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Author Topic: "On a Wing and a Prayer" (1944 film)  (Read 2036 times)
RNOfficer
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« on: December 28, 2016, 06:07:30 PM »

I watched this classic WWII film last night and I was truly shocked at how historically inaccurate it was. Like many older Americans, I grew up on these movies. They were a staple of late-night TV when I was a boy. I'm a bit more sophisticated historical than I was then

The film is about the Battle of Midway. Of course, I did not expect that the breaking of the Japanese Code (Known as "Magic") would be shown shown. This was 1944 and its breaking was still a secret.. The film claimed that the Navy deduced that MIdway Island would be the next Japanese target, as a stepping-stone to an invasion of Hawaii. Of course we know now that there was no Japanese plan to invade Hawaii and capturing Midway was just pushing out the Japanese defense line with the expectation that this would disrupt material supply to Australia, and the hope that it would draw out the remains of the US Pacific fleet for destruction.

The real historical inaccuracy was in the way the battle was depicted. Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bombers are shown dropping their torpedoes that churn on to blowup and sink the Japanese aircraft carriers.

The real story of the battle is well-known. Due to a fubar common to military operations, the US dive bombers and the US torpedo bombers become separated and instead of a coordinated attack as per plan, the  TBD torpedo bombers  arrive first and carried out their attack. Their fighter escorts had turned back to the carrier because of lack of fuel. The Japanese CAP (combat air patrol) dived toward the surface and utterly destroyed the TBDs. Sixty-five out of severty-one American TDBs were destroyed. There were no Japanese losses. Further,
because of defective US torpedoes all that were able to be launched missed or failed to explode.
[/b] Subsequently, an attack by another TBD squadron drew the remainder of the CAP down to the deck.

By luck, just after this massacre,, three USN SBD dive bomber squadrons arrived. With the Japanese CAP at low altitudes, the SBDs were able to carry out unimpeded attacks on the Japanese carriers whose decks were packed with aircraft being bombed up for a second attack on Midway. Three of the carriers were set aflame by the dive-bombing. Another Japanese carrier was subsequently sunk also by dive-bombers. Midway was a turning point in the Pacific War because Japan lost so many of her aircraft carriers and, even more importantly, a large proportion of her well-trained pre-war aviators. While the Japanese still had a very strong surface force near Midway, without air cover it was an easy target during the day the Japanese were compelled to withdraw.

So "A Wing and a Prayer" was utterly inaccurate in showing USN torpedo bombers sinking aircraft carriers at Midway.

BTW, the failure of US torpedoes through the middle of WWII is one of the lesser-known but more important stories of WWIII. Unbelievably, NO US torpedoes had been operationally tested because they were too expensive. The torpedoes  had multiple problems with detonators (called "exploders" by the USN) and guidance systems  so they were almost useless until the issues were finally addressed in late 1943. Primarily, the Navy choose to blame sub commanders for their boats lack of success.  One of the greatest scandals in US naval history.      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_14_torpedo
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Luis R. Ramos
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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2016, 06:27:22 PM »

The same with Air Force.

This film was made in 1943. The "facts" from it was that Pearl Harbor happened, about a week after the Philippines fell, then about another week, Japan was defeated at Midway.

 ???

Another "fact" about the B-17D. This airplane could have a tail machine gun by just sawing off about half a feet of its tail and plopping down a machine gun on a swivel joint, and having a gunner lying down on the floor.

 ??? ???

And Wake?

The last American killed in Wake was the radio operator who kept transmitting as a Japanese soldier bayoneted him. This after a very spirited battle.

 ??? ??? ???

Do not let these historical "facts" of any of these movies deter you from enjoying them. In a sense they are classics!

 ;)
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RNOfficer
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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2016, 07:13:02 PM »

The same with Air Force.

This film was made in 1943. The "facts" from it was that Pearl Harbor happened, about a week after the Philippines fell, then about another week, Japan was defeated at Midway.

Do not let these historical "facts" of any of these movies deter you from enjoying them. In a sense they are classics!

 ;)

If I recall "Air Force" correctly, it began showing sabotage by Japanese-Americans against USAAF aircraft at Pearl Harbor. I think a Japanese driven truck drives around an airfield knocking the tails off aircraft. Of course this never happened.

Might be worthwhile for a disclaimer of this slander on Japanese Americans to be attached to DVDs of the film. Don't want people believing this.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Force_(film)

Anti-Japanese propaganda in the film included scenes in which the crew is forced to land on Maui Island and is shot at by "local Japanese," and the assertion by the Hickam Field commander that vegetable trucks knocked off the tails of parked P-40 fighters as the attack began. Also, Lt. Rader claims a Japanese blocked the road in front of him, as he hurried to the airfield, and them shot at him with a shotgun. As detailed in Walter Lord's book Day of Infamy, later investigations proved no Japanese-American was involved in any sabotage during the Pearl Harbor attack.
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Luis R. Ramos
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2016, 07:16:44 PM »

I do not recall that specific scene -- the trucks -- but it did have Japanese taking pot shots at American airplanes and at the Mary Ann after it landed in Hawaii.


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PHall
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« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2016, 08:28:22 PM »

Guys, just about any movie about the military that was made during the war can rightfully be called propaganda.
The object was to build morale.
The exact same thing applied to the John Wayne movie "The Green Berets" which was made in 1968 during Vietnam.
Didn't seem to bother The Duke at all.
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EMT-83
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« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2016, 08:28:43 PM »

Remember, these films were as much propaganda as they were entertainment. The hope was that able-bodied young men would be inspired to rush out of the theater and into the nearest recruiting office.

The war in the Pacific was not going well at this point, with Europe being the priority. Any shortcomings wouldn’t have been put on display.
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RNOfficer
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« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2016, 08:36:10 PM »

I do not recall that specific scene -- the trucks -- but it did have Japanese taking pot shots at American airplanes and at the Mary Ann after it landed in Hawaii.

I looked for a free, legal version of "Wing and a Prayer" and "Air Force" online for the benefit of others but couldn't find them.

Found this though: Highlights Eighth Air Force Fighter Combat vs ME-163 Rocket-Propelled and ME-162 Jet-Propelled Aircraft

https://archive.org/details/CS-2937

Lots of other FREE AF and WWII historical footage at https://archive.org

I showed the original "Memphis Belle" to Cadets for AE. They were bored. They don't realize that real war is 99% boredom and 1% terror. Also not enough dramatic deaths like modern films. FREE at: https://archive.org/details/gov.dod.dimoc.26134
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RNOfficer
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« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2016, 08:38:16 PM »

Guys, just about any movie about the military that was made during the war can rightfully be called propaganda.
The object was to build morale.
The exact same thing applied to the John Wayne movie "The Green Berets" which was made in 1968 during Vietnam.
Didn't seem to bother The Duke at all.

I agree 100%. My concern is that the non-historical scenes of Japanese-American sabotage at Pearl Harbor might be taken as truth by viewers not as well informed as us.
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EMT-83
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« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2016, 08:49:57 PM »

I just watched "Air Force" on my TCM app (my favorite app, which I highly recommend).  The inaccuracies didn’t bother me as much as contemporary movies, such as “Pearl Harbor” from 2001.
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THRAWN
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« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2016, 09:06:56 AM »

Guys, just about any movie about the military that was made during the war can rightfully be called propaganda.
The object was to build morale.
The exact same thing applied to the John Wayne movie "The Green Berets" which was made in 1968 during Vietnam.
Didn't seem to bother The Duke at all.

Hehe...Gustav Hasford wrote a scene in The Short Timers about the shortcomings of the film. Pretty much summed it up.

I want to echo the "propaganda" response. Look at any of the films produced about the war and during the war (I'm looking at you, WAKE ISLAND) and you'll see that they were written with a specific goal in mind. Even films that came out shortly after the war, such as The Best Years of Our Lives, took on the mindset of the nation at the time. From a technical military tactics and equipment standpoint, they were secondary to the message. That trend continues to this day. Look at films like Swofford's JARHEAD, and Zero-Dark Thirty. They had little to do with the actual day to day, but were written to influence opinion and win hearts and minds.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2016, 09:13:54 AM by THRAWN » Logged
Strup
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THRAWN
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« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2016, 09:07:42 AM »

Guys, just about any movie about the military that was made during the war can rightfully be called propaganda.
The object was to build morale.
The exact same thing applied to the John Wayne movie "The Green Berets" which was made in 1968 during Vietnam.
Didn't seem to bother The Duke at all.

I agree 100%. My concern is that the non-historical scenes of Japanese-American sabotage at Pearl Harbor might be taken as truth by viewers not as well informed as us.

The film's been around for 70 years. I think people got the message already.
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Strup
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RNOfficer
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« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2016, 06:17:21 PM »

Guys, just about any movie about the military that was made during the war can rightfully be called propaganda.
The object was to build morale.
The exact same thing applied to the John Wayne movie "The Green Berets" which was made in 1968 during Vietnam.
Didn't seem to bother The Duke at all.

I agree 100%. My concern is that the non-historical scenes of Japanese-American sabotage at Pearl Harbor might be taken as truth by viewers not as well informed as us.

The film's been around for 70 years. I think people got the message already.

I think that you might be confused. The problem is that the message the film provides is that Japanese Americans committed traitorous sabotage that contributed to the US defeat at Pearl Harbor. They did not. However this belief, which was widespread, was one of the factors that lead to the forced internment of Japanese-American citizens.

Fortunately these days few people will view this film. I'm just suggesting that DVDs of it sold could contain a disclaimer stating that the scenes depicting Japanese-American treason were erroneous.



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« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2016, 10:02:16 PM »

Guys, just about any movie about the military that was made during the war can rightfully be called propaganda.
The object was to build morale.
The exact same thing applied to the John Wayne movie "The Green Berets" which was made in 1968 during Vietnam.
Didn't seem to bother The Duke at all.

I agree 100%. My concern is that the non-historical scenes of Japanese-American sabotage at Pearl Harbor might be taken as truth by viewers not as well informed as us.

The film's been around for 70 years. I think people got the message already.

I think that you might be confused. The problem is that the message the film provides is that Japanese Americans committed traitorous sabotage that contributed to the US defeat at Pearl Harbor. They did not. However this belief, which was widespread, was one of the factors that lead to the forced internment of Japanese-American citizens.

Fortunately these days few people will view this film. I'm just suggesting that DVDs of it sold could contain a disclaimer stating that the scenes depicting Japanese-American treason were erroneous.

Yeah, maybe not those specific incidents, but Japanese Americans DID commit traitorous attacks during that battle. So, the belief did have basis in fact. Its hard to disclaimer "life"...

V/r
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RNOfficer
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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2016, 05:07:35 PM »

Guys, just about any movie about the military that was made during the war can rightfully be called propaganda.
The object was to build morale.
The exact same thing applied to the John Wayne movie "The Green Berets" which was made in 1968 during Vietnam.
Didn't seem to bother The Duke at all.

I agree 100%. My concern is that the non-historical scenes of Japanese-American sabotage at Pearl Harbor might be taken as truth by viewers not as well informed as us.

The film's been around for 70 years. I think people got the message already.

I think that you might be confused. The problem is that the message the film provides is that Japanese Americans committed traitorous sabotage that contributed to the US defeat at Pearl Harbor. They did not. However this belief, which was widespread, was one of the factors that lead to the forced internment of Japanese-American citizens.

Fortunately these days few people will view this film. I'm just suggesting that DVDs of it sold could contain a disclaimer stating that the scenes depicting Japanese-American treason were erroneous.

Yeah, maybe not those specific incidents, but Japanese Americans DID commit traitorous attacks during that battle. So, the belief did have basis in fact. Its hard to disclaimer "life"...

V/r
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I'm always willing to learn so, I would be grateful if you could supply references to support your assertion " Japanese Americans DID commit traitorous attacks during that battle."

I'm aware of that cited in: "In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror" by Michelle Malkin but I would be appreciate information on any others. Thanks.
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Luis R. Ramos
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2016, 05:20:34 PM »

In the National Archives there are references that some Japanese living in the West Coast did have radios, and contacted Japanese outside of the United States.
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Spam
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« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2016, 07:53:41 PM »

Ni'ihau, for one. Yoshio and Irene Harada, born in Hawai'i of Japanese descent. Harada fought alongside a crashed IJN pilot against American citizens.

For another, Yoshikawa, who carried out the humint pre attack prep, was a reserve ensign, not a Japanese American. He was however driven around to gather the intel by two nisei, John Mikami and Richard Kotoshirodo, who knew full well that his repeated and regular visits to local installations and the base to gather targeting data were in support of a pending attack.

That's not counting the other instances of treason such as the three Shi-tara sisters, later on, or Iva Toguri d’Aquino. Or, the thousands who refused to sign a loyalty pledge and were sent to Tule Lake (five thousand of whom renounced US citizenship).

(Note for mods: the name of the sisters is as quoted but without the hyphen. This isn't an attempt to subvert the curse filter)


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« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2016, 07:54:27 PM »


http://www.hawaiireporter.com/niihau-incident-benehakaka-ben-kanahele-wwii-medal-for-merit-purple-heart-1891-1962/123



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RNOfficer
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« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2017, 05:12:47 PM »

In the National Archives there are references that some Japanese living in the West Coast did have radios, and contacted Japanese outside of the United States.

I've searched the National Archives and there are no records of traitorous radio messages by Japanese-Americans. You might be confusing  messages by Japanese agents in embassies and consulate offices. These were not Japanese-Americans but rather Japanese nationals. That's not to say that there wasn't, perhaps, very rare espionage by Japanese-Americans that was undetected but there's no record of it in the National Archives and it must have been minimal if unreported there.

cf: https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1996/fall/butow.html

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« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2017, 06:29:13 PM »

See:
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/internment-scandal/


"Although the DOD released the ultra-secret MAGIC files in 1977, the commission, with its huge staff and millions of taxpayers’ dollars, was either ignorant of the files or chose to ignore them. What MAGIC reveals is stunning: hundreds of resident Japanese were acting as spies, feeding information to Japan. If the U.S. had arrested the individual spies, it would have revealed to Japan that her codes had been broken. Faced with a similar dilemma, Prime Minister Winston Churchill allowed Coventry to be bombed without warning".

"Throughout 1941, the U.S. frequently intercepted reports of resident aliens and Japanese Americans providing information to Japanese agents. In a decrypted message on May 9, for example, a Japanese agent in Los Angeles reports, “We have already established contact with absolutely reliable Japanese in the San Pedro and San Diego area, who will keep a close watch on all shipments of airplanes and other war materials …. We shall maintain connection with our second generations who are at present in the [U.S.] Army, to keep us informed of various developments in the Army. We also have connections with our second generations working in airplane plants for intelligence purposes.”

"Through coded transmissions to an offshore ship, Kotoshirodo’s intelligence was relayed to Japan. Since a trial would have revealed that the U.S. had not only intercepted the signals but had decrypted them, Kotoshirodo was simply transported to Topaz relocation center in Utah".


See:
http://internmentarchives.com/magic.php
Examples of specific west coast Japanese American espionage (original sources):
http://internmentarchives.com/showdoc.php?docid=00418&search_id=&pagenum=2


Although numerous apologists frequently repeat the claim that no espionage ever happened, a more correct truth appears to be that the USG actually chose to quietly prosecute very few of the bad actors, in the interest of preserving methods and sources. The accounts do show that many Japanese Americans were quite active against the US (which should not detract anything from the valor shown by the thousands of patriotic Japanese Americans who served with honor, c.f. 442nd RCT).


V/r
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RNOfficer
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« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2017, 06:33:37 PM »

The main source of evidence that you have offered: Magic: The Untold Story of U.S. Intelligence and the Evacuation of Japanese Residents from the West Coast During Ww II was not reviewed by any impartial, legitimate historical journal that I can find.

As a general rule, books that are considered to lack substance are just ignored - - rather than negatively reviewed. The lack of reviews by experts means that it is hard for non-experts like us to be informed on the quality of the evidence.

The publisher, Athena Press, is seems very odd  -- it apparently has published only two books in its history. It looks to me like a "vanity press", a fake publisher that has books printed for it, usually because the author pays for it when no legitimate publisher would take the book.

http://www.athenapressinc.com/buy.htm

You can read the controversy about this book in the Amazon reviews at:

https://www.amazon.com/Magic-Intelligence-Evacuation-Japanese-Residents/dp/0960273611
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