Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yamamoto's Second Pearl Harbor Plan: The Panama Canal 1945

Although General Yamamoto had been killed before the Japanese were ready to execute it, his daring plan, like his Pearl Harbor success in 1941, was now aimed at the Panama Canal sometime in 1943-45. Yamamoto, who had gone to college in the US, was a strategic thinker and had always felt that the war "needed to touch America" to jostle their nerves. Planned raids included attacking San Francisco or cities on the East Coast using their new long range submarines with aircraft. These were the I-400 class, each capable of carrying and launching three bombers. The submarines could travel 37000 miles before needing replenishment. They could go anywhere, conduct airstrikes and move onto the next target. These airplanes had floats, they were called "Seiran" with a top speed of 350 MPH and had a range of over 600 miles.They could carry one 1800 pound torpedo or an equal amount of bombs. It was one of the few planes that could dive bomb and torpedo bomb.

Yamamoto planned the Panamanian Canal attack. The objective was to render it useless by sending 10 Seirans to bomb the Gatun Lock with six 1800 lb. torpedoes and an equal amount of bombs. If successful, it would prevent the U.S. Atlantic fleet from crossing to the Pacific. An air strike force would launch from the Gulf of Panama, cross Panama to the Caribbean Sea at low altitude, surprise the defenders by approaching from the Atlantic side, and bomb the critical Gatun Locks, which would put the canal out of operation for six months. One plan was to have the aircraft return to the subs, land and retrieved. Then, move on to another target. However, this was revised to make it a "kamikaze" attack. The pilots studied a large-scale model of the lock system and memorized important features of the canal, just as their predecessors did before attacking Pearl Harbor. But, time was against the plan as the pilots could not learn steep dive bomber attacks in time nor could learn torpedo attacks.

This plan would buy Japan time to recover from its many defeats after 1943. However, it was also 1945, Yamamoto was now dead and the IJN decided in June to attack the US base at Ulithi atoll in the Carolinas.

The attack on Panama, had it proceeded, would've been done at night. Assuming even some success, the delay could have been serious for US ships, however, there were still hundreds of ships on the West Coast, in Hawaii and at Ulithi Atoll at this time. So, the impact would have been much more psychological that would've sent shock waves to America. The canal area was defended by two key airbases, Howard and France, one at each end of the canal. At France AFB, the 24th, 43rd Fighter squadrons sat with P39s and P38s. At Howard AFB, the 51st and 30th Squadrons with the same aircraft. While it is hard to believe that the US could have suffered a second "Pearl Harbor" the element of total surprise remained with the Japs in this plan. A night attack would ensure most of the fighters would be grounded. A day attack would truly be a suicide run.

The Ulithi planned attack was a near thing. Both subs were in position, ready to launch aircraft the next day (August 17), when it was called off and Japan surrendered. This atoll was a major USN staging base, not a full fledged naval base by any means. Its only defenses were from the Marine VMTB 232 (12 Avengers) and VMFA 542 (18 F4F). The ships in the area came to hundreds at this time and the Japs targeted the carriers but had only one recon plane to spot them with. Also, this attack only allowed six Seirans to find a target.

Of the two, Yamamoto's visionary strategic target of Panama, taking the war to America, could have had much longer last impact than the pin prick that Ulithi, which at best, might of sunk one carrier.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Mysterious Israeli Air Attack on al-Kibar, Syria, 2007

In 2000, the Mossad, the Israeli secret service received intelligence data that Syria may be embarking on a nuclear weapons site with direct technical help from the North Koreans and paid for by the Iranians. At that point, Israeli devoted many resources to verify this information provided by the Americans.

In 2002, construction began of the nuclear site situated at al-Kibar, Syria, close to Turkey. Numerous North Korean technicians arrived and directed the construction that from the air resembled a harmless building. It was under the canopy which would be dangerous. Even at this time, the IDF and Mossad, had no real evidence of what Syria was doing and was still unaware of its construction.

In 2004, the American National Service Agency (NSA) informs Israel that American intelligence has been detecting an abnormal amount of calls between the capitals of Syria and North Korea, The red flag was raised when many of the calls were also tracked to a place called al-Kibar, along the Euphrates River. This is the first time the IDF could now actually have a physical location of where the mysterious building was. The IDF devotes even more resources to monitor it.

In 2006, a Syrian delegation arrives in Kensington in London for governmental business. One of the top Syrian members leaves his laptop unsecured in his hotel room. Mossad agents secretly enter the room and insert a Trojan horse software program in the laptop to steal all data regarding al-Kibar. From the laptop, Israel obtains plans and other info regarding this nuclear site being built. Satellite images simply reveal a building of some sort and to most is very inauspicious.

Feb. 2007 - A key Iranian, Ali-Asari, Deputy Defense Minister for Iran, defects to the West via the CIA. He personally knows of the efforts and confirms all suspicions and data so far retrieved. He confirms that Iran is funding all costs and providing uraninum to Syria. He now lives inTexas and has a new identity.

Aug. 2007 - The President of Iran and other Iranian officials visit Syria and pledge $675 million dollars to Syria in aid for building the al-Kibar nuclear site. Intelligence reveals that the new site is a planned backup nuclear site for Iran for heavy water and plutonium for a Iranian nuclear site at Arak. Israeli special forces secretly conduct a covert raid to the site and take soil samples. Two ships are intercepted by the IDF, the Gregoria and Al-Ahamad both carrying a cargo of uranium materials from North Korea.

Sept.5-6, 2007 - Operation Orchard begins with 10 American made IDF F-15's taking off from Ramat David Airbase. The jets fly over the Mediterranean, however, three jets turn off and return to base. Seven jets continue flying at low altitude over the ocean northwards toward northern Syria, as they enter Syria airspace, Syrian AA missiles fire and miss but the AA sites are destroyed by the F-15s. It is 1 p.m. The F-15's descend upon the undefended site 81 miles from the Iraqi border and 30 km from the town of Dier-el Zor. Those in the town witness bright lights and explosions. The Syrian News Agency at 2.55 p.m. announces that Israeli jets have violated Syrian airspace. The President of Israeli calls the President of Syria telling him that Israel has no intention of hostile relations with them and no further military action will occur and the jets are returning. Further, he wishes to meet with them for their mutual cooperation. He does not wish the incident to turn into a regional war and hoped that Syria will feel the same and to keep the matter quiet out of the media. Syria agrees. Al-Kibar is destroyed.

At 6:45 p.m Israel makes a statement that no Israeli jets were involved. At 8:46 p.m., a US spokesperson states that the US has only second hand information and reports that contradict one another.

June 2008 - The IAEA (international atomic commission) take samples from the site and analyze them confirming that a large amount of uranium in the soil was found and is not naturally occurring in the soil.

June 2009 - The IAEA demanded to have access to the three other locations now know to have been linked to al-Kibar. Iran demands from Syria the return of all uranium shipments made.