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View Full Version : Turns out Yamamoto was an incompetent military boob.



Waldo.Pepper
09-14-2007, 10:00 PM
From a review of Shattered Sword.

"In terms of reputation, it should be noted at once that instead of Admirals Isoroku Yamamoto, Nobutake Kondo and Chuichi Nagumo, it turns out that it was Admirals Curly, Moe and Larry who were in charge of the Japanese forces. Yamamoto has been celebrated in both Japan and the United States as the military genius who was the architect of all of Japan's early victories.

Shattered Sword reveals him as a bumbling incompetent whose flawed strategy for Midway reflected the fatal flaws of the Japanese military system. Yamamoto was at the forefront of a naval society that worked actively to invert everything it had learned and practiced since the 1905 Battle of Tsushima, and thus created a wartime scenario in which defeat was the only option.

The authors never reproach the physical courage of the top Japanese leaders, but they effectively indict their moral courage, which failed at almost every level from Yamamoto down to the carrier commanders. Contrasted with this is the incredible moral and physical courage displayed by the sailors and airmen."

Anyone read it?

http://www.shatteredswordbook.com/

Feathered_IV
09-14-2007, 10:12 PM
Never read it. But I have always found IJN strategy to be a bit odd. Especially those sacrificial lamb tactics of offering the enemy a juicy piece of your valuable forces and then supposing to fall on them from behind after your mates are being torn to shreds.

triad773
09-14-2007, 11:05 PM
Hmmm... interesting article Waldo. I've read stuff like it, but had drawn the conclusion that they were more or less victims of their own hierarchal society and military establishments. Not unlike old Prussia that later became Germany, Japan being equally unique in its own way.

Just my two cents.

Triad

R_Target
09-14-2007, 11:25 PM
I'm reading it right now. The impression I get is that IJN leadership was asleep at the wheel in the spring of '42.

leitmotiv
09-14-2007, 11:32 PM
The first unflattering critique of Yamamoto that I can recall was in Hara's JAPANESE DESTROYER CAPTAIN written in the late '50's. His reputation has been maintained by devoted Japanese biographers. After reading the favorable to Y, THE RELUCTANT ADMIRAL 25 years ago, I was moved to wonder if he didn't deliberately sabotage the Japanese war effort because he hated the Army fascists so much. Much of his reputation in the West was made by the completely phony sentimentalization of him in the film TORA! TORA! TORA! Y never said the now famous line about "only waking a sleeping dragon." We do know that he was warned by close subordinates that the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor would be a strategic disaster because it would mobilize the split U.S. electorate (isolationists vs interventionists) against Japan. Hitting Pearl Harbor was not exactly what a clever person would do. Had the Japanese just attacked the British in Malaya and the Dutch in the Netherlands East Indies, the U.S. could not have done a thing.

Feathered_IV
09-15-2007, 12:16 AM
The first unflattering critique of Yamamoto that I can recall was in Hara's JAPANESE DESTROYER CAPTAIN written in the late '50's.

You've read it? Is it any good? I've been looing for that one for ages. Let it slip through my fingers about ten years ago and haven't seen another since.

woofiedog
09-15-2007, 12:43 AM
A strike on Pearl Harbor to elminate it as a supply and repair base for Army Air Corp and Naval forces in the Pacific would have made a big difference in the way the US fought the war. Sinking the few ships that were in the harbor at the time didn't make a Hec of a dent in the way we started our war planing or opening campaigns.
Midway even if the Japanese had captured the Island it was a total waste of time and war equipment on their part.
If the Japanese had went after the Panama Canal and destroyed the locks and other vital componentes of the canal. That would have made the US Navy's job a lot more time comsuming and difficult. Giving the Japanese a lot more time to restructure and build up their war machine.

But Luck was on our side when it came to the Japanese War plans. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

fabianfred
09-15-2007, 01:13 AM
Originally posted by Feathered_IV:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">The first unflattering critique of Yamamoto that I can recall was in Hara's JAPANESE DESTROYER CAPTAIN written in the late '50's.

You've read it? Is it any good? I've been looing for that one for ages. Let it slip through my fingers about ten years ago and haven't seen another since. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I have a copy...and it is a great read....he even refers with admiration to the new american tactic of skip bombing

send me your address...and you can have my copy

I don't much like the way people enjoy looking back with hindsight and trying to destroy the reputaions of late, great men...who are not able to defend themselves...

leitmotiv
09-15-2007, 02:03 AM
Another book which found fault with Yamamoto's strategy was TITANS OF THE SEAS by Belote and Belote. Book was published in the early '70's. The authors thought Yamamoto suffered from what they called a "raid mentality", i.e., jabbing at the Allies rather than delivering a crushing blow. They cited the Pearl Harbor attack as a primary example: instead of remaining off Oahu smashing the precious base facilities at Pearl, and, even more important, the vulnerable oil tank farms which would have destroyed the base for operations for months, Kido Butai scrammed. Gordon Prange (AT DAWN WE SLEPT) claimed Yamamoto was in a bind. Nagumo was in line for the job of commanding Kido Butai, but Y knew N did not understand carrier tactics. He could have found someone less senior for the job who knew carrers, but this would have humiliated N, and N would have been forced to commit suicide. When Y realized N was turning the carriers for home, he could have sent an order to N to stay and finish the job. According to Prange, the snag was that doing this would have humiliated N, and he would have been forced to commit suicide. Thus, upon such things the fates of nations hang.

F_IV---JDC is currently in print in the U.S. by the United States Naval Institute, and is available from U.S. Amazon. Try Oz Amazon---should be there. The book is the best picture the non-Japanese speaking have of life in the WWII Imperial Navy. Hara was very fond of Nagumo and intensely disliked Yamamoto for, what he believed, and others agreed, were the use of tactics which threw away precious ships and crews as live bait (SHOHO at Coral Sea, RYUJO at Eastern Solomons).

DuxCorvan
09-15-2007, 05:22 AM
War against the USA was already unavoidable in Dec. 1941, and the USA was really moving in that direction. USA-Japan relationships had become a crossing of threats and ultimatums. But Japan knew they could never defeat the USA in a prolongated war. The strike in Pearl Harbor was intended to buy time and allow Japan obtain advantage enough to successfully force the sign of a conceding short-term peace treaty with the USA to lift the embargoes on Japan and leave their hands free in Asia. The half-baked victory in PH and the turning point in Coral Sea and Midway, prevented this to happen.

PH was not a mistake, in fact, it was Japan's only chance of success in the USA-Japan crisis, but it had to be perfectly done, and it wasn't.

Sturm_Williger
09-15-2007, 05:25 AM
Yes, I got a copy of Shattered Sword and can recommend it highly.

Good extensive research well presented analysing everything all the way down to onboard firefighting techniques.

Get a copy http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

leitmotiv
09-15-2007, 05:30 AM
Yes, but what is fascinating is that there were people in Yamamoto's staff, Ugaki for one, who exactly forecast this strategy was delusional because the USA would never settle for a negotiated peace after a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. There was no way the USA would have allowed Japan hegemony in the Pacific---even if the offensive had been delayed until 1943 by losing Coral Sea and Midway. Yamamoto did have a very interesting gambit in mind to force the USA to the table. He intended to use the non-Asian Americans in Hawaii as hostages, and to execute them in blocks if Roosevelt refused to talk. This, definitely, would have been a blow to the American brain.

SHATTERED SWORD is an encyclopedia on the early war Japanese Navy. There is nothing comparable to it in English. Most of it is lifted verbatim from the Japanese official history, though.

SeaFireLIV
09-15-2007, 06:45 AM
So add yamamoto and adolf together and we get a pair of boobs.

...boobs...

..nice...


..boobs...

Zeus-cat
09-15-2007, 07:22 AM
I have always suspected that there were a lot of incompetent leaders in the Japanese military. How many times have you watched a WWII documentary on TV and they narrator gets to the crucial point in the battle and says "For some unknown reason the Japanese forces broke off and steamed away"?

I just watched a show on the History Channel (I know, I know, but I think they stuck to the facts on this one) on the attack on Taffy 3. The battleship Yamato never really engaged the U.S. ships and the rest of IJN ships suddenly broke off for no reason just when they could have destroyed the bulk of Taffy 3.

woofiedog
09-15-2007, 07:47 AM
There was also a chance in the last stages of the Battle of Midway... that if the Japanese Battleship group had attacked the US fleet at that time.
The Carrier Group would not have been able to defend itself with the air groups that the US had left after the last of the air engagments.
But the Japanese pulled back the Battleship Group and headed home instead.

leitmotiv
09-15-2007, 08:58 AM
Admiral Kurita had taken a severe beating from the aircraft of the jeep carrier groups, and he had misidentified the jeeps as fleet carriers. He lost heart figuring the farther he pursued the carriers, the more of a hammering he would take. Seeing MUSASHI sunk by aircraft the day before had stunned the Japanese. YAMATO was operating with a torp in her bow and several bomb hits. A significant number of his heavy cruisers had been sunk, severely damaged, or damaged over the past two days by submarines, aircraft, and now by a few destroyers and destroyer escorts. Kurita lost his stomach for the fight.

SARATOGA was coming up from Pearl on the 4th of June---the day Kido Butai was destroyed. I believe she was with Spruance by the 6th. Had the Japanese battleships with their terrible high angle and light AA directors and wretched light AA been off Midway, it's likely they would have received a warm reception. Certainly none would have been sunk with the terrible USN torpedoes, and with the USN's lack of AP bombs, but they likely would have received some structural damage from Dauntlii chucking 1000-lb SAP bombs at them.

TheShark888
09-15-2007, 09:11 AM
"For some unknown reason the Japanese forces broke off and steamed away"?

I agree, at least about the IJN. Now the Army might have done a lot better with some of this mentality.

Blutarski2004
09-15-2007, 09:55 AM
Originally posted by leitmotiv:
SHATTERED SWORD is an encyclopedia on the early war Japanese Navy. There is nothing comparable to it in English. Most of it is lifted verbatim from the Japanese official history, though.


..... This is not exactly accurate. I'm friendly with Jon Parshall. Jon has spent about thirty years developing contacts and exchanging data with Japanese military historians and researchers, who have been progressively unearthing new information from Japanese archives. He and his co-author were also instrumental in getting the data translated into English.

huggy87
09-15-2007, 10:30 AM
While the individual Japanese soldiers and their units were undoubtedly brave, their strategic leaders often showed caution when boldness would have probably won them the day.

Daiichidoku
09-15-2007, 10:44 AM
hehehe

there are VERY few commanders that appraoch thier legends

most made blunders, but history does not show most of it...glossed over by contemporary historians, further glossed in later accounts, and all of them with partiality to begin with!

Monty is a great example of a "great" commander, who, as time goes on, has been revealed as not-so-great

now, with the aboce example, it goes the other way round, and great Y is a goat alla sudden

the truth lies somewhere in between, for all commanders

a shame, really, that thier shortcomings are not brought to the fore, as much as thier successes or skills, as so much can be learned from ,both for future (and present!) commanders

Daiichidoku
09-15-2007, 10:45 AM
btw, Midway was PURE HORSESHOES for USA

leitmotiv
09-15-2007, 12:33 PM
Originally posted by Blutarski2004:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by leitmotiv:
SHATTERED SWORD is an encyclopedia on the early war Japanese Navy. There is nothing comparable to it in English. Most of it is lifted verbatim from the Japanese official history, though.

..... This is not exactly accurate. I'm friendly with Jon Parshall. Jon has spent about thirty years developing contacts and exchanging data with Japanese military historians and researchers, who have been progressively unearthing new information from Japanese archives. He and his co-author were also instrumental in getting the data translated into English. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

The authors candidly attribute the Japanese official history for much of their information in their introduction to the book, and repeatedly cite it in footnotes throughout the work. What they have is valuable, but it is not strictly original research. I'm glad to have it.

leitmotiv
09-15-2007, 12:36 PM
Originally posted by Daiichidoku:
btw, Midway was PURE HORSESHOES for USA

Gee, this is a new level of incoherence for this forum.

BfHeFwMe
09-15-2007, 01:39 PM
Absolutely agree the top leadership were incompetent. What they did to their own troops on Guadalcanal is unforgivable. They basically trashed their own forces with stupidity. An object lesson on how you take an entrenched force and reinforce it with superior numbers, than defeat it with disease, starvation, and piecemeal tactical blundering. So bad that it's own commander commits suicide long before he's even close to being defeated.

And it was Genda who was the real master mind behind the Pearl Harbor attack and success.

mortoma
09-15-2007, 02:46 PM
I have to wonder about the timing of PH. Why didn't they wait for the carriers to show up there first? Had they done that it would have made a hell of a difference.

R_Target
09-15-2007, 02:50 PM
Originally posted by Daiichidoku:
btw, Midway was PURE HORSESHOES for USA

It certainly was fortunate that McClusky & Co. showed up where they did when they did. But if it hadn't have been at Midway, it would have been somewhere else.

leitmotiv
09-15-2007, 03:05 PM
Walter Lord summed it up neatly when he called it an "incredible victory," but, if you read SHATTERED SWORD you discover the Japanese erred titanically: failing to concentrate all their assets (sending SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU south to the Coral Sea), paying no attention to what the USN might do rather than what it had to do to fulfill their plan, down to a huge list of operational and tactical errors which strain credulity. As Jimmy Flatley the USN ace put it succinctly: "Eternal vigilance or eternal sleep." But, such errors are common in war. If the ENTERPRISE and YORKTOWN Dauntlesses had fouled up as badly as HORNET's and scattered themselves on the sea out of fuel without finding a target, the Japanese would have clobbered the US carriers, and all the Japanese screw-ups would have been a tiny footnote on a successful operation.

The decisive act of the battle had been planned well before by Spruance's operations officer who realized the Japanese needed to be allowed to strike the atoll, be allowed to commence rearming their aircraft, and, at this moment, the USN had a sterling opportunity to hit them from an ambush position by surprise. His plan worked out perfectly, even though the actual execution was chaotic and nearly unsuccessful. Midway was a classic case of a remarkable plan deciding a battle well before the first shot.

luftluuver
09-15-2007, 03:39 PM
Thread on another board about Midway.
http://www.bobhenneman.info/forum/viewtopic.php?t=779

Some are not too complimentary about Shattered Swords.

joeap
09-15-2007, 05:12 PM
Originally posted by mortoma:
I have to wonder about the timing of PH. Why didn't they wait for the carriers to show up there first? Had they done that it would have made a hell of a difference.

Pure chance, the Enterprise was supposed to be there but was delayed by the same storm that covered the attacking force. In fact it got there just hours after the attack was over, having sent some SBDs on ahead that got caught up in the attack.

Sturm_Williger
09-15-2007, 05:21 PM
Originally posted by luftluuver:
Thread on another board about Midway.
http://www.bobhenneman.info/forum/viewtopic.php?t=779

Some are not too complimentary about Shattered Swords.

They seem to be less complimentary about the other book...

Thanks for the link though.

Blutarski2004
09-15-2007, 06:57 PM
Originally posted by leitmotiv:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Blutarski2004:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by leitmotiv:
SHATTERED SWORD is an encyclopedia on the early war Japanese Navy. There is nothing comparable to it in English. Most of it is lifted verbatim from the Japanese official history, though.

..... This is not exactly accurate. I'm friendly with Jon Parshall. Jon has spent about thirty years developing contacts and exchanging data with Japanese military historians and researchers, who have been progressively unearthing new information from Japanese archives. He and his co-author were also instrumental in getting the data translated into English. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

The authors candidly attribute the Japanese official history for much of their information in their introduction to the book, and repeatedly cite it in footnotes throughout the work. What they have is valuable, but it is not strictly original research. I'm glad to have it. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>


.....Not trying to start a flame war here, LM, but I don't understand how Parshall's and Tully's reference (pg xxiv) to their use of the Japanese official history series could inspire the comment that "Most of it is lifted verbatim from the Japanese official history..."