All of these are important considerations. My questions are directed against
arguments that move directly from idea or emotion to outcomes, without
considering material conditions. Thus, for example, I would want to know
whether the Japanese pilots turned back because their aircraft lacked the range
of those flown by their American enemy or simply searched in the wrong
direction. The stories I’ve heard suggest that it was a close thing on the
American side, since the American searchers were approaching the limit of their
range when clouds broke and they spotted the Japanese fleet. If the cloud cover
had held for a few more minutes, the battle might have had a different outcome.
Sent from my iPad
On Feb 20, 2020, at 9:27, Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Yes, that too. Neither the Japanese nor the Americans had decent technology.
They had to send out search planes and hope for the best. But many of the
Japanese searchers didn’t do their best. They turned back early, and didn’t
search all the areas that they should. That slackness seems in part
attributable to the autocratic nature of the Japanese navy, i.e., “you don’t
need to think. We’ll do the thinking for you. You just do as you’re told.”
Thus when some searchers encountered matters outside “what they were told,”
they took actions that were easiest, not necessarily those that would best
support the mission.
Also, another indication of Yamamoto’s hubris, the Americans had broken the
Japanese code, but Yamamoto didn’t believe that was possible. He never took
that possibility into consideration in support of any of his actions.
The breaking of the Japanese code gave the Americans some idea of where the
Japanese fleet was. The Japanese on the other hand arrived at Midway
assuming that the American fleet had yet to arrive. If you were a pilot sent
up to search for the American fleet, you might think it a waste of time if it
was common knowledge that the American fleet hadn’t arrived yet. Whereas the
American searcher knew the Japanese fleet was there . . . some place.
From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of John McCreery
Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2020 3:58 PM
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: On underestimating America
What my daughter was taught at Annapolis is that Nimitz got lucky. Neither
fleet knew where the other was. Planes from the US fleet discovered
Yamamoto’s carriers before the Japanese discovered the US carriers. As a
result, most of Japanese air power was wiped out. Then it was a turkey shoot.
WARNING: This is my memory speaking. No sources to cite. (That said, it
reminds me of that old military maxim about the fog of war and how strategy
rarely survives the start of battle.)
Sent from my iPad
On Feb 20, 2020, at 0:22, david ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
On Feb 19, 2020, at 6:49 AM, Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On Feb 18, 2020, at 12:43 PM, Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
I’m about 10% through Weinberg’s A World At Arms. He discusses, as everyone
seems to, how leaders in Germany and Japan underestimated the military
potential of America.
Keegan is clear that Yamamoto, having spent time in the U.S. did not
underestimate that potential at all. I’ve now finished “The Price of
Admiralty,” which title apparently comes from Kipling, “the price of
admiralty [domination of the seas] is blood.”
Yes, I had read that same thing, but that statement seems to apply to
America’s industrial capability. In a long war American industrial
capability would overwhelm that of the Japanese. But Yamamoto had a low
opinion of American’s actual fighting capabilities. Yamamoto made some bad,
even fatal, decisions in that regard. I read a couple of books recently on
Midway that place the Japanese failure in that battle directly on Yamamoto’s
head. He thought the Americans unwilling to fight and that they needed to be
tricked in order to do so. He chose what he considered a good place from
which to pounce. The Americans utterly surprised him by being there before
him, in much better position, very willing to fight, and able to do a much
better job of it than the Japanese. Yamamoto and the rest of the Japanese
admiralty should have committed suicide after that battle, but instead lied
about what happened at Midway, saying it was a great victory for them, in
order to keep Japanese fighting spirits as high as possible.
Keegan’s version of Midway has a different emphasis. He thinks it’s caused
in part by the Doolittle raid. You might enjoy that part of his book, “The
Price of Admiralty.” I started “A World At Arms” last night. Not very
engaging and his opening statments about Japan seem to discount their
economic predicament. With limited access to oil, they were in a bind. I
imagine he returns to the issue later.