Detail & Scale | “Attack on Pearl Harbor” - Japan Awakens A Sleeping Giant

Reviewed by Floyd S. Werner, Jr.

Bert Kinzey has been writing the Detail & Scale series for many years now. If you’ve had the chance to read any of the volumes his has penned you will know that the information is always well researched and always the go to reference.

Bert has turned his passion for writing and research onto the opening battle of Pearl Harbor. He was tasked with writing the most informative booklet for the USS Arizona memorial and keeping the price under $20.

This 80 page soft bound book is printed on high quality gloss paper. The writing is typical Bert, easy to read, even when presenting lots of information, but not wordy. The 46 illustrations are done by Rock Roszak and are superbly done, whether it is aircraft, ships, or submarines. Aspects of the attack are shown in six maps and eight tables.

The key to a book like this is that the information is presented in a form that allows it to be used. This book uses tables, maps, illustrations, and text to convey its points. It is presented in an easy and natural manner.

The book starts out with the planning stage of Operation Z until the end of the battle and its aftermath. A map shows the timeline and the subsequent operations for the carrier groups until they returned to the home islands.

The order of battle is addressed in the Japanese Aircraft Carrier Divisions. The First, Second and Fifth Carrier Divisions all carried Zero, Vals and Kates. The individual markings for each carrier division is explained and illustrated. The command markings are explained as well. The inclusion of the Jake recon planes, including markings and pilots, is just an example of how in depth this research is. One of the Jakes was the first plane over Pearl at 0530, confirming that the capital ships were there. Interesting is the fact that all but three ships that were ‘destroyed’ during the attack were put back into action during the war.

The aircraft illustrations are absolutely superb. It is interesting that there is a slight difference in the aircraft of paint schemes. This is addressed in the illustration and the text. The aircraft of the Hiryu and Soryu had a greenish-khaki color than the gray-green seen on the other aircraft.

All the US Navy ship and locations that were present are included. A map shows their position through out the inlets. Even the ships that weren’t at Pearl are listed. These are also important to the rest of the war. About half of the Pacific Fleet was NOT at Pearl Harbor on 7 December.

The fight of the midget subs is presented with the latest information available. All five subs and their demises are discussed.

The Air Attack is obviously the thing that is remembered the most. The organization of the separate waves is addressed with all the commanders of the attack along with their ordnance loads. The torpedo run is illustrated with charts and photos. The horizontal ad dive bombers and their mission is given the same treatment.

Each aspect and target is discussed from the Navy Yard to the airfields. We all know about the B-17s coming into Pearl from the West Coast. The B-17s, P-40s and P-36s, but did you know that there were Navy planes there in the air as well? I didn’t. I should have figured as much. Besides the Catalinas that were actually out training there were SBDs, TBD and Wildcats. The Enterprise had launched aircraft and many of the aircraft came under fire by both the Japanese and the local AA batteries. Despite the aircraft being in the air looking for the Japanese fleet they did not find anything and the anti-aircraft gunners were deadly in their friendly fire shooting.

The actual losses and damage to the ships and aircraft are summarized. Then in what may be a unique approach, each ship that was damaged or destroyed is discussed. Each ship is shown in photos with the information in the caption.

Japanese mistakes and losses are shown. The fate of the Japanese ships throughout the war wraps up the Japanese portion of the book.

Pearl Harbor today is the final chapter of the book. Explaining the tourist exhibit that is highlighted by the Arizona and the Missouri battleships finishes off the book.

If you were going to buy just one book on Pearl Harbor this is that book, especially if you are on a budget. It is that good. There is more information contained in its 80 pages than books with hundreds of pages more and costing much more. Bert Kinzey has done a fabulous job putting together all the information into a one stop reference at a very reasonable price. Is it any wonder that the Pearl Harbor National Park has decided to use this book in their gift shop?

Highly recommended.

Thanks to Bert Kinzey for the review copy. You can obtain yours by contacting them at Make sure you tell them you heard about it here.

© Floyd S. Werner, Jr. 2014

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This review was published on Monday, January 20 2014; Last modified on Monday, January 20 2014