JAN. 24, 1941. Op-12B-9-McC (SC)A7-2(2)/FF1 Serial 09112
MY DEAR MR. SECRETARY: The security of the U. S. Pacific Fleet while in Pearl Harbor, and of the Pearl Harbor Naval Base itself, has been under renewed study by the Navy Department and forces afloat for the past several weeks. This reexamination has been, in part, prompted by the increased gravity of the situation with respect to Japan, and by reports from abroad of successful bombing and torpedo plane attacks on ships while in bases. If war eventuates with Japan, it is believed easily possible that hostilities would be initiated by a surprise attack upon the Fleet or the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.
In my opinion, the inherent possibilities of a major disaster to the fleet or naval base warrant taking every step, as rapidly as can be done, that will increase the joint readiness of the Army and Navy to withstand a raid of the character mentioned above.
The dangers envisaged in their order of importance and probability are considered to be:
(1) Air bombing attack. (2) Air torpedo plane attack. (3) Sabotage. (4) Submarine attack. (5) Mining. (6) Bombardment by gun fire.
Defense against all but the first two of these dangers appears to have been provided for satisfactory. The following paragraphs are devoted principally to a discussion of the problems encompassed in (1) and (2) above, the solution of which I consider to be a primary importance.
Both types of air attack are possible. They may be carried out successively simultaneously, or in combination with any of the other operations enumerated The maximum probable enemy effort may be put at twelve aircraft squadrons and the minimum at two. Attacks would be launched from a striking force of carriers and their supporting vessels.
The counter measures to be considered are:
(a) Location and engagement of enemy carriers and supporting vessels before air attack can be launched. (b) Location and engagement of enemy aircraft before they reach their objectives (c) Repulse of enemy aircraft by anti-aircraft fire; (d) Concealment of vital installations by artificial smoke; (e) Protection of vital installations by balloon barrages.
The operations set forth in (a) are largely functions of the Fleet but, quite possibly, might not be carried out in case of an air attack initiated without warning prior to a declaration of war.
Pursuit aircraft in large numbers and an effective warning net are required for the operations in (b). It is understood that only thirty-six Army pursuit aircraft are at present in Oahu, and that, while the organization and equipping of an Anti-Air Information Service supported by modern fire control equipment is in progress, the present system relies wholly on visual observation and sound locators which are only effective up to four miles.
Available Army anti-aircraft batteries appear inadequate if judged by the standards of the war in Europe. There are now in Oahu 26 3" fixed anti-air craft guns (of which something over half are grouped about Pearl Harbor), 56 mobile 3" guns, and 109 .50 caliber machine guns. The anti-aircraft batteries are manned in part by personnel which is also required to man parts of the sea coast artillery. Should an attack on Oahu combine air attack with a gun bombardment, one or the other countering fires would suffer from lack of men. If the prevailing high ceiling is taken into account the caliber of the anti-aircraft guns might be inadequate against high altitude bombing attack.
By late summer the defenses will be considerably strengthened by additions in guns, planes, and radio locators. It is understood, sixteen additional 3" Mobile twenty-four 90 mm., and one hundred twenty 37 mm. guns will be on hand, the pursuit aircraft strength is to be expanded to a total of 149; the new radio locators will have an effective range of 100 miles. Although the caliber of the guns will still be small for effective action against high altitude bombers, this augmentation will markedly improve the security of the Fleet. It does not, of course, affect the critical period immediately before us.
The supplementary measures noted in (d) and (e) might be of the greatest value in the defense of Pearl Harbor. Balloon barrages have demonstrated some usefulness in Europe. Smoke from fixed installations on the ground might prove most advantageous.
To meet the needs of the situation, I offer the following proposals:
(1) That the Army assign the highest priority to the increase of pursuit aircraft and anti-aircraft artillery, and the establishment of an air warning net in Hawaii.
(2) That the Army give consideration to the questions of balloon barrages, the employment of smoke, and other special devices for improving the defenses of Pearl Harbor.
(3) That local joint plans be drawn for the effective coordination of naval and military aircraft operations, and ship and shore anti-aircraft gun fire, against surprise aircraft raids.
(4) That the Army and Navy forces in Oahu agree on appropriate degrees of joint readiness for immediate action in defense against surprise aircraft raids against Pearl Harbor.
(6) That joint exercises, designed to prepare Army and Navy forces in Oahu for defense against surprise aircraft raids, be held at least once weekly so long as the present uncertainty continues to exist.
You concurrence in these proposals and the rapid implementing of the measures to be taken by the Army, which are of the highest importance to the
security of the Fleet, will be met with the closest cooperation on the part of the Navy Department.
Sincerely yours, /s/ Frank Knox The Honorable The SECRETARY OF WAR. Copies to: CINC, U. S. PACIFIC FLEET Com14 Op-22 Op-30 War Department Washington, February 7, 1941. SECRET
Subject: Air Defense of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
To: The Secretary of the Navy.
1. In replying to your letter of January 24, regarding the possibility of surprise attacks upon the Fleet or the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, I wish to express complete concurrence as to the importance of this matter and the urgency of our making every possible preparation to meet such a hostile effort. The Hawaiian Department is the best equipped of all our overseas departments, and continues to hold a high priority for the completion of its projected defenses because of the importance of giving full protection to the Fleet.
2. The Hawaiian Project provides for one hundred and forty-eight pursuit planes. There are now in Hawaii thirty-six pursuit planes; nineteen of these are P-36's and seventeen are of somewhat less efficiency. I am arranging to have thirty-one P-36 pursuit planes assembled at San Diego for shipment to Hawaii within the next ten days, as agreed to with the Navy Department. This will bring the Army pursuit group in Hawaii up to fifty of the P-36 type and seventeen of a somewhat less efficient type. In addition, fifty of the new P-40-B pursuit planes, with their guns, leakproof tanks and modern armor will be assembled at San Diego about March 15 for shipment by carrier to Hawaii.
3. There are at present in the Hawaiian Islands eighty-two 3-inch AA guns, twenty 37 mm AA guns (en route), and one hundred and nine caliber .50 AA machine guns. The total project calls for ninety-eight 3-inch AA guns, one hundred and twenty 37 mm AA guns, and three hundred and eight caliber .50 AA machine guns.
4. With reference to the Aircraft Warning Service, the equipment therefor has been ordered and will be delivered in Hawaii in June. All arrangements for installation will have been made by the time the equipment is delivered. Inquiry develops the information that delivery of the necessary equipment cannot be made at an earlier date.
5. The Commanding General, Hawaiian Department, is being directed to give immediate consideration to the question of the employment of balloon barrages and the use of smoke in protecting the Fleet and base facilities. Barrage balloons are not available at the present time for installation and cannot be made available prior to the summer of 1941. At present there are three on hand and eighty-four being manufactured-forty for delivery by June 30, 1941, and the remainder by September. The Budget now has under consideration funds for two thousand nine hundred and fifty balloons. The value of smoke for screening vital areas on Oahu is a controversial subject. Qualified opinion is that atmospheric and geographic conditions in Oahu render the employment of smoke impracticable for large scale screening operations. However, the Commanding General will look into this matter again.
6. With reference to you other proposals for joint defense, I am forwarding a copy of your letter and this reply to the Commanding General, Hawaiian Department, and am directing him to cooperate with the local naval authorities in making those measures effective.
/s/ HENRY L. STIMSON Secretary of War. Page 564 Memorandum Endorsement NAVY DEPARTMENT, February 13, 1941. Op-30B-AJ (SC)A7-2(2)/FFI D-27446 From: Director, Naval Districts Division. To: Director, War Plans Division. Subject: Air Defense of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (SecWar ltr, of Feb. 7, 1941 to SecNav.)
1. Returned. It is recommended that a copy of the subject letter be sent to the Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Fleet and the Commandant of the 14th Naval District.
/s/ Alex Sharp, ALEX SHARP. (Pencil Notation: Done 015712 of 11 Feb. M.)