Academic journal article Naval War College Review


Academic journal article Naval War College Review


Article excerpt



Your reviewer of my MacArthur's War in the Winter 2001 issue [Dr. Donald Chisholm, of the Naval War College] must have had a bad-hair day. Not a single one of his nit-picking corrections, some of them already altered in the next printing, relate to the thrust of the book (largely ignored in the interest of demonstrating his superior naval expertise), which was that General MacArthur bungled the command of the Korean War by failing to run a hands-on operation and by a pattern of willful and arrogant insubordination.

His technicality that the Japanese minesweepers and crews were not really part of the Imperial Navy obscures the immorality of employing them in a war operation at Wonsan in which at least one ship and crew were casualties.

And he missed at least one more error as crucial to MacArthur's mismanagement as the rest-now corrected in the paperback reprint. The shiny new vehicle in which the general rode to Haneda Airport as he was exiting Japan was a Chrysler rather than a Cadillac.


Pennsylvania State University



The essay by Parshall, Dickson, and Tully in this issue [pages 139-51 ] was both a critique of my article "The Battle of Midway: Why the Japanese Lost" [Summer 2000, pp. 60-100] and an exposition of their own theory of why the Japanese could not get a strike force launched from their carriers at Midway before those carriers were bombed at 1025 on 4 June. I wish to respond to certain points of their critique of my article and then offer some comments on their theory.

First, I want to commend the authors for producing a most interesting essay. They and I share the belief that the conventional American scenarios of what happened on the Japanese carriers that fateful morning do not make sense, and they as well as I have attempted to fashion more plausible scenarios-based on more recent Japanese sources-to explain why Admiral Nagumo could not get a "grand scale" attack launched. In that endeavor we have come up with very different explanations on certain points, though we agree on others. As one of the purposes of my article was to stimulate critical analysis of the subject, I welcome alternative points of view in the hope that from the clash of ideas a better understanding of what really happened on the Japanese side of that battle will eventually emerge.

Indeed, the authors have made me rethink some of my conclusions. I have even been persuaded to concede one point that affects the timing in my scenario for the operation to rearm the torpedo planes and dive-bombers on the Japanese carriers. I now accept that the second-wave planes were already in the hangars when Nagumo's order to rearm them was given at 0715. Even had they been spotted on the flight decks soon after the first wave departed for Midway, I now believe that when the first American attack wave from Midway was anticipated (Nagumo knew before 0600 that his carrier force had been spotted), they would have been struck below to free the flight decks for combat air patrol (CAP) activity. The Japanese record of Zeros on CAP being recovered around 0700 on Akagi and Hiryu substantiates this. This has the effect of advancing my rearming schedule for Akagi by the time it would take to get the first few torpedo planes to their arming stations in the hangar. (As I have the rearming process commencing on each plane as it reaches its arming station-about six minutes for the first one, twelve minutes for the sixth-rather than waiting until the entire squadron was lowered, the net advancement would be about ten minutes.)

This does not, however, vitiate my key point, which is: If Nagumo did not receive the Tone 4 sighting report until 0800, instead of 0740 as commonly assumed, the rearming operation would have proceeded twenty minutes longer before suspension or reversal than under the conventional scenario. …

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