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From: William D. O'Neil <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Pearl Harbor and Taranto Date: March 3, 2010 3:37:34 PM EST To: H-NET Military History Discussion List <H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU> The Royal Navy's raid on the Italian fleet at Taranto on the night of 11-13 November 1940 was clearly recognized by the Japanese planners as an important precursor to their raid on Pearl Harbor less than 13 months later. It was a worldwide sensation at the time and a subject of universal interest in naval circles. Like the Pearl Harbor raid, that on Taranto had been seen as "impractical" by its target force beforehand, as I understand it. Lack of any radar warning and integrated air defense system put the Italians at a sharp disadvantage. Even allowing for this, however, the success of the raid was very striking in light of the meager forces the British were able to put over Taranto -- two battleships seriously damaged and one put out of the war by 21 biplane Swordfish bombers, only two of which were lost. The U.S. forces in Hawaii, by contrast, had effective radars available. They also had most of the other elements of an integrated air defense system. What they signally lacked, of course, was any sort of top-command urgency about getting these elements into effective operation. Everyone is familiar, no doubt, with the many excuses offered by the commanders and their apologists. One particular aspect, however, puzzles me. The Japanese planners concluded that their aims were better served by a daylight attack, rather than a Taranto-style night strike. But the U.S. defenders had no obvious basis for ruling out a nighttime attack any more than one by day. Yet the radars and partially completed air defense command arrangements in Oahu in December 1941 were operated for warning purposes only in the three hours just before dawn (0400-0700). (By the time then kept in Hawaii, sunrise came very close to 0700 at that season.) As we know, the incompleteness of the integrated air defense system (and particularly its lack of any scheme for identifying noncooperative targets) made it ineffective for defense or even alerting in any event, but I wonder whether anyone knows the rationale for operating during only this three-hour period each day. Will O'Neil ---------- William D. O'Neil Analysis for Decision email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.analysis.williamdoneil.com/ 703.256.4146 or 703.256.0066 ----- For subscription help, go to: http://www.h-net.org/lists/help/ To change your subscription settings, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-war -----