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PROCEEDINGS OF THE HART INQUIRY
MONDAY, MARCH 13, 1944
SEVENTH DAY
                                                          NAVY DEPARTMENT,
                                                          Washington, D. C. 

The examination met at 9:30 a. m.

Present:

Admiral Thomas C. Hart, U. S. Navy, Retired, examining officer, and his counsel and assistant counsel.

Jesse Lee Ward, Jr., Yeoman Second Class, U. S. Naval Reserve, took seat as reporter and was warned that the oath previously taken was still binding.

The examining officer decided to postpone the reading of the record of proceedings of the sixth day of the examination until such time as it shall be reported ready, and in the meantime to proceed with the examination.

No witnesses not otherwise connected with the examination were present.

A witness called by the examining officer entered and was informed of the subject matter of the examination as set forth in the preface to the testimony of Rear Admiral W. W. Smith, Record Page 32.

The witness was duly sworn.

Examined by the examining officer:

1. Q. Admiral, please state your name, rank, and present station.

A. Arthur C. Davis, Rear Admiral, U. S. N., Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations to the Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Fleet.

2. Q. What duties were you performing on the 7th of December, 1941?

A. I was Fleet Aviation Officer of the Pacific Fleet.

3. Q. And how long had you been performing those duties, sir?

A. For approximately a year and a half.

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4. Q. Admiral, available records indicate that you have knowledge pertinent to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that occurred on 7 December, 1941. Please state the facts within your knowledge concerning the attack and the major events leading up thereto. It is especially desired that you cover the following, and a written copy of this question is handed you so that you may refer to it as you testify

The advice that you gave the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, with respect to possibility of a surprise air attack on the ships and installations at Pearl Harbor, together with the basis and reasons therefor.

If you did not advise the Commander-in-Chief in this respect, please state the views held by you prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor with respect to the possibility of such an attack.

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The information you had prior to 7 December 1941 regarding the Army Interceptor Command, including:

(a) Number and types of its planes,

(b) Sufficiency of air fields for operation and dispersal of airplanes,

(c) Caliber and experience of its pilots,

(d) The nature of training in progress,

(e) Its air warning net,

(f) Provisions made for command in the air, including direction of planes, so as to bring them into combat with the enemy in the event of surprise attack, and

(g) Any matter relating to the ability of the Army Interceptor Command to carry out its commitments under the War Plans.

Please include any advice you gave Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, in this respect.

Information regarding efficiency of Japanese Naval aviation available to you and your conclusions drawn therefrom.

A. My duty, as Fleet Aviation Officer, was primarily, if not almost entirely, concerned with technical training and logistics matters. As was the case with the Staff as a whole, our primary interest for many months had been the improvement in strength and proficiency of the Pacific Fleet. As is no doubt well known, it had not been possible, for various reasons, including appropriations, to develop the Fleet to a point which, it is now known, was necessary. However, this fact made it all the more important to concentrate on all phases of materiel and training. I, myself, had little to do with considerations of attack possibilities and I do not recall ever being directly consulted on such matters by the Commander-in-Chief. Naturally, the subject was frequently discussed among members of the Staff and also by the Commander-in-Chief with the Staff at times when I was present. From these discussions, I can definitely state my opinion that it was the Commander-in-Chief's belief that it was vitally necessary to continue as long as possible with training and other Fleet improvements and that going into a defensive status would interfere with [98] this work, so that I am convinced it was his sincere intention to accomplish all that could be done before hostilities began and that he believed there was still time to keep the work going.

As to the imminent possibility of attack, I only occasionally saw or heard of warnings that may have been received by the Commander-in-Chief. I know that there had been many warnings of varying degrees of seriousness over a number of months, and I had the impression that it was within the Commander-in-Chief's discretion to determine how far to go in action with regard to such warnings. I believe his thought, throughout, was to take precautionary steps within reason but to regard the warnings as all the more reason for concentration on improving the Fleet's readiness.

During the period of strain which finally led up to the events of 7 December, I am certain that the Commander-in-Chief gave the situation the carefulest possible consideration. I have to admit, however, that I was, myself, concerned because of information that was available in the press and that I concluded that there must be other information which had not been shown me that influenced the decision to take no greater precautionary steps than were taken.

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As to advice with regard to precautions, I was asked not so much for an opinion as to whether or not the fullest precautions should be taken' as for information with regard to the practicability of comprehensive searches and their effect on training. Comprehensive and extensive air searches were practicable and I so stated. I also stated the fact that this would very definitely interfere with progress in general in aviation training in the Fleet. This, as was the case in the Fleet as a whole, was important in view of the training demanded by the rapid expansion that was already beginning to take place.

With respect to the surprise air attack, I naturally expressed the opinion that this was possible and that it could only be prevented by the most extensive searches and efforts to intercept at sea by air and surface vessels. I did not, however, realize to what a high degree of proficiency Japanese naval aviation had been developed. I do not believe that anybody else in the American Navy had any proper conception of this development, either. Certainly I had never seen anything, either officially or unofficially, that would lead me to suppose that Japanese naval aviation was to tremendously effective and well developed as it turned out to be.

This is so well known now, by the average naval officer, that one is apt to forget how universally it was not known before the Pacific war began. I consider this primarily an indication of how effectively the Japanese succeeded in keeping their high state of development secret. I am sure that our Naval Intelligence organization did its best to keep the Navy fully informed, but I am convinced that information on this subject was lacking.

Perhaps a simpler way to put all this is that I do not believe the Commander-in-Chief regarded the damage possibility that might result from a Japanese air raid as very great. I know that he was concerned, of course, regarding all damage possibilities, but it was apparent that he felt that training and improvements of our own Fleet still had priority, particularly in view of what I understood at the time to be his belief [99] that there would not, at that time, be any overt action.

Precautions to a certain degree had been taken, of course. It had, for a considerable time, been standard practice to provide daily covering sweeps by air for all sea areas in the Hawaiian area in which any of our forces might be operating. Also, occasional searches in other sectors, to long distances, were made and sometimes maintained for a considerable time. The idea of these was to give the impression of comprehensive search and at the same time to avoid really extensive interference with other forms of training.

Although I did not feel that I had sufficient information as to the actual situation to undertake to question the Commander-in-Chief's policy, as 7 December approached I was concerned about the general situation with respect to our outlying islands. For this reason, I stressed the necessity for providing some form of air protection at Wake and Midway, which it would have been too late to attempt after actual emergency had arisen. Action was finally taken in this Connection and that is why the attack on 7 December found the ENTERPRISE task force on its way back, having landed Marine fighting planes at Wake, and the LEXINGTON task force on its way to land Marine aircraft at Midway.

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B. Q. Were you familiar with an arrangement between Com 14 and the Army for joint command in the air of Army and Navy aircraft, under certain conditions?

A. Yes, sir.

6. Q. Were you familiar with an estimate of the situation by Admiral Bellinger and General Martin in which the possibility of a surprise air raid figured

A. Yes, sir.

7. Q. Did you have that estimate at all in mind during the days which led up to 7 December?

A. I did.

8. Q. But I understand, from your testimony, that you made no particular estimate, yourself, along that same line, formal or otherwise?

A. No, sir, it was not that I made no estimate, or did not consider it; it was rather that this, like all of the other very comprehensive and thorough preparatory plans that were made, was contingent, as to its being placed in effect, on prior decision that the situation justified taking up what might be called a defensive deployment. As to whether or not it should, at any given point, have been taken up, I necessarily considered that the Commander-in-Chief's estimate was final.

9. Q. And your advice on the point was not asked?

A. No, sir.

10. Q. Did you see the Navy Department's dispatch of 27 November the one which has come to be known as the war warning (indicating Exhibit 8)?

A. No, sir.

11. Q. You never saw it prior to 7 December?

A. No, sir.

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12. Q. Admiral, did I understand you correctly, earlier in your testimony, to say that in your opinion a comprehensive air search could have been carried on at that time?

A. Yes, it could.

13. Q. Would you elaborate on that just a little bit, as to how a 360 degree distant reconnaissance could have been carried on with the material at hand at that time,

A. There were not enough planes and pilots to establish and maintain a long-range, 360 degree search indefinitely, or even for more than a limited time. There were, however, enough to approximate this by using relatively short-range planes in the least dangerous sectors, and by obtaining some assistance from available Army aircraft, so that I think it could have been undertaken, had it been considered essential, on the basis that reenforcements could have arrived before personnel and materiel fatigue set in. Unless reenforcements arrived, it could not have been maintained.

14. Q. You may proceed to the written question given you, passing on to the Army part.

A. Prior to 7 December, I had relatively little detailed information regarding the Army Interceptor Command. I knew approximately the numbers and types and my recollection is that they had about 170 P-36's, P-39's, and P-40's, of which the greater number were P-36's and P-39's. Judged by modern war standards, there were enough air

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fields to operate them, but not enough to provide adequate dispersal and protection, nor were revetments and dispersal runways provided at the various fields.

As to the caliber and experience of the pilots, they were, naturally, none of them experienced in war combat. I had the impression that the state of training did not average very high, for the Army was handicapped by expansion requirements and there had to be a choice between numbers and skill. I know that they were doing all in their power to improve their skill, and that they were busily engaged in training at all times.

The Army's air warning net had not yet been fully developed. It was, broadly speaking, still in a status of test, completion, and training, rather than on a full-out basis of readiness such as is now recognized as standard. In fact, continuous watches were not yet being stood. It was only fortuitous that radar indications of approaching aircraft were seen on the morning of 7 December.

As to provisions made for command in the air, including directions for interception, these were still only of a general nature and there had been, to my knowledge, no real development along that line by drills, although drills had been held. There were two reasons for this: one is that the air warning net and radar warning system had not yet been completed and placed in actual operation; the other is of a general nature, but, nevertheless important-the Hawaiian area had not yet been placed on the basis of unity of command so that, human nature being what it is, progress along the lines of mutual drills was slower than it might have been. I kept Admiral Kimmel informed of the general status of the Army Interceptor Command and arrangements for carrying out the joint directive, including progress and development and completion of the air warning net. I was, on the whole, well impressed with the potentialities of the Army Interceptor Command, and with the progress in developing the system. I did not feel, however, that it was yet ready for fully effective employment.

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15. Q. Admiral, what information was available to you as to the character and ability, and so forth, of the various Japanese Naval leaders ?

A. I knew nothing about them.

16. Q. Were you present when Captain McCrea discussed these leaders with the then Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Richardson, in the presence of Admiral Kimmel, and some of the Staff, in January,

A. No.

17. Q. What did you know, prior to the attack, concerning the character of Admiral Yamamoto?

A. Nothing.

18. Q. Admiral, in connection with your duties, did you confer with the Army command and echelons of command corresponding to your position- the Army located on Hawaii-regularly?

A. There was not, in fact, anybody in the Army with an assignment similar to mine. I was Fleet Aviation Officer on the Commander-in-Chief's Staff. General Short had no corresponding Staff Officer. The Army Air Corps Commanding General was his senior airman. I consulted with him and his juniors, occasionally, but the primary contact between Army Air and Naval aviation was between the Army Air

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Commanding General and Admiral Bellinger, who was Commander Patrol Wing Two. In short, my job was not an executive job.

19. Q. Were your relations with the senior Army Aviation Commanders cordial?

A. Yes, sir, they were extremely cordial and remained so through out the time I was on duty on the Commander-in-Chief's Staff, which extended through June, 1942. After 7 December, and the establishment of unity of command, I worked very closely with Army Air in the area in order to be certain that everything possible was done effectively, and I could not have asked for better and more intelligent cooperation.

20. Q. Admiral, were you, prior to 7 December, familiar with the use of aircraft torpedoes?

A. Yes, sir.

21. Q. Had you seven consideration to an attack on the ships in Pearl Harbor by this means?

A. Yes, sir.

22. Q. Will you please state your views as of that time as to the possible outcome of such an attack-the possible success of such an attack?

A. My views at that time were based on what I recall to be a definite statement by the Bureau of Ordnance that a torpedo attack in Pearl Harbor, because of the shallow depths, was not practicable. As I recall it, this, together with the desire to have major ships readily able to move in an emergency, was what influenced the Commander-in-Chief in his decision not to protect the major ships in Pearl Harbor with torpedo nets. Shortly after 7 December, I recall a dispatch from the Bureau of Ordnance which clarified its position in the matter. The general tenor of this dispatch was that actually torpedoes could be effectively used in depth as shallow as Pearl Harbor, but that some of them would hit the bottom. The only way I can reconcile this with earlier views is the peacetime attitude; that [102] is, the first question in peacetime had always been whether or not a torpedo could be recovered after a practice drop. Since it was desirable to avoid loss of the torpedoes, the data given to the Service naturally stressed the necessity for depths that would insure against the loss of all but erratic torpedoes.

23. Q. You had no information concerning aircraft torpedoes then that caused you to disagree with the Commander-in-Chief's decision?

A. No. In fact, the opposite was the case.

24. Q. Admiral did you consider the Fleet aircraft would be necessary to the defense of Pearl Harbor against air attack?

A. No, nor did I believe that they should be considered assigned for that purpose, except in the case of shore-based patrol planes. It was my belief that any Fleet aircraft that might be present should be made available while present, but, naturally, carrier aircraft, by definition, had to be considered primarily available for their mission, which certainly was not that of local defense.

25. Q. In the weeks leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, was it customary for carrier aircraft to have guns installed when Operating?

A. I cannot state positively after more than two years, but I think so.

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26. Q. Do you know if they were kept ready for combat use while shore-based at Oahu?

A. As in the previous question, I am not positive, but I think so.

27. Q. Are you familiar with the condition of readiness for battle of the Marine planes that were present at Barber's Point on the day of the attack?

A. No.

28. Q. Had carrier planes previously been assigned to the Army for use under the plan then in effect during any training exercises?

A. Yes, sir, I think so, but I can not state positively.

29. Q. Prior to becoming air officer on the Commander-in-Chief's Staff, what was your assignment?

A. What was the last part of that?

30. Q. What was your job?

A. I was Commander Aircraft, Asiatic Fleet, and Commanding Officer, U. S. S. LANGLEY.

31. Q. As such, you had long experience with PBY planes, did you not?

A. Yes, sir.

32. Q. And under circumstances under which their ability for reconnaissance, distant reconnaissance, was very much in the picture?

A. Yes, sir.

33. Q. Based on that experience, which indicates you are an expert in the line, I will ask you a question which is perhaps somewhat hypothetical but is pertinent: Air reconnaissance over 360 degrees has frequently been mentioned. The entire circumference was not of equal importance, was it?

A. No, sir.

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34. Q. A considerable arc to the north and west and another to the south and west were the most important; is that true?

A. Yes, sir, that is true, but it doesn't naturally follow that they would be certainly sufficient.

35. Q. Assuming a coverage of, say, 180 degrees so divided north and south, with the long-range planes which were available, including the Army's; suppose a distant reconnaissance patrol had been established upon the receipt of the Department's dispatch of 27 November. At that time, about what chance would you have estimated there was that such patrol would have intercepted the Japanese carriers the day prior to the attack?

A. My estimate at that time would have been that the chance was fairly good, perhaps two out of three, of course subject to reasonable breaks on weather and visibility. Based on knowledge since acquired, primarily that from war results to date, I should be inclined to put the chance no better than one out of two. We have, ourselves, quite often made an attack wherein Japanese search planes failed to sight our forces, even though in many of these cases we know that they were making intensive search flights. In the Guadalcanal landing, as an example, a Japanese search plane, under scattered cloud conditions, came close enough to our force actually to be sighted by long-range telescope from the ENTERPRISE, but failed to see and report the force. In a number of other cases, their search planes either failed to pass near enough for a sighting report or were hampered by bad visibility. On the other hand, the chances have always been

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good enough so that defensive search is more than justified. In the case of the attack on Pearl Harbor, it could have been possible for the Japanese, by correct timing, high speed run-in and long-range launching of their carrier groups, to have been outside of search radius of our patrol planes the day before. I have always been of the opinion that the Japanese did launch at very long range in order to make certain that no search would find them the day before. They took this chance long-range launching, I believe, for the sake of certainty of surprise. Therefore, I think that in the specific case of the Pearl Harbor attack, our chances of sighting the Japanese by a previous day's search were actually less than one in two.

36. Q. Would a radar warning net, involving search radar only which was properly manned and fully efficient, have contributed any greater degree toward the certainty of ample warning for us?

A. Yes, sir.

37. Q. Are you positive of that, and that the degree of certainty would have been quite considerable?

A. On the premise which I understood to be that it was an effective and efficient warning net; yes, sir.

38. Q. Then, in short, the most vital preparation that forces on Oahu could have had to prevent such a surprise air raid, would have been a proper radar net, is that the case?

A. Hardly to that extent, Admiral. I believe that the present provision, and the provision that should be made, is what is standard practice everywhere now. This involves both long-range search and effective radar warning nets. It is always best, if there is any chance of doing so at all, to have more warning than that which can be given by any local radar search. I believe that the two are complementary. I believe that radar is more certain, all things considered, than the air search. On the other hand, the [104] warning it gives is very much more brief than that which can be had from unsuccessful search. This, of course, is another way of stating the old truism that it is better to hit an enemy before he starts than when he arrives.

39. Q. Have you any evidence indicating the distance from Oahu at which the Japs did actually launch their planes?

A. Shortly after 7 December, I saw a chart recovered from a Japanese scout bomber which had been shot down, which had navigational lines drawn on it. These lines indicated the probability that this airplane had been launched from a point 250 miles North of Oahu and that it was to be recovered several hours later about 175 miles North of Oahu.

The examining officer did not desire to further examine this witness

The examining officer informed the witness that he was privileged to make any further statement covering anything relating to the subject matter of the examination which he thought should be a matter of record in connection therewith, which had not been fully brought out by the previous questioning.

The witness stated that he had nothing further to say.

The witness was duly warned and withdrew.

The examining officer then, at 11:20 a. m., adjourned until 2 p. m tomorrow.


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