Why no adequate radar system in Oahu ?

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by boykin530, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. boykin530

    boykin530 Junior Member

    We all know mistakes were made and blame is shared by quite a few people for the Pearl Harbor "surprise" attack. One issue I'll never understand is how in the world did the American commanders and politicians fail to see the potential of a radar defense. The British had an effective radar defense in the Battle of Britain over a year earlier, so the example was easy to see. Perhaps the location of the Japanese attack was a "surprise", but most everyone in the military or US govt could see that war with Japan was coming.

    So what was the American radar defense ?
    1--Totally inadequate training of the operators.
    2--No phones at all for a period of time at the radar stations.
    3--Non-existent communication between a control center and the various airfields and other pertinent personnel.

    What in the world were going to do if the control center conclusively decided there were Jap planes on the way ? The radar gave them about 30 minutes lead, and yet no phones to the airfields ?? Are you freakin kidding me ?? Why even have the radar if the control center can't communicate to the airfields and other personnel on the islands ?

    Of all of the incompetence I've read about in regards to WW2, it's hard for me to top this one. This isn't just armchair hindsight critisism. The example was there. Our British ally had a brilliant system that was instrumental in their defeat of the Luftwaffe, again, over a year earlier ! I'll never EVER understand this complete incompetence on the part of our US leaders.
     
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Good Question !

    I have no hard facts as to my reasons but I think Radar was a reasonably knew piece of technology and at the time the only country that really belived in it was Britain as was proved in the BoB. Even the Germans across the water didn't really appreciate the effectiveness at the time of it. They only bombed Dover a few times before moving on to the airfields and those raids did little damage to the stations.

    I wonder if the British shared the secrets of Radar with the US at the time. Both countries kept a lot from each other even though they were Allies (They still do today).

    I think (No offence ment either) America had a perception of being untouchable at the time. 'It will never happen to us' attitude, we all have it now and then according to the experts. I think thats why there was so much disbelief at the time. A bit like 9/11 with the WTC Towers.

    Don't forget the Japanese attacked the British at roughly the same time and they were caught out too.

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  3. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    As was said,radar or rdf at the time to the British was new technology and on that particular Sunday morning the radar operators reported that they had echo returns on their screens.Reporting to their immediate superiors,their reports were discounted on a basis of reliability and belief that an attack was unlikely and action was not initiated.

    When the equipment was commissioned and taken over from the civilian contractors there should have been instructions that any received echos should have been taken as genuine and a reporting system available as the first stage of alert.In reality,the reporting line did not get past the first stage of alert.

    British RDF technology was far more advanced than the American development in Radio Direction Finding arising from the British development and commissioning of CHH and CHL early warning systems prior to the outbreak of war.As Allies,the technology was passed to the Americans.One aspect of this cooperation was that the RAF bombing radar, H2S was made available to the USAAF who custom developed it as APQ 13 for the B 29.
     
  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Just becaus the British had developed radar to a certain successful point, does not necessarily mean that it's intricasies had been shared and/or shared within a timely fashion for the technology to have been put into production, training and implementation by Dec 1941 at a base that was thought by the upper levels of the US military to be relatively safe from attack by foreign military forces.

    As far as your questions, hindsight is alway 20/20.
     
  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Fact is that a worlking Radar station was installed at Diamond Head overlooking Pearl Hrbour - the operators contacted their HQ warning of the impending attack - but not acted upon !
    Cheers
     
  6. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Fact is that a worlking Radar station was installed at Diamond Head overlooking Pearl Hrbour - the operators contacted their HQ warning of the impending attack - but not acted upon !
    Cheers

    Actually it was Opana Point, on the north side of Oahu. Diamond Head overlooks Pearl Harbor, in the south.

    Putting the radar on Diamond Head would have been about as effective in looking to the north as would the binoculored eyes of lookouts.

    It goes back to what I said about training and implementation. The technology was there, the implementation and training were not. Therefore, while the privates and corporals saw the incoming aircraft, their training was deficient in that they could not press the accuracy of their observations and the implementation was lacking in that their information was not acted upon.

    The mechanisms for disseminating and using the information provided was not in place yet, nor was there faith in the veracity of the information by higher authorities.

    Give a TV to a headhunter, he won't know what to do with it (at least mayber 30 years ago). Give radar to a military establishment that has not had significant experience with it is uses and know how to implement it yet, it is the same as not having the technology to begin with.
     
  7. fred-carl

    fred-carl Junior Member

    Back in 2001 a local paper published an article I wrote directly related to this question:

    http://www.infoage.org/pearl.html

    Net, US Radar was ready and working. Command misused a valuable tool as they were on Hawaiian holiday. There are 2000 graves to attest to this. Britian had the aerial knife at their throat so their command was ready to use new inventions. Their first lessions were during WWI.
    And yes, the Germans did get past the British radar in the beginning. Somehow that question does not get asked of them, nor should it be.
    During the war side by side equipment tests showed US radar equipment was better. The Brits got a better result with better procedures once the Nazi bombers gave them reason to develop and improve them.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    The radar installations on Oahu were still in the development phase. The FIC (Fighter Intercept Center) was not yet functional as a control unit. The radars were still being learned by their operators. It was for this reason that Elliot stayed on the screen after the official shut-down time of 7 AM, he wanted more tube time. If he hadn't done that the conspiracy theorists would probably be complaining that the radars were deliberately shut off so the Japanese could sneak in.
     
  9. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    OP,

    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    Conspiracy theories will always be around, but it would appear that in this case there was just a little problem with communications.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  10. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    OP,

    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    Conspiracy theories will always be around, but it would appear that in this case there was just a little problem with communications.

    Regards
    Tom
    I've been working on this one since the mid '60s. Literally. I received a copy of the Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings from a nice old man next door with the instructions to "find out what FDR was hiding." I later found out that the guy was fond of recalling his military service with George Washington. :mad:
     
  11. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    OP,

    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    Conspiracy theories will always be around, but it would appear that in this case there was just a little problem with communications.

    Regards
    Tom
    Quite right Tom. Having said that though, I always thought that Admiral Kimmel got a raw deal over the whole Pearl Harbour affair.
     
  12. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Gotthard,

    That reminds me of the John Wayne film "In Harms Way", when after the Japanese strike, the Admiral stated that he had just lost a fleet, not just a cruiser and that in Washington, they were just looking for people to blame at the moment.

    It just about summed it up.

    Reghards
    Tom
     
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    Gotthard,

    That reminds me of the John Wayne film "In Harms Way", when after the Japanese strike, the Admiral stated that he had just lost a fleet, not just a cruiser and that in Washington, they were just looking for people to blame at the moment.

    It just about summed it up.

    Reghards
    Tom
    The finger pointing started days if not hours after the attack. "Where were the carriers!" etc. The anti-FDR crowd has picked up on that idea and ran with it ever since. I haven't heard a new theory in a few years, the latest was Stinnett's total failure to read a map in his book.
     
  14. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I havent read up on it enough (Note to file: Read more about Pearl Harbor) but was Kimmel dishonrably discharged along with the Army Commander too?
     
  15. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I've been working on this one since the mid '60s. Literally. I received a copy of the Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings from a nice old man next door with the instructions to "find out what FDR was hiding." I later found out that the guy was fond of recalling his military service with George Washington. :mad:

    It could have been worse:D

    Regards
    Tom
     
  16. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    It could have been worse:D

    Regards
    Tom
    True. It was years of interesting reading, and got me very into WWII. I occasionally stunned officers by knowing who Gunther Prien was.
     
  17. Dog_Father

    Dog_Father Member

    Pearl Harbor.com - George E Elliott Jr. Eyewitness Account

    I have heard veterns say on the History Channel, that there had been so
    many warnings, after which nothing of course happanded. Along with so many newspaper headlines, that would say "War with Japan Soon", then a few days later, "No War With Japan", that people just
    didn't know what to believe and became complacent. In other words,
    wolf was cried so many times, with nothing happening, that when it did
    it was a real shock. Newpapers were a real problem, for the military
    way back in The Cival War. :unsure:
     
  18. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    Pearl Harbor.com - George E Elliott Jr. Eyewitness Account

    I have heard veterns say on the History Channel, that there had been so
    many warnings, after which nothing of course happanded. Along with so many newspaper headlines, that would say "War with Japan Soon", then a few days later, "No War With Japan", that people just
    didn't know what to believe and became complacent. In other words,
    wolf was cried so many times, with nothing happening, that when it did
    it was a real shock. Newpapers were a real problem, for the military
    way back in The Cival War. :unsure:
    There were over 1,000 "war warnings" given to the FBI in 1941. The war was constantly in the papers, and the reporters then were no better than those today when it came to sensationalist reporting.
     
  19. beeza

    beeza Senior Member

    I think the radar sited in Oahu was an SCR-270 which was quite a good set for its time and I suspect much advanced on the Chain home system UK used in the BoB.
    Apparently radar operators picked up a large formation at 130 miles but a junior officer who had only been on the island for a week ignored to reports and preferred to believe that the contacts made were of a flight of B-17's that were due in.
    Rather a drastic mistake I would say.
    David
     
  20. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    I think the radar sited in Oahu was an SCR-270 which was quite a good set for its time and I suspect much advanced on the Chain home system UK used in the BoB.
    Apparently radar operators picked up a large formation at 130 miles but a junior officer who had only been on the island for a week ignored to reports and preferred to believe that the contacts made were of a flight of B-17's that were due in.
    Rather a drastic mistake I would say.
    David
    Lt. Kermit Tyler was ordered to be at the FIC from 4 to 8 am for "familiarization". The FIC was in training mode and only operated from 4 to 7 am. Everybody gone except for him and two enlisted men when Elliott called to report the blip. Tyler, who had been indirectly informed that a flight of B-17s was due in from California, told Elliott to "forget it."

    At the time the FIC was just learning how to plot contacts reported by the radars. They still hadn't had time to set up an actual fighter intercept protocol, no planes were under FIC control.

    And the units were, indeed, SCR270Bs.
     

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