Japan Strikes: 1941


In 1924, three years after Hector Bywater’s Sea Power in the Pacific appeared, the air-power enthusiast General Billy Mitchell returned from a tour of the Far East with a report predicting the possibility of a Japanese air attack against Pearl Harbor itself. Bywater also ultimately took cognizance of the increasing role of air power, and in a revised edition of Sea Power in the Pacific published in 1934 he noted the “marked superiority of the United States Navy over the Japanese in numbers of ship-borne aircraft.” In a few years, he continued, “the first-line aircraft at the disposal of the United States Navy will number 2000, a total which could be multiplied indefinitely in a national emergency. … If, then, the air weapon is to prove a preponderating element in a Far Eastern naval campaign, the dice will be loaded against Japan, whether her opponent is the United States or the British Commonwealth.” In this case, also, Bywater’s warning was not heeded by the Japanese.