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 past weekend, the RGAC (Rio Grande Aviation Council) held its Fall quarterly meeting at the WEAM (War Eagles Air Museum) at the Doña Ana County International Jetport in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
In the words of one of the RGAC’s original two founders, Bob Dockendorf, “This newly formed organization is designed and purposed to improve and enhance communication between the many diverse groups that are involved in the regional aviation community.”
Thirteen (13) representatives of the some twenty odd member aviation industry concerned organizations attended. The two group photos below show those representatives who were able to attend this past Saturday.
All this post’s photos can be seen in hi-resolution and full size by simply clicking on them!
The RGAC’s governing member organizations include the following:
- Amigo Air Sho
- Cielo Dorado HO Association
- Civil Air Patrol – Squadron 215 – El Paso
- Civil Air Patrol – Squadron 24 – Las Cruces
- Dust Devil Flying Club
- EAA Chapter 1570 – Santa Teresa, NM
- EAA Chapter 555 – Las Cruces, NM
- El Paso Aviation Association
- El Paso Remote Control Association
- First Aero Squadron Foundation
- Horizon City Remote Control Flyers
- Las Cruces Aviators Flying Club
- Mesilla Valley Model Airplane Club
- Ninety-Nines – El Paso Chapter
- Order of Daedalians – Flight 24 – El Paso
- Quiet Birdmen
- USAF Academy Association
- USAF JROTC, Las Cruces HS, NM
- USAF ROTC Det. 505, UTEP
- USAF ROTC Detachment 505 NMSU
- War Eagles Air Museum (WEAM)
Other profit-oriented or governmental organizations involved in local area aviation such as the Airfield Managers of KDNA (Dona Ana Jetport); LRU (Las Cruces International Airport); El Paso International Airport; Fabens Airport (Texas); The Commanders of Army Aviation’s Biggs Field and Holloman Air Force Base; Director of the UTEP Aero Apace Department; Managers of the Tenants at the New Mexico International Space Port and the Director of NMSU’s Physical Sciences Lab, along with the Elephant Butte Irrigation District . . . are engaged as members of the non-voting class of associate membership in the Council.
The actual governing of the Council is primarily determined by the non-profit educational aviation consumer oriented groups active in the region.
Below, the group of representatives also gathered by the “Women in Aviation“ Display inside the WEAM main hangar (see below photo).