Page 379

[348]

PROCEEDINGS OF THE HART INQUIRY
THURSDAY, APRIL 27, 1944
THIRTY-FIRST DAY
                                                        NAVY DEPARTMENT,
                                                        Washington, D. C. 

The examination met at 11:20 a. m.

Present;

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

Ship's Clerk Charles O. Lee, U. S. Naval Reserve, reporter.

The examining officer decided to postpone the reading of the record of proceedings of the thirtieth 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.

Commander William E. G. Taylor, U. S. Naval Reserve, the witness under examination when the adjournment was taken, entered. He was warned that the oath previously taken was still binding, and continued his testimony.

Examination by the examining officer (Continued):

61. Q. Please give a resume of your experiences while thus loaned to the United States Army, Hawaiian Department, including your relations with Army officials, and with Navy officials as well if such occurred, covering also radar apparatus, ability to use same, communications from the radar stations, and so on.

A. I was instructed to report to the Interceptor Command at Wheeler Field and reported to find the Commanding General of the Interceptor Command was in the United States. The Acting Commanding Officer requested me to work in an advisory capacity with his Operations Officer and assist him in expediting the completion of the air warning system. During the first week in November, we inspected all of the installations and plans for the air warning system and I found these facts to be true: (1) Construction and maintenance of the air warning system was a Signal Corps function directly under the cognizance of the Chief Signal Officer, Staff of the Commanding General, Hawaiian Department. This Command appeared to have little conception of the vast function of the air warning system and exhibited very little interest in expediting its installation. At no time before December 7,1941, did this Command furnish either the authority or impetus badly needed to get the work or organization properly started. (2) The actual operation of the air warning system-that is, the evaluation and dissemination of radar information and the control of fighter defense-was under the Interceptor Command. The

Page 380

Interceptor Command fully realized the importance of the air warning system. Although the officers concerned were not fully informed of its complicated functions, they were willing and eager to take advice and lend all assistance in their power to help complete its installations. They seemed relatively impotent, however, in getting assistance needed from the Commanding General's Staff. (3) One Captain of the Air Corps and one Captain of the Signal Corps had been through the Air Warning School at Mitchell Field, New York. It was with these two officers that I worked. Both were capable and energetic. They worked twelve to fifteen hours a day, seven days a week, in an attempt to speed up completion of the air warning system. (4) The air warning [349] equipment and communications system were largely field or mobile equipment and the entire system was temporary. However, with the exception of the ground-to-air and air-to-ground radio equipment, the system was adequate to serve its purpose as was later proved. (5) There were only five Army mobile radar equipments in the Hawaiian area. These equipments had been in Oahu about three months. The five sets were installed and, in my opinion, as well sited as terrain would permit and were the absolute minimum needed to cover the entire seaward search for the Island. The radar equipment itself was inferior to any I had seen before. The deficiency in the equipment, however, was due to crude mechanical construction rather than to any electronic fault. This made the operation of the equipment difficult and slow, with the result that the reported azimuth readings were frequently very inaccurate and the reports were slow in coming in. The equipment had a reliable range of eighty to one hundred miles. A "dead" area existed through a fifteen mile radius from the equipment. It was, therefore, impossible to pick up aircraft plots within the first fifteen miles off shore. At each radar station, there was at least one officer or sergeant well trained to operate and maintain the equipment. In addition, there were seven or eight other enlisted operators under instruction at each station. All stations were under-manned for twenty-four hour operation. At the time of my inspection, either commercial or Signal Corps field telephone lines had been installed between the radar stations and the Information Center. (6) The Information Center itself had been planned on an Area Command scale similar to the Boston or New York Information Centers and was too large in scope to effectively handle raids on the small Island of Oahu. The building was a temporary, wooden building and had just been completed at the time of my inspection. The communications equipment was mostly field telephone equipment of the type developed during the last war. Positions had been provided for controllers and liaison officers, but liaison command lines had not been installed. These were not installed, primarily, because the activities at which the liaison command lines were to terminate were uninformed as to the purpose concerning the air warning system and because the Commanding General had not taken the steps to coordinate these activities with the air warning system. The Signal Corps had furnished sufficient plotters to man two watches only. These were just starting their training at the time of my inspection. There were no controllers or liaison officers available at this time and no provisions had been made to provide them. (7) The anti-aircraft batteries had installed a command post but no liaison had been established

Page 381

between the anti-aircraft command and the Information Center. (8) No attempt had been made to secure control of the anti-aircraft guns of ships in harbor. (9) No liaison had been established between the searchlights and the Information Center. (10) No attempt had been made to disperse the fighter squadrons at Wheeler Field. (11) No automatic aircraft recognition system was installed which would identify all types of aircraft. (12) No aircraft approach lane system had been planned. (13) No system for identifying aircraft approaching Oahu by reports from parent aviation activities had been organized. (14) No visual observers reporting system had been organized. The foregoing is a summation of conditions found at Oahu during my inspection about 1 November 1941. These were reported by myself and the Interceptor Command Operations Officer to the Staffs of Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet; Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District; Commander, Patrol Wing Two; Commanding General, Hawaiian Department; Commanding General, Hawaiian Air Force and Bomber Command, prior to November 15, 1941. By December 7, 1941, all telephone communication lines had been installed with the exception of the Civilian Air Raid Precaution Command lines, and the command lines from the Information Center to five fighter squadron dispersal points at Wheeler Field. Direct command [350] lines were installed from Liaison position in the Information Center to the various Army and Navy commands and activities. The civilian line had not been completed due to the fact no air raid center had been set up in Honolulu. The command lines to the fighter dispersal points were not completed, due to switchboard complications at Wheeler Field. Two fighter squadrons were dispersed, one at Bellows Field and one at Haliena Field. The dispersal of the remaining fighter squadrons was awaiting installation of command lines. An excellent liaison had been established between the Army anti-aircraft batteries (three and five inch) and searchlights. About 15 November, I was instructed by CinCPac's Staff to request control of anti-aircraft guns of ships in harbor from Com 14. This request was refused by Com 14 on the grounds that "No Army organization would control guns on any naval vessel. If anything comes over, we will shoot it down." However, this control was voluntarily turned over to the Information Center on December 9, after ships guns had shot down U. S. S. ENTERPRISE aircraft. At the same time, I was also instructed by CinCPac to request naval liaison officers for the Information Center from Com 14. His Chief of Staff informed me that these liaison officers should come from the Fleet. I was referred to Commander, Patrol Wing Two. I was told by Commander, Patrol Wing Two, that no liaison officers were available in that Command. I returned to CinCPac and reported my failure to obtain naval liaison officers. CinCPac's Operations Officer informed me that he would take steps to find some. These officers did not report to the Information Center until December 8. I was further instructed by CinCPac to confer with Commander, Patrol Wing Two, in order to establish an aircraft identification system and aircraft approach lanes to Oahu. A conference was held at the Information Center, between November 15 and 20, at which officers from all flying activities were present to discuss these matters. It was decided by the aviation activities concerned that these systems would not be put into effect until war was

Page 382

declared, because it was felt that activating these systems prior to that time would complicate crowded flying conditions and hinder flying training. The Army stated that movements of aircraft from the United States to the Southwest Pacific were secret, and it was, therefore, not desirable to report those movements at that time. It should be noted that without an aircraft movement reporting system to the Information Center, it was impossible for the Information Center to determine whether radar reports were of friendly or of hostile aircraft. CinCPac's Operations Officer stated, however, that their Operations Office was prepared to report the movements of aircraft under their cognizance at any time this information was requested. Some doubt existed as to whether the Signal Corps' (Hawaiian Department) or Interceptor Command should furnish controllers. As no controllers seemed to be forthcoming from the Hawaiian Department, Interceptor Command decided to use Squadron Commanders as controllers at the Information Center. These officers were heavily occupied with training their squadrons and were seldom available for controller training. However, no other source of controllers seemed to exist. Bomber Command, G. H. Q., and G-2 liaison officers were not made available until several days after December 7, when their importance at the Information Center was finally realized. Interceptor Command had taken the initiative in the training of Information Center plotters. This training was progressing satisfactorily when, during the last week in November, the Commanding General, Hawaiian Department, ordered that the radar stations would operate only between 0400 and 0700. I was informed that the decision to limit the operating hours was made to prevent breakdown of the radar equipment from prolonged operation. Training which had been conducted from 0800 to 1700 daily only, due to the shortage of radar operators and plotters, was necessarily limited to the hours of 0400-0700 by the order. The Information Center, therefore, virtually ceased to function except during those hours. I informed CinCPac's Operations Officer of the situation as it existed on or about 1 December and was told that in view of the [351] of the failure of the responsible commanders to take action to provide necessary personnel and to activate the Information Center on a twenty-four hour basis, he would initiate a letter requesting the Commanding General, Hawaiian Department, to take action immediately. I do not know whether this letter was ever written, or not. However, no action was taken up to December 7. On the morning of December 7, I was informed, by the telephone operator of the hotel in which I was staying, that all naval officers were instructed to report to their ships immediately. I reported to the Information Center between 0800 and 0830 to find considerable confusion in progress. The duty controller was a Squadron Commander who had stood his first training watch during the 0400-0700 period that day. Through no fault of his own, he was almost totally unable to cope with the situation. The Interception Command Operations Officer had reported before my arrival, and was doing his utmost to get the Information Center organized. Sentries, mess cooks, and telephone linesmen were pressed into the liaison positions to man the telephones. As they were untrained, it was impossible for them to interpret and report the current situation to the activities requesting information. Someone had removed the large scale overlay chart of

Page 383

the Islands from the plotting table. The scale of the plotting table chart was too small for plotting, with the result that the plotting table was covered with a confusion of plots too numerous and large to evaluate properly. The Operations Officer was doing the best job possible under the circumstances to control the few fighters which were air-borne. During this time, I was occupied in an attempt to keep all of the interested activities as well informed as possible over the many liaison command lines. I should like to state here that several traced records were kept of the many plots which appeared on the plotting board. After the raids of December 7, these tracings were studied in an attempt to determine exactly where the raids had come from, and in what direction they had returned. As a flight of Army B-17 bombers had arrived almost simultaneously with the first raid, and as there were a considerable number of friendly aircraft in all areas, it was only possible to reconstruct an estimated plot of what had occurred. This plot was not completed until nearly forty-eight hours after the raids. However, it is my understanding that this plot was shown to the Secretary of the Navy during his visit as evidence that all information was received in an orderly manner by the Information Center during the raids.

62. Q. Referring to your statement concerning the fifteen mile "dead area" around Oahu, was there any visual system to supplement that weakness in the radar coverage?

A. After December 7 only, sir.

63. Q. Will you please elaborate your statement concerning what seems to have been a dual responsibility as between the Army Signal Corps and the Army Air Corps covering the installation of the complete warning system?

A. Where it was the Signal Corps' job to expedite the completion of the Information Center, the full initiative for expediting this work was taken on by Interceptor Command. The Chief Signal Officer, Hawaiian Department, seemed to attach very secondary importance to the completion of the Information Center, both as regards providing materiel and trained personnel.

64. Q. Which organization had the responsibility for the supply of personnel in the first place?

A. It was my impression that the Signal Corps had the job of furnishing all personnel for the Information Center.

[352]

65. Q. What, as regards the installations and operators of the remainder of the system outside of the Combat Information Center?

A. The Signal Corps equipment was field equipment but satisfactory; personnel for installing communication lines were well trained, capable, and in sufficient numbers; the radar operators and maintenance men at the radar stations were too few in numbers and were not fully trained even up to December 7.

66. Q. Was all that a responsibility of the Army Signal Corps?

A. Yes, sir.

67. Q. You have stated that you obtained no liaison officers for the Information Center from the Navy. How many did you ask for?

A. I asked for six. On December 8, I received ten who were survivors from the CALIFORNIA.

Page 384

68. Q. Other than the failure of the Naval District to supply liaison officers, did you experience other lack of cooperation from that organization?

A. I can not remember receiving any active cooperation from Fourteenth Naval District, at any time, prior to December 7.

69. Q. In your estimation, at the time, what additional cooperation or measures were required of the Naval District?

A. The Commander-in-Chief's Staff pointed out to me that according to the war plans, the Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District, had the responsibility of the defense of Oahu, and I was, therefore, instructed to report to him for any assistance needed to activate the Information Center.

70. Q. What assistance did you ask for?

A. Other than to ask for liaison officers, I requested that control of the anti-aircraft guns in naval vessels in the harbor, which were directly under his control, should be held by the Information Center. I asked that some action be taken to identify aircraft approaching Oahu. At the Commander-in-Chief's Operations Officer's suggestion, I asked him to initiate a letter to the Commanding General, Hawaiian Department, to expedite putting the Information Center on a twenty-four hour bases.

71. Q. Did you, at any time during the period during which you were loaned to the Army, report to the Commander-in-Chief, or his representatives, of the unreadiness of the warning system in general or of the Information Center in particular?

A. Yes, sir. A full report concerning the readiness of the Army Air Warning System was made to the Commander-in-Chief's Staff immediately after my initial inspection. On about 1 December, I reported to CinCPac's Operations Officer that Information Center personnel were still not forthcoming, and that the operating hours had been limited to 0400-0700 daily. During the entire period of my duty at the Information Center, I made frequent visits to CinCPac's Office and conferred with his Chief of Staff, Operations Officer, Air Officer or Communications Officer.

72. Q. Did you make those reports in such form and with such emphasis as to convey the thought that little could be expected in the way of information concerning a surprise air attack?

A Yes, sir, I did. I feel quite sure that the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet's Staff fully realized the situation.

[353]

73. Q. During your association with the Army, what did you gather was in the minds of the Army fighter command as constituting their primary mission while based on Oahu?

A. It is my distinct impression that the Interceptor Command believed that they were charged with operating the air warning system, once it was completed, and furnishing the fighter defense for the Hawaiian Islands.

74. Q. Do you mean that the conception of that part of the Army Air Force, Oahu, was that their primary mission and purpose was repelling air attacks upon the installations on that Island?

A. No, sir, I do not. The Army Air Force was broken up into two commands. The Army Interceptor Command which had their fighters, I believe they considered their primary mission to repel enemy air attacks.

Page 385

75. Q. Based upon your experiences in England, what was your estimate in those days as to the ability of the number of fighter planes based on Oahu to repel a heavy air raid if they had been properly handled in the air?

A. I believe there were sufficient numbers of fighters at Oahu to repel the number of aircraft that actually attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7.

76. Q. Was the quality of those fighter planes good enough for the purpose?

A. The quality of the P-40 fighter plane was not sufficient to outperform the Japanese fighter aircraft, but the performance was sufficient, I believe, to break up, to a large extent, a raid of the sort that came in on December 7.

77. Q. If you had any opportunity to estimate the quality and state of training of the fighter pilots, please give the conclusions which you reached at the time.

A. As I remember, at least fifty per cent of the fighter pilots in Interceptor Command were well trained; the other fifty per cent were green pilots who had just been received from the United States.

78. Q. Does that answer mean that only half of the Army fighter aircraft could have been ready to combat the attack of 7 December?

A. No, sir. All aircraft in commission could be ready, as far as the pilots were concerned. I meant that approximately half of the pilots were well trained fighter pilots. The other half had not had sufficient squadron tactical training to be "experienced" fighter pilots. Pilot training was being pressed.

79. In your recollection, what actual opposition did the Army fighters bring to bear upon the Japanese air attack?

A. I was never told the actual number of Army fighters that took the air, but I was under the impression that between ten and twenty Army fighters were airborne and engaging the Japanese more or less on their own.

80. Q. Did that number get into the air in time to effectively oppose the attack?

A. No, sir.

81. Q. About how many did?

A. I have no idea how many actually got into the air, sir.

82. Q. Were the ones which were in the air in any way directed by the Interceptor Command officer on the ground?

[354]

A. They were not actually directed. The Operations Officer informed the fighters in the air by radio of the situation, as well as he could interpret it. In discussions with Army pilots who did engage the Japanese, I learned that there were so many Japanese aircraft in the air that they did not need fighter direction from the ground to find them.

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.

Page 386

The examining officer then, at 12:30 p. m., took a recess until 3:50 p. m., at which time the examination was reconvened.

Present: The examining officer, his counsel and assistant counsel, and the reporter.

No witnesses not otherwise connected with the examination were

Commander William E. G. Taylor, U. S. Naval Reserve, who had previously testified, was called before the examining officer, informed that his oath previously taken was still binding, and stated that he had read over the testimony given by him on the thirtieth and thirty-first days of the examination, pronounced it correct, was duly warned and withdrew.

The examination then, at 3:52 p. m., was adjourned to await the call of the examining officer.


This HTML document was created by GT_HTML 6.0d 12/24/96 1:10 PM.