The Yamamoto Mission (Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto) - Air Power History

The Yamamoto Mission (Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto)

By Air Power History

  • Release Date: 2003-06-22
  • Genre: Engineering


In terms of lightning rod animosity, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was the Osama Bin Laden of World War II. Americans in 1943 hated the commander of the Combined Japanese Imperial Fleet as much as their descendants hated the al Qaeda terrorist leader. Yamamoto had planned the December 1941 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, that killed more than 2,400 Americans. (1) Yamamoto also had planned a bold attack on Midway in mid-1942, the success of which would have resulted in flying Japanese flags over the Hawaiian Islands. Fortunately, United States intelligence had already broken the Japanese code and learned of the operation in advance. (2) The information allowed the U.S. Navy to destroy four of Japan's aircraft carriers, and put Japan on the defensive for the first time in the war. (3) United States intelligence units continued to intercept and decode Japanese naval messages. On April 13, USMC Major Alva B. Lasswell, one of the intelligence analysts at Pearl Harbor's Fleet Radio Unit, Pacific, received and decoded a message from the commander of the Japanese Southeastern Air Fleet. (4) The message noted that on April 18, Admiral Yamamoto would be flying from the Japanese-held island of Rabaul to the island of Bougainville, the closest he had ever come to the U.S. front lines. It mentioned that Yamamoto would be in a medium attack bomber, escorted by six fighters, and even specified his times of arrival at each base. The Japanese admiral had a reputation for punctuality. If Yamamoto was scheduled to be at a certain place at a certain time, one could count on his being there. (5)