Shattered Sword

Discussion in 'Non-fiction' started by diddyriddick, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    A fellow I know on another forum has been raving about Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. Specifically, he notes Parshall and Tully's position that the IJN did not have their a/c on the CV decks when the american dive bombers struck.

    My question is...Has anybody read it? Is it any good? What I've read about Midway is unversal in the belief that japanese a/c were on deck and just beginning to take off, so I'm a little doubtful.
     
  2. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    i think i saw something recently where it talked about them being below decks being rearmed for attacks on the us ships. and that was the problem....stacks on ordnance that was taken off laying around along with the ordnance that was hung on the AC...and the fuel was in tanks there as well. once the bombs hit all that ignited and exploded. i really cant remember the show though...and i do not know on what facts it was based on. but it wasnt a "movie" but rather a documentry type....
     
  3. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    Excellent book. I have it and have read it. I HIGHLY recommend it. It sheds new light on the Midway battle and it seems to me that they make a pretty good case for rewriting some history.
     
  4. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    "Shattered Sword" is one of those unusual history books that actually takes a fresh look at the issue under discussion rather than rehashing other people's research. It presents convincing arguments and is very well written and illustrated. I can't recommend it highly enough!
     
  5. mudpuppy

    mudpuppy Member

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    I'll agree with the folks above on just how interesting this book is...and how convincingly the authors make their positions about the battle of Midway. Giving the background and discussions of how the IJN evolved its philosophy of warfare was very helpful for me. I don't think they took anything away from the USN and Admiral Nimitz by countering some of the "heroic mythology" of Midway; I actually have a deeper respect for the USN force commanders having been given so much more information of just how they developed their tactics in this battle.
    In the end of the book the authors talk of how Japanese historians have had a different view of Midway for years; unlike American opinions based largely on the book by Fuchida Mitsuo's book "Midway" (title?).

    Admittedly I am just one more armchair history buff but I think anyone delving into the PTO history of WWII should give this book a read.
    I'd be just as interested to hear any negative views of this book and why. Honestly it has become my main reference for Midway and wonder if any others feel (or don't) the same way.
    Regards,
    Derek
     
  6. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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  7. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Yes an excellent book recommended to me by Syscom3 that seems to shatter many cherished myths. Makes a strong case for the IJN being the underdogs due to their overly complicated and non-mutually supporting battle plan. Even more so when you consider that other than Hornets ill fated torpedo squadron, that carriers whole airgroup went missing entirely in the first encounter.
     
  8. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    As other members said, I highly recomend the book. I believe that the IJN carriers were still launching CAP fighters. Problem is, with all that ordinance lying in the hangar, and the hangar being enclosed, there's no logical way to dump the ordinance. Explains why the Akagi was knocked out from only one bomb hit.
     
  9. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    From what I've learned:
    -IJN attack planes were armed with ground attack bombs (vs. Midway proper) are in process of being lifted to the upper (fly) deck
    -after the news of US Navy sighted finally got through, planes are moved back to hangars for re-arming with anti-ship ordnace
    -when a better part of those planes are in hangars, the USN dive bombers make their dive-bombng attacks (Zeroes are either on low level to smash torpedo bombers, on the way to being rearmed, or on the fly decks)
    -when bombs got fuel-laden IJN planes in hangars, all hell break loose
     
  10. Nikademus

    Nikademus Member

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    Good book. I'd recommend it. The author's make some good points but also suffer at times from trying a little too hard to come up with new "relevent" info that sheds new light on the battle. Examples of this would be their focus on the "number of ammo carts" available to one or more carriers (a basic explanation of hanger procudures and arming times suffices nicely), and commentary on how Nagumo's thinking process might have been negatively influenced by the lack of space on Akagi's bridge. Ok....maybe. :)

    Overall though, I enjoyed it, especially as it better clarified Japanese strike doctrine than even Peattie's "Sunburst" which only touched briefly on it disapointingly.
     
  11. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    another factor IIRC was they ( the IJN commander ) made the decision to let the flyers rest and eat. they had been operating for over 12 hours and they did not precieve a threat. so most of the crews were either resting, eating or in prep.
     
  12. Nikademus

    Nikademus Member

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    Believe that referred to Hiryu after her 2nd strike on Yorktown. Given Ent/Hornet's strike was in the air don't think it would have been much difference. The ship's airgroup was in sad shape at that point. Their biggest asset was IIRC, fighters...not much good for ship killin. Ironically, KB had it's best CAP up at the time from a technical standpoint (multi-tiered etc). But the SBD's sailed right on through and were into their runs before the CAP got too them. Fatigue probably played a factor.
     
  13. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    and didnt they think that they had hit 2 carriers ... not knowing they got the same one twice?? so that led them into an area of confidence/mistake. also i am curious as to how much..if any..more time the jap pilots flew than the us boys.
     
  14. Nikademus

    Nikademus Member

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    Yes. The 2nd wave (consisting of the TB's) found Yorktown maneuvering and assumed it was a 2nd carrier as the "first" one had been left dead in the water and burning by the Dive bomber first wave.
     
  15. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    #15 syscom3, Apr 13, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
    They were more in the way of "out of position". The lack of radios and radar really complicated the CAP plan of action.

    The authors did a great job in showing how the events of the prior several hours had spread the task force out of position for both ships and fighter screen.
     
  16. Nikademus

    Nikademus Member

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    Yes, but ironically, Midway was KB's greatest success in terms of kills while on fighter defense. Here I liked Lundstrom's summary of the situation. If the weather was clear and/or the enemy approached along a single vector, the Japanese CAP was capable of handling the situation credibly. (and SS showed that, archaic as it sounded, the loose ring formation could help alert the CAP to incoming threats). But....in bad weather or more limited visability...and/or if the enemy approached simotaniously along multiple vectors.....watch out. Granted any CAP would have issue with the latter but here the lack of FDO and radar would hurt.

    IJNAF carrier planes did carry radios. They didn't work well but they had em. The land based JNAF fighters ripped them out to save weight. (Not sure if they ALL did....but Tainen air group did)
     
  17. robtmelvin

    robtmelvin New Member

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    This thread deserves a bump. I'm currently pretty well through Shattered Sword and IMHO its one of the best books I've read on USN/IJN actions during WW2 in quite some time. As has been said above, the authors make a compelling case for reexamination of much of the received wisdom regarding the Battle of Midway. A couple of the points they make that I found very interesting are that Japan had this magnificent military instrument in Kido Butai, but post Pearl Harbor seemed to be at something of a loss at how best to employ it. The second point is the near shattering of the myth of Adm. Yamamoto. The authors simply deconstruct the image of him as unalloyed genius, bringing to light his many short comings in the strategic planning of both the Midway and Aleutian Islands operations. His strategic planing for the Midway operation was utterly inflexible and seemed to simply take for granted the foregone conclusion that it would end in Japanese victory. The book is a great example of the fact that no matter how many books have been written on a subject, and surely Midway has had its fair share and more, there is always room for fresh scholarship going back to the original sources and taking a fresh look at things, not just rehashing the same old second hand sources.

    Bob
     
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