Did Lend Lease Make Pearl Harbor Possible?

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,930
Dispargum
#1
I was watching the "Winds of War" recently and there's a scene near the end where Admiral Kimmel, a few days after the Pearl Harbor attack, blames the surprise on a lack of patrol planes which in turn was caused by lend lease. The character says the US gave so many planes to Britain and the Soviets in 1940 and '41 that he did not have enough planes to protect his fleet.

There's a similar scene in "Tora, Tora, Tora" where Kimmel's staff recommends he send out patrol planes to spot any approaching enemy ships. Kimmel replies that he has no planes, and he admonishes his staff to only submit recommendations that he can act on.

I know these are both works of fiction, but is there anything to this? Did the Americans give so many long-range aircraft to the British and Soviets that they compromised the defense of Pearl Harbor?
 
Mar 2014
6,602
Beneath a cold sun, a grey sun, a Heretic sun...
#2
Doesn't seem plausible to me. There were a lot of suitable aircraft types in production in the US 1941. I think the problem had more to do with an unwillingness to "waste" bombers on recce work. Even Coastal Command in Britain, which had been fighting for three years already, was still fighting Bomber Command for more long-range aircraft.

If someone could demonstrate that those types were in fact being exported at the expense of home defence, I'd reconsider that position.
 
Oct 2015
803
Virginia
#3
On 7 December 1941 there were 36 PBYs stationed at Kaneohe Naval Air Station, and 36 more at Ford Island (4 were detached at Palmyra Is and Johnston Is). However, two squadrons had just arrived on 23 November en-route to outlying stations, and all the crews were undergoing intensive training by the few experienced fliers. So it would seem the problem was the need to train the personnel and not the availability of aircraft.

There were 2 more PBY squadrons in the Philippenes (28 aircraft) with another en-route, and a squadron at Midway. These were the best trained units and were, therefore, sent where trouble was expected.
 
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pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,056
#4
I was watching the "Winds of War" recently and there's a scene near the end where Admiral Kimmel, a few days after the Pearl Harbor attack, blames the surprise on a lack of patrol planes which in turn was caused by lend lease. The character says the US gave so many planes to Britain and the Soviets in 1940 and '41 that he did not have enough planes to protect his fleet.

There's a similar scene in "Tora, Tora, Tora" where Kimmel's staff recommends he send out patrol planes to spot any approaching enemy ships. Kimmel replies that he has no planes, and he admonishes his staff to only submit recommendations that he can act on.

I know these are both works of fiction, but is there anything to this? Did the Americans give so many long-range aircraft to the British and Soviets that they compromised the defense of Pearl Harbor?
Completely ludicrous, inaccurate.

Films generally are not a good source of accurate historical information,
 
Apr 2014
372
Istanbul Turkey
#5
Completely ludicrous, inaccurate.

Films generally are not a good source of accurate historical information,
That thinking of excusing their behaviour and caught suprised in 7th December was rife among several US military and civilian goverment establishment though. Later it borne out some baseless conspiracy theroies like FDR / Churchill knew incoming Japanese attack and did not warn US Navy. Frankly even if they knew and warned US Pacific Fleet I doubt Pacific Fleet's disposition would be any different. US Armed Forces were still functioning in peacetime regulations and timeframe despite the fact that a world wide conflict was going on since 1936 when Sino-Japanese War began. Five weeks after Pearl Harbour attack , on January 1942 German Navy started Operation Drumroll-U- Boat Campaign-on US Eastern Seaboard and caused enormous shipping losses because US Atlantic Navy and War Department was still in peacetime footing. No blackout on coast or ships , no convoying , open uncoded wireless transmission comunication , incompatently waged air and sea patrols etc.
 
Oct 2015
803
Virginia
#6
The action report of Patrol Wing 2 dated 20 Dec 1941 is on line at "Hyperwar" (but I can't figure out how to attach it!) #!$®¿&¡!
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,930
Dispargum
#7
Dentatus, thanks for Post #3. That started me down a road I would not have thought of on my own. After identifying the six squadrons in Hawaii and the two in the Philippines, I checked all eight unit histories. Found some other documents as well.

It seems there were some issues with too few patrol planes but nothing specifically linked to lend lease. Four squadrons could barely cover 360 degrees if every plane was operational but this could only be done for a few days during periods of high tension. After that, maintenance issues would ground many of the patrol planes. All six squadrons were upgrading their equipment, swapping out older PBY-1s and -2s for the newer PBY-5s. This necessitated flying the old plane to San Diego and flying the new plane back. Planes and crews were frequently absent from Hawaii in the weeks and months prior to the attack.
 
Oct 2015
803
Virginia
#8
I should have known you'd be interested and included the squadron numbers.

Admiral Bellinger's (COMPATWING 2) report says that when the first bombs fell on December 7:

VP-21 (at Midway) had 7 planes on patrol 120-170 degrees to 450 miles and 4 at 10 mins notice.

The six squadrons on Oahu had 3 planes on security patrol and 4 on training flights. 10 were on 30 mins notice, 44 on 4 hrs notice and 9 under repair.

Did you find that the squadrons deployed forward at Midway, Cavite (VP-101 & 102) and en-route to PATWING 10 (VP-22) have PBY-5's or older models?
 

Pendennis

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,386
Kirkcaldy, Scotland
#10
The USA was not short of patrol planes in December 1941 with the excelent PBY Catalinas in service.
Similarly, a classic Lend Lease type aircraft -the Lockheed Hudson- had been given to the UK prior to actual Lend Lease and while the Lockheed Hudson was not widely used by the Americans themselves post 1941 they gave sterling service to the U.K. for day one of the war in 1939
Example, an RAF Lockheeed Hudson is credited with shooting down one of the very first Nazi Luftwaffe planes destroyed in 1939.