Forum: Rumors
Topic: Rumors - Part 9
started by: Ken Hackler

Posted by Ken Hackler on Dec. 08 2003,11:57
Last night (December 7, 2003), the Discovery Channel aired a two-hour special on the myths of Pearl Harbor.

One of the myths they purported to dispel was that a second midget never entered Pearl Harbor.  They trotted out the same "experts" from Autometric, along with Burl Burlingame and Dan Martinez, and attempted to prove that a second midget entered Pearl and fired at Battleship Row that morning.

They used the same old photo and the same old arguments, and they made the same old mistakes.

For example, John Rodgaard pointed to their incorrect interpretation of the torpedo wakes visible in the photo and said that there were more wakes than drop points (i.e., splashes).  What Rodgaard failed to point out (again) is that there was another drop point behind (left in the photo) the two near their alleged submarine. He failed to point this out because it would seriously damage their contention that a midget submarine was in the photo firing torpedoes.

He also (yet again) failed to point out the obvious small boat in the photo some 30-50 yards from their alleged submarine, and why no one saw a submarine on the surface right in front of them at such a close range.  He also failed to explain how a submarine could surface in the middle of Pearl Harbor in the area where thousands of men were watching torpedo planes drop torpedoes, and NO ONE saw the submarine.  Again, pointing those things out would irreparably damage their theory.

Finally, I would ask Rodgaard and Company to explain why the submarine fired at the West Virginia, turned to port and fired at the Oklahoma, then turned back to starboard AWAY from their escape route, so that in the photo the alleged submarine is pointing back at the West Virginia.

It's absurd.  The problem is that the experts jumped all over a very flawed theory some years back, and now they cannot back away from it without considerable embarrassment.

I have a real problem with this though.  Being on television, now it is "fact" in the eyes of many.  These people have not only created a myth by their original series of very poorly researched and horribly flawed magazine articles, they are now perpetuating the myth to preserve their reputations.

I have said it many times before, but those who would attempt to write history should be far more careful.

MMC(SW) Ken Hackler
USN, Retired

Posted by Mike Wenger on Dec. 08 2003,12:49

Regarding the facts (or, at least, as I interpret them)... I, too, think that a second midget in the harbor is very unlikely.  John Divirgilio, Jon Parshall and I made every effort to communicate that very notion to the people at the Discovery Channel.  The response, though courteous, was similar to that I received as an extra in the movie "Gettysburg".  "This is not a reenactment.  It is a movie.  And it is OUR movie."  After all, this was done principally by TV people, not historians.

However, I was heartened to see that the DC people did include some pieces of contrary opinion and evidence.  So perhaps there will be redemption of a sort coming from that.  The DC people were indeed most courteous, gracious, and appreciative of our views.  But in the end, they simply did not share them.

You are also correct regarding people who go out on a limb.  Those who stake their reputation on a certain version of the "truth" often leave themselves no graceful route of retreat.  How many times have we seen that?  The best solution is to admit culpability and move on (Lord knows I've had to do that often enough... remember Makino?), but the larger proportion of the Bell curve will prefer to dig in their heels.  Just human nature.

I have to say that the wargaming sequence with which I was involved was VERY interesting, and a NEAT idea.  

Best regards,
Mike W.
Posted by Ken Hackler on Dec. 08 2003,1:10

I don't know how many times over the years I was wrong about something when I was in the Navy and had to eat crow later.  Engineering is not a forgiving field when every day's decision is torn apart in the evening meetings with peers.

But I was heartened to see (as you pointed out) that they did put the U of Michigan interpretation of the rooster tails on the program even though it did not coincide with the theory put forth by Rodgaard and Company.  I would point out that the rooster tails have the least to do with their theory and in providing that information on air they did the least amount of damage to their theory while still providing the appearance of fairness and balance.

I would like them to have provided a much more fair and balanced approach though, which they would have done were they interested in the truth and not simply their theory.

For example -

I would love to see someone make a midget submarine conning tower and place it in the exact spot in Pearl Harbor as the object in the photograph, and do it at the same time of morning so the sun angle and shadows are similar.  

Then I would like them to place a 50-60 foot utility boat about 40 yards away.

Finally, I would like them to have observers on BB Row and the Navy Yard to see what those people would have seen in 1941.  Having a a helicopter in the area where the original plane took the photos would also allow a much more accurate recreation of the 1941 photo than they managed last night.

I have a very bad feeling though that all the publicity these guys get is doing nothing but perpetuating their myth at the expense of accuracy.  History suffers when one side is always on television without the other side of the story being told.  Most people in this country will watch television and simply assume it is fact.

By the way, I haven't talked to you in a while but I liked the war game portion of the show.  I agree with the admiral when he pointed out that the torpedo planes would likely have taken much greater losses in their attacks. I did notice that they allowed Dan Martinez to have the last word.

I am disturbed that the National Park Service Historian is allowed to use television to promote his views in such a fashion. I don't care that he has a TV show or has the views, but every single show he is on uses his official title.  That to me is a conflict that needs to be addressed.
Posted by Mike Wenger on Dec. 08 2003,1:30

Well, the Torpedo Bombing Unit did take 50% casualties for their efforts!  In addition, the CarDiv5 boys were rearmed with torpedoes (fortuitous, as the 1st wave indeed failed to sink anything!;).  It took torpedo attacks by 90+ aircraft to sink three ships and cripple a fourth.

Nonetheless, the R.Adm [Kimmel] was QUITE frosted by the results (much to our amusement and the delight of the producer).

I am hoping to submit a joint "Detailed Action Report" of the game session.  Had thought I would post it on, but with the permission of the board here, I would likely post it on PHAMB as well.

Mike W.
Posted by Ken Hackler on Dec. 08 2003,1:42

I'd love to see the entire after action report since they only addressed it briefly on the show.  I would like to know how it all played out and what the parameters were to achieve the results they gave.

Out of curiosity, what was the amount of surprise allowed in hours?
Posted by Mike Wenger on Dec. 08 2003,2:10

You know, I can't remember exactly.  So much for my appearance before the Hackler Inquiry!  I think it was 0530, but I've got some notes on this that I can check, Senator.

Posted by Ken Hackler on Dec. 08 2003,2:13

That's ok not to remember :)  I was just thinking that if it was less than 4 or 5 hours, the battleships would probably have had a difficult time getting up steam to be out by 0755, or if clear of the harbor, then they would not be far from Oahu and certainly within sight of the island when the planes arrived.

Posted by Jim Adams on Dec. 08 2003,10:24
"...I agree with the admiral when he pointed out that the torpedo planes would likely have taken much greater losses in their attacks. I did notice that they allowed Dan Martinez to have the last word.

I am disturbed that the National Park Service Historian is allowed to use television to promote his views in such a fashion. I don't care that he has a TV show or has the views, but every single show he is on uses his official title.  That to me is a conflict that needs to be addressed. "

Ken Hackler

But gee Ken , doesn't Dan Martinez know more about Naval Tactics then a USN Admiral?

Jim Adams
formerly of the USS Arizona Memorial, NPS :p
Posted by David Aiken on Dec. 09 2003,9:46
Welcome Jim.
Long have admired your additions to Pearl Harbor's history. Tis sad that you, too, are among "the long gray line" of ex-NPS rangers that served at the Memorial...I know several who were there who cited the continued battle action.
Posted by Joan Mecteau on Dec. 09 2003,5:38
I too saw the special last night. It was the first time I heard of this theory and I have studied that photo many times. Though I  watched with skepticisim (one thing I learned to do from this board) I knew I could count on all of you to set it straight.
 I do have one question. Even if it were a sub, how would it ever have gotten out of the harbor?
Posted by Ken Hackler on Dec. 10 2003,10:51
I had something of a problem with that over the years also Joan.  I've written several articles about that and posted a few things on this board over the years asking how.  Look at the "Rumors - Part 4" topic for just a few of those questions.

Also, I did ask John Rodgaard those questions several years ago, but he failed to answer with anything remotely direct. I wish he, Burlingame, Martinez, or any of their other proponents would have the courage to come on this board and discuss it openly.
Posted by Tracy White on Dec. 10 2003,5:44
Ken; why risk the cash cow when they can just ignore the critics and keep selling to Discovery or the History Channel?

"Historical discover" is sexy, even if it's false.
Posted by Mike Wenger on Dec. 11 2003,8:01

My take on the midgets is this:

1. I really don’t regard myself as one of the experts on this matter.
2. However, with the knowledge I do have, and with what is available in certain American documents, it seems to me that there was NOT a second midget in the harbor.
3. The basis for my conclusion (shaped in great measure by Divirgilio’s thinking) is this… forget the subs- count the torpedoes.

2 – Sakamaki’s sub, unfired.
2 – Honolulu harbor sub, unfired.
2 – Ward’s sub, unfired.
2 – Monaghan’s sub – fired.

That leaves us with the final two torpedoes. St.Louis recorded zigzagging right and left and ringing up 24 knots to evade two torpedoes JUST as she passed the entrance bouys at 1004 – 2 FIRED, both of which exploded ashore.

Now, that total would be ten. This presupposes, of course, that 1. what St.Louis saw were actually torpedoes, and 2. that an “I” boat did NOT fire them. Personally, I think the I boats were further off shore.

I would also have to say that I feel it would be very difficult (thought not absolutely impossible) for the midget to exit the harbor. I have some net-tender records that I need to consult further (and my work in this area is FAR from comprehensive or complete), but I think that the tender had the gates closed for various periods of time, which certainly would have made escape difficult. The caveat to that would be that there was a large number of vessels exiting the harbor during and after the attack. I’ve compiled a time-line of those occurrences from the destroyer deck logs, and there were indeed some times that the nets might have stayed opened.

Think on this though... with the heavy traffic in the channel, wouldn’t the midget have blundered into the paths of some of the outbound ships, particularly if the attempted exit had been later rather than sooner. How could something like this possibly be missed? However, as I said before, I have more work to do on this.

I’m NOT saying that I could never be convinced otherwise, but on balance, I think that the routine of the additional sub in the harbor is unlikely. I certainly have just as many preconceived notions and prejudices as any man. To their credit, the Discovery Channel did provide contrary evidence. I think that, unless the 5th midget is located, this matter will forever remain the delightful conundrum it is.

Regardless of the side you come down on, you just have to love the interest and controversy this story has engendered.

Mike W.
Posted by David Aiken on Dec. 11 2003,8:50
Quote (Mike Wenger @ Dec. 11 2003,08<!--emo&:0)
3. The basis for my conclusion (shaped in great measure by Divirgilio’s thinking) is this… forget the subs- count the torpedoes.

2 – Sakamaki’s sub, unfired.
2 – Honolulu harbor sub, unfired.
2 – Ward’s sub, unfired.
2 – Monaghan’s sub – fired.

That leaves us with the final two torpedoes. St.Louis recorded zigzagging right and left and ringing up 24 knots to evade two torpedoes JUST as she passed the entrance bouys at 1004 – 2 FIRED, both of which exploded ashore.

Aloha Mike,
Thank you for supporting my initial thoughts on this topic [shared with John, etc] count the torpedos.

The second thought considered is, what would happen to the midget sub once it got that far into the harbor...the idiot CO would be in the way of the aerial attack...and would be struck by one of those torpedos being dropped...exactly where the hypothesis says he was located.

Third, we must understand the launch times, lat-long, and distance from the harbor entrance of each midgets. This directly sorts who got to the harbor channel entrance in what order, given select knowledge of problems in certain navigational skills and equipment failures. This helps us understand that the initial midget to enter the harbor was the "Monaghan" midget and the "St Louis" midget was the one which radioed a successful launch.

Posted by Mike Wenger on Dec. 11 2003,9:22

I agree wholeheartedly.  Looking at the locations/times of release are virtually the ONLY way to arrive at any plausible scenario that postulates which named mini-sub did what.

This is one of those issues (as with many others) which, likely, will not be fully resolved in our lifetimes.  Too many documents have been lost.  A bushel basket of documentation remains, but there are too many irreparable gaps.

It is sometimes difficult to know what makes these TV people at once so susceptible to the sensational and yet so resistant to examining all the hard evidence.  Parshall and I repeatedly told these Discovery Channel folks that there was little or no way for the 2nd sub to be in PH, but to no avail.  I rather feel that because we came into the process late (October) the DC had cast their dice financially.  One of the producers at Termite Art did say in retrospect that he wished he had consulted with US earlier.

With that said, it was an entertaining program.   And how about the Type 91 Torpedo hydrodynamics tests!  That was unprecedented... It certainly confirmed that the weapons worked, as if ANY proof was required there!

Posted by Tracy White on Dec. 13 2003,8:17
Greetings Mike. I just did a headcheck with David as when I saw that I rolled my eyes and I wanted to make sure the eye roll was warranted.

The tests done at U of M (my Dad's Alma Mater!;) unfortunately settled or demonstrated nothing. The fins were designed to make the torpedos fall in the air flatter, to keep the nose from dropping and pointing down. They fell off AS SOON as they hit the water. The test at U of M watched what would have happened had the fins stayed on at least during the initial dive, but in actuallity they were long gone. They tested a design that never happened.
Posted by Mike Wenger on Dec. 15 2003,1:24
You are absolutely correct, of course.  However, I would still maintain my point… that they indeed tried something never tried before.  They were on the right track, but jumped off the wrong box-car.

It does bring up an interesting point.  Checking/verifying distant sources or any untried theory takes an inordinate and disproportionate amount of resources.  If you don’t believe that, try taking a $10,000 research trip to Japan (with all its attendant dead-ends and blind alleyways)!  Anyone who risks capital, whether personal or financial, in pursuit of what they think might be the truth is to be lauded, not denigrated or belittled.

There was a very interesting segment on Carl Sagan's "COSMOS" program from several decades back that told of a Russian scientist who postulated that, many millions of years ago the planet Jupiter somehow belched forth the planet Venus.  The important thing to remember about this demonstrably false notion was not that it was silly or stupid, but that it was suppressed by the Soviet government.

Any search for the truth requires a courageous abandonment of preconceived notions, and a willingness to examine every theory, irrespective of its apparent merit.  Those who would have preferred silence on the air waves to the DC's late production should think of that.

The search for truth leads in many, many different directions, my friend.  One NEVER knows what insights can be accrued in the pursuit of any pathway, however misguided the search.  Did the Discovery Channel come to some errant judgements?  Well, quite likely.  Did their various laboratory tests leave some things to be desired?  Definitely.  Did the program serve as a catalyst for more creative thinking and analysis?  YES... except among those who think they possess all knowledge.

Forty to fifty years down the road, long after I am gone and forgotten, and have mingled with the soil of North Carolina, I can guarantee you that someone will invest the $50,000 to $100,000 or so that it will take to actually test the Pearl Harbor torpedoes properly.  They will probably be inspired by such a program as we saw last week, as flawed as it was.  In the meantime, we should be grateful for those who put their reputations on the line by producing and/or publishing.  They give us a great gift.
Posted by Ken Hackler on Dec. 15 2003,1:48

I agree with you about the courage it takes to put forth a theory in public, exposed to all the criticism.

However, I firmly believe that they should pay close attention to the media they have chosen.  They failed to properly research this, yet they push ahead, on television.  This reaches millions of people who will now accept this as "fact" despite the horrible flaws.

I have a real issue with people who use such a medium for their personal gain without care for the truth, which is what I believe happened here.

John Rodgaard will not respond to the many questions regarding the theory they continue to put forth, nor will he address the obvious.  As a matter of fact they went out of their way to avoid those issues.

I guess my real problem with these guys is that they no longer seek the truth, but only to salvage their reputations.
Posted by Tracy White on Dec. 15 2003,7:42
I'm all for research that improves our knowledge. research with an agenda though, even though they're spending their money, shoul dnot be lauded. I refuse to give accolades to someone who seeks to use history for an incorrect premise.

People who try and simply make mistakes are another matter. The bit done at the U of M was good in that they tried, but in the end is completely irrelevant.
Posted by Mike Wenger on Dec. 16 2003,11:10
At last, we strike a happy agreement.

1. Charlatans exert a most destructive influence, whatever their activity or mode of operation.
2. All discourse/discussion is good.

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