The following short (2:00 minute + 33 second ad for the SMITHSONIAN) video clip is of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor which began the overt entry of the United States in WWII. The two videos in this story may be seen without going to YouTube, because they are “embedded” right here – on this page. You might enjoy seeing them more impressively in FULL-SCREEN mode by clicking on the small ‘box’ in the lower right corner of each video.
Former US Marine Corps Pilot, long time FASF member and Officer of Flight 24 of the Daedalian Society, FASF Aviation Reporter, Jerry Dixon (L) sent this story to us:
Two Pearl Harbor myths that seem to have real staying power – even today.
1 – The U.S. was “lucky” that the aircraft carriers were not in Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.
Not sure how this one got started but it’s been around as long as I can remember. The problem is, there was little to no chance that a US aircraft carrier would have been in Pearl Harbor in 1941.
It was rare to have one in port anytime . . . and no chance for two (2) to be there.
In 1941, the US had 7 CV (aircraft carriers), and of those, two were operating out of Pearl Harbor. However, Pearl Harbor was not their home port. San Diego, CA was.
So why was it “rare” to have a carrier “in Pearl Harbor”? Well, it was because Pearl Harbor in 1941 was not one of the top bases for the US Navy. It was in fact relatively small and shallow, compared to say, Puget Sound, San Diego, Oakland, or San Pedro. So when one of the pre-war carriers entered the harbor to refuel and restock stores, it created a lot of traffic problems and headaches. Because of this extra hassle, they got a carrier in and out as fast as possible. If either of the carriers needed a longer port stay, it would return to San Diego, not stay at Pearl Harbor.
Because of these traffic and space issues, the carriers were scheduled in and out to avoid having both needing to refuel at the same time. So the ships worked on a rotating schedule that effectively meant, only one need to visit at any given time, and in fact, both were gone the vast majority of the time.
Thus it was never the case that “both” carriers would have been at Pearl Harbor on December 7th. And it was highly unlikely on any given day that even a single carrier would be there. Thus even the Japanese knew it was highly unlikely they would find even a single carrier in the harbor when they decided to stage the attack.
It wasn’t “luck” it was very much against the odds that a carrier would have been in Pearl Harbor for an attack.
2 – The Japanese devised a very original and clever plan for how to attack Pearl Harbor, and they were inspired by the British attack on the Italian Navy.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor followed a very meticulous plan, but it was not a Japanese or British plan. Ironically the attack plan that the Japanese were inspired by and followed closely was in fact created by and executed by a US Navy Admiral and the US Navy itself.
The first Pearl Harbor attack plan and subsequent attack occurred on February 7th, 1932, nine years prior to the Japanese attack. Rear Admiral Harry Yarnell, was assigned the command of the “aggressor” forces in the annual Pacific Fleet exercises in which mock attacks were planned on US facilities. Yarnell was assigned command of the aggressors who were to attack Pearl Harbor.
The standard approach in 1930 was for the aggressors to send their battleships forward supported by aircraft carriers, cruisers, and destroyers. And the battleships would slug it out.
But for this exercise, Yarnell one of the few believers in the power of naval aviation, decided to “not follow the script” as was custom. He took his fleet to sea but ordered his battleships and cruisers to remain out to sea and maneuver off the coast of California.
Yarnell then took his two aircraft carriers with the destroyers and entered a westerly moving storm hiding in it all the way to Hawaii. (in 1932 the U.S. had not yet develped weather and/or weather piercing RADAR). The storm shielded his ships from aircraft and he travelled in radio silence.
His plan called for his ships to emerge from the storm early on Sunday morning February 7th northwest of Oahu. From this position, Yarnell sent his aircraft east just past the island, had them hook around to the south and then to the west arriving with the sun behind them as they came in over Diamond Head and into their attack on the anchorage and airfields.
Yarnell had picked a Sunday because he expected to catch the fleet unprepared and napping on what was a “day off”.
Despite the Navy and Army knowing an exercise was in progress his plan worked perfectly. Using flower bags for bombs, the aggressors managed to completely disable the airfields and sink all the battleships in the harbor. The attack achieved complete surprise and was an overwhelming success. The umpires awarded the Yarnell forces a total victory and declared the attack completely successful. The ships were “sunk,” and “the airfield was completely disabled.”
Later, Army and Navy brass complained that Yarnell had “cheated” and it was “unfair” and “inappropriate” to have attacked on Sunday morning, so much so that the result was reversed. But while the Army and Navy brass were whining, the Japanese took note.
8 years and 10 months later the Japanese followed a storm to the Hawaiian Island, and on a Sunday morning, emerged from the storm to send their planes east of Oahu to attack out of the sun, against the airfields and harbor. The Japanese Imperial Navy followed Yarnell’s plan precisely – – – and, as did Yarnell almost 9 years earlier – they achieved complete and overwhelming success.
If any of you readers have other similar WWII myths – – – or similar stories to share, please let us know by commenting in the “LEAVE A REPLY” field at the bottom of this page.
Here is another film (just under 15 minutes long) from the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor,
This story is thanks to a submission by Roger Nichols, former Flight Captain of the El Paso Daedalians, and a long-time FASF enthusiast and member. The following is from an Internet Fact-Checking group, “Truth or Fiction,” which ascertained the truthfulness of a number of similar fact-based stories about this interesting aspect of WWII. This summarizes their own research into the tale:
The Monopoly board game was created in 1933 by Charles Darrow who approached Parker Brothers regarding the marketing of the game. At first, Parker Brothers turned him down but two years later purchased the game from Darrow and today it is one the most popular board games in the world.
Silk maps of Germany, Italy, Norway and Sweden did exist during the Second World War, according to an article written by Debbie Hall for the Map Forum magazine in 1999. Debbie Hall has a special interest in silk maps and was the Map Curator at the British Library, where some of these silk maps are currently on display.
According to the article, The Waddington PLC company in England manufactured playing cards and game boards including the ones for Monopoly that were marketed in Great Britain. Monopoly games were sent to British prisoners of war in Germany by the International Red Cross. According to Hall, Silk maps of the area were hidden in the games along with special features such as a file and compass, made to look like game pieces, along with real currency hidden in the monopoly play money to aid the prisoners in their escape.
This was not the plan of MI-5 , however, but rather an idea from another branch of the British secret service. Hall explained that in 1939, the British government had set up an agency designated as MI-9 whose primary mission was to assist resistance fighters behind enemy lines and recover Allied troops being held prisoner.
MI-9 developed the military policy of escape and evasion and that it was the “duty of all those captured to try to escape if possible.” Hall said, “One man who was behind many of M19’s most ingenious plans, including the Waddington project, was Christopher Clayton-Hutton.” This agency found out that the Waddington Company had the technology to print maps on on silk and made a special request of the company. Silk maps made no noise, took up very little space and could be folded into a garment or hidden in a package of cigarettes. A tiny compass was also hidden in uniform buttons and used as a tool for escape in case a pilot was shot down behind enemy lines.
Truth or Fiction recently spoke to Bill Knowles, a former Canadian pilot who flew with the RAF on D Day. Knowles told us that, druing the latter days of the conflict in Europe, any escape routes and safe house information were generally memorized by pilots, by the time he was flying missions, and that no un-coded information would have been printed on anything that could have been intercepted by the enemy as that could have endangered all involved in these types of operations.
The British Official Secrets Act is what bound everybody involved to secrecy and we have sent an inquiry to the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in the UK to verify if this story has truly been de-classified and no longer confidential.
Here’s one of most popularly circulated stories about this Monoply game scheme on today’s Internet, and it actually appears to be fact-based and essentially true:
Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British airmen found themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and the authorities were casting-about for ways and means to facilitate their escape. Now obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and accurate map, one showing not only where-stuff-was, but also showing the locations of ‘safe houses’, where a POW on-the-loose could go for food and shelter. Paper maps had some real drawbacks: They make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear-out rapidly and if they get wet, they turn into mush.
Someone in MI-5 (actually, the project ended up in a new branch of the spy agency: MI-9) got the idea of printing escape maps on silk. It’s durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise what-so-ever. At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John Waddington, Ltd.
When approached by the government, the firm was only too happy to do its bit for the war effort. By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular American board game, Monopoly. As it happened, ‘games and pastimes’ was a category item qualified for insertion into ‘CARE packages’, dispatched by the International Red Cross, to prisoners of war.
Under the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington’s, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were located (Red Cross packages were delivered to prisoners in accordance with that same regional system). When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.
As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington’s also managed to add:
1. A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass,
2. A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together.
3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of
British and American air-crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a ‘rigged’ Monopoly set by means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the Free Parking square! Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an
estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets.
Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy Indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use this highly successful use in still another, future war.
The story wasn’t de-classified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington’s, as well as the firm itself, were finally honoured in a public ceremony. Anyway, it’s always nice when you can play that ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card.
**** Your editor feels that any listing concealed in the “CARE” packages distributed via the Red Cross would NOT have included any lists of “Safe Houses,” since doing so would expose those who kept such safe havens open and active could be far too easily revealed, thereby posing a direct threat to their lives, not to mention terminating their underground activities.
If you have any other information about this piece of WWII history, please let us know and we’d be glad to print it here. Or, if you have any information to add to this story, please do share it with us. Thanks!
If you have to fly half-way around the world then you might want to do it in a Double-Decker Airbus A380. This particular plane is owned by the Portuguese Airline, “Hi Fly” and features three classes of servic: Economy, Business, and First Class.
Of course, there’s a significant cost difference between the classes, but wouldn’t it be nice to fly in Business – – – or First Class? If travelling in First Class just isn’t good enough for you then you might want to see the second video below, and “buy American” for your luxury air travel aboard a privately owned Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The video tour of the Airbus A380 was taken at the great international British Farnborough Airshow just a few weeks ago. The 1st video is 3:17 in length, and the second, 7:16 long.
Remember: Don’t hesitate to enjoy your full-screen view, and make sure your sound is turned up for both these videos!
And, not to be outdone by the large commercial airline manufacturers, we next experience a visit inside a ultimate smaller business jet, one made by America’s Grumman: its reknown Gulfstream G500. This ship is Qatar Airways’ $45 million version of the aircraft. This video is 3:16 long.
While we’ve all heard of the new DRONE rage, have we ever before seen anything even approaching this sort of orchestration? Hardly. This TIME Magazine special cover event seems to be a first for such an extravagant enterprise – – – 1,000 individual Drones flying in perfect synchronization in order to achieve the desired result. Just imagine creating the software to bring this plan to a successful reality.
Without further ado, here is the short (4:28 long) video of not only the final effect of the project, but of a fascinating insight into the behind-the-scenes efforts that made it all possible.
Some of our FASF Drone enthusiasts, such as Bob Wright, John Read, and Warren Talbot have already created some footage for our site, so if any of you out there have some interesting airborne videos from your Drone flights, please let us know and we might be able to share those videos with our viewers right here, too.
Remember, the U.S. Military is already deeply involved in the use and development of their own DRONE technology. All branches of our Military establishment, however, prefer their own nomenclature for their DRONE ops, preferring to call them UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) rather than Drones. The Army and Marines are using UAV craft as small as an insect, to as large as the GLOBAL HAWK and even full-sized multi-engined aircraft.
The earliest genuinely successful DRONE or UAV technology was likely first experienced during WWII with the use of DRONES (as they were then called) for target towing missions, but this soon evolved into actual combat applications (see videos below). When one considers that modern computer technology was not available in that era, what was done with simple radio remote controls is impressive.
Interestingly, the small private aircraft called the MOONEY MITE, a single place ship, is and example of what was done after WWII, when wartime Drone work and design helped lead to concepts such as the small primarily wooden constructed MOONEY MITE plane, a small ship designed to fulfill an expected new market made up of returning WWII fighter pilots. It’s designer, Al Mooney, had worked earlier for the CULVER AIRCRAFT COMPANY just prior to and during WWII, where he was the principle designer of the CULVER CADET an airplane which is discussed in the short (3:45) video immediately below:
Here, again below, are some short videos to show how DRONES were used, long before either computers or even TV were known to the general public. This first video is 1:24 in length.
As early as WWI, aviation designers and engineers could see the advantages of UAV’s, so had begun work on the concept. In the post WWI era, and especially in the 1930’s, a great deal of effort, some of it even successful, was undertaken in Great Britain, by the Royal Navy. In 1933, a modified floatplane called Fairey Queen was tested as the first flightless drone aircraft. It crashed on two out of three trials, but by 1934, Queen Bee, a modified Tiger Moth aircraft, followed with greater success.
Training gunners on these rudimentary models wasn’t a very realistic simulation, but a solution was soon to come from the United States in the form of British-born actor Reginald Denny, and his Radioplane Company. After years of trying desperately to interest the US Navy in the Radioplane-1, Denny finally succeeded in 1939, and over the course of the war some 15,374 models of Radioplane were built.
As an interesting aside, did you know that film star Marilyn Monroe once worked assembling these radio controlled UAV’s? At that time, her later movie name wasn’t yet part of our culture, so, at Radioplane, she was known as simply Norma Jeane Dougherty, the 18 year old wife of a U.S. Merchant Marine Seaman.
Fast, agile and durable, Radioplanes were fitted with responsive radio controls and were better able to mimic the speed and agility of enemy fighters. Even during the D-Day summer of 1944, the Allies turned to high-stakes DRONE warfare. Under the code name Operation Aphrodite, radio-controlled bombers were packed with explosives and guided into the air by Allied pilots instructed to eject before their planes reached high-value targets in territory controlled by Nazi Germany. (Killed on one of these treacherous missions was the Navy aviator Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., older brother of U.S. President John F. Kennedy).
Below is a USN video (8:10 long) that depicts the Navy test of a TDR-1 combat Drone in the Pacific:
As for the advent of and actual deployment of the new variety of “insect sized” UAV’s, that will have to wait for a later post, but here is some descriptive material about that avenue of research right here.