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Did FDR know about the Japanese 'secret' attack on Pearl Harbor ahead of time?


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Posted on Dec 7, 2012 11:59:51 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 7, 2012 12:02:14 PM PST
Everyone,

An excellent discussion so far, but let me remind everyone the two main points I provided were...

(1) Americans had broken the Japanese codes! We know that American Intelligence decoded messages sent from Tokyo to the Japanese Embassy in DC before the Japanese ministers did on Sunday December 7, 1941. (2) We also know that the main intention of the Japanese military was to destroy the American aircraft carriers. Japanese spies in Honolulu informed Tokyo that the American aircraft carriers were in port. The Japanese, therefore, committed to the attack. Then, the Americans pulled the carriers out of Pearl. 'Coincidence'?

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Synchronism: 14:50 "74 days of shelling Iwo Jima"... FDR speaking after Iwo. - 'WWII In HD', 'Part 8 'Glory and Guts' on History Channel

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 12:06:53 PM PST
B. A. Dilger says:
Bairn----RE: Coventry

Read part of your link but since it may take a while I'll finish it later. Always glad for info. Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 12:09:45 PM PST
B. A. Dilger says:
If the Allies were willing to let British cities burn it isn't inconceivable that your OP might have a point.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 12:10:17 PM PST
Wulfwig Fox says:
Re 1) There were different kinds of codes.

'By late 1941, those organizations had broken several Japanese ciphers, such as J19 and PA-K2, called Tsu and Oite respectively by the Japanese.[11] The highest security diplomatic code, dubbed Purple by the U.S., had been broken, but American cryptanalysts had made little progress against the IJN's current Kaigun Ango Sho D[12] (Naval Code D, called AN-1 by the U.S.;[13] JN-25 after March 1942).

Did you see that? 'Little progress against IJN's current code.' And that's the relevant code.

Re 2) The Japanese knew that the carriers weren't there just before the attack but pressed ahead regardless.

'Ironically, the IJN top command was so imbued with Admiral Mahan's "decisive battle" doctrine-especially that of destroying the maximum number of battleships-that, despite these concerns, Yamamoto decided to press ahead.'

Both quotes from wiki
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor#Objectives
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_Harbor_advance-knowledge_conspiracy_theory

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 12:27:48 PM PST
R. Largess says:
I think the idea of the Japanese wanting to get the American carriers is sort of after the fact. After all, it was Pearl Harbor that established the capabilities of aircraft carriers. Alan Zimm's book says that Yamamoto was most anxious to attack the battleships and didn't expect to get more than a couple. In any case the BB's and CV's alternated weeks in port. Also, the Japanese did get a carrier - a couple of weeks later - when their submarine I-6 torpedoed the Saratoga off the Hawaiian Islands and put her out of action. One could argue that her temporary loss outweighed that of the battleships on Dec.7. But the Japanese had ringed the islands with submarines and were expecting even better results from them than from the carriers. It didn't happen except for the Sara, so they weren't always right.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 12:31:13 PM PST
Bubba says:
Several of the ships that were sunk at Pearl Harbor were raised and put back into service before or during the summer of 1942, which surprised the Japanese when they were fighting against ships that they thought had been destroyed. Most of the airplanes that were lost were modern, useful aircraft.

Posted on Dec 7, 2012 12:35:18 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 7, 2012 12:35:35 PM PST
Debunker says:
Battleships didn't take part in any major actions until the sea battles during the Guadalcanal campaign in the summer/fall of 1942, and those battleships were the new "fast" battleships Washington, North Carolina and South Dakota. The older battleships from Pearl were not involved in that campaign, nor were any of the older battleships that weren't at Pearl.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 12:43:44 PM PST
B. A. Dilger says:
I believe the older battleships were mostly used as firing platforms for amphibious warfare.

Posted on Dec 7, 2012 12:44:28 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 7, 2012 12:46:48 PM PST
Debunker says:
Yes..in 1943 and beyond.

Although some of them did participate in the Battle of Surigao Strait, the last battleship vs battleship action of the war.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 12:55:10 PM PST
R. Largess says:
Kimmel was planning an aggressive thrust with the battle fleet into the central Pacific on the outbreak of war with Japan. Had the Japanese not attacked Pearl, they would have been forced to use their main fleet, carriers and battleships, to meet this thrust and cover their Malaya and Philippine invasions. During Guadalcanal, we had I believe seven old battleships in the Pacific. I believe they were the force covering the central Pacific and Pearl while our main fleet was in the SW Pacific.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 1:06:07 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 7, 2012 1:06:22 PM PST
Wulfwig Fox says:
Thanks, it's interesting how we customarily assume the ultimately decisive weapons systems were known to the actors at the time while or before they employed them.

I'd underestimated the importance that naval doctrine of that era placed on the BB. You forget that the array of weapons systems is always being changed or improved and sometimes hopes for one particular system are misplaced. Or a system like the CV finally comes into its own almost unexpectedly.

I'll have to look into Zimm's book.

I guess I'll also have to set time aside to finally finish Mahan, too.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 1:38:16 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 7, 2012 1:41:29 PM PST
R. Largess says:
Yes, before Pearl Harbor Kimmel thought the real Japanese threat to his fleet was submarines and took extensive measures to counter them. Perhaps that's why the Japanese sub traps there were so relatively ineffective? And US carriers were still operating biplanes (some) until just before Pearl Harbor. Also, US carriers got a massive boost in effectiveness just before Pearl Harbor from electronics - radar, and even more important, voice radio. Before that the safety, range and effectiveness of over-ocean aircraft operations was limited, an argument in favor of the BB. Nothing in history ever stands still, and nobody knows what's going to happen next. Also, I tend to see Zimm's book as containing a lot of faulty analysis, but it sure has tons of great information.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 2:40:43 PM PST
Jeff Marzano says:
B. A. Dilger says:

[Churchill himself knew that Coventry was to be bombed, according to "The Ultra Secret."]

Churchill was kind of a shady character anyway I think.

Jeff Marzano

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 2:45:32 PM PST
Jeff Marzano says:
Bairn says:

['Ironically, the IJN top command was so imbued with Admiral Mahan's "decisive battle" doctrine-especially that of destroying the maximum number of battleships-that, despite these concerns, Yamamoto decided to press ahead.']

Interestingly Yamamoto was killed when his plane was shot down by American fighters.

I assume they knew where Yamamoto would be from their code breaking activities.

Jeff Marzano

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 3:00:16 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 7, 2012 3:00:48 PM PST
B. A. Dilger says:
The shooting down of Yamamoto has been described as accidental and deliberate. The P-38 Lightnings were definitely looking for Japanese planes when they ran into his escort. After taking out the fighters the bomber holding the nemesis of Pearl Harbor was shot down. He was flying over Bougainville.

Posted on Dec 7, 2012 3:09:29 PM PST
"Operation Vengence" was the code name for the mission of those P-38s that shot down Yamamoto's plane. They knew when and where he would be.

"The mission of the U.S. aircraft was specifically to kill Yamamoto and was based on United States Navy intelligence on Yamamoto's itinerary in the Solomon Islands area." is the quote from that WIKI thingy that is unrelaiable but in this case I think it is correct.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 3:40:24 PM PST
Wulfwig Fox says:
Yes, they'd made progress with breaking the naval code JN-25 by January 1942. It was a crucial part of the success at Midway in June, 1942.

Rochefort's team managed to get the Japanese to confirm that 'AF was short on water'. AF being Midway. So the US carriers could ambush the Japanese carriers.

'On 14 April 1943, the US Navy signals intercept station in Hawaii picked up a message indicating that Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Japan's brilliant naval strategist, was to make an inspection tour of Japanese bases in the Solomon Islands. The message gave a schedule for the tour.'

http://www.vectorsite.net/ttcode_07.html

Luckily, the Japanese later changed the wrong code that they rightly suspected had been broken.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 4:24:36 PM PST
Plus they were outnumbered by the bus load. I understand that, but many still act like it could not have happened.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 4:26:31 PM PST
Hiding a feeling of inadequacy? Yes.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 7:16:08 PM PST
John M. Lane says:
That's true, Spiritual Architect. It was a case in which the Army's experience on the frontier worked against it.

Until the Little Bighorn, the Indians had always scattered when soldiers approached. The warriors would fight a delaying action and then fall back.

At the Little Bighorn, the delaying action was successful enough that the warriors moved to the offensive and won the battle. They'd taken the offensive a week earlier against Crook at Rosebud Creek and he'd been stopped cold in a regimental sized battle that lasted the better part of a day. He had no way to let Custer know that the rules had changed.

The warriors demonstrated the ability to fight a conventional, main-force battle instead of hit-and-run raids. It was unprecedented insofar as Crook and Custer knew and it led to the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne victory at the Little Bighorn.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 9:37:29 PM PST
Everyone thought the Japanese were a negligible threat. Their planes were rice paper and bamboo, their pilots were nearsighted and had buck teeth and their ships were bad copies of Brit designs.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 9:39:53 PM PST
It really wouoldn't have mattered toteh American people if the warnig had been delivered jusst prior to the attack or not. A nation we considered inconsequential had just attacked us and the US population woouldn't have stood for it. Some of the xenopobic excess' might have been avoided, but we still would have been furious and gone to war.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 9:44:03 PM PST
I think the even Yamamotoo underestimated how dangerous the US was. He know how powerful we wee on an industrial level, but none of the totalitarian governments of the time, Germany, Italy, The Soviet Union or Japan really understood how we could fight. They all dismissed us as fat, weak and degenerate. Andf that we would fold a tthe drop of a hat. The same mistakes are being made today.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 9:46:20 PM PST
aLocher says:
I agree that it would not have mattered to the American public if the declaration of war, or cutting off negotiations, or however you want to characterize it, came before the Pearl Harbor attack. But to the Japanese, they wanted to be perceived as having delivered their message before they delivered their bombs. Either way, they severely miscalculated.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2012 9:49:51 PM PST
I was reading recently that they reason the older battleships weren't used inthe Pacific in 1942 and 1943 was that they were fuel hogs and there weren't enough tankers to support them. The Fast Battleships were far more fuel efficient despite their higher speed.
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Discussion in:  History forum
Participants:  42
Total posts:  526
Initial post:  Dec 7, 2012
Latest post:  May 5, 2013

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