What Might Have Been

by Steve on January 23, 2010

I just finished the second book in the series on Pearl Harbor by Gingrich and Forstchen.  They take history and bend it a bit asking “what if…?”  The attack on Pearl Harbor was by all accounts a devastating blow to the pacific fleet but it could have been far more disastrous.

Carrier aviation was still in its infancy and both navies were managed by battleship admirals some of whom firmly believed aircraft carriers were expensive, fragile targets and a waste of funds that could certainly be put to better use.  This alternative look at the attack replaces Admiral Nagumo with the more aggressive Yamamoto who presses the attack from the point where Nagumo withdrew.  The actual plan called for three strike waves against the US forces but since the US carriers were not in port, Nagumo canceled the third strike and, lacking intelligence regarding their whereabouts, withdrew his forces.  The authors weave a tale of what could have happened had the Japanese pressed their tactical advantage.  In the confusion of the first two strikes the attackers concentrated all their firepower on the remaining high value targets, the battleships and airfields.  Consequently cruisers, destroyers, submarines, and more importantly the fuel storage facilities and the huge dry dock took only minimal damage.  What might have been the result of a third strike wave of disciplined attacks aimed at the jugular of the Pacific Fleet?

Historical fiction is the best description of Pearl Harbor and Days of Infamy. Good stuff.

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