by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
Tora! Tora! Tora! – Pearl Harbor 1941
Author: Mark Stille
Illustrators: Jim Laurier Tim Brown
Also available via e-book and with an iTunes app!
SummaryPearl Harbor is on the short list of traumatic events in American history. It is synonymous with both international treachery, excellence of execution, incredible recovery, and top leadership bumbling. It is considered the masterwork of Admiral Yamamoto. In this new study of the raid, Mark Stille confirms and shatters long held beliefs about the attack in a detailed analysis with numerous photographs, diagrams, maps, and artwork.
ContentsScores of books have dealt with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Mark Stille has several books with Osprey about naval history in the Pacific. He reexamines the attack and its varied aspects with detail without being overwhelming. For each component of the attack he presents a brief critique. I will not recount everything I found of note; some of these are surprising and defy past beliefs, such as:
1. Although Adm. Yamamoto did create and execute a brilliant attack in the face of severe opposition, he inexplicably put the entire operation at risk by including midget submarines; only US bumbling prevented the discovery of the midget subs from giving several hours warning.
2. Vaunted Japanese Type 0 fighters did not start the war well – when eight Zeros fought four P-36s they lost two against one American.
3. Despite their incredible performance in the Indian Ocean a couple of months later, the highly trained dive-bomber pilots could hardly hit moored ships.
4. The Japanese pilots widely showed a lack of professional judgment in selecting proper targets.
5. Despite one destroying the USS Arizona, the 800kg battleship shells converted to aerial bombs were a failure.
6. The Royal Navy aerial torpedo attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto was not the inspiration for the attack.
7. The significant Japanese submarine contingent contributed nothing.
The attack is narrated in detail. Mr. Stille recounts some individual actions such as how Soryu aircraft got in the way of the 9th Kaga torpedo plane, which torpedoed USS Nevada, then was shot down; yet another Type 97 had to jettison its torpedo to take evasive action to avoid a midair collision with other planes. Plenty of similar accounts personalizes the battle. No personal quotes or statements are included, though.
The text is well written, expertly researched, and easily read. While there are some minor typos, a glaring mistake dates the British attack on Taranto as 1941—a year off.
Tora! Tora! Tora! – Pearl Harbor 1941 is presented in 80 pages and 8 chapters, including:
2. Initial Strategy
3. Early Planning
4. The Plan
5. The Raid
6. The Accounting
Several charts break down the information:
I. Organization of the Pearl Harbor Attack Force (First and second aerial attack waves, aircraft per carrier, unit commanders)
II. First Carrier Striking Force (Hawaii Operation)
III. Japanese Aircraft Losses by Carrier and Type
IV. List of Ships Sunk or Damaged
Photos, Maps and Illustrations
Plenty here. Almost every page has a sidebar telling the time and date of a particular action. While most of the photographs are well known, there are a few that are new to me. A few are even color photos. Considering the circumstances of exposure, almost all are very high quality.
Several maps are presented, including Osprey’s ‘Bird’s Eye Views’:
I. Primary Defense Installations and Air Order of Battle on Oahu
II. The Japanese Attack Plan
III. Route of the First Carrier Striking Force
IV. Pearl Harbor Ship Locations, 0755hrs, December 7, 1941
V. First Attack Wave Against Targets In Pearl Harbor 0750-0811hrs, December 7, 1941
VI. Second Attack Wave Against Targets In Pearl Harbor 0848-0920hrs, December 7, 1941
Finally, beautiful and dramatic illustrations by artists Jim Laurier and Tim Brown:
A. Two color profiles each of Zeros, dive-bombers, and torpedo planes
B. A dramatic view of Battleship Row from underneath a torpedo plane just as the torpedo is released
C. USS Ward engaging a midget sub
The cover art is one of the finest works that I have seen on an Osprey book.
ConclusionWhen this title was announced I could not wait to get a copy and I have not been disappointed! On this eve of the 70th anniversary of The Day of Infamy, military historians, modelers, and students of that tragic day should find this to be an excellent source about the attack. It opened my eyes and changed my view about a few things, especially Yamamoto. The couple of typos don't detract from the work. The selection of photographs is excellent. The maps are clear and informative, the artwork is exceptional. I absolutely recommend this book!
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