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Posted on Sep 22, 2004 in Stuff We Like

Pearl Harbor – An Alternate History

By Wayne Cassell

“It also says we are to undertake such reconnaissance measures as deemed necessary. What is our patrol plane readiness Colonel Donegan?”

Lt. Colonel Donegan, well aware of the deficiencies, answered, “We don’t have the capability for long range patrols, General. We only have 12 B-17s and we need to save them for attacking an enemy fleet. The responsibility for long range patrols has been taken over by the Navy [14th Naval District]. I’ve been in contact with them and, quite frankly General, they don’t have the planes necessary to do a 360° patrol either. We do have some radar sets.”

Turning to Lt. Colonel Powell, General Short asked about the radar.

“The fixed radar units aren’t here in Hawaii as yet. We have six mobile units. They can detect large formations of airplanes from about 75 miles to 125 miles depending on where they are sited. This would give our fighters time to launch and intercept an attack about 30 miles from Pearl Harbor. But we don’t have enough spare parts to keep all six operational all the time.” answered Lt. Colonel Powell. “And, Sir, there are other problems.”


“Let’s start with the spare parts,” said General Short. “If we can’t keep them operational all the time, when is the most likely time of an attack and from where?”

Colonel Fielder answered, “The Navy says a dawn attack from about 250 miles is the most likely. If the Japanese take off before dawn they can be over Pearl Harbor by 0700. If they wait until dawn to take off, that puts them over Oahu about 0800. We think they’ll come from the southwest but during wargames, the Navy attacked from the north. General, we just don’t know.”

“There’s another problem with the radar, General,” said Lt. Colonel Powell. “Even if the radar picks up an enemy attack, we don’t as yet have a functioning fighter direction center. We have no way of directing our fighters to the right location once they are airborne.”

“Make a note to get the fighter direction center functional, at least to communicate a possible direction of attack to the airfields. General Martin, you work with Colonel Powell on establishing a fighter direction center. And put some soldiers on the north coast with binoculars to report any sightings. It would be too late anyplace else. Next?”

“Sir, about the patrol planes?” asked Lt. Colonel Donegan.

“We’ll let the Navy worry about that. General Martin, we know about the B-17s. What about the rest of the Air Force?”

“Sir,” replied General Martin, “we have about 65 P-40s available at any time. There’s still a parts shortage so we can’t train as much as I want. I would also like to disperse more planes to alternate fields like Haleiwa. The other fighters are old but could still fight. The problem is time, General. We can’t keep our aircraft and pilots on alert all the time. It’s bad for morale and maintenance and hurts our training. As for light bombers, we only have 12 first-line A-20s and they still have teething problems. The rest are obsolete B-18s.”

“All right. What is our anti-aircraft strength?”

Lt. Colonel Donegan replied, “Our fixed guns are fine. They have ammunition stored nearby. It’s the mobile guns that concern me. They don’t have ammunition with them because it goes bad from the weather so we keep it stored in Aliamanu Crater. It’ll take two hours to get the ammunition to the deployed guns. Plus many of our mobile gun sites are on private land and the message says not to alarm the civilian population.”

“That’s another problem with the radar, General,” said Lt. Colonel Powell. “We’re restricted from using the best locations because of Park Service and Wildlife Conservation concerns.” (Prange 62)

“I’ll see what I can do about the Park Service. I’m not sure how we can train to defend Oahu without, what was it, alarming the civilian population. I am concerned about sabotage. Any information on that, Colonel Fielder?”

“Sir we haven’t detected any plots regarding sabotage. I know you’re concerned about the Japanese population [Issei] and the second generation Japanese Americans [Nisei]. The Issei stay to themselves. The Nisei children want to be like Americans so I don’t believe they would be a problem. Many are in high school and college ROTC and hundreds belong to the Hawaiian National Guard,“ replied Colonel Fielder (Crost 9).

“Colonel, it only takes a few to cause a problem. Do we have enough manpower to effectively guard all of our bases?”

“Sir, we have 85 revetments already built,” replied General Martin. “We can at least disperse some of our fighters. I just don’t like them all bunched together.”

“General, we can add additional guards but it will affect our training,” answered General Murray. “We could do it for a short period of time.”

“Thank you all, gentlemen, for your input. This is what we are going to do. Colonel Fielder, find out what you can about any sabotage threats. Talk to the FBI and even the Navy.”

“Colonel Powell, I want a working fighter direction center in a week. Work with General Martin and Colonel Donegan on training. Colonel Marston, get them whatever they need. We need time to react and it’s obvious the Navy can’tt help. Also I want the radars operational from 0400-0900 everyday.”

“Colonel Phillips, send a message to Washington and ask for all additional information on any Japanese actions or troop movements. Inform them we are at alert status number 1 at this time.”

“General Wilson, General Murray, work on a training program that we can implement while at assigned battle stations. Certainly individual training can continue. Provide more soldiers to protect our airfields against sabotage.”

“General Martin, write a plan to disperse your aircraft to alternate locations. Tell Colonel Throckmorton and Colonel Marston what you’ll need.”

“Coordinate all your needs through Colonel Phillips. Tige, call Admiral Bloch and Admiral Kimmel and set up a meeting tomorrow so we can discuss the implications of this message, assuming the Navy has even seen it.”

“We just came off alert three days ago. At this time we’ll stay at alert status number 1 [main threat is sabotage]. Thank you for your time. Dismissed.”

The following chart shows the different degrees of alert status for the Army and the Navy. Note the most serious Army alert status is Alert Status THREE, while the most serious Navy alert status is Condition ONE.

[continued on next page]

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  1. I strongly disagree.

    While I am no historian I do believe that if the citizens knew Pearl Harbor were prepared for a sneak attack they would be less incline to believe in FDR’s push to join the war and likely protested harder knowing Pearl Harbor did it’s damn best.

  2. What a total ass! He should’ve kept it (Our US Navy) in San Diego far out of reach of any possible attack and closer to back up from air support that’s always there!

    It doesn’t take a pair of geniuses to figure out that putting our navy in one spot in the middle of the Pacific far from outside help is a dangerous path at best. If not from WW2 a different event would’ve done it later such as Korea maybe.

    At least in San Diego the fuel carriers of the Japanese had no chance of penetrating that far without worry of fuel loss and since it’s in mainland would be much closer to resistance if San Diego were attacked for whatever reason our US Air force would be right there!.

    It would be pure suicidal to Japan both it’s people and economy (whatever was left of it) to attempt a sneak attack on San Diego.

  3. BTW: Did you know weather forecasting other then basic temps of yesterday’s high and low and precip was banned due to war measures?