Parshall’s Whoppers Examined

Fact checking the various claims and conclusions of Jon Parshall.

By Martin Bennett


At the request of the Naval War College Review for exclusivity, the article was published in the Winter 2013 issue of thier publication, and can be read in its entirety here.

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One thought on “

  1. Glenn McMaster says:

    Mr. Bennett,

    We often debate Fuchida’s books over on the Combined Fleet Website. I’m glad to see someone out there trying to set the record straight on what’s been done to the poor man. The reason your article has come to my attention is that Jon Parshall posted a link to it over at the Naval War College, along with the fact that his reply will be coming in the next issue. I look forward to the continuation of the debate.

    What I wanted to mention to you is that in the course of these discussions on Combined Fleet, which have included both Jon and Tony on some occassions, I’ve evolved a number of arguments in favour of Fuchida that, in your article, that you have not picked up on. Would you be interested in some assistance on the matter? I’d love to see Fuchida given his full due.

    For example, I noticed in your article that you rebutted Willmott/Zimm’s assertion that Fuchida could not have earmarked the oil tanks on the basis of doctrine, as if 70 years later it is for American historians to dictate what a dynamic and intelligent Japanese leader was thinking. The basis of the argument, essentially is that Fuchida’s “doctrine” would not permit him to earmark oil tanks.

    I wanted to point out that Parshall/Zimm’s methodology is fundamentally flawed, as if they are using “doctrine” as a hip buzz word for methods they don’t actually fully understand. Fuchida’s “doctrine” will have been to employ the strengths and weaknesses of his attack units against the target list he was assigned. I posted this observation for Jon about 4 days ago, and he has not yet bothered to reply. I doubt he will, frankly,

    “Here is the target priority list that you provide, with the current status of that priority as of Fuchida’s return to Akagi;

    1) Airfields – badly damaged, follow up attacks by the fighter units sufficient.
    2) Aircraft carriers – not present, removed from list.
    3) Battleships – 3 targets remaining, only accessible by level bomber.
    4) Cruisers and other warships – many still in harbor, others fleeing to sea.
    5) Merchant shipping – many still in harbor, others fleeing to sea.
    6) Port facilities – yet untouched.
    7) Land installations – yet untouched.

    Fuchida’s ‘doctrine’ will be the strength and weaknesses of his attack units in comparison to his target list:

    81 dive bombers (1st, 2nd CAR DIV elite) – ships in harbor.
    54 dive bombers (5th CAR DIV, green) – ships in harbor, or port facilities, or airfields.
    50 level bombers – (1st, 2nd CAR DIV, elite level bombing) – 3 battleships remaining afloat.
    40 torpedo bomber – (1st, 2nd CAR DIV, elite torpedo, average level bombing) – ships at sea or airfields/port facilities
    54 level bombers – (5th CAR DIV, area attack only) – airfields or port facilities.

    IMO, Zimm has no basis to state that Fuchida would not have assigned aircraft to attack port facilities on account of doctrine. Fuchida’s 5th CAR DIV level bombers were not well enough trained for anti-ship attack, meaning that this unit will hit ‘area’ land targets. Since the airfields were already worked over, and adequately covered by the fighter unit for the encore, the list shows that the next suitable target for 5th CAR DIV level bombers was port facilities, no.6.

    Whether the 40 specialist torpedo bombers or 5th CAR DIV dive bombers had adequate training for ship attack, I don’t know. The Kate training for months had been in shallow water torpedo attack. Fuchida should either thinking using them for torpedo strikes against ships at sea or for level bombing. Either way, Zimm is not qualified to comment on what Fuchida intended with these units, while Fuchida is. If he intended area attacks, then that’s 94 bombers plus 54 dive bombers against port facilities (less non-operational or lost), which is a pretty substantial hit.”

    ————————-

    IMO, Jon, relying on others’ conclusions, simply hadn’t accounted for the fact that Kido Butai was composed of units with differing capacities to make ship attacks, and that 5th CAR DIV in particular would be unlikely to make follow-up attacks on ships.

    Currently I’m examinging all allegations made against Fuchida in Shattered Sword. IMO, there is an underlying pattern to Mr. Parshall’s beef with Fuchida. If you’re interested in some assistance, drop me a line at the email address given. I don’t dismiss all the allegations against Fuchida, but I find many of them very unfair, and some of them pertain to Jon’s failure to read what Fuchida actually wrote, (your comment on Jon’s misreading the Akagi bridge scene has other examples).

    Glenn McMaster

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