 25% of fighters (one flight per squadron), another 25% on 30 minute alert, the third flight of each squadron on 1 hour alert, and the fourth flight (the remaining 25%) on maintenance stand down. He also gives the 72nd Pursuit Squadron, which currently lacks aircraft, all 14 of the obsolete P26 Peashooter fighters on the island, and assigns them the mission of point defense for the harbor, while the obsolescent P36 fighter squadrons are given point defense missions, along with the Marine Corps squadron at Ewa for defending airfields and the modern P40 fighter squadrons given the general interception mission. General McConnell will head Hawaiian Interceptor Command. His first act is to ignore Department of Interior protests and places his 5 radar sets at locations to best optimize their performance. He is also given carte blanche to obtain the personnel he needs from them, and several dozen men are flown to Hawaii from the United States on a priority basis to help train and man the air defense command center and the radar stations and the communications network to make them work.

    Harmon and Richardson also set up a combined air search and patrol headquarters which will have control of all Navy reconnaissance aircraft, as well as 18th Bomb Wing with its force of 33 B18 medium bombers and 12 B17D heavy bombers for medium and long range missions. The 13th Bombardment squadron, with its 13 A20 Havoc light bombers, begins practicing low altitude attacks against shipping as General Harmon is unimpressed with their proficiency in that mission. Admiral Bellinger is given command of the air scouting force.

    Admiral Richardson, happier now that the air defense and air search issues are being addressed, looks closer at the deployment of the Fleet. He organizes Task Force 9, giving that command to Rear Admiral Draemel, and issues orders that nine 4 stack destroyers (now operating as minesweepers and minelayers), as well as several S boat submarines he orders moved from the West Coast, be on station at all times to maintain a picket line 300 miles north and northwest of Hawaii, the approach he considers the most likely Japanese approach to Hawaii in the event of a carrier strike. The carriers will exercise primary to the south and southwest of Oahu, with the Army bombers covering the west and southwest in support. This allows the Navy Patrol Wings, with their 77 long range PBY Catalina flying boats to cover the north, northwest and west along with Task Force 9. The 12 PBYs out of Midway will also support this mission. He also moves the seaplane tenders Avocet, Swan, Hulbert and Thornton on rotating duty at Kure Atoll and French Frigate Shoals on a rotating basis, along with a destroyer at each location as an escort. Assigned to them are detachments from 2 utility seaplane squadrons from Ford Island, and while the J2F Duck amphibious scout planes have only a patrol range of just under 300 miles, they provide local patrol capability and allow the Catalina's to patrol other areas. This new air defense and scouting arrangement is complete by the end of October 1941.

    In early November, General Harmon finally gets a deputy commander in the form of General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell who takes command of the VI Corps. Although the corps lacks any significant support units as most are still in the continental United States, 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 and other corps support units but shipping is not 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. A string of under performing or just plain bad officers and non commissioned officers are found wanting and sent to the United States, or demoted.

    Hawaiian Army and Naval Air Forces December 1941
    Air Defense Command Hawaii (Brigadier General McConnell)
    Wheeler Field
    HQ 14th Pursuit Wing (15th and 18th Pursuit Groups)
    15th Pursuit Group w 44th, 47th Pursuit Squadrons (24 P40), 45th Pursuit squadron (12 P36)
    72nd Pursuit Squadron (8 P26)
    undergoing maintenance and repair (unassigned) 7 P26, 15 P36, 25 P40, 8 observation aircraft
    53rd Coast Artillery brigade (AAA) with 18 x 3 inch, 12 x 37mm AA, dozens of machines guns
    Operational aircraft are located in revetments, aircraft undergoing repair and maintenance or that are lacking needed spares are in hangers or parked on the ramp
    (authors note: Wheeler had 108 revetments built prior to the attack in OTL. The aircraft were instead lined up on the ramp to protect them from sabotage).

    Bellows Field
    18th Pursuit Group w 6th, 73rd, 78th Pursuit Squadrons (36 P40), 46th Pursuit Group (12 P36)
    6 operational observation aircraft of several types
    all aircraft are parked on the ramp and dispersed. Revetments are planned but have not yet been built
    15th Coast Artillery Brigade (AA) same as 53rd Brigade

    Haleiwa Field
    47th Pursuit Squadron -12 P40 (assigned as part of 15th Pursuit Group)
    parked on the ramp but dispersed

    Ewa Field
    Marine Air Group 21 (fighters are assigned to 14th Pursuit Wing while in Hawaii)
    VMF 211 – 12 Wildcats (operational)(4 additional undergoing maintenance)
    VMSB 232 – 24 SBD (16 operational, 8 undergoing repair)
    VMSB 231 – 8 SB2U (all undergoing repair, remainder of squadron aboard USS Lexington)
    3rd Marine Defense battalion (18 x 3 inch AA, dozens of machine guns), deployed in fortified positions

    Air Search Command (Rear Admiral Bellinger)
    Midway NAS (forward deployed) VP21 w 12 PBY, VJ3 w 8 float planes
    (all aircraft are parked on the ramp or floating in the lagoon and are dispersed)
    6th Marine Defense battalion (750 men, 18 x 3 inch AA, 6 x 5 inch anti shipping guns, dozens of machine guns)

    Kaheohe NAS
    Patrol Wing 2 w VP 11, VP 12, VP 14 (30 PBY operational, 6 undergoing repair in hangers)
    operational aircraft parked on the ramp or floating in the bay
    4th Marine Defense battalion (18 x 3 inch AA guns, dozens of machine guns) deployed in fortified positions

    Ford Island NAS
    Patrol Wing 1 w VP 21, VP 22, VP 23 (29 PBY operational, 6 undergoing maintenance and repair)
    VJ2 w 18 assorted floatplanes, plus 30 various float planes from the battleships and cruisers (25 operational aircraft)
    all aircraft parked on the ramp (dispersed) or in hangers.
    5 Wildcat, 5 Buffalo, 2 SBD from the carriers are at Ford Island in hangers undergoing repair

    Hickem Field
    HQ 18th Bomb Wing (Brigadier General Rudolph)
    5th Bomb Group w 23rd, 31st Bomb Squadrons (8 B17D operational, 4 undergoing repair)
    11th Bomb Group w 11th, 26th, 42nd Bomb Squadrons (24 B18 operational, 9 undergoing repair and maintenance)
    58th Bomb Squadron (9 A20 operational, 5 undergoing repair and maintenance)
    also assigned, 2 C33 transports (basically civilian DC2 transport aircraft)
    16th Coast Artillery brigade (AA) same as 53rd
    Hickem lacks revetments, but aircraft that are operational are dispersed while aircraft undergoing maintenance are in hangers or on the main ramp

    Other Defenses
    3 additional coast artillery (AA) brigades are deployed, with 1 at Pearl Harbor base, another across the harbor at Ford City, and a third at Schofield Barracks in reserve. This is in addition to the AA units that are part of the coast defense fortifications..
     
    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
    ACTION: CinCAF, CinCPAC
    INFO: Cinclant, Spenavo
    272337

    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

    "AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NO DRILL."

    --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

    Kure:
    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.....
     
    Chapter 7 (part one)
  • Chapter 7 Air Raid Pearl Harbor

    0400 Hours December 7, 1941
    Kido Butai (First Air Fleet) (Striking Force)
    (260 miles north of Oahu)
    Carriers Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku, Zuikaku, battleships Hiei, Haruna, Kongo, Kirishima, CA Tone (fleet flag Yamamoto), 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

    the fleet turns to the west to launch, then returns to its base course heading south so that by 0930 it will be 180 miles north of Oahu

    as of 0400 hours
    CL Abukuma, 3 destroyers are 30 miles in front of the fleet as an advanced screen
    1 Destroyer (Arare) is moving south at 32 knots toward it's assigned mission position (which it will reach 130 miles north of Oahu at 0500 hours)
    the I74 is in position 30 miles off the north coast of Oahu, off Kamuka Point
    the I3 is in position 10 miles off shore in Walmea Bay

    First Wave: spotted on deck (commander Lieutenant Commander Murata)
    40 Kate torpedo bombers (12 each Akagi, Kaga, 8 each Soryu, Hiryu), 3 Val dive bombers (Kaga)

    Second Wave: spotted on deck
    (Strike Commander: Commander Fuchida)
    9 Zero fighters (Kaneohe Bay attack)(Shokaku)
    21 Kate Level bombers (air base suppression)(Shokaku)
    9 Zero fighters (Air Cover)(Zuikaku)
    21 Kate Level bombers (air base suppression)(Zuikaku)
    12 Zero fighters (air cover)(Soryu)
    12 Zero fighters (air cover)(Hiryu)
    9 Zero fighters (air cover)(Akagi)
    9 Zero fighters (air cover)(Kaga)

    Second Wave: hanger deck (begin moving to flight deck after First Wave launched, which takes 30 minutes total)
    15 Kate Level bombers (Akagi)(fleet attack)
    15 Kate Level bombers (Kaga)(fleet attack)
    10 Kate Level bombers (Soryu)(fleet attack)
    10 Kate Level bombers (Hiryu)(fleet attack)
    6 Val Dive bombers (Akagi)(special attack unit)
    6 Kate reconnaissance scouts (Zuikaku)
    6 Kate reconnaissance scouts (Shokaku)

    Third Wave (hanger decks, spotted and launched 1 hour after Second Wave)
    (commander: Lieutenant Commander Egusa)
    Group 1 (Egusa)
    18 Val Dive bombers (Soryu)(fleet attack)
    18 Val Dive bombers (Hiryu)(fleet attack)
    9 Zero fighters (Hiryu)
    9 Zero fighters (Soryu)

    Group 2 (Shimazaki)
    9 Zero fighters (Akagi)
    27 Val Dive bombers (Shokaku)(air base suppression)
    18 Val Dive bombers (Akagi)(fleet attack)
    Group 3 (Sakamoto)
    9 Zero fighters (Kaga)
    27 Val Dive bombers (Zuikaku)(air base suppression)
    18 Val Dive bombers (Kaga)(fleet attack)

    Fleet Combat Air patrol
    6 Zeros each carrier (36 total), spotted and launched after Third Wave departs

    also launched
    6 float planes from the battleships and cruisers to scout Lahaina Roads and to provide close in antisubmarine patrol. After dawn another 6 are launched to increase the antisubmarine patrol and soon after 2 more from the cruisers to scout the waters north of Oahu to watch for American surface ships.

    Refueling forces, the 12 fleet oilers, along with 4 destroyers are organized into 4 refueling groups. One is already en route for home, having completed its mission on December 4 (3 oilers, unescorted, meeting with 2 additional destroyers en route). Another group completed its task on December 6, and is en route for home with 2 destroyers as escorts. The third group if midway between Marcus Island and Wake Island with 2 destroyers, while a fourth group, with 2 destroyers and 3 oilers, is attached to the Midway Assault Force below

    6th Fleet (submarines)
    31 fleet submarines plus 5 special attack (midget) submarines at various patrol stations around the Hawaiian Islands. Some will head east toward the United States West Coast after the attack is concluded.

    Midway Island Assault Force
    CA Aoba, Furutaka, Kako, Kinugasa, 4 destroyers, 2 gunboats, 6 submarine chasers, 1 seaplane tender, 2 tenders, 9 transports, South Sea Force (4,886 troops) on course for Midway

    Wake Island Assault force
    this force is en route to Wake Island as of December 7
    CL Yubari, Tatsuta, Tenryu, 6 destroyers, 2 destroyer transports, 2 transports, (450 naval Special Landing Force Troops)

    Call to Battle December 7, 1941
    The Japanese strike force 0500 hours – 0605 hours

    At 0430 hours, with the entire First Wave in the air, the crews of the Japanese carriers hurriedly bring up the remainder of the Second Wave strike force that was not already spotted on decks. Continued heavy seas causes delays, so the planned launch does not finally begin until 0515, which is 15 minutes later than anticipated. However by 0530 all of the Second Wave planes are in the air, and crews begin preparing the next wave. It is not until 0620 hours that the Third Wave has completed forming up over the fleet in the early morning light and proceeds south on its mission. Meanwhile the battleships and cruisers are launching their float planes to cover the fleet from submarine attack while a pair are sent south to check Lahaini Roads which the Americans frequently use as an anchorage. The Second and Third Waves can be diverted to that location if the Americans have substantial shipping present there, particularly the American carriers.

    Lieutenant Commander Murita meanwhile is flying south along with 39 Kate torpedo bombers and 3 Val dive bombers. They are in groups of 2s and 3s, as attempting to form up in the dark over the fleet was considered too risky in terms of possible collisions as well as too time consuming. The aircraft are forced to drop down to below 450 feet, as an overcast ceiling is at 500 feet which blocks their ability to see the ocean below. The aircraft are able to see their first checkpoint (the destroyer Arare) well enough and finally as they approach within 100 miles of Oahu the clouds begin to thin out. A pair of Kates from the Akagi miss the Arare (the last flight of the bomber stream) and they are still too low when they find a mountain peak just south of the Oahu North Shore and both are destroyed with their crews. Their fate would remain a mystery for nearly 2 years before American soldiers training for operations in the Pacific War find the wreckage.

    As a result of this low level flying, the Japanese torpedo bombers are not discovered by radar until Kawailoa picks them up briefly as they travel west of Oahu, and then they are picked up again by the radar at Fort Shafter, just in time to pass the word to Air Defense Command and then the Fleet at 0612 hours. By that time the fleet was well aware that an attack was underway.

    However, the Second Wave has fewer difficulties, and is relying more on radio signals than visual cues as it flies over the Arare, and are at 10,000 feet as they enter radar range 130 miles north of Opana Point. At 0600 hours the Japanese formation is picked up, and by 0605 a full scale air raid alert is issued and all American aircraft are ordered into the air.

    American Land based Aviation Central Pacific
    Air Defense Command Hawaii (Brigadier General McConnell)
    Wheeler Field
    HQ 14th Pursuit Wing (15th and 18th Pursuit Groups)
    15th Pursuit Group w 44th, 47th Pursuit Squadrons (24 P40), 45th Pursuit squadron (12 P36)
    72nd Pursuit Squadron (8 P26)
    undergoing maintenance and repair (unassigned) 7 P26, 15 P36, 25 P40, 8 observation aircraft
    53rd Coast Artillery brigade (AAA) with 18 x 3 inch, 12 x 37mm AA, dozens of machines guns

    Operational aircraft are located in revetments, aircraft undergoing repair and maintenance or that are lacking needed spares are in hangers or parked on the ramp In the previous years, 108 revetments had been built at Wheeler Field and thus this airfield is the best protected American airfield in the entire Pacific Theater.

    Bellows Field
    18th Pursuit Group w 6th, 73rd, 78th Pursuit Squadrons (36 P40), 46th Pursuit Group (12 P36)
    6 operational observation aircraft of several types
    all aircraft are parked on the ramp and dispersed. Revetments are planned but have not yet been built
    15th Coast Artillery Brigade (AA) same as 53rd Brigade

    Haleiwa Field
    47th Pursuit Squadron -12 P40 (assigned as part of 15th Pursuit Group)
    parked on the ramp but dispersed

    Ewa Field
    Marine Air Group 21 (fighters are assigned to 14th Pursuit Wing while in Hawaii)
    VMF 211 – 12 Wildcats (operational)(4 additional undergoing maintenance)
    VMSB 232 – 24 SBD (16 operational, 8 undergoing repair)
    VMSB 231 – 8 SB2U (all undergoing repair, remainder of squadron aboard USS Lexington)
    3rd Marine Defense battalion (18 x 3 inch AA, dozens of machine guns), deployed in fortified positions

    Air Search Command (Rear Admiral Bellinger)
    Midway NAS (forward deployed) VP21 w 12 PBY, VJ3 w 8 float planes
    (all aircraft are parked on the ramp or floating in the lagoon and are dispersed)
    6th Marine Defense battalion (750 men, 18 x 3 inch AA, 6 x 5 inch anti shipping guns, dozens of machine guns)
    Kaheohe NAS
    Patrol Wing 2 w VP 11, VP 12, VP 14 (30 PBY operational, 6 undergoing repair in hangers)
    operational aircraft parked on the ramp or floating in the bay
    4th Marine Defense battalion (18 x 3 inch AA guns, dozens of machine guns) deployed in fortified positions

    Ford Island NAS
    Patrol Wing 1 w VP 21, VP 22, VP 23 (29 PBY operational, 6 undergoing maintenance and repair)
    VJ2 w 18 assorted floatplanes, plus 30 various float planes from the battleships and cruisers (25 operational aircraft)
    all aircraft parked on the ramp (dispersed) or in hangers.
    5 Wildcat, 5 Buffalo, 2 SBD from the carriers are at Ford Island in hangers undergoing repair

    Hickem Field
    HQ 18th Bomb Wing (Brigadier General Rudolph)
    5th Bomb Group w 23rd, 31st Bomb Squadrons (8 B17D operational, 4 undergoing repair)
    11th Bomb Group w 11th, 26th, 42nd Bomb Squadrons (24 B18 operational, 9 undergoing repair and maintenance)
    58th Bomb Squadron (9 A20 operational, 5 undergoing repair and maintenance)
    also assigned, 2 C33 transports (basically civilian DC2 transport aircraft)
    16th Coast Artillery brigade (AA) same as 53rd

    Hickem lacks revetments, but aircraft that are operational are dispersed while aircraft undergoing maintenance are in hangers or on the main ramp

    Other Defenses
    3 additional coast artillery (AA) brigades are deployed, with 1 at Pearl Harbor base, another across the harbor at Ford City, and a third at Schofield Barracks in reserve. This is in addition to the AA units that are part of the coast defense fortifications..

    All Marine and Army AA units are on alert as of 0600 hours

    The Scramble
    As of 0600 hours, all aircraft that are operational are armed, fueled, and their crews are standing by for their daily missions and patrols. The Navy utility floatplanes, Marine scout bombers, and Army B18s are scheduled to conduct close range patrols and are armed with light bombs and have orders to attack submarine contacts. The B17s and PBYs are scheduled to conduct long range patrols out to 500 miles, except for 8 PBY from VP21 which are specifically assigned to go find the survivors of the Gamble (if any). The first take offs will be at first light, 0605 hours (the B17s and PBYs) with a the morning dawn patrol of a fighter squadron each from Bellows and Wheeler (6th and 44th Pursuit squadrons). All other fighter squadrons are on strip alert for the next three hours. The Marine Corps fighter squadron has a flight of 4 Wildcats that is scheduled to take off at 0615 hours to patrol over Pearl Harbor.

    However, as the first incoming blips are identified on radar at 0515 hours, these plans are changed. All aircraft that can fly are to take off as soon as it is light enough shortly after 0600 hours. Fighters are ordered to assemble over Wheeler Field and Bellows Field until Nautical twilight when they are to be prepared to engage incoming bogies. All other aircraft will take off and proceed on their missions or orbit over neighboring islands out of harms way. The Marines scramble their fighters at 0610 hours.

    An urgent message is sent to Major Landon diverting his squadron of 11 B17s that are inbound to their alternate landing field at Hilo. A message is attempted to get CBS radio off the air, but does not reach the technicians until well after 0700 hours. In the rush to prepare, the signals transmitted by the Japanese submarines off the coast are missed, but reports eventually do make their way to Admiral Bellinger regarding the visual sightings made when they used their searchlights. The two Japanese submarines have long since submerged and departed those positions by that time.

    Meanwhile, the Army and Navy prepare for air attack. The Army crews man their weapons, prepare ready ammunition and soldiers who are not manning weapons move to take cover in air raid trenches or in the more solid buildings. Some ground crew are still hurriedly attempting to get a few of the aircraft that were not operational as spread out as possible or in a few cases, prepared to take off so they can at least get out off the ground and out of the area. The Marines at the Naval Air Stations are similarly preparing while aboard the ships, watertight doors have long since been closed since 0400 hours or soon after, and deck crews and anti-aircraft gunners nervously peer through the waning darkness just as the Japanese torpedo planes appear over the harbor.

    The Fleet is as is ready as it can be. Aboard the battleships California and Oklahoma, numerous hatches that had been previously open to prepare the ships for inspection on Monday morning have now been secured, and more importantly, damage control parties are assembled and waiting at their stations. Some guns are masked however due to proximity of other ships or are blocked by land installations, but all ships have their internal power ready and some have auxiliary power from shore as well. The only exceptions are the ships in dry dock which are just starting boilers for power when the first attack begins.

    However many of the warships present are 20 years old or more, and some of them are in serious need of a refit. Hatches and bulkheads were weaker materially than they were when new. Mostly because during the 1930s maintenance funds were limited and older ships did not get the care they needed. Many of the ships present, especially the battleships, are vulnerable to flooding occurring because of bad seals and weaker than constructed bulkheads and hatches. Indeed the battleship Arizona was scheduled to go to Mare Island in December before the needs of the Navy kept her at Pearl.

    In port Pearl Harbor
    110 Dock: battleships Oklahoma (moved 0400 hours)
    California (inboard, moved 0400 hours), Fleet Target ship Utah (w 1 tug) (outboard)(in motion), submarine Cachelot
    Drydock: battleship Pennyslvania, destroyers Cassin, Downes
    Floating drydock: destroyer Shaw

    Naval Station (Fleet) 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 (usually the location of Utah), seaplane tenders (converted destroyers) Thornton (usual location of Raleigh), Hulbert usual location of Detroit)

    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)
    channel in off battleship row: Destroyer Selfridge, minelayer Oglala, 6 PT Boats, numerous other boats, 3 tugs

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

    harbor entrance
    destroyers Blue, Ward, Helm, 4 minesweepers

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

    North of Oahu (400-450 miles north) Task Force 9 Picket force
    Destroyer minelayers Gamble, Ramsey, Montgomery, Pruitt, Tracy (Gamble has been sunk)
    submarines S-18, S-23, S-34, Gudgeon, Plunger, Tambor, Thresher
     
    Chapter 7 (part two) The First Wave
  • The First Wave – Air Raid Pearl Harbor, this is no drill
    At 0605 hours, 3 Val dive bombers from the Kaga begin their glide bomb attack. After swinging past the harbor entrance, they line up using Honololu on their right as a reference, and fly over the harbor at 6,000 feet, beginning their attack using the lights of Ford Airfield as a final reference. As they are descending, they spot the tanker Neosho at the Ford Island dock and deciding it is a much easier target to hit than a relatively small size of the fuel storage tanks and they each drop a 250 kilogram bomb. The first two bombs hit the tanker, one amidships, another just forward of that, and immediately the tanker, which is loaded with aviation fuel, bursts into flame. The third Val is hit by fire from several different ships and crashes into the water a few dozen meters south of the burning ship, not far from where its bomb impacts the water inflicting some crush damage of several hull plates and letting out gasoline which promptly alights and further lights up the area.

    As the two surviving Val's are flying over Ford City seeking to escape, they blunder into 8 P26 Peashooters of the 72nd Pursuit Squadron and both are quickly shot down. However nervous American gunners seeing aircraft with fixed landing gear just like the ones that bombed the Neosho open fire on them and 2 Peashooters are shot down in flames, their pilots killed, and the remaining American fighters are all heavily damaged before they can break north away from the harbor. The 72nd Pursuit is out of the battle.

    The bright flames of the Neosho however do the job just fine in lighting up Battleship row and providing the needed illumination for the incoming torpedo planes.

    The 110 Dock 0612 hours – 0627 hours
    11 torpedo bombers from the Kaga have the mission of attacking Carrier Row, and if no carriers are present they are to join the 8 bombers from the Soryu in hitting targets on the 110 Dock. Both groups come in just west of Pearl City through the Middle Loch facing little flak initially as gunners aboard the 4 seaplane tenders, the Medusa and the army gunners at Pearl City are busy shooting up the 72nd Pursuit squadron. It is not until they are spotted by the ships around the 110 Dock that they are engaged, and with the dark night sky behind them the only illumination is from the flames of the Neosho and the city lights behind them. Nevertheless, they are engaged by the full anti-aircraft gun broadside of both the Utah and Oklahoma, machine gunners from the fighting tops of the California and West Virginia, a single machine gun from the Cachelot and fire from two PT boats and the forward guns of the destroyer Selfridge.

    The Soryu torpedo bombers escape lightly from this blast of fire, as only 1 is downed and 3 others suffer damage but all manage to drop successfully. The Kaga bombers, having noted that the target size and shapes do not match a carrier at carrier row, come in behind the Soryu, but those few second quickly add up to their disadvantage. By the time the Kaga bombers are engaged, the gunners have managed to overcome initial jitters and learned to make out the shapes moving in front of them and 5 of the Kaga torpedo bombers are blasted out of the sky before they can drop their torpedoes, while all 6 of the remainder are damaged. But those 6 also drop successfully.

    The surviving torpedo bombers escape at their best speed but are engaged by gunners from Hickem Field and then again as they fly over Honolulu by gunners aboard Task Force 15. Only 6 from the Soryu and 2 from the Kaga eventually make it back to their carriers and both of the Kaga bombers end up being write offs. But they report the location of Task Force 15 as they pass, and in the darkness confuse the Antares, an 11,000 ton cargo ship, as a third cruiser and are certain they spot a carrier as well.

    The Japanese manage to drop successfully 18 torpedoes. Two of these end up buried in the mud due to malfunctions, another is dropped wide and smashes into the USS Cachelot, blowing off her entire stern and she sinks in less than a minute taking with her 15 men. Another smashes directly into the dock but does little substantial damage. But 4 torpedoes smash into the USS Utah, and 8 hit the Oklahoma and only heroic efforts prevent both of those ships from capsizing. However both sink quickly, and between the two ships nearly 400 men die.

    Battleship Row 0615 – 0623 Hours
    The 10 remaining (as 2 were lost en route to accidents) torpedo bombers from the Akagi come first with first plane spotted when it crashes into the Fleet Signal tower scattering flaming debris across the area. The two remaining aircraft of that particular flight are targeting the West Virginia but are brought down before they can launch by fire from ships at the Fleet Dock, the minelayer Oglala, the destroyer Selfridge, as well as guns from the Worden and the fighting top machine gunners of the West Virginia. The lead plane smashes into the Selfridge however, setting a major fire in her aft superstructure and killing 12 American sailors.

    The other 7 planes of the Akagi squadron avoid mishaps but are brought under fire from the Vestal, Dewey, Dobbin, Hull, 4 PT boats, several Army guns, and the fighting top machine gunners on the Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee, and Maryland. The 8 from the Hiryu come in right behind and they end up getting the worst of the fire. All of the Akagi bombers manage to launch, but only 3 of the Hiryu bombers survive long enough to do so, and all of the survivors are damaged. They then blunder straight into VMF211 with 12 Wildcats which have just taken off from Ewa and is still at low altitude west of the harbor. The Marines down all of the Akagi torpedo planes and all but 2 of the Hiryu torpedo planes as they attempt to escape, and thus only 2 of Hiryu bombers make it back to their carrier. However the Marine pilots exhaust their ammunition and are forced to land to rearm, placing them out of the fight for a over a half hour. The Marines are credited with 16 kills (although only actually shot down 8 aircraft). Navy gunners are credited with 21 more (shooting down only 8). In any event this is a devastating blow to the Japanese air strike.

    The Japanese manage to drop a total of 12 torpedoes at Battleship Row. Of these, 5 end up in the mud, another pair miss entirely and thus only 5 hit a target. The Vestal is hit twice, one by a direct hit that wrecks her engine room, while another blast ruptures her hull at her forward hold, causing serious flooding as the torpedo detonates against the Arizona after passing under her. This torpedo explodes against the torpedo void of the Arizona and does little damage although does cause some serious leaks. The next hit is against the USS Hull, which takes one directly into her aft magazine, causes the entire rear half of the ship to disappear in a massive explosion that starts fires on the Vestal, Tennessee, and Arizona. The other two pass underneath the Dobbin and hit the Nevada, causing serious flooding in her steering compartment as well as two boiler rooms. The Dobbin suffers serious damage from the concussion, as heavy flooding begins due to hull ruptures. Between these hits, over 300 Americans are killed.

    In all the Japanese have sunk what they think are two battleships, severely damaged two others and the surviving pilots are convinced that they have met the minimal goal of the attack which is to knock 4 American battleships out of the war for months. What the Japanese have actually done is lost 75% of their best torpedo bomber crews (30 out of 40 lost, including those lost en route) to sink 1 battleship, 1submarine, 1 destroyer, 1 target ship, 1 repair ship and inflict serious damage on 2 battleships, 1 fleet oiler and 2 destroyers. They have also drawn 2 American fighter squadrons out of the fight for now.

    Meanwhile, Lieutenant Commander Ramsey is standing on the ramp waiting for the first of the PBYs to begin taking off when he sees the explosion aboard the Neosho followed by a wave of gunfire and tracers. Rushing to the message sender, he orders an urgent message be broadcast in plain English for all of the Fleet, and thus the world, to hear.
    “Air Raid Pearl Harbor. This is no drill”

    A message that quickly spreads around the Pacific and beyond.

    1606449223698.png
     
    Chapter 7 (part three) Second Wave
  • Sunrise over Oahu
    The First Lull

    By 0630 it is clear that the torpedo attack is over. Air defense headquarters is reporting that a large force is 45 minutes out and approaching at medium altitude. Admiral Bloch, commander of the Hawaiian naval district, orders the Neosho moved, and 2 tugs and the Oglala assist Commander John Philips in moving her to the Middle Loch where all three vessels continue to assist her in dealing with her fires. This tremendous feat of seaman ship would earn Commander Philips a Medal of Honor and Navy Crosses were awarded to several of her crew as well as the commanders of the other vessels and Admiral Furlong who oversees the operation aboard his flagship.

    At this point, the Ward reports attacking and sinking an enemy submarine right at the harbor entrance, and Admiral Richardson is forced to reconsider a sortie. He orders the seaplane tenders to move to the East Loch. The Maryland, California, and West Virginia, all undamaged, are sent to Carrier Row while the destroyer Dewey is ordered to move with them as a roving ship to provide extra AA coverage in case of another torpedo attack. All four ships are still in motion when the Second Wave reaches their target. The destroyers Henley, Patterson, and Ralph Talbot also move to the East Loch to provide additional AA support to the undamaged battleships and are also still moving as the Japanese aircraft approach. This leaves only the Arizona, Nevada, and Tennessee along with the Vestal (which is sinking) and the Dobbin (which is barely afloat) at Battleship Row.

    Second Wave
    0700 hours Fire in the Sky

    The Japanese manage to form up by the time they are approaching the coast as visibility has improved and the morning light is now sufficient to enable safe formation flying. They have been spotted by radar and General McConnell vectors all of his P40s to hit them as they cross the coast. He sends the P36 squadrons to provide point defense, one to orbit over Diamond Head and the other to orbit over Barbers Point so that they can be committed against any formations that get through.

    The American P40 squadrons have climbed to 14,000 feet by the time the Japanese formations begin crossing the coast. The Japanese are in a single massive formation, with the Val Dive bombers in the lead and the level bombers arranged by squadrons behind them. The bombers are at 10,000 feet and accelerating toward their attack speed. Providing cover are 18 Zeroes as the Kaneohe raid attack has been canceled because of the delays in launching. Another 42 Zeroes are above and behind the bombers to provide high cover at 12,000 feet. McConnell orders the 18th Pursuit Group (36 P40s) to attack the enemy fighter escort while the 15th Pursuit Group (24 P40s) goes for the bombers.
    The Americans have studied the recommendations made by Chennault both in person and in writing, and attempt to make their first pass count. The Zeroes spot the approaching Americans and are climbing to meet them as the American fighters make their dives. This is when a serious flaw in Japanese fighter tactics is illuminated. The Zeroes are not providing escort, but are conducting a fighter sweep in support of the bombers but not with them.

    The American 18th Fighter Group score 6 kills and damage 6 more as the Zero proves to be terribly vulnerable to the .50 caliber machine gun. The P40B and P40C has two in the nose, plus 4 .30 caliber machine guns on the wings. However many of the American pilots, while very experienced, and indeed in many cases even more experienced than their opponents, are still green and open fire at too great a range and fail to take into account the rapid closing rate. Thrilled by their success, the American aggressiveness soon turns into a mistake when the P40 pilots attempt to dogfight the Zero and learn that the Japanese is not to be trifled with in a dogfight.

    However the 15th Fighter Group has an open field while the other American fighters keep the Zeros busy, and is joined by the 47th Pursuit Squadron (12 more P40s) from Halaiwa Field and they rip into the heavily outnumbered 21 level bombers from the Zuikaku which has the mission of attacking Ewa Field. Lieutenant Ken Taylor is the high scoring pilot, shooting down 4, while his wingman George Welch gets 2 more and in all the 15th Pursuit Group shoots down 13 of the Kates and force the rest to jettison their bombs and run for the coast as nearly all the rest are damaged to one degree or another. The 15th Pursuit Group escapes with only 2 planes damaged by return fire.

    Meanwhile the 14th Pursuit Group learns the hard way that Chennault's lessons are to be heeded. Outnumbered 48 to 36, the Americans still manage to down 6 Zeroes, damage 9 more the Americans lose 15 P40s shot down and another 16 are damaged and all of the American survivors are forced to break off. The Japanese pilots are lost forever while 6 American pilots manage to successfully bail out. The Japanese learn that the P40 is practically invulnerable to their rifle caliber machine guns and they do not have enough 20 mm ammunition for a long fight. The 14th Pursuit Group is knocked out of the battle, but the attack on Ewa Field has been prevented and the two American fighter groups have shot down 24 of the enemy aircraft, damaged and thus knocked out of the battle another 23 enemy aircraft (although claims are 76 aircraft shot down) at the cost of 15 aircraft lost and 17 more damaged.

    As the Japanese push through, McConnell makes a serious mistake and commits both of his P36 squadrons to defend Wheeler Field and both squadrons reach the 21 Kates from the Shokaku after the other 50 Kates and 6 Vals have split off to proceed toward Pearl Harbor. It is later learned that the radar operator at Fort Shafter lost them briefly in a radar shadow created by the mountains. By the time he discovers his error the formations have split.

    For the 21 Japanese bombers attacking Wheeler Field, this is a costly disaster for them. The Americans attack with 24 P36 Hawks and while they have half the firepower of the P40 and are slower, they are plenty fast enough to fight a Kate. Lieutenant Gabreski leads the scoring, getting 2 in his first pass, but 9 are shot down by the American fighters, most of the others suffer damage from Army flak guns, and while 36 bombs hit the base and several hangers are set afire and 12 aircraft are destroyed in hangers or on the ramp, it is hardly worth the cost. Particularly when the Hawks make another pass and shoot down 8 more of them. Only a single Kate makes it back to the Shokaku and is written off on landing, the rest are lost in combat directly or ditch on the way.

    Assessing the results after the battle, the Hawaiian Command admits that concentrating on defending their base was a serious error. Although many kills were scored (44 actual kills either over Hawaii or crashing en route to their base, and another 25 damage, 12 of which are written off) and many more are claimed (120 Japanese aircraft claimed) the 2 American Pursuit Groups have expended the bulk of their fighters defending two strongly defended airfields and one of them (the 15th Pursuit Group) has essentially been knocked out of the battle by this point. The Japanese on the other hand view the result of this air battle as a disaster. Later historians find both the Japanese and Americans are right.

    The Japanese attempt to neutralize the American fighter force has been a disaster. In addition to the aircraft lost, the Japanese have also lost 44 highly trained pilots (plus additional aircrew in the bombers) and damage to Wheeler Field is not severe while Ewa remains fully operational and untouched. While roughly half the Army Air Force fighter force is combat ineffective, the Japanese at this point have suffered devastating casualties for far less than the desired result. However, the Japanese still have a powerful force of 50 level bombers and 6 dive bombers and there are no fighters standing in their way and are headed straight for the American Pacific Fleet.

    1606453926536.png

    0715 Hours: A rain of bombs
    The Japanese level bombers fly just above the crest line of the Koo Lau Mountains and make their turn approaching the harbor at McGrew Point lined up on Battleship Row. The dive bombers then break off and begin their dive on the Fleet Headquarters building.

    This target was the most difficult for Genda and Yamamoto to justify to themselves but the decision was made late in the planning that the best way to reduce the effectiveness of the American battle fleet was to hit their command center and communications facilities at the Pacific Fleet headquarters building. While not aimed specifically at Admiral Richardson, his death would not be an unfortunate result. Of greater importance is temporarily paralyzing the American ability to coordinate their naval forces that are not at Pearl Harbor.

    The 6 Val Dive Bombers push over into their attack into a wall of fire from ships and Army flak guns who are also shooting at the far bigger target flying straight and level at 10,000 fleet toward Battleship Row. The dive bombers manage to get all 6 of their bombs on or near the target, and 3 bombs hit the building directly while 3 others land just in front of it. The building has most of the upper part of it destroyed, although the basement (and the critical decoding and intelligence office) are barely touched. However, Admirals Richardson and Pye are observing the approach of the level bombers through a window when a 250 kg bomb lands a mere 40 feet from that window, killing Admiral Richardson instantly and leaving Admiral Pye critically wounded (and missing his left arm). Losses to staff are also heavy and the Fleet Signals office is all but wiped out. Only 4 of the Japanese bombers escape as flak catches them as they pull out of their dives, and of the rest, all are damaged to varying degrees but manage to make it back to their ship.

    Battleship Row
    The Japanese have 50 level bombers, and leading the attack is Commander Fuchida. As he surveys the port for damage he is appalled to discover that there are 3 undamaged battleships at Carrier Row and the flak is too intense to risk more than one bomb run. He orders half of the force to focus on the Nevada and the rest to focus on the Arizona and a total of 50 bombs are dropped in a very tight group. Anti aircraft fire downs 6 of the bombers as they release or just after, and nearly all of the remaining aircraft take at least some damage, but results are exactly as expected, or so is claimed later. Of 50 bombs dropped, 11 hit a target. Of these 1 goes through every deck of the Dobbin including her engine room and detonates in the mud below the ship, breaking her back and sending her to the bottom within a few minutes. The Vestal is hit by two bombs, both of which plunge all the way through her and both of these bombs are disappointing from the Japanese perspective. The hurried weapons program that produced them was flawed, and nearly half of the bombs have serious problems that result either in low order detonations or complete failure to detonate at all. The Vestal is lucky as both of these bombs are duds. However, a near miss close alongside the Vestal results in exactly the result desired as it detonates normally, and yet more flooding hurries her to the harbor bottom. The Tennessee, which was just getting underway and as yet not seriously damaged aside from debris and fire damage from the explosion of the Hull, is hit twice. The first is a dud which nevertheless wrecks a 14 inch gun in her aft most turret, rendering that gun inoperable. The second bomb detonates in her stern, wrecking the steering compartment, the rudder and both screws, and brings her to a rapid halt.

    However the Nevada and the Arizona are the far worst hit. Japanese planners had estimated a 24% chance of getting a hit in an engineering space, and a 20% chance of a magazine hit. These estimates turn out to be right on the money. Of 6 bombs, each battleship takes 3 hits. The Nevada suffers a low order explosion in the ships galley that wipes out an entire damage control team, while another bomb smashes her forward most turret but the low order explosion kills only the crewmen there but does no other damage. The final hit penetrates into her forward boiler room, detonating there and wiping out that space and several nearby compartments as well as letting in water that her crew is nevertheless able to stop although at this point several hundred tons of water has entered the ship and she will need months of repairs.

    It is the Arizona however that suffers the fatal blow. One bomb hits her and breaks up after breaking the number 3 turret ring. Another penetrates her after engine room and fails to explode. However the deadly blow occurs when a bomb penetrates her forward magazine that starts a fire that 45 seconds later results in that magazine detonating and killing nearly 1,000 men in an instant.

    The surviving Japanese aircraft break for home, and with the American fighters still rearming and refueling, they get away. A total of 8 aircraft are lost to anti-aircraft fire including that of Commander Fuchida, during the attack which was a result only possible because of the destruction of the Ewa and Wheeler Field attack forces. However, one battleship has been destroyed, and two others are knocked out of action for months at least. A fleet auxiliary has also been sunk as has a destroyer, and personnel casualties are very severe aboard the Arizona and very high aboard the Nevada, Vestal, Dobbin and Tennessee. Indeed this attack has resulted in the most casualties of the day as over 1,500 men are dead or missing never to be found among all the ships and at the base. Fleet headquarters is shattered, and communications are down until something can be restored. Among the dead are Admiral Richardson and Rear Admiral Kidd, and Admiral Pye is severely wounded and out of action. Admiral Bloch is senior officer present and takes command upon hearing the news while he is aboard the tug Ontario overseeing the movement of the battleships around Carrier Row.

    By the end of the strike the Japanese have achieved their minimal objective of sinking or knocking out of action at least 4 American battleships (3 sunk, 1 heavily damaged) although at a severe price as the strike commander and many valuable squadron and element leaders have been killed and most of the attacking bombers have been either shot down, damaged sufficiently to be write offs, or at least damaged requiring repair and thus knocked out for the rest of the day.

    As a second lull sets in already over 2,000 Americans are dead, half the battle line is knocked out, and the Japanese can claim a victory even though they have lost 89 (including accident losses) of the 203 aircraft launched. While losses are higher than expected, Yamamato and Nagumo will consider this an acceptable loss for the results achieved, although Genda and Yamaguchi will not once they realize that another 6 fighters, 5 torpedo bombers, 8 level bombers and 2 dive bombers are write offs so that of the first two waves, and only 93 aircraft remain serviceable or repairable and only 45 of those are bombers (2 Val dive bombers, 43 Kate Torpedo / Level bombers).
     
    Air Raid Pearl Harbor Third Wave
  • The Second Lull 0725 Hours - 0800 Hours
    Bloch orders the remaining battleships, destroyers, and support ships to sortie and to ignore the reports of submarines off the harbor entrance. Better to lose one or two ships to a submarine attack then have all of them trapped in the harbor with another raid already detected on radar. His ships need sea room and the ability to use all their guns. Air Defense Headquarters orders the 14th Fighter Wing to get back into the air as quickly as possible. Leary is ordered to proceed at high speed with his cruisers and destroyer from Honolulu and provide additional anti-aircraft and anti-submarine support for the fleet as it assembles off Oahu.

    Meanwhile radar picks up two raids. The first consists of 108 bandits and is on a course that will take it directly to Pearl Harbor, while raid 2 is 54 aircraft and is heading for Honolulu. Convinced that Raid 2 is likely heading for Leary (and thus will search for ships offshore), McConnell decides to commit the relatively intact 15th Pursuit Group with 32 P40 and 10 P36 to cover the base, while the remaining 10 P36 along with the 4 operational P40s of the 14th Group will defend the ships offshore, along with the 12 Wildcats that return to the air. All remaining operational American fighters are in the air by 0750 hours climbing at full military power to reach their assigned altitude.

    As all of this is going on, the destroyers at the harbor entrance spot and destroy 2 midget submarines but miss the third, which fires both of its torpedoes blindly into the column of ships making their way through the channel at 0736 hours. By pure luck, both torpedoes miss the West Virginia and slam into the Thornton, an old four stack destroyer that has been converted into a seaplane tender. One slams into a boiler room, another into her bow, but the skipper manages to beach her at Hospital Point, and avoids blocking the channel.

    As the fleet makes its way out of the harbor, Rear Admiral Anderson aboard the West Virginia forms it into a task group and the fleet proceeds at the speed of its slowest ship at 18 knots due south.

    At the same time Admiral Bellinger orders 9 A20 bombers, 22 Dauntless dive bombers and 2 Vindicator bombers (all of which are carrying bombs) to head north and once the Japanese fleet is spotted, to attack immediately. Regrettably there are no fighters available to escort them. They are flying to the western side of Oahu and thus miss the air battle that is about to occur in the central part of the island and off the southern coast. The bombers are in three formations, with the A20s flying at 4,000 feet at their cruising speed of 250 miles per hour and are carrying 3 500 pound bombs, and have four .30 caliber machine guns forward and a twin .50 caliber machine gun mount for the dorsal gunner and carry a crew of 3 men. Behind them are the 22 Marine Corps Dauntless bombers, each carrying a single 1,000 pound bomb, have two man crews, and they are flying at 180 miles per hour and are at 14,000 feet, which means they are very rapidly outdistanced by the Army bombers. Finally are a pair of Vindicators, which also each carry a 1,000 pound bomb and a crew of two and by the time they reach their altitude of 14,000 feet and cruise of 160 miles an hour, they are well behind both other groups.

    The Third Wave 0800 Hours
    This force, which consists entirely of Val Dive Bombers and escorting Zero fighters is at 10,000 feet and has accelerated to 230 miles an hour as it crosses the coast. The fighters are ahead and above the Val dive bombers at 12,000 feet. There are two groups in Raid 1 with each group consisting of 5 squadrons of 9 dive bombers, plus a squadron of 9 fighters in the van. Group 1 has 27 dive bombers that have the mission of eliminating Ford Island as an effective airbase, while 18 have the mission of hitting the Fleet Docks, specifically the cruisers tied up alongside them. Group 2 is organized the same way, with 27 having the mission of eliminating Hickam Field as an effective airbase, while 18 are to attack the dry dock and the battleship Pennsylvania presently sitting there.

    Raid 2 has 36 dive bombers, escorted by 18 fighters, and it has the mission of attacking the suspected carrier task force reported by the First Wave off Honolulu. Failing that, it will search for it in case it has moved, and then attack it where it can be found. If there are no carriers present, it will attack any cruisers or battleships that have made their way to sea, as the 2nd Wave has reported that several are undamaged and underway. If no ships are found, it will attack the same targets that can be found in Pearl Harbor itself.

    Air battle over Ewo Forest
    The 14th Fighter Group has 32 P40s and 10 P36s, and includes with them the leading scorers during the First Wave of Lieutenant's Taylor, Welch and Gabreski. The 47th Pursuit (and with them Welch and Taylor) are the only intact squadron and they have the mission of keeping the fighters busy in the lead group, while the other two squadrons will each take a dive bomber squadron as will the P36s.

    The 9 Japanese fighters in the lead group spot the approaching Americans and joined by the fighters from the second group with both squadrons quickly climbing to intercept as the American fighters begin their dives.

    The air battle takes place over one of the most beautiful mountain ranges on Earth, with blue sky and scattered clouds above, and all around the bright greens of the Hawaiian landscape and the blue sea beyond. This picturesque scene is rapidly spoiled by flame and smoke as aircraft hammer machine gun bullets and cannon shells into one another. Outnumbered 12 to 18, the 47th makes one pass, flaming 5 Zeros (with Welch and Taylor get one each, making Taylor the first American ace in World War II). The Zeros pursue but find that the P40 is far faster in a dive than they are.

    This buys time for the other P40s and the P36s to hit the 3 lead Val squadrons (from the Shokaku) and they achieve good results, shooting 10 of them down, damaging 14 more and forcing them to jettison their bombs and completely disrupting the entire formation. While the P40s are fast enough to zoom away, the P36s lack the superb dive speed of the Warhawks, and the Zeroes catch them, shooting 5 of them down, and damaging all of the others. Gabreski, who gets 2 Val's and in the dogfight that follows knocks down a Zero, becomes the second American ace of World War II, and also manages to bring the wreck of his P36 down on a dirt road a few hundred yards from a farm near Pearl City. He would spend the next few weeks in a hospital but would travel with Welch and Taylor to Washington DC to be decorated by the President with the Medal of Honor. The P36s manage to damage 2 Zero fighters and shoot down 1 but are out of the fight. The P40s however zoom away and regroup over Opana Point to catch the enemy as they depart.

    The remaining bombers of Group 1 proceed to their target, and the 3 from the Zuikaku, now too few to seriously damage Ford Island, join in with the Akagi attack group.

    Attack on the Fleet Docks
    At total of 21 dive bombers, most from the Akagi, reach the harbor and begin their dives on the cruisers. They are met by heavy flak from the ships tied up on the docks, as well as Army batteries around the harbor. Flak gets 4 of the Val's as they dive, another 9 are damaged, but 19 bombs are dropped successfully. All four cruisers are hit, with the San Francisco taking a hit in her hanger deck which starts a severe fire, another blasts apart her rear superstructure, causing considerable casualties and a fire. Both fires burn for a couple of hours before finally being put out. The New Orleans suffers two very near misses that causes flooding and casualties and a direct hit on her fantail that knocks out her rudder and one screw. Two bombs aimed at her hit the Oiler Ramapo, which is loaded with fuel oil and carrying 4 PT boats on her deck that were originally destined for the Philippines. Two of the boats are blasted apart, and a serious fire starts that becomes the primary focus of firefighting efforts for Navy base firefighters and is put out in 30 minutes. Casualties are heavy aboard the Ramapo, but relatively light aboard the New Orleans. The cruisers St Louis and Honolulu, tied up side by side, and both still dependent on shore power as their engines were offline being overhauled, are hard to miss, and indeed are hit hard. Both suffer two bomb hits each, with the near misses all around. The Honolulu suffers a hit that threatens to set her magazine afire, and the forward magazine is quickly flooded but B turret is wrecked, A turret is damaged, and of course the magazine is flooded. The second bomb knocks a 5 inch mount completely apart on her port side, and also starting a serious fire that will rage for over an hour. Ready ammunition also explodes and further damage results. Heroic efforts prevent a chain reaction reaching any magazine but casualties aboard her are heavy. The St Louis takes a hit on her fantail, another amidships that starts a serious fire, and two near misses cause heavy flooding in her forward boiler room. Her steering is knocked out, as is half of her power plant, and damage to the dock also knocks out power to both ships temporarily.

    Attack on Hickam Field
    The Zuikaku attack force of 27 dive bombers have the mission of knocking out Hickam Field, and while flak is heavy from Army anti-aircraft gunners, the Army gun crews fail to knock any Val's down and the Japanese inflict a severe pasting on the base. A total of 27 500 pound bombs hit the base, wrecking every hanger, wreck all 17 bombers that were undergoing repair plus a visiting B24 that was held over the previous day because of engine trouble. However the plan to strafe the base is canceled due to heavy fire and while none of the Japanese bombers were shot down 11 of them were damaged in their attacks. The Japanese formation breaks off after bombing and leaves the area along the other dive bombers.

    Attack on the Fleet Dry Dock
    The 18 dive bombers from the Kaga begin their dives on the dry dock even as the rest of the dive bombers are making their runs. Facing only light flak, these crews, probably the best crews in the Japanese Navy, drop all 18 of their bombs in a very tight pattern and blast the destroyers Cassin and Downes apart, seriously damage the dry dock, start a severe oil fire from the wrecked destroyers, and place four bombs on the Pennsylvania. She takes 3 hits amidships, starting a severe fire in the hanger, badly damaging both the fore and aft superstructure, and also getting a hit on C turret that fails to penetrate the turret armor but whose splinters cause serious casualties. Another pair of bombs wreck the dry dock crane. None of the Val's are shot down, but 5 are damaged by American flak as they pull out of their dives.

    American ambush over the North Shore
    The surviving aircraft of Raid 1, consisting of 10 battle worthy Zero fighters and 62 Val dive bombers begin their egress from the attack, flying due north and their exit over Kahuku Point. They find that 28 P40s of the 14th Fighter Group are waiting for them. In another slashing diving attack that focuses on bombers that are lagging behind the rest, Taylor and Welch add to their scores (getting 2 kills each) and Welch becomes the third American Ace of World War II. In addition to their 4, another 6 Vals and 2 Zeroes are shot down and the American fighters continue their dives and zoom away. Several suffer damage from Val's gunners but Zeros that turned into the attack manage to knock down 4 of the American P40s.

    Raid One has inflicted serious damage to a battleship, four cruisers, a fleet oiler and wrecked 2 destroyers and 2 PT boats. The fleet dry dock has sustained some damage, along with some shore installations nearby. Hickam Field is burning (although the runways are undamaged), and 18 aircraft have destroyed on the ground and 9 American fighters in the air. Another 12 American fighters are write offs. Japanese losses however have been heavy, with 12 of 18 fighters destroyed, 3 more are doomed to be write offs when they reach the carriers. The 90 dive bombers suffered 24 shot down, 4 ditch on their way home (and their crews die with them), 30 more are doomed to be write offs, and nearly every other bomber has suffered at least some damage.

    Raid Two
    As fierce fighting wages over Oahu, Raid Two makes its way over Honolulu, sees only the Antares and a few merchant ships in Honolulu harbor and proceeds toward the entrance of Pearl Harbor looking for ships that have sortied. There it finds the American fleet of 19 ships, and just as importantly the Army Air Force with 4 P40 and 10 P36 and the Marines with 12 Wildcats finds the enemy.

    Using the same tactics as their fellow Army pilots, the P40s dive on the 18 Zeros as they climb to meet them using the heavy firepower and daunting dive speed of the Warhawk to blast 2 of the enemy fighters out of the sky and then diving away to then use their built up air speed to zoom back up to altitude. The Zeros manage to shoot down 2 of the P40s however, and damage both the others. Right behind however are the Marine Wildcats, which have not been briefed on the weakness and strengths of the Zero and while the Marines down 3 Zeroes, and force 5 more out of the fight, 3 Wildcats are shot down and 7 more are badly riddled and knocked out of the fight, with only their heavy construction saving them from loss. But the Army and Marine fighters have cleared the way for the P36s which shoot down 4 of the lead Vals (from the Soryu), damage 4 more (and force them to jettison their bombs) before also diving away to avoid enemy fighters.

    Attack on the California
    The 28 Val's that remain are all ordered to concentrate on the lead battleship, the California, which was first to exit the harbor and still remains in the lead. American flak is murderous however, as well over 100 5 inch guns and numerous 3 inch guns all have clear firing arcs, as do the machine guns of the fleet as the Val's pull out of their dives. The American fleet blasts 2 out of the sky before they can drop, another 7 are shot down after they drop their bombs, and nearly every bomber takes at least some damage. The fierce flak throws off the Japanese aim and while 27 bombs are dropped at the battleship, only 4 manage to score, all amidships. Casualties are heavy aboard the California and she is left with a serious blaze that burns for nearly two hours before damage control teams manage to get it under control.

    As the Japanese bombers flee the scene with they are once again attacked by the American fighters who have dive on them again. The remaining 8 Japanese fighters manage to engage the P36 squadron before it can reach their prey however, and blast 6 out of the sky and wreck the rest at no loss to themselves, preventing further attack.

    For the Japanese this has been a bitter disappointment. While a battleship has been seriously damaged and 15 American fighters either destroyed or doomed to be write offs when they land, they have lost 11 Val dive bombers and 5 Zeros shot down, another 3 Zeros and 11 Vals are doomed as write offs when they finally reach their ships. A disastrous trade for the Japanese 1st Air Fleet.

    By 0855 the last Japanese plane has departed Oahu and the last American fighter has returned to base.

    The results of the Third Wave
    In all the Japanese have lost 39 bombers and 17 fighters, with another 6 fighters and 41 dive bombers so badly damaged as to be write offs out of 126 divebombers and 36 fighters, a severe cost. The Americans have 2 battleships, 4 cruisers, 1 fleet oiler seriously damaged and out of the war for months, and 2 destroyers effectively sunk plus some yard craft and a pair of PT boats destroyed. Damage to the drydock is serious but will require considerable effort to repair but a planned attack on the floating drydock was thwarted, damage to Hickem Field while serious did not affect the runways, and Ford Island escaped attack entirely. Overall however the Japanese consider the damage to American warships worth the cost, while the Americans are satisfied to have avoided damage to most of the fleet that had sortied and having suffered minimal damage to the base and airfields. American claims naturally exceeded the actual number of Japanese aircraft involved, while the Japanese claim to have inflicted damage to all three of the battleships that sortied and twice the number of actual aerial combat kills. As always, the very fast moving events during an air battle make mistakes common and of course as always aviators tend to be optimistic in their excitement and reporting. But the Air Raid on Pearl Harbor is over. But the Pacific War has only just begun....
     
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    Chapter 8 Aftermath of Pearl Harbor
  • Chapter 8 The aftermath of Pearl Harbor

    As smoke bellows from Pearl Harbor, and the Army bases at Wheeler and Hickem Fields, the Americans begin counting the cost. Even as the last Japanese aircraft leaves the area the US Navy begins an epic salvage operation like none before in history and many of the ships that fell victim this day will return to the fleet later.

    US Navy Hawaiian area December 7, 1941 1100 Hours
    Task Force 9 Picket force (all are at least 150-200 miles from Striking Force to northwest, west, or northeast)(submarines are making best speed to block the likely Japanese return heading either to the north or west)(surface ships are moving to last position of the Gamble)
    Destroyer minelayers Gamble (sunk) , Ramsey, Montgomery, Pruitt, Tracy
    submarines S-18, S-23, S-34, Gudgeon, Plunger, Tambor, Thresher

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

    Task Force 4 (Fletcher) carrier Yorktown (36 Dauntless dive bombers, 18 Devastator torpedo bombers, 18 Wildcat fighters)heavy cruisers Minnapolis, Indianapolis, light cruisers Helena, Phoenix destroyers Farragut, Aylwin, Monaghan, Tucker, Ellet, Blach, Case (several of these ships meet up with the Yorktown just after dawn on December 8 after a high speed run from Pearl Harbor)

    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 Maury, Craven, Gridley, McCall, Dunlap, Benham, Fanning,

    Task Force 8 destroyer minesweepers Chandler, Hovey, Boggs, Lamberton, fleet oilers Platte, Tippacanoe, Santee, Sangamon

    The Scouting Force is refueling 0730 hours – 1350 hours

    Other Forces
    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

    Kure: small seaplane tender Avocet, destroyer minelayer Breese,

    Returning to Pearl Harbor afternoon December 7 battleship California (4 bomb hits amidships, serious fires, secondary armament and fire control wrecked)

    Task Force 1 (Anderson) (Midway Reinforcement Force)(returned to Pearl Harbor afternoon December 7, return to sea morning of December 9 after taking on personnel, cargo, stores and refueling)
    battleships Maryland, West Virginia seaplane tenders Tangiers, Curtis, Hulbert stores ship Antares destroyers MacDonough, Phelps, Chew, Allen, Henley, Patterson, Ralph Talbot,


    In port Pearl Harbor
    110 Dock: battleship Oklahoma (sunk 8 torpedo hits, 2 in stern, part of stern missing, 5 amidships, 1 removed much of the bow, serious casualties, abandoned, on fire, serious oil fire covering much of this part of the harbor)
    Fleet Target ship Utah (4 torpedo hits, sunk, abandoned)
    submarine Cachelot (sunk by 1 torpedo, abandoned)(scrapped in place in 1942)

    Drydock: battleship Pennyslvania (3 x 500 pound bomb hits, severe fire damage amidships wrecking 6 inch secondary 5 inch mounts), destroyers Cassin, Downes (both destroyers are constructive total losses due to multiple bomb hits, magazine explosions, fire damage)
    Floating drydock: destroyer Shaw(being hurriedly readied for sea)

    Naval Station docks: heavy cruisers San Francisco (2 x 500 pound bomb hits, severe fire gutted hanger deck and aft superstructure, several 5 inch AA guns ruined),


    heavy cruiser New Orleans (broken plates and some flooding from 2 x 500 pound bomb near misses, fantail, rudder, starboard screw need major repairs or replacement from 500 pound bomb hit)


    light cruiser St Louis (2 x 500 pound bomb hits, steering compartment wrecked, forward boiler room wrecked, severe fire damage amidships),


    light cruiser Honolulu (2 x 500 pound bomb hits, B turret wrecked, 1 5 inch turret wrecked, forward 6 inch magazine flooded, fire damage amidships and forward superstructure),
    destroyers Jarvis, Mugford, Bagley, Cummings,


    minesweeper Greebe, destroyer minesweeper Trever, Zane, Perry Wasmuth, destroyer minelayer Breese,
    oiler Ramapo (severe fire damage from 2 x 500 pound bomb hits),
    repair ship Argonne, stores ship Rigel,

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

    Middle loch: repair ship Medusa, hospital ship Solace

    Battleship Row
    battleship Nevada (inboard)(2 torpedo hits, steering compartments, 2 boiler rooms flooded)(3 AP bomb hits, galley destroyed, 2 damage control teams wiped out, more damage to boilers, A turret penetrating hit and out of action)(fires are under control but has settled on the bottom),

    destroyer Dobbin (outboard of Nevada)(serious flooding engineering spaces from concussion from Nevada torpedo hits)(1 AP bomb hit, detonated below the ship, keel broken, engineering spaces flooded)(sunk and abandoned)

    battleship Arizona (inboard)(1 torpedo hit, 3 AP bomb hits, forward magazine detonation, on fire, abandoned and sunk)
    Repair ship Vestal (outboard) (1 torpedo hit, engineering spaces flooded)(flooded forward hold from Arizona torpedo hit, 1 damaging near miss and 2 AP hits that were duds, ship has sunk, severe fires from Arizona detonation, serious casualties from that and hits it has suffered, abandoned for now)
    battleship Tennessee (inboard)(D turret has lost a 14 inch gun to a AP dud, 1 AP hit has flooded the steering compartment)(fires from flaming debris from Hull and Arizona, being taken under tow by harbor tugs to move her from flaming oil from Arizona)
    destroyer Hull (outboard) (destroyed by 1 torpedo hit which caused a detonation that broke her in two. Both halves are on fire and have sunk preventing magazine explosions. Severe casualties)

    East Loch
    destroyer tender: Whitney, minelayer Oglala, Destroyer Selfridge (fighting fire amidships from plane crash) oiler Neosho (three quarters of ship on fire, has been abandoned)

    harbor entrance
    destroyers Blue, Ward, Helm, Dewey, Worden, 4 minesweepers, 6 PT boats,

    seaplane tender Thornton ( 2 torpedo hits from midget submarine, heavy casualties, beached off Hospital Point

    Post attack fates of ships hit in the attack
    Arizona broke in two as a result of the detonation of its magazine and can not be raised. Much of the steel above the deck level is taken off over the course of the war and recycled, while the guns end up assigned to the US Army Coast Defense branch. Her crew suffers the worst casualties numerically during the attack.

    Oklahoma had an entire side of the vessel ripped open by torpedo hits amidships and avoided rolling over only by heroic damage control work and ruthless counterflooding as well hits that followed that removed part of her stern and bow (essentially blowing the forward 20 feet of the bow completely apart) which opened up the starboard side to flooding (as did the removal of a substantial part of the stern). Basically enough water flooded in from the front and back of the ship, along with counterflooding, to allow her to sink with a severe list but not roll over. This rate of flooding was increased further by a torpedo that went into a hole created by a previous torpedo and blew out not only several compartments but vented the port side to flooding as well. Nearly 500 men die aboard her in flooded compartments or from the explosions of torpedoes. The second oldest battleship in the Pacific Fleet, and over 25 years old, she is considered a constructive total loss and not worth repairing. However she does take up valuable space at the 110 Dock, and so is refloated in a herculean effort in July 1942, and then towed out to sea and scuttled with honors. Over 100 bodies are discovered in compartments when she was pumped out and those men are buried with many of their crewmates at Honolulu National Cemetary. Her guns also end up with Army Coast Defense but are never used however some are used on other old battleships to replace damaged guns or guns worn out later.

    Nevada is raised in May 1942, steams to Bremerton Naval Yard for repairs and modernization, and rejoins the fleet January 1943. Over 100 men were killed aboard her during the attack.

    Pennsylvania is sent to Bremerton Naval Yard for repairs and modernization in January 1942, once the wreckage of the Cassin and Downes are removed and the dry dock is repaired sufficiently to return to service. Indeed the Dry Dock is the first priority of repair efforts. Two of the new Fletcher class destroyers get the names Cassin and Downes. The Pennsylvania rejoins the fleet in May 1942.

    California
    is sent to Mare Island Naval Yard for repairs and modernization, rejoining the fleet in May 1942. Over 50 are killed during the attack off Oahu.

    Tennessee is sent to Bremerton Naval Yard for repairs and modernization with the help of fleet tugs in late December 1941. She is then sent to Mare Island for further modernization and rejoins the Fleet in June 1942. Almost 200 were killed aboard her, mostly exposed personnel killed by the blasts and debris spread by the detonation of a destroyer alongside of her and a battleship directly astern of her.
    The heavy cruiser San Francisco is sent to Mare Island in December 1941 and rejoins the fleet in February 1942 after modernization. Over 100 die aboard her during the attack.

    The heavy cruiser New Orleans is towed to East Loch until the drydock is available again and then gets a new rudder and new screws and is sent to Bremerton for repairs and modernization. She rejoins the fleet in June 1942 and suffered 67 dead during the attack.

    The light cruisers Honolulu and St Louis were high priority ships, as they are modern highly capable light cruisers. Both are given sufficient repairs at Pearl Harbor to send them to Bremerton in January 1942, and both rejoin the fleet in April 1942. Between them over 150 are killed.

    The Vestal, Neosho, and Utah are all considered constructive total losses. The Vestal and Utah are raised, and along with the Neosho (which did not sink but simply was burned out) are towed out to sea and scuttled as not worth the risk of towing to the West Coast to be scrapped. Over 250 die aboard these three ships. The wreckage of the Hull, Thornton, and Dobbin are also raised, as the two destroyers are in valuable anchorages and the Thornton is too close to the channel for comfort, and they also are towed out to sea for scuttling. The Hull took the highest percentage casualties of the day, with only 14 of her crew of 160 man crew surviving the explosion of her magazine. Another 100 men died aboard the other two ships.

    The Selfridge is quickly repaired and rejoins the fleet in February 1942 and suffered the loss of 23 dead during the attack.. The fleet oiler Ramapo rejoins the fleet soon after in March 1942, with 13 of her crew buried at Honolulu National Cemetary.

    Other naval casualties from strafing, the attack on the Fleet headquarters, stray bombs and plane crashes number over 100 including the Commander of the Pacific Fleet who is awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor and a Fletcher class Destroyer is named for him, the USS Richardson enters service in 1943.

    Total Navy dead (including those killed on the Gamble) total 2357
     
    Chapter 8 Aftermath American Counterattacks
  • American Counterattacks December 7
    Three American formations are in route toward where the Japanese fleet is assumed to be. The Army aircraft are well in the lead, but also are off somewhat in the navigation and are forced to do a box search. Thus the Marine Dauntless dive bombers arrive at 845 Hours. The Japanese have 36 fighters up as a combat air patrol and they swarm all over the Marine aircraft, shooting 17 of them down and only 5 manage to make a combat dive, where 2 are blasted apart by Japanese flak. Only 3 manage to drop their bombs, and all three miss the Kaga, the biggest target in the Japanese fleet. One is then caught escaping by the Zeros and both survivors escape but only one makes it back to Oahu where it lands at Haleiwa, while the other ditches on the way home. Only 1 Marine of the 44 who took part in the attack survives, the pilot who made it to Haleiwa, and his gunner is dead in the seat behind him. His aircraft is a write off.

    A B17 spots the Japanese fleet next at 0907 hours, and makes an attack after providing a position report. It too is spotted by the Japanese CAP, and the Japanese learn that the B17 is a very tough aircraft, as while it is shot to pieces it manages to escape where it ends up making an acceptable landing at Wheeler Field (in that everyone survives the landing) but the wreckage is pushed off the runway. By a miracle all of the crew survives although only two remain unwounded (the pilot and the flight engineer). Their bombing attack is a failure however, as three bombs land in the water well to the starboard of the Kirishima. The crew claims two hits on a battleship and that it was sinking, as flames and flashes were very visible from the Japanese ship.

    However, the position report is picked by by the A20s, who are about to return home, and the Vindicators, who are approaching the Japanese fleet as well. The Army bombers come in at 300 miles an hour in a shallow dive and pick the first carrier they see, the Akagi at 0918 hours. The Army bombers are far faster than the Japanese expect, and the Japanese fighters only have a 30 mile an hour speed advantage over them. Three of the fighters make the mistake of making a head on attack against the A20s, and learn the hard way that the Americans have four fixed .30 caliber machine guns forward. One is blasted apart, and the other two are damaged and forced to break off. The Japanese manage to shoot down 7 of the bombers using their fighters and anti aircraft fire but 5 of them manage to drop their bombs but miss their target. However, heavy strafing does cause numerous casualties aboard the Japanese ship as all 5 bombers concentrate their fire on the Akagi's island. More importantly, a burning A20 crashes into the island structure and the bridge and flag bridge are both swept by machine gun rounds and fire and Nagumo and several of his staff are killed. The lone surviving A20, badly shot up, ditches on its return home resulting in the deaths of both crew members. Post war investigation still has not determined the name of the pilot who crashed his plane into the Akagi.

    However, the 2 Marine Vindicator's reach the Japanese fleet at that moment, and they dive on the first carrier they see, the Zuikaku. With the Japanese attention firmly focused on the Army bombers, they are not even spotted until they pull out of their dives and both place their 1,000 pound bombs squarely on the flight deck of the Japanese carrier. The forward elevator is blasted into wreckage by one bomb, while the other penetrates the flight deck and explodes in the hanger below, wrecking it and starting a serious fire that destroys the spare aircraft that were being assembled and killing dozens of men. Although the fires are put out within 30 minutes, the Zuikaku is no longer available for flight operations and its aircraft are recovered by the other carriers. Both bombers escape making it into clouds before they can be swarmed by the Japanese fighters and both manage to make it home.

    The Japanese finish recovering their aircraft 180 miles north north west of Oahu at 1030 hours and then begin their retirement at 24 knots heading west. Meanwhile, Major Landon and his 11 B17s arrive at Hickam Field, which is still burning when they land. Army personnel hurriedly refuel, arm and bomb up the aircraft and all 11, along with the 5 B17Ds that are available take off at 1400 hours heading for the most likely Japanese position. At 1700 hours they find the Japanese fleet, and bombing from 20,000 feet, surround the Japanese warships with splashes but score not a single hit. The Japanese fighters fail to reach altitude before the American bombers are long gone and break off the pursuit.

    At 1810 hours, with dusk rapidly approaching, the American submarine S-23 is nearly run down by the Japanese fleet but manages to fire all its forward torpedo tubes at the nearest carrier, the Soryu. Of four torpedoes launched, three actually hit the carrier and two of them detonate. A chain reaction of explosions results and after 20 minutes it is clear that the ship is doomed. Two destroyers are left behind to take off survivors and the rest of the Japanese fleet steams on into the gathering darkness. The S-23 is attacked by Japanese destroyers for 20 minutes but escapes unscathed. The Soryu goes down with 432 men, and takes with it all of its aircraft as well.

    With that the first day of battle between the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States Navy comes to an end.

    All of the American bomber squadrons involved are awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, with the surviving aircrew awarded the Navy Cross or Distinguished Service Cross. The S-23 will also be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
     
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    Chapter 8 Aftermath of Pearl Harbor (part 2) The Japanese Fleet
  • Counting the cost – the Japanese Naval Air groups
    As night falls, Yamamoto is aboard the cruiser Tone digesting the fact that the First Air Fleet has lost its commander, chief of staff and primary planner as Admirals Nagumo and Kusaka are dead and Captain Genda is badly wounded and out of action. thus Rear Admiral Yamaguchi now is the senior remaining carrier leader. Yamaguchi is ordered to prepare a report of available aircraft and losses suffered for the day, which he is rapidly able to do, having spent the day watching the survivors return from the raid throughout the morning and early afternoon. His report is sobering, although the amount of damage inflicted offsets that to a great degree.

    The first wave, with 40 torpedo bombers and 3 dive bombers suffered horrific losses. In all 33 aircraft (and their pilots) were killed, and another 6 wrecked. However this wave sank a battleship, a submarine (which raises an eyebrow), a target ship (another rueful shake of the head), the destruction of a destroyer, heavy damage (and probable sinking) of a tanker, damage to 3 battleships, and damage to a repair ship. At nearly 80% casualties the First Wave achieved the mission minimum goal of the mission of knocking 4 American battleships out of action.

    The report of the Second wave is just as painful however. This wave was supposed to suppress 2 American airfields and the 42 level bombers assigned the job lost 22 bombers shot down and 8 more write offs, and one target completely escaped attack while the American fighter strength available to meet the Third Wave did not seem terribly affected by the attack on Wheeler. Another 12 fighters shot down and 6 write offs just to get the force through is a lot more acceptable, particularly in light of kills being claimed but in effect both strikes were a waste of resources and lives. The level bombers however did definitely destroy a battleship and crippled at least two more, so that element of the strike at least was a success and worth the cost of the 6 level bombers shot down and 6 write offs. It is too early to tell if the attack on the Fleet headquarters was a success, although the surviving 4 pilots (of the 6 who carried out the strike) indicated good hits on the building. Yamaguchi is skeptical if it was worth the cost of 2 shot down and 2 write offs. In all out of 98 bombers and 60 fighters, he lost 42 aircrews (28%) and 66 aircraft lost or wrecked (44%). Unsustainable losses by any measure but this wave enabled the mission in two waves to achieve the neutralization of 5 of the 9 American battleships that were present at the beginning of the strike.

    For Yamaguchi the most sobering part of the losses of the first two waves is that airborne strike commander (Fuchida), an old friend and classmate, as well as 4 of the 6 Lieutenant Commanders leading it are dead, including another of the planners, Lieutenant Commander Murata. His torpedo bombers are now being led by Lieutenants instead of Lieutenant Commanders and other officer casualties were equally severe. His fighters too lost some valuable leaders, although thankfully not as many and at a lower percentage (only 2 lost).

    The Third Wave was supported to neutralize the American bomber base, which the damage to the Shokaku and Akagi makes clear was a failure. However, reports indicate 2 more battleships were damaged, as were 4 cruisers, and perhaps those cruisers even lost one or more sunk. Another 39 bombers lost, 41 more written off, which is a painful loss indeed especially as again losses of squadron leaders has been severe. The 17 fighters lost and 6 more written off were equally serious losses and only the damage inflicted (six heavy ships knocked out or possibly sunk) makes the loss acceptable at all. In all 103 aircraft lost or wrecked out of 180 aircraft committed and 31% aircrew lost and almost 60% of the aircraft expended. A terribly stiff price for neutralizing 2 more battleships and 4 cruisers. Yamaguchi is convinced this wave was a terrible mistake.

    In all, the attack has cost the First Air Fleet lost 131 aircraft and their aircrew lost en route to, over or returning from their targets. Another 71 aircraft are so badly damaged as to be write offs. Then a carrier was sunk and two more suffered damage, one of which is effectively out of the battle. Along with the valuable aircraft aboard the Soryu, the loss of the ship and many of its very experienced crew is a hard blow. Another 10 valuable pilots died with the ship, along with the other 400 men who died with her and none of the aircrew that were rescued are really fit for duty after their dunking in the cold North Pacific. The hit on the Shokaku gutted part of the hanger deck and and also accounted for a few aircraft on deck. Luckily that hit did not kill or injure any of the valuable pilots. The good news was that the damage to the Akagi did not include any aircraft or aircrew, although Genda being out of the fight is a serious problem. Overall the first day has cost the fleet 2 carriers sunk or knocked out of action (33%), 262 aircraft shot down or wrecked (63%) and 141 valuable pilots (34%) including most of the his best leaders. To knock 7 battleships out of action along with some cruisers and destroyers. A victory, but one that cannot be repeated with that loss rate. Luckily there are spares aboard the surviving undamaged carriers, enough so that the damaged aircraft that are not write offs can be repaired and another 30 aircraft (10 of each type) are added to his strength. In his report he suggests that in the future the dive bombers lead off any attack to weaken enemy defenses before the more vulnerable torpedo aircraft go in.

    In the morning it will be time to shuffle aircraft around and send a courier to the Tone with the report.

    Preparing for the next battle
    December 7 Night – December 8 Evening
    Japanese Forces

    Japanese striking Force
    1030 hours 180 miles NNW Oahu (150 NM due north Kaui) (final recovery position)
    speed 24 knots for 12 hours (2230 hours) 120 NM west

    course change N 27 knots (2230 hours – 0830 hours) puts them 500 miles north of Nihoa Island, meets with supply group 2. Destroyers refuel 0900 – 1700 hours
    Position is 700 miles from Oahu and 800 miles from Midway Island, just out of air search range for both. After refueling, the Zuikaku, 3 destroyers, 5 fleet oilers (from supply group 1) all head for Japan at 12 knots (reaching Japan on December 21). Remainder of the Striking Force steams toward Midway beginning 1700 hours December 8 at 21 knots, which will put them strike range of Midway Island on the afternoon of December 9, and the bombardment force can reach the island after dark.

    Midway Invasion Force and Supply Group 3 is 600 miles west of Midway Island heading due east heading directly for Midway as of dusk on December 8. This fleet accelerates to its best speed of 15 knots just after dark, which will place them off Midway the morning of December 10.

    The Japanese also have extensive air search out, with 24 Kate's flying in pairs out in a search pattern extending 180 degrees from the fleets course and extending out 200 miles, but sea conditions initially preclude using the float planes after they are recovered on December 7. It is not until the fleet refuels in the middle part of the day on December 8 that the float planes are again launched, and it is also the first chance that Yamaguchi has to send his report to Yamamoto. Aircraft, pilots and flight leaders are regrouped so that the Hiryu, Kaga, Shokaku, Akagi each have relatively balanced air groups, while the Zuikaku is sent toward home with minimal aircraft and aircrew as well as most of the survivors of the Soryu.

    By December 9 the Japanese are deployed as follows:

    Kido Butai (First Air Fleet) (Striking Force)
    Carriers Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku, Zuikaku, battleships Hiei Haruna, Kongo, Kirishima, CA Tone (fleet flag: Yamamoto), , Chikuma, CL Abukuma, 14 destroyers, 12 fleet oilers,

    detached
    Refueling Group 1 – 3 oilers, 1 destroyer (en route to Japan after refueling fleet on December 6)
    Refueling Group 2 – 5 oilers, 3 destroyers, CV Zuikaku (en route to Japan after refueling December 8)
    Refueling Group 3 – 2 oilers, 1 destroyer (with Midway Invasion Force)
    Refueling Group 4 – 2 oilers, 2 destroyers (off Marcus Island)

    Midway Island Assault Force
    CA Aoba, Furutaka, Kako, Kinugasa, 4 destroyers, 2 gunboats, 6 submarine chasers, 1 seaplane tender, 2 tenders, 9 transports, South Sea Force (4,886 troops)

    losses:
    CVL Soryu sunk, knocked out of action CV Zuikaku, damaged: CV Akagi
    aircraft losses: 262 aircraft, 141 pilots all causes

    The Japanese strike force left Japan with 459 aircraft (including spares). With only four available flight decks and serious losses among all squadrons, Admiral Yamaguchi orders a reorganization while the fleet is refueling on December 8. The Fleet has 187 fighter and strike aircraft remaining as of December 8 consisting of 91 fighters, 40 dive bombers, and 56 torpedo bombers after spare aircraft are assembled and including those lost aboard the Soryu and Zuikaku. . The Zuikaku is sent home with 11 fighters and 8 torpedo bombers to provide basic defense of its task group, while the remaining aircraft are divided among the 4 remaining carriers, giving each 20 fighters, 12 torpedo bombers and 10 dive bombers. Also available are 12 Jake float planes aboard the Tone and Chikuma, while the battleships each carry 2 Pete float planes. However heavy seas and the high speed of the Japanese movements prevent the use of any of the float planes after noon on the 7th, as the Fleet cannot afford the time needed to recover them if launched. Luckily the weather improved some on December 8, and it is hoped the weather will cooperate the next two days.

    In the view of the fleet staff this is an alarmingly low number of strike and fighter aircraft to face potentially 2 American carriers and possibly two others if all of the American carriers are in the area, which between them would have according to estimates 92 fighters and 172 strike aircraft. But the entire expedition is a gamble, and Yamamoto believes firmly that now is the time to hit the Americans again while they are still trying to shake off peacetime lethargy and inexperience. At worst the Americans have a slight edge in aircraft and potentially the Japanese can catch and sink the more likely grouping of 2 American carriers as Yamamoto believes that at least one is on the West Coast and probably two.
     
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    Chapter 9 The Battle of Midway (part 1)
  • Chapter 9 The Battle of Midway
    The engagements around Midway Island between December 9 and 10, 1942 are collectively considered one large battle for the island itself. This was the first carrier versus carrier duel in the Pacific War, and indeed in history, and many mistakes and lessons were learned. Both the Japanese and Americans learned a healthy respect for one another as a result of the Hawaiian Campaign, and the Battle of Midway reinforced it.

    Even as the smoke was still bellowing from wrecked ships and shore installations on Oahu, the US Navy was actively seeking the Japanese. Vice Admiral Halsey was senior ranking naval officer in the Hawaiian area by the end of the Third Wave strike on Pearl Harbor, and was informed of noon. He was already assembling the Pacific Fleet to repel any further attacks and was already concerned that Midway might be next.

    American Forces
    The American Scouting Force completes refueling 200 miles south Laysan Island by 1350 hours December 7. Halsey takes the fleet and turns east and runs at 18 knots until 0700 hours December 8 to meet with TF 15 (2 CL) which is steaming from just off Pearl Harbor at 31 knots from 1100 hours December 7 until 0700 hours December 8 where it joins Yorktown task force. At that point the Scouting Force has no idea where the enemy is as it waits for contact reports. Halsey orders the fleet to steam north in 3 task forces, each 10 miles apart, to a Point Option, at 30 degrees N, 170 degrees W. Worried that the Japanese might have slipped by air search from Midway and Pearl Harbor, he has 36 SBDs operating in pairs searching out to 200 miles, and 30 TBDs looking for submarines, which are suspected to be nearby in strength. By nightfall the American carriers have reached Point Option and there is still no report regarding the Japanese. In addition to air search capability, the Pacific Fleet has several ships equipped with the CXAM radar, which included the battleship West Virginia, the carriers Lexington, Yorktown, Enterprise, Saratoga, the cruisers Pensacola, Northampton, Chester, and Chicago and the seaplane tender Curtis, as well as the battleships California and Pennsylvania which are currently out of action. Although bulky and large, the CXAM radar has an air search range of between 50 and 100 miles, although somewhat less capability for surface search but still outside of the range of enemy gunfire. All of the American destroyer type warships are equipped with sonar although lack radar. There are also two American submarines near Midway which have been directed to take station (the Argonaut and Trout) but the submarines that were at Pearl Harbor are hurrying for sea but will not be ready before December 9 so are ordered to take up patrol stations north of Pearl Harbor.

    Meanwhile long and medium range air search from Midway looks Northeast, North and Northwest out 500 miles but does not spot enemy, nor does the air search from Oahu, which is also patrolling out 500 miles. At the same time, American destroyers and destroyer minesweepers along with float planes and B18s are searching off the coast of Oahu for enemy submarines. They find two of them, sinking the I-3 and the I-70 near Oahu. Halsey also orders the formation of Task Force 1 and directs it to load up reinforcements for Midway in Pearl Harbor with orders to head to Midway on the morning of December 9. The base at Midway has radar, and it and the support ships at French Frigate Shoals are able to support the 80 PBY that are searching for the enemy that might remain, and there are the newly arrived Marine Vindicator dive bombers at Midway that can provide local search capability. Midway is well defended by a reinforced Marine Defense Battalion equipped with 3 inch AA guns, 5 inch shore batteries, and plenty of machine guns, and the Marines are now digging in with a will. Another defense battalion is being hurriedly loaded to reinforce the island by Task Force 1.

    Washington, determining that reinforcements are needed, orders to the Saratoga to hurry loading its airgroup off San Diego and form a task force with with 6 destroyers and 2 fleet oilers. In addition, it is loading a Marine Corps bombing squadron with orders to steam to Pearl Harbor on December 10. A Warning Order is issued for several patrol squadrons on the West Coast to prepare for deployment to Hawaii. Washington also orders the American convoys en route to the Philippines are diverted to Brisbane, Australia pending further decisions. The Navy Department and President Roosevelt are suddenly looking for a new commander of the Pacific Fleet and several names are discussed. Overnight reports reach Pearl Harbor of fierce air battles over Luzon and the loss of important commanders there, attacks on Guam, a disastrous air raid on Wake Island, Japanese attacks on Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Malaya. The US Navy issues instructions to conduct unrestricted submarine warfare on Japan.

    Steaming to Battle
    Night December 8/9

    The Japanese forces steam at their best speed during the night. At 0700 hours 450 miles west steaming at 15 knots and is zig-zagging as the likelihood of American submarines has increased as they approach Midway. However the Striking Force runs into a severe storm during the night and is forced to slow to 12 knots and move off its track to the south to avoid the worst of it. While this prevents it from having to zig-zag to avoid any possible American submarines, it also delays the Japanese substantially. As dawn breaks on December 9 the Japanese Striking Force is still 500 miles from Midway, and still almost 1,000 miles away from the Invasion Force it is supposed to cover.

    Although the seas are no longer running nearly as heavy by dawn, and the rain has ended, flight operations are still delayed for nearly 3 hours by still heavy seas and a low overcast. Yamamoto is able to order his fleet to return to 27 knots by 1000 hours, but including the need to zig-zag, the fleet is still 25 hours from where it is supposed to be and will be nearly 18 hours late. With little choice, Yamamoto orders a radio signal be sent to the Invasion Fleet to relay this vital information. The Invasion Force receives the message and adding a blunder to the unavoidable, signals receipt. With zig-zagging the Japanese Invasion Force is 40 hours from Midway as of 0700 hours.

    Midway Island picks up the two signals and immediately alerts Halsey. Unwilling to expose his fleet to possible discovery by radio intercept but with a need to have access to communications, he passes command over to Admiral Brown and he and his chief of staff Miles Browning fly over to Midway aboard a SBD. There not only does he have access to radio without danger of exposing his position (as the Japanese obviously know where Midway is), he also has access to the cable connecting Midway to Oahu. As acting commander of the Pacific Fleet (as senior officer left) he know does not have any longer has the luxury of being out of communication from Washington and the rest of the Pacific Fleet. He also for the first time is able to get a comprehensive report of the situation at Pearl Harbor and he issues several orders:

    Task Force 1 is loading what Marines can be spared from the defense battalions at Oahu (2 machine gun companies), and is to begin steaming toward Midway at 1200 hours making best speed (18 knots) to Midway as planned to land reinforcements, spares, and ammunition. But at that speed and with the need to take evasive action against the submarine threat it is nearly a week away. Halsey decides that the issue will be decided by then and orders Task Force 1 to remain at Pearl Harbor for now, thus canceling the loading and other preparations. The exception are the cruisers Helena and Phoenix, which are to leave port at 0900 hours and make a high speed run to link up with Brown by the morning of the 10th as at 30 knots they can cover 1200 miles in 24 hours if they do not take evasive action, they will be going somewhat faster than that and Halsey decides the risk of submarine attack is outweighed by the need for their firepower. Both cruisers with their duel purpose 5 inch /38s are considered vital for protecting the carriers with their anti aircraft guns.

    Task Force 2 (the Scouting Force) will move to a position 100 miles southeast of Midway allowing it to remain close enough to support Midway. Once in position, 3 squadrons of Dauntless Scout Bombers plus the Marine Scout Bomber squadron of Vindicators will fly off to Midway and will be organized into a provisional air group commanded by Browning. A detachment from each carriers of fighters (4 Buffalos, 8 Wildcats) will move to Midway as well. In effect Midway is being used as a shield and a forward patrol base.

    The float planes at French Frigate Shoals, as well as the destroyer seaplane tenders Swan and Avocet, as well as the destroyer minesweeper Breese will steam at their best speed to Midway to support the float planes (12 in all) which with the dive bombers will allow a very dense search pattern out to 250 miles, while the 12 PBYs will conduct long range searches out to 500 miles in the direction of the radio signals to the west and northeast.

    Patrol Wing 1 will send 16 PBYs to French Frigate Shoals, where they will meet with the seaplane tender Wright. They will conduct long range patrols to the north and northwest to find the enemy.

    Halsey also receives orders to not unduly risk the fleet straight from Admiral Stark, who is already digesting the losses suffered so far. Aircraft and aircrew can be risked, but avoiding unnecessary loses it important as well. However, Hawaii must be held, even if it costs what remains of the Pacific Fleet, and Midway is the outer redoubt of Hawaii. In an exchange of communiques Stark grants Halsey permission to defend Midway, but he is ordered to preserve the Fleet if it comes to a choice.

    The Battle of Midway - 1st Day (December 9, 1941)
    At 1000 hours, a PBY from Midway spots the Japanese Midway Assault Force 400 miles west of Midway. Working out the math, the Japanese will barely be within strike range by dusk, even if Brown moves his fleet and any strike will have to return in the dark. At their present speed the Japanese will reach Midway sometime on the 10th. Meanwhile the Japanese carriers finally launch their scouts at 1000 hours, using 40 Kates flying in pairs for that mission as slowing to recover float planes will slow the fleet.

    Meanwhile in the morning hours PBYs arrive from Hawaii at French Frigate Shoals and are refueled. They have orders to begin a search as soon as visibility permits on the 10th.

    A pair of Japanese scouts flies over Midway at 1300 hours and reports a large number of single-engined aircraft at the airfield, large numbers of seaplanes and flying boats, and several warships. However the one operational radar set on the island had picked up the Japanese Scouts, and flight of 4 Buffalo fighter bounces them, shooting one down almost immediately and heavily damaging the other which crashes on the way back to its carrier. This also makes it clear that the Japanese carriers are at least within search range, and a pair of PBYs are sent a signal to look for them.

    At 1454 hours, the PBYs both spot the Japanese Carrier Force, 383 miles from Midway on a course that will take them 100 miles to the west of it. This is the first confirmation that the Japanese fleet has been reduced to four carriers, confirming that two have been sunk or forced to retire. This force too is beyond air strike range and likely to remain that way past darkness.

    Meanwhile, at 1500 hours, aware that he has been spotted, Yamamoto orders the 4 cruisers of the 6th Cruiser Division (Aoba, Kinugasa, Kako, Furataka, Rear Admiral Goto commanding) with a pair of destroyers to proceed at full speed to Midway Island and under cover of darkness shell the airfield until it is neutralized and high explosive ammunition is exhausted. By morning the Carriers should be within range to provide air cover in case the American carriers are nearby and thus they should be able to withdrawal without undue risk. At 33 knots there is little fear of submarine attack, and what risk there is deemed acceptable. At this speed the Japanese cruisers will arrive offshore at 0200 hours December 10.

    At 1800, a pair of Dauntless Dive Bombers from VB2 spots the Japanese cruisers 245 miles west of Midway steaming at high speed straight for the island. A warning is sent to Halsey. Both make attacks but miss while Japanese flak inflicts little damage to the American aircraft.

    By the time the message reaches him, it is 0610 hours and it will be night within 20 minutes. A hurried scramble is out of the question as is a hurried attack. There is only one option available. A force of surface warships will have to meet and engage the Japanese and prevent them from shelling the airfield.

    At 1830 hours, instructions are sent to Brown and Rear Admiral Raymond John H Newton to form a surface task force consisting of 5 cruisers and for Newton to take this force, along with 8 destroyers to meet the Japanese force. The remaining ships under Brown's command will form one task force and steam to a position 100 miles south of Midway which puts them within range to hit Invasion Fleet directly on the 10th, and by staging out of Midway hit the Japanese carriers or potentially strike them directly. Brown (aboard the Indianapolis) detaches the Minneapolis and Astoria (Cruiser Division 6, Rear Admiral Fletcher aboard the Minneapolis) to reinforce Newton's Cruiser Division 4 (Chicago, Portland) as well as the Chester from Cruiser Division 5. Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance is appointed commander of the screening force for the carriers.

    Newton and his 13 ships form up by 1900 hours and steam at high speed (32 knots) to meet the enemy. His destroyers are deployed in an arc ahead of the Chicago (the flag ship) as only one of his ships (the Chicago) has radar and this will provide him a scouting force to spot the Japanese.

    Task Force 6 (Rear Admiral Newton aboard Chicago)
    Heavy Cruisers Chicago, Portland, Minneapolis,Astoria, Chester
    Destroyers Farragut, Aylwin, Monaghan, Porter, Drayton, Flusser, Lamson, Mahan,

    Midway 1st Bombardment Force (Rear Admiral Goto)
    Heavy cruisers Aoba, Kinugasha, Kako, Furataka
    destroyers Shigure, Yugure

    Yamamoto decides that a follow up bombardment will be conducted in the afternoon on December 10. He orders Mikawa to prepare a battle plan using his 4 battleships, 1 light cruiser, and 3 destroyers to finish off the American base or to engage any American surface forces in the area , while Yamaguchi is ordered to hit the island as soon as he can launch at first light with half his dive bombers and a third of his fighters. His torpedo planes will be held in reserve to deal with any American carriers that may be nearby, although 24 plus all of the available float planes will conduct a search at first light. The remainder of the dive bombers will also be held in reserve for an anti-shipping strike and one third of the fighters will cover the carries, and the remaining third will be split between covering the cruisers and Mikawa and the Invasion Fleet which is coming into range of a possible strike from Midway. The fleet will change course so that it is within 50 miles of the island as soon as practical on the 10th and that zig-zagging can be dispensed with after dark to cut down the steaming time.
     
    The Battle of Kure Atoll (Battle of Midway part 2)
  • Night action December 9, 1941 The Battle of Kure Island
    15 miles east Kure Atoll (43 miles west of Midway)

    The Ships (US)
    The Americans are steaming with a line of 5 heavy cruisers (1,000 yards apart)
    In the lead is the Chicago, which has a CXAM radar, which can detect surface ships at a range of 14 miles.

    The Chicago is a Northampton class heavy cruiser commissioned in 1931, and is flagship of Cruisers, Scouting Force, Pacific Fleet, as well as Cruiser Division 4. Aboard is Rear Admiral Newton who has limited experience with radar but is one of the few admirals in the US Navy with any experience at all. The Chicago (as well as the Chester) have 3 main battery turrets with triple 8 inch guns, 8 single open deck mount 5 inch guns, 4 single open mount 3 inch guns, 4 quad mounted 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns, and 8 heavy machine guns for close in defense. Capable of 32 knots, but relatively weakly protected as fuel tanks make up twice the tonnage of her armor. Next in line is the Portland which is a bit newer, and a bit better armored. Like all of the heavy cruisers in the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Richardson pushed for her to get her 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns earlier than originally planned. Her armament is essentially the same as the Chicago, but is 1,000 tons greater displacement. Behind her is the Minneapolis, a New Orleans Class heavy cruiser (as is the Astoria) which are newer still. They are heavier armored than the other American cruisers present having sacrificed some range for greater tonnage and proportion of armor. Both the Minneapolis and Astoria have essentially the same armament as the other American cruisers present. The cruisers are 1,000 yards apart in a line ahead formation with the Chicago in the lead, followed by the Portland, Minneapolis, Astoria, and Chester. All of the American cruisers were built to fall within the London Naval Treaty requirements limiting them to 10,000 tons and 8 inch guns, and like all cruisers that were built that actually complied with the treaty, they tend to sacrifice protection for range and firepower as they were built to hunt raiders or act as such.

    Trailing the cruisers and also in line ahead 2,000 yards behind the cruisers is Destroyer Division 9 (Commander George Kriner) with 4 Mahan class destroyers with 1,000 yards between each ship and consistof the Drayton, Flusser, Lamson and finally the Mahan). All four of these sister ships are around 1,500 tons, have 5 single turret mounted 5 inch 38 caliber guns that are superior to the 5 inch mounts on the cruisers, and a triple mount with 21 inch torpedoes as well as depth charges. With no armor aside from hull plating, like all destroyers, they depend on speed to survive a battle. A significant problem is that they are behind the cruisers and thus tactically are not in position to launch their torpedoes until after the cruisers open fire, which is adequate perhaps for daylight conditions but means that the enemy will be well aware of the American presence by the time they engage. They are also equipped with the seriously flawed American Mark 15 torpedo, which just as the submarine launched Mark 14 torpedo, has flaws with its magnetic and contact detonator and those flaws have not yet been discovered.

    Ahead of the column, 2,000 yards ahead of the lead cruiser, and 2,000 yards to the starboard is the destroyer Alywin (Destroyer Division 2, Commander Flynn commanding), and 2,000 yards off to her starboard is the destroyer Farragut. Their mission, as well as the Monaghan, which is 2,000 yards ahead and 2,000 yards to the port of the lead cruiser as well as the destroyer Porter which is 2,000 yards to the port of the Monaghan, is to illuminate the enemy fleet with star shells once it is discovered, as Newton is not certain of how effective his radar will be in providing early warning. All four ships except the Porter are Farragut class destroyers, a bit older than the Mahan class, but are essentially the same, carrying only two torpedoes instead of three, and if anything, even more lightly built. The Porter is the lead ship of her class and the only one of her class present. She has only 4 of the five inch gun mounts, but does have a triple 1.1 antiaircraft gun mount, plus more anti-aircraft machine guns than the other destroyers and a twin torpedo mount.

    All total the American force covers an area 12,000 yards across (including the picket destroyers), and in all stretches over 14,500 yards or 6 miles across by almost 8 miles in length from beginning to end. The American force is steaming at 30 knots, on a course to the northwest which will encounter the Japanese force at just after 2205 Hours local time. The American cruisers also have float planes, but all of the float planes were flown off with orders to fly to Midway Atoll (which with its bright white sand is easily visible in the dark) as Admiral Halsey has appropriated every available scout plane to look for the Japanese carrier fleet Halsey expects to see the following morning.

    The American ships however do have some disadvantages they are not yet aware of or have not yet had time to correct. The hangers aboard the cruisers are extremely flammable, with aviation fuel and oil stored there for their aircraft. None of the American ships have had time to strip for action, thus there is a lot of paint, wood, and other peacetime highly flammable fittings aboard and those too are major fire hazards. The crewmen have not yet learned the importance of keeping skin from being exposed and thus are more vulnerable to flash burns. The Americans also have relatively minimal training for combat at night, as peacetime budgets and safety regulations kept training during the daytime in good weather to avoid accidents and needless damage.

    Conditions are very dark, with a Waxing Quarter Moon with a sea state of 6 foot swells, with partly cloudy skies (40% cloud cover). A very dark night indeed

    Japanese Forces: Midway Bombardment Force (Cruiser Division 6 plus escorts)
    The Japanese force is steaming due west at 30 knots and is not expecting to run into any enemy forces as none of been spotted. The last report was of a pair of old 4 stack destroyers anchored off Midway (spotted by search aircraft in the late afternoon) and they are not expected to remain in the area.

    However, after the submarine attack on the 1st Air Fleet, and just in case the Americans are willing to fight with those old ships, Rear Admiral Goto has his two destroyers 5,000 yards ahead of his cruisers, with the Yugure south of the cruisers track at 2,000 yards (thus on his starboard side ahead) and the Shigure off to the north (thus port side) of the column. The Yugure is a Hatsuharu-class destroyer, larger than any of the 8 American destroyers at 2,000 tons, a bit slower with a best speed of 30 knots, with 2 duel purpose 5 inch guns in fore and after turret mounts, plus 2 twin mounted 25 mm anti-aircraft guns but most importantly with 2 triple mounted torpedo launchers. The Shigure is a Shiratsuyu-class destroyer and only slightly larger than the American ships at 1600 tons but faster than the Yugure, and has 2 twin mounted 5 inch guns, a single mount 5 inch guns, 2 twin mounted 25 mm anti-aircraft guns and has 2 quadruple torpedo launchers. In gun power the Japanese destroyers are markedly inferior to the American destroyers, are a bit slower. But they individually carry more and much better torpedoes than the American destroyers.

    The four Japanese cruisers are 1,500 yards apart in a line ahead formation. They are the Japanese 6th Cruiser Division, with years of working together and have been under Admiral Goto's command for 4 months. In the lead (in the order indicated) are the Aoba and the Kinugasha, and each are Aoba class heavy cruisers. This class is smaller than the American cruisers at around 9,000 tons, have only 3 twin 8 inch gun turrets, but unlike the American cruisers carries 12 torpedoes. Next in line are the Furataka and Kako (in that order) which are smaller still at just over 8,700 tons and these ships are the smallest of the Japanese Navy heavy cruisers, and the oldest but while having only 6 x 8 inch guns they carry 8 torpedoes. Cruiser Division 6 was originally assigned to the Mandates as a patrol force and thus was readily available for the escort mission originally envisioned but like their escorting destroyers were nearby and available for this new mission of bombarding Midway Island and catching the American aircraft stationed there on the ground. The Japanese force is steaming at 30 knots due west and expects to reach Midway around midnight. The Japanese cruisers have their aircraft aboard, and 1 Kawanishi E7K Alf float plane each on their catapults which they intend to launch once they are within 15 miles of Midway to drop flares and correct the ships bombardment of Midway. Goto has instructions to neutralize the American airfield and the aircraft located on it, and to avoid pointless engagements with shore batteries and thus is to remain out of range of the American 5'inch guns expected to be there. He is completely unaware of the oncoming American task force. However his ships are stripped for action, his crews have trained for night time engagements in rough weather, and while accidents and deaths were frequent during those peacetime exercises, they have also resulted in crews and particularly officers who are very well trained for the battle that is coming up.

    As the fleets move toward each other, each ship is at least 5 ship lengths from the one in front of it, and in the case of the Japanese, even further. Time enough to take evasive action in case of the need to do so. At 30 knots it takes about 1 minute to cover 500 yards so space does equal reaction time. The Japanese have trained more at night and thus gave themselves more space (and thus reaction time) to avoid collision issues. As the cruisers average around 600 feet in length apiece, the columns are greater than the distances between ships as there are around 200 yards for each ship in it (for the cruisers) and about half that for the destroyers in it.

    Overall the 13 American and 6 Japanese ships are relatively modern versions of their type, although a bit old and somewhat outclassed by newer ships. They were designed for just the engagement ahead of them and incorporate the lessons from the Great War, and have solid leaders well trained in the doctrine of their respective navies. Indeed in a microcosm they represent the relative size differences between the American and Japanese navies, and the battle in the open ocean that both navies have been preparing for a generation. The war they have trained for and the battle they were designed for comes this night. The lessons that are learned will carry forward.

    Night Battle of Kure Atoll
    Impending Battle

    2200 Hours 9 December, 1941
    The American warships are moving at high speed to engage the enemy with the expectation of attacking the Japanese squadron before it reaches Midway. The American crews are at their battle stations and have been for over an hour after having their supper and a brief rest before the night ahead. The Japanese are steaming at the same speed (30 Knots) with the expectation of beginning their bombardment around midnight. Crews are already preparing the cruiser float planes for launch, and the Japanese commanders are preparing to call their crews to general quarters within an hour. For now half of their crews are at their stations, the rest are resting as best they can as it is expected to be a long night.

    The Enemy is in Sight!
    2205 hours
    Radar operators aboard the Chicago spot 6 surface contacts at 12 miles from the Chicago (which puts them 11 miles from the American destroyers in the van). Admiral Newton is quickly alerted.

    2207 hours
    Newton gets on TBS (Talk Between Ships voice radio) and orders Commander Flynn and his four ships to proceed directly toward the enemy and close as per the battle plan hurriedly put together three hours before. This plan calls for Flynn and his destroyer division to close with the enemy and after illuminating the enemy column launch their torpedoes and turn west to get out of the line of fire. Meanwhile Newton orders a course change from its current heading of 315 degrees (northwest) to 290 degrees (north northwest) as he is hoping to cross the T of the approaching enemy.

    Aboard the Aoba a Japanese radio operator makes out what he thinks is a voice message but it is garbled. He attempts to locate the channel he heard it on better, intently listening for more.

    2210 hours
    On the Aoba, the Japanese communications officer is alerted that the radio is picking up what sounds like it could be voice chatter from somewhere close. Admiral Goto is alerted.

    2215 hours
    At this point the American destroyer Porter has accelerated to its full speed of 36 knots on a course heading 315 NW. The Japanese destroyer Yuguri is steaming at 30 knots on a heading of 90 W. The Porter is 10,000 yards from the Yuguri at a 1 o'clock position relative to the Japanese ship. The Monaghan is directly ahead of the Yuguri (12 o'clock position) at just over 12,000 yards.

    Aboard the Aoba, Admiral Goto decides that perhaps the American destroyers spotted earlier at Midway have come out to fight. He orders a signal of battle stations be sent by voice radio to his force with signal lamp to also be used to ensure that all ships receive the warning. The Aoba goes to general quarters.

    2216 hours
    aboard the Porter, American lookouts spot the signal lamp message from the Aoba to the Yuguri. Captain Overesch, commander Destroyer Squadron 5, and senior destroyer command tells Lieutenant Commander Entwistle to illuminate the ship that used its signal light. Meanwhile, at the 1 o'clock position relative to the Aoba, the Chicago is just over 16,000 yards away and the American cruiser column is about to cross the Japanese “T”.

    Commence Firing!
    2217 The Porter opens fire at the Japanese column. A Turret fires just ahead of the Aoba, while B Turret fires just behind a total of 15 rounds a minute, illuminating the Aoba and Kinugasha in a flurry of star shells. The Porter executes a high speed turn to come to course 270 W, and her rear turrets open fire adding more star shells to the illumination already under way. The Monaghan also executes her turn, which puts her on a collision course with the Yugari. Aboard the Alywin, Commander Flynn orders his ship and the Farragut to maintain their heading and open fire at the enemy warships to their port side. The Farragut spots the shape in the darkness that can now be made out as it is back lit by star shells. Within seconds 5 inch star shells light up the Shigure.

    Aboard the Japanese ships, sailors are frantically running to their battle stations and officers are hurriedly trying to figure out what is happening ahead.

    2218 hours
    The Porter launches 8 Mark 15 torpedoes aimed at the Japanese battle line as she turns. This takes a couple of minutes. The Japanese cruisers are 12,000 yards away, within range, but long range for the American torpedoes. She also continues to pour out star shells, illuminating the Furataka and Kako as the she passes them at 36 knots while they are still steaming at 30 knots.

    The Yugure sees the approaching Monaghan and makes an emergency turn to starboard while the Monaghan also spots the enemy. Both ships open fire with their forward guns, getting off several rounds in the opening exchange. Most miss, but two each slam into the respective bridges of the two destroyers, killing or wounding many at those stations. The Japanese torpedo crews hurriedly prepare their torpedoes to launch.

    2220 hours
    The Chicago is now at the 11 o'clock position relative to the Aoba, with the Portland at the 12 o'clock position, the Minneapolis at the One o'clock position and all 5 cruisers have the lead Japanese ships in their sights. They open fire with a total of 45 8 inch guns and 20 5 inch guns which lights up the sky, themselves, and of course not long after that the Aoba. Each 8 inch gun is able get off up to 5 rounds a minute and they all do in the opening moments. A total of 225 8 inch rounds and dozens more of 5 inch splash all around the Aoba, which has yet to open fire. In all 8 of the heavy 8 inch shells hit her from her forward superstructure to her bow. Of these, three smash her forward turrets, knocking them out and starting serious fires which threaten her magazines but disaster is narrowly averted by flooding them. The other 5 hit her around the bridge or higher, killing Admiral Goto, most of his officers as well as the ships captain and starting serious fires that light up the sky. It also knocks the ship out of control, and the stricken cruiser takes a turn to the port that is unplanned while the executive officer hurries to take back control from the auxiliary control station further aft. Meanwhile his rear turret is still in commission and it, along with his secondary 4.7 inch guns crews struggle to get the Porter into their sights. They are soon joined by the other cruisers as weapons are finally manned and begin to return fire.

    Aboard the Kinugasha, Captain Sawa quickly realizes that the Aoba is out of control and seeing the fierce blazes already marking the pyre that was her forward superstructure he is just starting to realize he is likely now in tactical command. With destroyers to his starboard, cruisers to his front, he makes a quick decision.

    As the cruisers are in action or about to be, and the Porter and Monaghan are making their brave charge, the Shigure comes under fire from the Alywin and Farragut who pour 5 inch rounds into her. Several hit, starting fires in the forward superstructure and knocking out her forward gun mount. She makes an emergency turn to port and opens fire.

    The Japanese Return Fire
    As of 2222 Hours the situation is as follows:
    The Aoba has taken an emergency turn to port while it was out of control and during the two minutes since the American cruisers opened fire on her numerous 8 inch shells have wrecked her from end to end, knocking out her fire control, her bridge, both forward turrets, and finally her rear turret. The float plane has been blasted off the catapult and over the side, and a fierce fire rages in her forward superstructure. A shell has also knocked out her steering compartment, two have penetrated and wiped out her boiler rooms and she is coasting to a stop. Her torpedo crews have been swept away by shrapnel as has most of her crew on exposed decks. She is out of the fight.

    The Yugure has turned to starboard and is accelerating to her best speed of 30.5 knots on a course heading of 180 degrees S. This places her within firing range of the American Destroyer Division 9. She opens fire with star shells from her rear gun mount, trains what searchlights she has available, and illuminates the American destroyers which are 2,000 yards behind the Chester, as well as the Chester and Astoria. She launches her full spread of six Long Lance torpedoes aiming just ahead of the Astoria but as all ships are moving at over 60 miles an hour relative to each other, her torpedoes are actually going to have the Chester as a target. As she launches she is taken under fire by the Drayton and secondary 5 inch guns of the Chester. She is also under fire from the Monaghan which continues to pour rounds into her while the torpedo crews of that ship fire their spread of 8 torpedoes at the Aoba.

    The Shigure has executed an emergency turn to port and is steaming due north at 34 knots and finds herself paralleling the Americans with the Alywin at 8,000 yards immediately to her port side Her crew launches a spread of 8 torpedoes hoping to hit anything and her remaining gun mount opens up on the Alywin, scoring a pair of 5 inch hits on her aft superstructure and starting a serious fire. She however comes under fire from the 5 inch guns from the Chicago, Alywin, and Farragut and suffers numerous more hits which quickly silences her guns and starts more fires as well as killing her exposed torpedo crews. However she remains under power and in control for the moment.

    The three Japanese cruisers all open fire on the Porter and she is illuminated by searchlights and in moments is hit many times by 8 inch and secondary weapons. Captain Overesch (and future CIA Director, Far East and Vice Admiral USN) survives the firestorm as does the ships captain, but the ship and many of her crew do not. The Porter comes to a halt on fire from end to end, her engine room flooding, her steering destroyed, and the ship is ordered abandoned. In all 38 of her crew die with the Porter.

    Captain Sawa, who now finds himself in command of Cruiser Squadron 6, orders a 180 degree column turn, all ships to fire torpedoes as they bear. American Destroyer Division 9 will find itself squarely in this spread. Meanwhile an signal is sent to Yamamoto reporting that the bombardment mission force is under fire by an overwhelming superior force, with the flagship already knocked out of action and Admiral Goto out of command.

    The Empire Strikes Back
    2224 Hours
    Torpedoes are in the water from the remaining Japanese cruisers, both Japanese destroyers as well as the Monaghan. The Porter launched its torpedoes as well but none hit although two exploded in the wake of the Aoba. The first Japanese torpedoes hit the Alywin with two hitting her aft of her rear superstructure and detonating her aft 5 inch magazine, blowing the rear 100 feet of the ship to pieces and killing nearly half her crew in seconds. She immediately begins sinking, and the surviving 85 crewmen including her captain make it over the side before she goes down. Her attacker, the Shigure, meanwhile blows up under a barrage of 8 and 5 inch shells from the Portland and Chicago. Only a handful of her crew make it over the side and only a pair of young Japanese sailors are eventually rescued and captured by the US Navy.

    The next ship hit is the Chester, which takes 2 torpedoes amidships, flooding her boiler rooms and starting a ferocious fire amidships as several 8 inch rounds from the Kinagusha hit her at the same time. Power is immediately knocked out, and she begins to coast to a stop, forcing the American destroyers behind to shift their course to avoid her. As the crew of the Chester begin an ultimately futile effort to save their ship, the Aoba is hit by 3 torpedoes from the Monaghan, one of which explodes, blowing off much of her stern and speeding her flooding substantially.

    The Japanese cruisers meanwhile make their column turn, putting 24 torpedoes into the water. Hurriedly launched nearly all of them miss, but one hits the Lamson in the engineering spaces, causing her to slow enough that two more hit her in rapid succession. She detonates in a spectacular explosion, and with her die 106 of her 158 men. The Yugari in the meantime is smothered by more shells and comes to a halt completely ablaze. She sinks soon after taking all most of her crew with her and all but 6 of the survivors refuse rescue by the Americans.

    However her death buys time for the Japanese cruisers, who complete their turn successfully masked in part by the American ships blowing the Yugari to pieces and the death of Lamson and disaster suffered by the Chester. The remaining destroyers of Division 9 are forced to take action to avoid collision and enemy torpedoes and manage to avoid further damage but also lose contact with the enemy.

    2230 hours
    In less than 25 minutes the battle is over. The 3 remaining Japanese cruisers are retiring at high speed west while the concussion of repeated salvos fired has temporarily knocked out the radar aboard the Chicago, while the Chester has lost all power and is rapidly flooding.

    Admiral Newton sends a signal to Halsey who orders him to leave a pair of destroyers to rescue survivors and for the rest of the task force to hurry as quickly as possible to rejoin Brown.

    Task Force 3
    Meanwhile during the night Task Force 3 is steaming at high speed to put it 150 miles southwest of Midway and within range of the Japanese Invasion Fleet at dawn and Brown has orders to attack it as soon as it is light enough to launch and the PBYs from Midway find it again.

    Striking Force
    Over the tense night that follows Yamamoto receives another signal from Sawa reporting the destruction of two destroyers and the flagship and that he is retiring to rejoin the Invasion Fleet. As of midnight Yamamoto is still pondering his next move.

    Epilogue
    The Chester goes down at 0120 hours December 10, taking with her over 150 of her crew. The Aoba sinks shortly after dawn, burning all night and abandoned. She ends up taking over 650 men with her either directly or who refuse rescue later. Only 25 Japanese sailors accept rescue.
     
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