USS Arizona

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Alternate History


Imagine if the attack on pearl harbor had failed

Submitted: December 21, 2017

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Submitted: December 21, 2017

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Ensign Orville Smith stood on the fantail of his ship, the USS Arizona smoking a cigarette and looking out over the Harbor. He had been newly assigned to this ship and was in a little awe of the size of the Pennsylvania class battleship.

 

He stood up straight from leaning on the railing and glanced at his watch, it was 5 am. He sighed and leaned back on the railing, finishing his smoke. He heard steps behind him and half turned his head to see who was also up at this early on Sunday morning.  It was a friend of his Ensign William O’Neill.

 

“Hiya Orvie!” (He said using smiths academy nickname. Both men had the same time in rate and neither were senior to one another.) “Hi Will. Whats got you up so early in the morning on the weekend?” Smith asked his friend.

 

“I was just up in the Radio shack and heard that one of our subs out in the mid pacific ran across the whole Jap fleet. There is a lot of chatter on the air about it, and CINPAC (meaning commander in chief pacific) is in consultation with President Roosevelt concerning this new sighting.” Smith stood up straight at this news, his interest peaked by this new news.

 

“So whats the skipper had to say about it?” Asked Smith, curious. (He was referring to Captain William Van Valkenburgh the captain of the Arizona.)

 

“The XO, (or executive officer), isn’t sure. He has been unable to get a hold of the Captain. Scuttlebutt says that he went to Los Angeles for a sick kid. So nobody knows for sure what to do.” William said.

 

Just then the loudspeaker blared. “Now hear this, now hear this, general quarters, general quarters, man your battle stations. This is not a drill. That is all.” The loudspeaker said, then went silent. Smith and O’Neill quickly glanced at one another and then hurried off to their stations.

 

On the bridge men rapidly filed onto the bridge and assumed their stations. The XO reached the bridge just as the rest of the crew were donning their helmets, sound powered phones and mae west vests.

 

Äll compartments report manned and ready sir.” The Officer of the watch said calmly. “Very well.” Answered the XO. “Do we have steam up to get under way?” He then asked the chief engineer. “Aye sir. All 12 boilers have steam, sir.” The chief engineer replied.

 

The XO then glanced out of the bridge windscreen to see thick black smoke begin to pour from the other battleships along battleship row. As the XO was watching, he saw the USS Vestal, a repair ship that had been moored up next to the Arizona for minor repairs, get under way and begin to steam off into the harbor.

 

Within mere minutes the battleships California, Maryland, West Virginia, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee began to cast off their lines and slowly move out into the Harbor away from Ford Island near where they had been moored.

 

As he gave the commands for the lines to be cast off and the maneuvering away from the moorings the XO received a radio call from the USS Yorktown. He turned to the radio to answer the call from the carrier.

 

Admiral Husband Kimmel, Commander in Chief Pacific forces was aboard the USS Pennsylvania just barely as it began to get underway from its moorings. He had been the man to initiate the fleet wide war warning. Earlier that day one of COMSUBPAC’s submarines had accidentally spotted the entire Japanese fleet steaming almost 1000 miles north of Hawaii. Given the tense relations between the Japanese Empire and the United States at the time, Kimmel had authorized a fleet wide warning.

 

Kimmel silently stood on the bridge of the Pennsylvania and watched the powerful battleships slowly line up as they moved toward the harbor entrance. Unknown to Admiral Kimmel, (who was due to be replaced in a day by Admiral Chester Nimitz), President Roosevelt had a special ace up his sleeve. Knowing that the Japanese might very well resort to military force at any time, he had authorized all of the US Navy’s aircraft carriers to be located in the Pacific. The only ship ordered to remain was the old USS Langley, a former coal ship or (collier), converted into the first US Navy Aircraft Carrier

 

100 miles south of Hawaii steamed a powerful taskforce made up of the aircraft carriers Lexington, Wasp, Hornet, Saratoga, Enterprise, Ranger, and Yorktown steamed north at 25 knots. Immediately the order was given and all of the carriers began to turn into the wind.

 

An hour later the civilian inhabitants of Hawaii who were awake and outside heard the deep distant droning of many airplane engines from high up. Almost 500 airplanes from all 6 of the United States Aircraft carriers now steaming south of Oahu were slowly approaching from the south. Citizens came out of their homes and stepped from their vehicles. Many panicked thinking the Japanese were attacking without warning. Most of the Citizens of the country were aware of the rising tensions between the USA and the Empire of Japan.

 

The more informed of the citizens recognized the massed the Vought F4U Corsair’s, the Grumman F4F Wildcats, and the F2A Brewster Buffalo. It was an amazing display of the military power of the US Navy. Earlier that day the military command of the Hawaiian Islands had taken temporary control of all radio stations and telephone systems on the island. The authorities were worried that enemy agents would spot the armada of aircraft and alert the enemy.

 

50 miles North of Pearl Harbor Caommander Mitsuo Fuchida flew along in his A6M Zero Fighter plane. He was worried. The cloud cover had been low, which had been great at covering the approach of the 183  torpedo, dive bomber, fighter, and level bombers.  However the low clouds also hampered Fuchida’s ability to visually determine the ships in the harbor in Pearl Harbor.  As Fuchida was trying to see the harbor through holes in the clouds, he felt loud thumps through his control stick, and he suddenly heard the screeching of metal from new holes that had appeared in his wings and canopy.

 

He Swung his head from left to right seeing other planes from his formation in flames and going down trailing smoke.  Just then a dark blue blur sped past his plane heading for the deck. He looked up and could see hundreds of American planes diving from a higher altitude. He broke out in a sweat, feeling the tide of battle going against him and his fellow aviators.

 

He knew that his plane was superior to the many US Navy planes now facing him, but he knew from just a glance that he was also vastly outnumbered. He picked up the microphone to his radio and pressed the transmit key, but nothing came through the headphones built into his leather flight helmet.  He cursed and tried again still receiving nothing. He was cut off from both his fellow pilots and from the follow up waves following behind his own attack wave.

 

The Americans were taking losses, of that there was no doubt, as many of the American planes were almost obsolete when compared to the Zero. However the superior numbers of American fighters were taking their toll on the Japanese planes and pilots. A few of the Japanese torpedo bombers were able to break away from the main battle and headed for the Harbor surface to inflict their damage. Within moments these pilots burst through the low cloudcover and their eyes were wide in shock. Battleship row, by Ford Island was empty of capital ships, and the rest of the Harbor was almost empty of US Naval Power.

 

These pilots, momentarily lost as to what to do, were in shock. They had trained for shallow water torpedo release to kill those Battleships. They turned their fury on the repair ship Vestal, and a few other harbor tugs, and freighters that had remained in the Harbor. The pilots only had a few minutes to attack when they were in turn attacked themselves.

 

The pilots of the 15th Pursuit Group from Wheeler Field on Oahu had taken off and joined the counter attack. Their P-36  Hawk, and P-40 WarHawk fighter planes pounced on the torpedo bombers and decimated their numbers. After a furious 15 minute air battle the Japanese torpedo plane group was a gutted shadow of its self.

 

On board his flagship the Akagi, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto paced the flag bridge in quiet nervousness. He had heard no news from Commander Fuchida leading the first wave against Pearl Harbor. The Second wave was long ago in the air, and the third wave was on deck fueling and arming with bombs.

 

Yamamoto was standing in deep thought staring at the deck when a deep rumble was heard from the west. “Admiral, Sir.” One of the bridge lookouts shouted, pointing. “The Kaga is on fire!” ( The Kaga was another of the Japanese Aircraft Carriers in the strike, along with the Soryu, Hiryu, Zuikaku, and the Shokaku.)

 

“What the devil is going on out there?” Yamamoto mumbled to himself. “Sir! The Kaga reports she has taken 3 torpedoes into the starboard (right) side. The captain says damage control is responding but they have lost power to the engine and the pumps.” The radio talker passed on to the Admiral.

 

“Smoke on the Horizon!!!” Shouted yet another lookout pointing to a different point to the south west. Yamamoto and the other officers on the bridge lifted their binoculars to their eyes and scanned the distant smoke trying to make out what it might be. As the time and distance slowly clicked by, the officers one, by, one began to lower their binoculars and stared at one another.

 

As Yamamoto watched in fascination,  he broke out in a cold sweat and instantly knew what the Americans were doing. The Americans were now well within range for their big 14 inch guns on the battleships. The battleships heeled over to the right and began to complete a classic naval strategy maneuver called crossing the T.  All at once almost the entire line of battleships was shrouded in smoke as they all fired seemingly at once.

 

The almost 1300 pound shells, capable of being thrown up to 13 miles landed on several Japanese Ships. Some of the smaller ships hit exploded and seemed to instantly sink with all hands. A few of the Japanese aircraft carriers managed to launch some planes and soon the US Navy fleet was under attack as well.

 

To Be Continued…………………………………………………………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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