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On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a powerful blow on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. In part, the Japanese managed to achieve this - 4 battleships were sunk, 4 more were damaged, the Americans lost more than three hundred aircraft, more than two thousand soldiers died.
Those events immediately attracted interest, giving rise to many conspiracy theories even in America. They say that the American authorities knew about the impending strike, but did nothing to get an excuse to enter World War II. Rumors appeared already during the war, Congress even conducted an investigation on this topic. On July 26, 1946, a report was published that refuted most of the rumors.
Nevertheless, 23 volumes of documents did not put an end to speculation. Too some of the stories surrounding that attack were weird. Today on the Internet you can find many documents that were previously hidden in archives. They allow you to finally dispel most of the myths about Pearl Harbor. But the colorful film of the same name made many believe in the "Hollywood" version of events.
America hastily withdrawn its aircraft carriers before the attack, to save them for the coming war. Roosevelt already then understood that such ships would dominate the seas. Shortly before the events, there were two aircraft carriers, Enterprise and Lexington, at Pearl Harbor. But the command sent them to deliver fighters to the bases in the Wake and Midway atolls. The ships went west towards Japan. There was a fairly large distance between them, and the escort was only symbolic. On December 7, 1941, Enterprise was 200 miles from the base, and Lexington was 400 miles. And the nearest aircraft carrier was doing its best to get back to Pearl Harbor as soon as possible. The estimated time of arrival was Saturday evening, December 6th. But the aircraft carrier was delayed due to the storm. The next scheduled time was 7 am, literally an hour before the attack. But even here the military turned out to be overly optimistic. At the time of the Japanese attack, Enterprise was close enough to send planes to help. Some of them were even shot down by friendly fire. So the story of the hasty withdrawal of aircraft carriers from the base is a myth. Enterprise is only slightly late, and so it could become the largest prey of the Japanese. And the schedule for such a movement of ships was published in August 1941, without changing since then. And at that time, battleships were still considered the main striking force of the fleet, it is no coincidence that the Japanese focused on them.
On the morning of December 7, no urgent report of the attack was sent to Pearl Harbor. According to another version of this myth, a commercial telegraph was used to transmit the message, which delayed the valuable message. A radio communication session between Washington and the base in Hawaii was interrupted by atmospheric conditions. In this regard, the commercial telegraph turned out to be, although not the best option, but the only one. A direct message arrived at the base at 7:33 local time, but the military did not have time to respond to it.
The US military considered themselves safe and the harbor unsuitable for torpedo attacks. In the investigation, a place was found for the chief of naval operations. He bluntly states that no harbor can be considered safe from torpedo attacks. The Pearl Harbor base was planned so that the fleet could leave in no time. The installation of an anti-torpedo net could slow down the exit of ships from the harbor. That is why such a protective agent was removed at that moment.
Half an hour before the attack, the Japanese ambassador gave a message to the US Secretary of State, which was essentially a declaration of war. Yamamoto planned to rescue Pearl Harbor an hour after Ambassador Nomura notifies Secretary of State Cordell Hull of the severance of diplomatic relations between the countries. The diplomat was instructed to deliver the note at 13:00 on December 7, Washington time. However, the message turned out to be more than five thousand words in length. Deciphering all fourteen parts took longer than expected. When the ambassador delivered the message to the Secretary of State, the clock was 14:20. The Americans already knew about the attack 35 minutes ago. So Japan started the war without formally declaring it.
The captain of the anti-submarine patrol at the entrance to Pearl Harbor reported the destruction of an enemy submarine an hour before the attack began. Captain Outerbridge reported a submarine attacking the base, and was able to sink it with guns and depth charges. The center received a coded message 1810Z at 7:12. However, it took time to decrypt. When it became clear what the captain wanted to say, it was already too late - bombs were falling everywhere.
Opana Point radar reported the Japanese attack an hour before the planes arrived, but Admiral Kimmel decided not to do anything. The radar at Opana Point was monitored by Privates Eliot and Locard. They noticed a strong surge of activity on the devices and turned to the Information Center, which was not yet fully functional at that time. The signal was received by Private MacDonald, who relayed it to the only officer on duty. Lieutenant Kermit Tyler, undergoing training at the Center, decided that the points on the radar were B-17 bombers flying from the mainland. He told the operators, "Forget it." The report did not go above, and Admiral Kimmel simply did not know anything. So the blame lies with the rank and file and, in part, with those who provided the training.
Michael Bay's film Pearl Harbor reconstructs the incident in detail. The 2001 three-hour epic became very entertaining, making the viewer believe that this is exactly what happened. However, a well-read historian will find many errors in the script. Director Michael Bay has traditionally focused on special effects rather than observance of the truth. So, Japanese aircraft had a completely different color - not dark green, but light gray. Admiral Kimmel did not play golf on the morning before the attack. Air combat at such a low altitude, and even with maneuvers between obstacles, is a sure way of suicide. The ships Nevada, Tennessee and Pennsylvania were not finally sunk, they were repaired and continued to use. The scene of the death of Arizona is effectively shown - a huge bomb breaks through the partitions and gets stuck in the arsenal for several seconds. In fact, this is a completely illiterate invention - the bomb exploded immediately at the moment it touched the deck. None were killed during the nurse's attack. And there are many such blunders in the film.
Roosevelt knew about the coming attack. It's easy to believe in the duplicity of politicians. Presidents often plunge their peoples into wars, guided by selfish financial interests. But in this case, Roosevelt, realizing the high probability of war with Japan, still knew nothing about the impending attack. In addition, the presidential administration, following the generally accepted isolationist policy, hid from him any information about military preparations.
The film “Torah! Torah! Torah!" Akira Kurosawa didn’t finish due to illness. This joint Japanese-American film was released in 1970 and even won an Oscar for special effects. The film is considered the best cinematic representation of the events at Pearl Harbor. Akira Kurosawa began filming the Japanese part of the tape. But two years of his work only led to over budget, not to shoot usable footage. Then Kurosawa was simply fired. To save the director's face, a story was invented about his serious illness. The final version of the film includes just one minute from the shot by Kurosawa.
Pearl Harbor was supposed to be the guarantee of the Japanese victory in that war. Some historians consider the Japanese to be arrogant. They supposedly believed that one attack on an American base could win the war. But in the same film “Tora! Torah! Torah!" it is clear that the Japanese military leaders extremely doubted that even a successful attack could win an entire war and defeat a great country.
The main target of the attack were warships. According to the initial plans of the Japanese, the first to be destroyed were American aircraft. Fortunately for the United States, aircraft were either sent to other bases or were on patrol at that time.
Because of Pearl Harbor, America entered World War II. President Roosevelt did not enter World War II until Germany and Italy themselves declared war with the United States on December 11, 1941. The history books ignore this fact, stressing that it was Pearl Harbor that ended the policy of isolationism.
American citizens of Japanese descent were the only members of the internment camps. It took the United States only a couple of days to arrest all Japanese living in the country and send them to special camps. But gradually 600 thousand Italians and 11 thousand Germans were added to them. The only difference with the fascists was that the Americans did not intentionally exterminate their ethnic prisoners.
On December 7, 1941, only Pearl Harbor was attacked. The Japanese attacked more than one American base that day. Guam, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Wake Islands and Midway were attacked. It's just that those events were not as bright as in Pearl Harbor, and it is customary to keep silent about them.
USS Arizona suffered 21 holes. Today, there are 21 holes in the official memorial created from this vessel. However, they are made solely for the purpose of lightening the weight of the structure. Today, 21 cannon salutes are fired through them.
Following the events at Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona was decommissioned. In 1950, the ship was commissioned again. The American flag was hoisted on it, but Arizona's functions were extremely motivational. A memorial was built over the sunken ship to commemorate the victims of the attack.
The Japanese carried out two waves of strikes as planned. And although the attackers actually hit the base twice, a third wave was planned. The first aimed to suppress enemy aircraft at airfields, the second - battleships and ships, and the third wave, according to the plans of the Japanese, was to destroy the fuel supplies. After the successful first two waves, it was decided not to carry out the final phase, especially since the Americans began to pull up their forces to Pearl Harbor.
The Japanese attacked first. This is a simple and common myth. In fact, as early as 6:37 am USS Aaron Ward attacked and sank a Japanese mini-submarine during its routine patrol.
The Japanese did not have bombs capable of penetrating the armor of heavy ships. Many historians talk about how, at the last moment, the Japanese decided to attach stabilizers to ordinary armor-piercing shells so that they would serve as bombs. And the vertical hit of such a projectile pierced any armor. But this approach itself looks strange - ammunition was being finalized for the operation, although usually the military builds off from what they have in stock. After examining the design of the Japanese model 99 number 80 model 5, it becomes clear that it was developed back in 1939. The ballistic and armor-piercing tips were removed from the projectile; in total, there were a dozen changes. So a completely new ammunition appeared, the original artillery shell was just a blank with similar dimensions.
All ten Japanese sailors who flew the five midget submarines were killed in the attack. A few miles from Oahu, Japanese submarines launched five dwarf submarines. These tiny ships were battery powered, each carrying two people. They were ordered to sow panic in the harbor during the attack. During the attack, four of these submarines were sunk, another ran aground, losing control. While trying to get out, Sergeant Major Inagaki was carried off into the sea, but the sailor Sakamaki was captured by the Americans, becoming the first Japanese in this capacity.
Japanese kamikaze pilots took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor. None of the participants in those events can be called death row. In fact, only the crews of mini-submarines had no chance of returning. A kamikaze in the Japanese army appeared much later.
This was the only Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese carried out a second raid on the American base at Pearl Harbor. It happened on March 4, 1942. Then a couple of seaplanes dropped several bombs. But then the weather was bad and none of the targets were hit.
The US military responded quickly and harshly to the Japanese. This myth is pretty beautiful and cinematic to be true. For several months after those events, the Americans in the Pacific theater suffered defeat after defeat. On December 8, rumors spread across the United States that the fleet was chasing the Japanese in order to take revenge on them. But on this day, the imperial army invaded the Philippines. The commander of the American garrison, General Douglas MacArthur, sent a telegram to President Roosevelt, begging him to send a fleet to help. Submarines, which could hunt for transports with infantry, would be especially useful. But the government ignored the request, the Philippines was lost by June 1942. The first significant offensive by the American army came in February 1942, when the Pacific Fleet attacked the Gilbert Islands and the Marshall Islands.