Popular Military History

John T Kuehn's picture

No, this is not April's fools.

caveat declaimed.

Popular Military History:  A Need for Outreach?

John T. Kuehn

I am currently reviewing a popular history of the so-called Battle of the Atlantic.  It is well written, engaging, and full of errors, mostly minor, but some major.  If there had not been a well-written account of warfare in the North Atlantic during World War II for more than 20 years, then my complaint would be minimal, and I would steer first-timers to this book as a first step toward understanding the basic story as well as for its entertainment value.

But I won’t.

Why?

There is another popular history out there by a bona fide naval historian on the same topic (less than 10 years old), to say nothing of the older scholarly works that I would vector serious students toward (e.g. the work of John Terraine).  The newer work  has far fewer errors and is up to speed on the most recent scholarship.

This got me to thinking. Go to any bookstore, or online, and you will find the market is littered with popular histories of things, both new and old.   My concern is the new stuff, or rather the folks writing the new stuff.  I realize we will never get away from the business models that push “bad” popular history on the masses (i.e. go to the Costco books section, although not all the stuff is “bad,” but much of it is).  However, might we not make more active attempts to bring popular military historians, especially those who write well, “inside the tent?”   I know, there are some already, but for every Rick Atkinson or Tom Ricks out there, there is also a William Manchester—more like three William Manchesters.   

So I think we military historians who are on the professional side, and reviewing these books, can try to reach out to them—especially before they publish.  Perhaps the Society of Military History could make it an agenda item to have more popular historian panels at its annual meeting, so the two sides could interact.

That said, the book in question actually acknowledges that three reputable “naval historians” read the manuscript, which may point to an even bigger problem: that the readers either didn’t read the manuscript closely, or that they agreed with some of the major interpretive errors, or that their criticisms were ignored, or components of all three. 

At any rate, I will continue to read ‘em and review ‘em like I see ‘em.  In the case of this current  book, I will direct the students toward a recent,  less problematic popular history as well as sending students to the serious, recent, scholarship.   But the propagation of myths is something we might fight (an endless campaign, I know), with sugar as well as with the stick.

Looking for more ways we might do that…

John T. Kuehn

I am so looking forward to where this thread might go.

My two cents: as a popular historian of (very) local history I see much the same thing happening. But it has been happening for decades, if not longer in local history. Especially after certain publishers found a winning financial model in the local history market. I've found that (popular market) publishers own a part of the blame, they just are not interested in fact checking or spending any resources on checking the validity of arguments or portrayals in the books. Its all up to the authors, many of whom are not academically trained or inclined. I wonder if it is similar in the popular military history market.

Mr Kuehn,

For the public to consume more history that professional military historians write, Professional military historians have to write something the public wants to read.

The absolute avoidance of STEM related subjects, like radar by professional military historians of WW2, is a sore point for me in that regard.

I've been the administrator of an international E-mail list dedicated to General Douglas MacArthur's "Section 22" Radar Hunters for 5-years. While you can find all sorts of books about the Battle of Britain and RADAR. You cannot find a single professional military historian written book that explains the story of how the Japanese used Radar to fight the American military in WW2.

I've found, and own, two books that barely mention the subject. They are "A Radar History of World War 2: Technical and Military Imperatives" by Louis Brown (1998) and "The Invention That Changed The World: How A Small Group of Pioneers Won The Second World War And Launched A Technological Revolution" by Robert Buderi (1999).

They speak to the failed Japanese "death ray" development, the failure of the radar equipped Taifu-Butai, or Typhoon Force (T-Force in Adm. Morrison's history) of night torpedo bombers versus Admiral Halsey's TF 38 carrier groups off Formosa and the Yamato's marginal gunfire control radar at Leyte.

If you want developmental histories of Japanese Radar you can read the following:

- Raymond C. Jr. Watson' "Radar Origins Worldwide: History of Its Evolution in 13 Nations Through World War II" (2009)
- S.S. Swords, Technical History of the Beginnings of Radar (History and Management of Technology) (1986)

And for the hunting and jamming of WW2 Japanese radars you can read :

o Alfred Price's "The History of US Electronic Warfare Volume 1" (1984)

But there is not a single professional military history in 70(+) years on the operational use of Japanese radar versus the American military.

Now consider the following description of IJN Radar snooper tactics by the commanding officer of Night Carrier Air Group 41, based on the USS Independence, as was seen by him in the period of October 1944 to March 1945

"The enemy apparently thinks we have a lot more equipment of that sort than we do, however, because their snoopers are coming in to within 15 to 20 miles of the formation, staying right on the water, leaving their radar off, and then popping up every 15 minutes or so, turning their radar on for about 45 seconds, taking a real good look and then going back down. The problem of night interception is getting more and more difficult as the enemy learn more and more about it; so we have to hop fast to keep up with them..."

The sentance "The enemy thinks we have a lot more equipment of that sort than we do," referred to radio/radar direction finding equipment and the above passage is from PAGE 336 , CHAPTER 15, of the following post-WW2 document:

SUMMARY TECHNICAL REPORT OF DIVISION 15, NDRC
VOLUME 1
RADIO COUNTERMEASURES

I copied that passage after I got this US Government resource via inter-library loan from the Dallas Public Library.

That level of sophisticated radar snooping tactics used by the Imperial Japanese in 1945 was re-invented by USAF "Wild Weasel" radar hunting squadrons over Vietnam 20 years later and was used by Soviet Naval Aviation in hunting US Navy carrier battle groups in the Cold War.

And please observe that US Navy Destroyer captains during the Okinawa campaign very much noted the IJN's night time radar snooper and radar pathfinder tactics for Kamikaze attacks.

See:

SECRET INFORMATION BULLETIN NO. 24
Battle Experience
Radar Pickets and Methods of Combating
Suicide Attacks Off Okinawa
March-May 1945
20 July 1945

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/rep/Kamikaze/BatExp-Okinawa/index.html

CO USS Mannert L. Abele comments and recommends:

1. "This ship controlled combat air patrols during 4 days while in the target area prior to Love Day and during 2 nights while retiring with TF 54. No interceptions were attempted during daylight; two were attempted at night, resulting in merged plots but no splashes. The ship was taken under attack on both Radar Picket Stations #4 and #14. In each case the attacks were preceded by reconnaissance planes flying near the ship both the day before and also a few hours before the attacks. It is believed that this action by the Japanese is a definite indication of impending attack and it is strongly recommended that combat air patrols be immediately furnished to ships thus warned."

The implications of the above levels of Imperial Japanese operational expertise with the use airborne radar for the existing Naval histories of the Japanese Kamikaze campaign at Okinawa are akin to the that for Pacific Naval histories written before the declassification of ULTRA documents.

And given the history professions's past performance with STEM subjects to date, when that Okinawa IJA/IJN Radar history is written, the odds are that it will not be by a professional military historian in an academic institution.

Trent Telenko
Quality Staff Specialist
Defense Contract Management Agency

Ref popular histories of any kind, if reviewers want to head readers off at the pass on bad history, they should push hard and persistently to get published in major popular review pubs like the New York Review. I suspect that most serious readers consult these before making purchases (I wonder if market research confirms this). I imagine reviewers can’t reach the beach reader or the impulse buyer. Probably historical inaccuracies don’t count for much impact with this audience anyway.

This is a comment on Trent Telenko's post.
I have been both an academic historian and a government historian who worked for DoD. Those who teach military history (very few) in universities and colleges generally follow the trends in academic history. The latest is environmental history. Military history can be anything you make it since the subject is flexible and can cover all facets of historical inquiry. Saying that I think he is right about who will write about these subjects. Nevertheless we should understand that books on science and technology in warfare have been written and have sold - books by Richard Rhodes and Martin van Crevald are among many. These are not focused on the narrow science and technology topic Telenko describes.
To be very honest, I do not pretend to know what the public, however defined, wants in its military history books. Publishers would know better than me. My own limited experience suggests that the reading public prefers "drum and trumpet" accounts of battles, campaigns, and wars. General and specific military history courses usually are over-enrolled - general surveys and ones dealing with specific war, i.e. the American Civil War, World War II.
Usually subjects that might interest a specialist, electronic warfare, codes and ciphers, logistics, generally leave the general reader unsatisfied. Therefore it would be difficult to interest an author or publisher writing on and publishing on these topics. The market is too specialized.
Again, professional writers will research and write about subjects that interest them while academic historians while concerned with publishing will also want to gain and keep tenure. The divide between academic and popular history, between academic and military history has existed since the early 20th century.

Didn't many of us get started in this profession or avocation with popular military history books? They are a "gateway drug" for the real thing, into which we eventually make deep dives. Errors may abound, but if done well these sorts of books can set the adolescent imagination flying. Bruce Catton, Shelby Foote -- their evocative narratives did much to get me interested in the abundant deep scholarship about the Civil War. Not just military history, either. Thomas B. Costain opened up vistas with regard to England in the high middle ages. Walter Lord got me curious about the Titanic disaster, leading me to Maiden Voyage (a damning accident report!) and the discovery of an undoubted distant kinsman at the wheel of the great ship when it hit the iceberg.

In regard to Mr Telenko description of the lack of information on JJA/IJN Radar..

The self published : Simmonds, Ed and Smith, Norm. Echoes Over the Pacific. An overview of Allied Air Warning Radar
in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to the Philippines Campaign. EW and E Simmonds, NSW,
September 1995. Edition limited to 1000 copies. ISBN 0646243233. Card covers, 276pp, b&w photos
and maps. A detailed history of WWII Pacific Allied radar, focusing especially on Australian units. But, gives details of the
Royal Australian Air Force efforts to combat Japanese radar (on the sea, land and air), with a certain amount on the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm efforts, and the role played by the Royal Australian Navy.

Unfortunately my copy lost when my home vandalised last year, it sticks in my mind in that it was the only thing on Japanese radar that I remembered. There is a certain amount relating to Japanese radar in texts dealing with the German trade with Japan and the granting of information on Germany's efforts.

In English such as FELTON Mark. Yanagi : The Secret Underwater Trade between Germany & Japan 1942-1945. Pen & Sword, Barnsley, 2005. Hard cover, 209p., photographs, maps, index.

While there is a small amount in various texts on Kriegsmarine U-boats operating in the Far East and practical training of Japanese submariners in radar, and of course when the U-Boats in the Netherlands East Indies taken over by the Japanese in May > in 1945.

STEVENS David. U-Boat Far From Home The Epic Voyage of U-862 to Australia and New Zealand. Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1997. Illustrated card cover, xxi, 282p., photographs, maps, drawings, index. Has a small amount on technical training of Japanese operators and technicians and the actual combat use of radar by the IJN submarine force.both in attack and defence.

Yours,
G.A.MACKINLAY

The issue of popular history versus academic history has long been on my radar as I have dealt with Middle East history, and more specifically Persian Gulf history, now for nearly ten years. Having been published in the area in print publications I can say that it has been a very long and trudging road and I appreciate the opportunity that this string has opened up to me to comment.
In my area of Middle East specialty the dominance of popular history versus academic is more apparent. Many books on the Middle East that purport to be history books are written not by academic historians but by news journalists. There are many flaws to this approach which editors are either aware of and do not care, or are stunningly unaware of and are bewitched by well-known journalist names and uncritically approve anything that flows from their computers. However, the rules of the road for journalism, though proximate, are not the same for historians and thus distortion is easily allowed to flow into the historiography and are often heavily laden with opinion, apology, and stories more geared toward human interest and less to academic interest.
The majority of these works are by British journalists and are heavily biased and often indulge in apologizing for British imperialism and colonialism. This causes them to overreact and impute heavy post-modern, liberal or even Leftist ideas which, in many instances, deny very real issues with the Middle East and with the actions of the Arabs and the Persians. This overcompensation and denying the reality of these issues has shaped not only the historiography but also the majority of opinions on the Middle East and British and American involvement in the region. Also, areas of interest to professional historians are often sacrificed to the author’s objective which mostly is conveying a good story. It can be very hard to locate necessary information because of the tilt towards thoroughly mainstream and substantially less, admittedly arcane, areas of knowledge, but arcane details are necessary and have their place.
Finally, in some instances, mostly in the case of luminaries such as T.E. Lawrence, the popular texts can descend into uncritical hero worship and cult-like obsession rather than sober analysis. One biography and purported military history, Setting the Desert on Fire, demonstrated clearly that Lawrence was supported by a substantial in theater support network, something not portrayed in the movies or many other books. Yet the author then concluded in the final analysis that Lawrence was a military genius and achieved the goals of the effort mostly alone and at the top of this effort, a conclusion completely at odds with the main thesis of the book.
As an author who has sought primary source information I know the truth of the saying that, in the Middle East, even the weather is a state secret. Many source documents are heavily protected and is done with one eye towards insuring that these states, rather than Western historians or others can shape the history. Another problem is that they consider essential primary documents as literal state secrets that might be used against them somehow. It was a tooth pulling exercise in some instances to sit down with currently serving Arab generals and military professionals at US CENTCOM two years ago. I achieved that but only through patient endurance. Thus, any histories that can emerge on this place are to some extent liable to authorial critique and analysis of texts that barely pass historical muster, however, having someone who is at least trained and professionally aware of the potential pitfalls while handling interviews, newspaper accounts, and other source issues would be deeply beneficial to all, both readers and researchers.

Regards G.A.MACKINLAY post:

Here are a series of questions about Imperial Japanese radar for your consideration regards the huge gaps of knowledge that exist in the historiography of the "Pacific War" in World War II, or as it's being currently styled, "The Asia-Pacific War."

1. What Imperial Japanese military organizations used radar?
2. How many radars were used in any particular Pacific War battle?
3. What chains of command were they operating under when used in those battles?
4. How did Imperial Japanese radar interact with American electronic equipment?
5. Did the Imperial Japanese integrate their signals intelligence with their radar as the Western Allies did, and if so, how?

The number of books that address _ANY_ of those questions number less than the thumbs found on your left hand.

That the Japanese used a great deal of radar can be demonstrated via this December 1944 Japanese radar coverage map of the Philippines made by Section 22, GHQ, South West Pacific Area at this link --

https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/52662.html

The map in question was part of the Section 22 monthly report series. It was found in "Maps of Japanese Radar, Dec 1944," Signal Corps File 710.654A, Microfilm Reel A7237, filmed 8-12-75 by Archives Branch of the Albert F. Simpson Historical Research Center at Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

Between the US invasion of Leyte in October 1944 and when that map was made in December 1944 the Japanese moved and installed 30 land based radars at pre-surveyed sites through out the Philippines. A surface area that greatly exceeds that of the United Kingdom.

That is a level of Technological-Logistical performance, in terms of radar network deployment, that rivals the Western Allies in the Normandy campaign.

And please note, the Japanese didn't have air superiority when they did this.

In my opinion, the gaps of knowledge currently existing in the Pacific War historiography rivals that of Pacific War history books written before the declassification of the ULTRA code breaking.

Your mileage may vary.

Regarding the issue of histories of Japanese radar brought up by Mr. Trent Telenko I believe that what is needed is a bit more diligence in research. I had only one occasion to look at the subject, in connection with a report I prepared for Andy Marshall (now sadly departed): “Military Transformation as a Competitive Systemic Process: The Case of Japan and the United States Between the World Wars.” Center for Naval Analyses, Alexandria, Virginia, January 1, 2003. < https://apps.dtic.mil/docs/citations/ADA417682 > Looking through my files of material for the report I find the following relating to Japanese radar:

Low, Morris F. “The Useful War: Radar and the Mobilization of Science and Industry in Japan.” In Science and the Pacific War: Science and survival in the Pacific, 1939-1945. Edited by Roy M. MacLeod, 291–301 v.207. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2000.

Nakagawa, Yasuzō. Japanese radar and related weapons of World War II: Combining portions of the author's Kaigun gijutsu kenkyu-sho and Jishu gijutsu de ute! With the assistance of Louis Brown, John H. Bryant, and Naohiko Koizumi. Laguna Hills, Calif.: Aegean Park Press, 1997.

Nakajima, S. “The History of Japanese Radar Development to 1945.” In Radar Development to 1945. Edited by Russell W. Burns. London: Peter Peregrinus & Institution of Electrical Engineers, 1988.

Wilkinson, Roger I. “Short Survey of Japanese Radar--I.” Electrical Engineering 65, 8-9 (1946): 370–77.

Idem. “Short Survey of Japanese Radar--II.” Electrical Engineering 65, no. 10 (1946): 455–63.

As it became apparent that the story of Japanese radar would not play a central role in my report I ceased to look further; there may well be more secondary material and surely is much primary material.

As an engineer I can see clearly that Japanese radar engineers accomplished much under very trying circumstances. As a student of war, however, it is apparent that Japanese radar played very little role. It is for this reason that it is perfectly rational for most historians to pay it little attention.

Mr O'Neil,

I am familiar with all the resources you mentioned as I have scanned copies on the hard drive of the machine i'm typing on and several thumb drives as back up.

My evaluation of them showed they were not useful in determining how the Imperial Japanese military used radar operationally.

The reason why I came to that conclusion was due to my professional training. Defense Department Quality auditors are trained to "Test the Expert Badge" of engineers and other contractor technical experts writing the test reports for DoD weapons systems to see if they are qualified to do the work, as well as to look for patterns of interest for fraud indicators.

In the case of the Japanese authors and Western authors interviewing Japanese physicists, the Imperial Japanese Military DID NOT TRUST it's physicists because they were "Too Western." They gave them minimal feed back on the operational use of radar equipment compared to the German military, let alone the Western Allies.

Additionally, It was very much in Japanese physicists interests to downplay their cooperation with and the the skill of Imperial Japanese military with radar in much the way German Generals blame shifted their responsibilities upon Hitler.

Thus anyone relying upon Japanese physicists as sources was going to get a false impression of Imperial Japanese operational skills or tactics with radar.

In the case of Roger Wilkinson, he was a wartime operational analyst for the Far Eastern Air Forces (FEAF) specialized in the use of American radar on Japanese shipping.

He knew a great deal about Japanese land based radar technical capabilities. This did not extend to how Japanese land based or airborne radar was used to support the Kamikaze campaign.

These are my notes on Roger Wilkinson --

=====

Lt. Roger I. Wilkinson
Operations Analysis Section (OAS)
HQ Far East Air Forces (FEAF)
APO 925
San Francisco, Calif.

Operations Analysis (OA)

From Mount Vernon, New York, USA.

As part of OAS 13th Air Force, Wilkinson developed effective methods for attacking moving ships using radar.

See: "History of Operations Research in the United States Army", V. I: 1942-62 by Charles R. Shrader.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Roger Wilkinson photos at Naval Electronics Facillity Tachikawa Japan
Link:

http://s478.photobucket.com/user/mokyme/library/Lt%20Roger%20Wilkinson%2...

Link to IFF Testing Photos:

http://s478.photobucket.com/user/mokyme/library/Lt%20Roger%20Wilkinson%2...

See photo taken 1946 at Bell Laboritories:

http://scienceservice.si.edu/pages/052016.htm

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Short Survey of Japanese Radar Vol I" by Roger Wilkinson
http://dreadnoughtproject.org/friends/dickson/Japanese%20Radar%20Short%2...

"Short Survey of Japanese Radar Vol II" by 2nd & 3rd Operations Analysis Sections
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/895892.pdf
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My operational research found that the Imperial Japanese Military was far better at radar and radar countermeasures than they were given credit for by the US Navy post-war. historiography.

I began my look at the Imperial Japanese combat skill with radar and radar countermeasures here:

CominCh Secret Information Bulletin No. 24--(Battle Experience--Radar Pickets and Methods of Combating Suicide Attacks off Okinawa)

At this link --

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/rep/Kamikaze/BatExp-Okinawa/index.html

This first passage I take as the US Navy recognizing the Imperial Japanese "Pathfinder radar plane" in action. (The All capital letter paragraphs are Adm Turner's staffed replies to the reports):

"TACTICS, ENEMY
CO USS Aaron Ward comments:

1. The entire enemy attack appeared to be exceptionally well co-ordinated by a pilot, or pilots, who understood the limitations of a destroyer's fire power and took every advantage of smoke and the crippled condition of the ship. In fact, it appeared that the attacks were directed from a control plane which never took part in the assault.

RECENT INFORMATION CONFIRMS THE FACT THAT THE LEADER USUALLY IS EQUIPPED WITH RADAR AND BRINGS HIS GROUP WITHIN VISUAL RANGE. IT IS QUITE POSSIBLE THAT THE MORE EXPERIENCED LEADER COULD ALSO DIRECT AND COORDINATE THE ATTACK. CAP OR SHIP GET THAT LEADER!

The operation was too well co-ordinated and executed to have been the individual inspiration of each pilot. Not only did planes come in from different directions at the same time, but on several occasions the first plane was followed immediately by another approximately 1,000 yards astern of the first. This type of attack was seen to deal the death blow to the U.S.S. Little.

2.It is not understood why the Kamikaze does not strafe the target on the way in, as it appears to be a simple matter to close and lock the firing key to the machine guns. Casualties would have been greater had this been done in the attacks on the Aaron Ward.

3. All planes are believed to have used the bridge and main battery director as a point of aim, but due to the radical maneuvering of the ship and the heavy volume of fire forward, this target was never reached; all planes crashed into the superstructure amidships.

4. Before making his run, each pilot circled the ship at a distance of 5 to 6 miles, apparently seeking the most advantageous position from which to start his dive.

THE CAP HAS DONE A MAGNIFICENT JOB IN THESE OPERATIONS BUT OFTEN TOO FEW PLANES HAVE BEEN AVAILABLE. THE CAP MUST BE LARGE ENOUGH AND CAREFULLY STACKED TO TAKE CARE OF A SITUATION OF THIS TYPE, WHICH OBVIOUSLY WAS NOT THE CASE AT THIS CRITICAL MOMENT.

In each suicide run, planes appeared to take their lead angles at a range of from three to four thousand yards, increasing speed considerably and steadying on the attack course. No attempts at evasion were made on any of the runs after the pilot had finally committed himself."

This is a further section on Japanese radar decoy use. The USS Bush was sunk by Kamikaze's:

"RADAR COUNTERMEASURES

CO USS Bush comments:

1. Records were lost but it is remembered that at various times while on radar picket station enemy radar signals evaluated as emanating from shore-based air search radar were reported by Bush to CTF 51.

2. No radar jamming was experienced.

On the evening of 3 April at about 2200 a group of enemy planes closed and dropped window around the ship at a range of ten to thirteen miles, completely blocking the SC-2 screen. The window appeared on the Mk-4 screen and only by judicious tracking was gun control able to distinguish between true and false targets. The window dissipated in about 20-30 minutes.

THIS INDICATES THAT THE JAPANESE ARE BECOMING MORE PROFICIENT WITH THE USE OF WINDOW OR THAT OUR OPERATORS NEED MORE TRAINING. JAPANESE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR RADAR FREQUENCY SET-UP IS INCREASING.

Raid No. 1 of the afternoon of 6 April dropped some window but not extensively enough to hamper operation of the SC-2 or Mk. 4 radars. Use of window in high visibility at close range seems to offer no advantage to the enemy and its use is not understood."

This is a further observation on Japanese radar plane decoys. No examples of which -- the kites -- were captured despite lots of searches.

"JAPANESE RADAR COUNTERMEASURES

CO USS Mannert L. Abele comments:

1. During the period covered by this report, the only countermeasures activity encountered was the use of kites on the night of 9 April 1945. A group of planes (3-4) dropped kites at about 8 miles, altitude 1000 feet from this vessel, evidently in an attempt to confuse attempts at night interception. It is not believed that the enemy knew our location as no enemy radar signals were detected and the ship was not attacked.

2. First indications had the appearance of window. However, after several minutes on the scope they had still failed to spread and were evaluated as kites. This was conclusively shown when the indications remained similar to a bogey pip for 30 minutes before disappearing. Window dropped from 1000 feet would not have remained on the scope for this length of time and certainly would not have retained its singular appearance. Two indications were observed, the bogey being detected breaking away from the second. Lack of movement disclosed that the indications were not planes.

3. The area of the drop was covered in the morning by the ship and two LSM(R)s in an attempt to recover the kites but nothing could be found.

CO USS Taussig comments:

1. At 2338 picked up "bogey" contact bearing 010°, distance 33 miles. At 2341 "bogey" at 000° distance 25 miles, course 220°, speed estimated at 150 to 160 knots. Estimated altitude 3,000 feet. "Bogey" continued to close on course of 220° steadily and it is evident that plane was equipped with radar and was using it very well in closing the formation. At 2345 changed course to about 190° T at which time Task Group 58.3 had opened fire on "bogey". "Bogey" continued to close us.

2. At 2347 General Quarters was sounded. Control had been coached onto target and had good solution. At 2355 opened fire on "bogey" bearing 280° T, distance 3 miles. Almost immediately "bogey" commenced dropping "window" and using evasive maneuvers. At 2356 "bogey" changed course sharply to left to about 105° T, continuing to drop "window", and appeared to have passed close aboard.

3. At 2356.5 ceased fire, "bogey" bearing 168° T. Control had momentarily lost contact due to fact that "window" dropped by plane was having definite effect on mark 12 radar. Reported to Officer in Tactical Command that "bogey" was seen burning. "Bogey" was again picked up by Combat bearing 087° T, distance about 7 miles and Control coached back on target. At 2358 when Control reported back on target, plane was observed to burst into flames and crash, bearing about 065° distance 15 miles.

4. From reports of other ships in the Task Group and own observation, it is believed that Japs now have "window" cut to proper lengths to jam the mark 12 and other similar very high frequency radars.

The Japanese version of "Rope" radar decoys were 80cm by 2 cm on a small parachute, which made it ~1/2 wavelink for the 150 - 190cm SK search radar and 2 times wave length for the 40cm Mark 12,"

Too sum up my operational research for Okinawa:

1. The Japanese Navy had a suite of radar and radio receiver equipped planes that could home on the unique electronic signature of USN Carrier fighter direction, IFF, radio beacons plus one demonstrated instance of Home on Jam with USS Wisconsin in March 1945.

2. The USN identified in its battle reports there were radar equipped Japanese control planes, which I refer to as "pathfinders," in addition to the night time radar snoopers shadowing the fleet.

3. These Pathfinder planes often used window (chaff in modern terms) against fighter director ships and in one case completely neutralized a fighter director ship's radar coverage prior to sinking it (USS Bush).

4. Some of these pathfinders seemed well piloted enough to play "fade chart games" to penetrate carrier fighter director sensor coverage for strikes against electronically "well fingerprinted" ships AKA Night Carriers. This seems to have happened to USS Saratoga at Iwo Jima and USS Enterprise during the Okinawa campaign.

5. These pathfinders were supported by land based signals intelligence and radar during the Okinawa campaign that exploited horrid US Navy operational Security (OPSEC.)

Mr. Telenko--

What does the Japanese language historiography look like on their operational use of radar?

>>What does the Japanese language historiography look like on their operational use of radar?

From what I can tell -- given my non-existent Japanese language skills -- is a lot of Japanese military radar documents seem to have gone the way of signals/intelligence documents between the Japanese surrender and occupation.

General MacArthur's Japanese language original SCAP military record reconstructions in the JACAR archives and Senshi Sosho seems the 'go to' for Japanese researchers.

From what I can tell, Japanese radar researchers seem to key on the T攻撃部隊 Tkōgeki butai (variously translated as T-attack troops, T-attack unit or T-strike force) attack on Adm Halsey's carrier fleet off Formosa.

Here is a very rough summary transliteration from Senshi Sosho Vol 37 --

T-Butai was established February 15, 1944 at Hsinchu Air Base in Formosa as a subordinate unit of the First Air Fleet. During its effective operational life, the strike force was plagued by a lack of trained pilots, radar operators, and ground communications personnel; lack of vacuum tubes; radar set manufacturing defects, and the lack of a clear operating doctrine. By December 1944 the unit was virtually destroyed at which time it withdrew to Kanoya Air Base in Kyushu where it was incorporated into the suicide attack strategy.

Land based radar use on Okinawa can be found in the following Japanese documents:

1. JACAR C08030143900 The 4th Escort Fleet, Okinawa Area Base Force Unit Wartime Diary
under Adm Midoro OTA.

2. According to Senshi Sosho Vol. 17, the command structure of Navy radar warning system on Okinawa under Adm. Ota was as follows.

Okinawa Area Base Force Commander
- Ohshima Guard Unit Commander (Amami Ohshima Area)
---- Special Lookout (AKA RADAR) Stations on: Kuchinoerabu Jima, Takara Jima, Okinoerabu Jima
- The 43rd Minesweeper Division Commander (Okinawa Area)
---- Special Lookout Stations: Kume Jima, Miyako Jima, Ishigaki Jima, Yonakuni Jima

RADM Ota Minoru was the Okinawa base force commander during Operation Iceberg and was dual hatted as the 4th Escort Fleet commander. This gave him a lot of scope of action to prepare to defend Okinawa.

Judging from the information I've found in the wartime MIT "RCM Digest #19" RADM Ota was a "Black Swan" in that he seems to have been a technological warrior in the class of German General Josef Kammhuber or more recent Serbian Colonel Dani Zoltan, (his SA-3 battery shot down a F-117 over Kosovo).

Even more interesting, he also cared enough for things outside himself and his faction that he put beating Japan's foreign enemies ahead of the rivalry with the Imperial Japanese Army.

Finally, RADM Ota genuinely cared for the Okinawan people. His last message was not the customary "Glory to the Emperor while I kill myself for my failure" message but one speaking of the sacrifices of the Okinawan people for the Empire. The Admiral is remembered as something of a local Okinawan hero as a result.

From what I can tell -- given my non-existent Japanese language skills -- is a lot of Japanese military radar documents seem to have gone the way of signals/intelligence documents between the Japanese surrender and occupation.

Thanks!  I'm confused, though.  I thought we were talking about the neglect by professional military historians?  I.E., from your original comment:

The absolute avoidance of STEM related subjects, like radar by professional military historians of WW2, is a sore point for me in that regard.

So I was wondering what Japanese historians of WWII had done with a subject that is, after all, their own country's.

First, many thanks to Mr. Telenko for an interesting and enlightening thread. With that written, I would like to address a bit different aspect of this discussion. I suspect that part of the reason for the many popular histories of so many military history topics is not only the popularity and profitability of the subject matter, but perhaps also because so many academic historians write like academics. I do not suggest that anyone "dumb down" their subject matter; not at all. But, if academic historians want to reach a broader audience, perhaps we should consider writing in a bit more accessible manner (avoid paragraphs that go on for over a page, sentences that go on for 8-10 lines, and loads of jargon-filled language). I have read (been subjected to?) a number of books over the years, particularly in graduate school, that featured excellent research and absolutely fascinating arguments, but were written in such obtuse language that making it through a substantial portion of the book was painful. I once remarked in class that a particular historian should have given his research to David McCullough and asked him to write the book for him. I agree with Professor Kuehn that academic historians should invite popular historians to join them at academic conferences. I also believe that academic historians should endeavor to shape public conversations to a greater degree rather than simply writing for each other, as often seems to be the case.