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Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions

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The December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor has been portrayed by historians as a dazzling success, “brilliantly conceived and meticulously planned.” With most American historians concentrating on command errors and the story of participants’ experiences, the Japanese attack operation has never been subjected to a comprehensive critical analysis of the military side of t The December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor has been portrayed by historians as a dazzling success, “brilliantly conceived and meticulously planned.” With most American historians concentrating on command errors and the story of participants’ experiences, the Japanese attack operation has never been subjected to a comprehensive critical analysis of the military side of the operation. This book presents a detailed evaluation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on the operational and tactical level. It examines such questions as: Was the strategy underlying the attack sound? Were there flaws in planning or execution? How did Japanese military culture influence the planning? How risky was the attack? What did the Japanese expect to achieve, balanced against what they did achieve? Were there Japanese blunders? What were their consequences? What might have been the results if the attack had not benefited from the mistakes of the American commanders? The book also addresses the body of folklore about the attack, supporting or challenging many contentious issues such as the skill level of the Japanese aircrew, whether midget submarines torpedoed Oklahoma and Arizona, as has been recently claimed, whether the Japanese ever really considered launching a third wave attack, and the consequences of a “3rd wave” attack against the Naval Shipyard and the fuel storage tanks if it had been executed. In addition, the analysis has detected for the first time a body of deceptions that a prominent Japanese participant in the attack placed into the historical record, most likely to conceal his blunders and enhance his reputation. The centerpiece of the book is an analysis using modern Operations Research methods and computer simulations, as well as combat models developed between 1922 and 1946 at the U.S. Naval War College. The analysis puts a new light on the strategy and tactics employed by Yamamoto to open the Pacific War, and a dramatically different appraisal of the effectiveness of the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Dr. Alan D. Zimm is a member of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where he heads a section in the Aviation Systems and Advanced Concepts Group. He is a former officer in the US Navy, completing his service as a Commander, and holds degrees in Physics, Operations Research, and Public Administration with a concentration on Policy Analysis and Strategic Planning.


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The December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor has been portrayed by historians as a dazzling success, “brilliantly conceived and meticulously planned.” With most American historians concentrating on command errors and the story of participants’ experiences, the Japanese attack operation has never been subjected to a comprehensive critical analysis of the military side of t The December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor has been portrayed by historians as a dazzling success, “brilliantly conceived and meticulously planned.” With most American historians concentrating on command errors and the story of participants’ experiences, the Japanese attack operation has never been subjected to a comprehensive critical analysis of the military side of the operation. This book presents a detailed evaluation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on the operational and tactical level. It examines such questions as: Was the strategy underlying the attack sound? Were there flaws in planning or execution? How did Japanese military culture influence the planning? How risky was the attack? What did the Japanese expect to achieve, balanced against what they did achieve? Were there Japanese blunders? What were their consequences? What might have been the results if the attack had not benefited from the mistakes of the American commanders? The book also addresses the body of folklore about the attack, supporting or challenging many contentious issues such as the skill level of the Japanese aircrew, whether midget submarines torpedoed Oklahoma and Arizona, as has been recently claimed, whether the Japanese ever really considered launching a third wave attack, and the consequences of a “3rd wave” attack against the Naval Shipyard and the fuel storage tanks if it had been executed. In addition, the analysis has detected for the first time a body of deceptions that a prominent Japanese participant in the attack placed into the historical record, most likely to conceal his blunders and enhance his reputation. The centerpiece of the book is an analysis using modern Operations Research methods and computer simulations, as well as combat models developed between 1922 and 1946 at the U.S. Naval War College. The analysis puts a new light on the strategy and tactics employed by Yamamoto to open the Pacific War, and a dramatically different appraisal of the effectiveness of the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Dr. Alan D. Zimm is a member of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where he heads a section in the Aviation Systems and Advanced Concepts Group. He is a former officer in the US Navy, completing his service as a Commander, and holds degrees in Physics, Operations Research, and Public Administration with a concentration on Policy Analysis and Strategic Planning.

30 review for Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kristi Thielen

    I am an avid reader of anything about Pearl Harbor and have read Gordon Prange's mammoth "At Dawn We Slept," twice. This book was written not by a professional historian but a military man. He reaches many conclusion Prange does not, and convincingly demolishes many long cherished myths about the attack. Zimm successfully argues that it was not a brillant effort by the Japanese, but lacking much - especially in flexibility; that General Short and Admiral Kimmel WERE at fault for not doing more to I am an avid reader of anything about Pearl Harbor and have read Gordon Prange's mammoth "At Dawn We Slept," twice. This book was written not by a professional historian but a military man. He reaches many conclusion Prange does not, and convincingly demolishes many long cherished myths about the attack. Zimm successfully argues that it was not a brillant effort by the Japanese, but lacking much - especially in flexibility; that General Short and Admiral Kimmel WERE at fault for not doing more to be prepared for such an attack; that Yamamoto really was right to not follow up the successful raid with an additional attack and that the failure to deliver the 14th part of the 14-part memo from the Japanese government wouldn't have changed anything because (contrary to what nearly everyone believes) the 14th part was not a declaration of war anyway. One small note, that puts a lump in the throat of an American reader: After the war, Japanese pilots noted how surprised and impressed they were that American sailors were so quick to return fire once they realized they were being attacked. Sure, it was Sunday morning at approx. 8 a.m. and a good portion of the fleet was hung-over from Saturday night at liberty. But anti-aircraft guns on deck of at least one battleship were blazing in less that five minutes of the first incendiary. LESS THAN FIVE MINUTES. The pilots were sure that Japanese sailors could never have responded with such speed. Damn!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Peter Goodman

    “The Attack on Pearl Harbor: strategy, combat, myths, deceptions,” by Alan D. Zimm (Casemate, 2011). In which Zimm (Cdr, USN, Ret.) shows that just about everything we think we know about the Pearl Harbor attack is wrong. It was not a brilliant, precision operation using elite pilots and superb tactics, but a misbegotten mess that never should have happened. Zimm uses detailed, sophisticated analysis of every phase of the operation, from the underlying motivation (mostly because Yamamoto was a r “The Attack on Pearl Harbor: strategy, combat, myths, deceptions,” by Alan D. Zimm (Casemate, 2011). In which Zimm (Cdr, USN, Ret.) shows that just about everything we think we know about the Pearl Harbor attack is wrong. It was not a brilliant, precision operation using elite pilots and superb tactics, but a misbegotten mess that never should have happened. Zimm uses detailed, sophisticated analysis of every phase of the operation, from the underlying motivation (mostly because Yamamoto was a risk-taking gambler who hoped that the attack would sufficiently demoralize the Americans that they would negotiate a peace). Many of the Japanese pilots were completely green, the formations and tactics used were clumsy and ineffective, the weapons---torpedoes, armor piercing, and general purpose bombs---were used on the wrong targets---the Japanese were generally inflexible and did not learn from their mistakes. It was almost luck that four battleships were sunk (which was what Yamamoto wanted). They attacked the wrong ships, ignored many targets (such as cruisers and destroyers), got in each others’ way, wasted ammunition, etc. He says that the Americans would have survived much better if the ships had been at sea---watertight compartments closed, guns manned, ships able to maneuver. The channel to the sea could not have been blocked by sinking anything in mid-channel (no vessel was long enough to block its full width). He says there was never any plan for a third wave, and that an attack on the fuel tanks and support systems would have been a waste of time (they were hard to destroy in the first place, and would have been easily repaired). If the Americans had at least been as alert as in the weeks before, the Japanese would have suffered heavy losses, and far fewer ships would have been sunk or badly damaged. He goes deep---examining whether the ships’ voids would have stopped more damage, whether hatches were dogged down tightly enough. He criticizes many of the commanders, especially Fuchida, the air commander. Fuchida apparently both lied and made things up about what happened and where he was. Zimm is also very harsh on previous authors, especially Gordon Prange, for not being skeptical enough about what he was told. Fascinating and persuasive---although, as one reviewer pointed out, what the Japanese did was unprecedented. They sent a carrier fleet very far from home to carry out a huge, difficult assault that succeeded in wreaking havoc on an enemy fleet in its home port. Really challenging and interesting book. https://www.usni.org/people/alan-d-zimm

  3. 5 out of 5

    David Hyder

    A new perspective A blow by blow analysis of the Pearl Harbor attack. The analysis was done by a naval officer. That makes a difference in conclusions.

  4. 5 out of 5

    alphonse p guardino

    Far more technically oriented than any other book I've read about Pearl Harbor. Some of the technical details may be off-putting to people looking for light reading or excitement. I found it interesting and informative, especially when the Mr, Zimm uses hard evidence to debunk myths. Far more technically oriented than any other book I've read about Pearl Harbor. Some of the technical details may be off-putting to people looking for light reading or excitement. I found it interesting and informative, especially when the Mr, Zimm uses hard evidence to debunk myths.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mhorg

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Bell

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mitch McC.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth S. Gilliland

  9. 4 out of 5

    Christian Cederberg

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bert Ricci

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sam Koeppen

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  13. 4 out of 5

    Thomas S.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Russell Riechmann

  15. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Ruminski

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ryuta Fukuya

  17. 5 out of 5

    Linda Broz

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Short

  19. 5 out of 5

    Barry

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wayne A. Lawson

  21. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Peach

  22. 5 out of 5

    Thomas J Porto

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marcel

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rick

  25. 5 out of 5

    T.Martin Bennett

  26. 5 out of 5

    Edward Winckler

  27. 5 out of 5

    David

  28. 5 out of 5

    John M Petrone

  29. 4 out of 5

    John W. Dally Sr.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steve Werth

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