Book Review
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Tora! Tora! Tora! – Pearl Harbor 1941
  • move

by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Tora! Tora! Tora! – Pearl Harbor 1941
Raid 26
Author: Mark Stille
Illustrators: Jim Laurier and Tim Brown
80 Pages

Also available via e-book and with an iTunes app!

Pearl Harbor is on the short list of traumatic events in American history. It is synonymous with both international treachery, excellence of execution, incredible recovery, and top leadership bumbling. It is considered the masterwork of Admiral Yamamoto. In this new study of the raid, Mark Stille confirms and shatters long held beliefs about the attack in a detailed analysis with numerous photographs, diagrams, maps, and artwork.

Scores of books have dealt with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Mark Stille has several books with Osprey about naval history in the Pacific. He reexamines the attack and its varied aspects with detail without being overwhelming. For each component of the attack he presents a brief critique. I will not recount everything I found of note; some of these are surprising and defy past beliefs, such as:

    1. Although Adm. Yamamoto did create and execute a brilliant attack in the face of severe opposition, he inexplicably put the entire operation at risk by including midget submarines; only US bumbling prevented the discovery of the midget subs from giving several hours warning.
    2. Vaunted Japanese Type 0 fighters did not start the war well – when eight Zeros fought four P-36s they lost two against one American.
    3. Despite their incredible performance in the Indian Ocean a couple of months later, the highly trained dive-bomber pilots could hardly hit moored ships.
    4. The Japanese pilots widely showed a lack of professional judgment in selecting proper targets.
    5. Despite one destroying the USS Arizona, the 800kg battleship shells converted to aerial bombs were a failure.
    6. The Royal Navy aerial torpedo attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto was not the inspiration for the attack.
    7. The significant Japanese submarine contingent contributed nothing.

The attack is narrated in detail. Mr. Stille recounts some individual actions such as how Soryu aircraft got in the way of the 9th Kaga torpedo plane, which torpedoed USS Nevada, then was shot down; yet another Type 97 had to jettison its torpedo to take evasive action to avoid a midair collision with other planes. Plenty of similar accounts personalizes the battle. No personal quotes or statements are included, though.

The text is well written, expertly researched, and easily read. While there are some minor typos, a glaring mistake dates the British attack on Taranto as 1941—a year off.

Tora! Tora! Tora! – Pearl Harbor 1941 is presented in 80 pages and 8 chapters, including:

    • Introduction
    1. Origins
    2. Initial Strategy
    3. Early Planning
    4. The Plan
    5. The Raid
    6. The Accounting
    7. Analysis
    8. Conclusion
    • Bibliography
    • Index

Several charts break down the information:

    I. Organization of the Pearl Harbor Attack Force (First and second aerial attack waves, aircraft per carrier, unit commanders)
    II. First Carrier Striking Force (Hawaii Operation)
    III. Japanese Aircraft Losses by Carrier and Type
    IV. List of Ships Sunk or Damaged

Photos, Maps and Illustrations

Plenty here. Almost every page has a sidebar telling the time and date of a particular action. While most of the photographs are well known, there are a few that are new to me. A few are even color photos. Considering the circumstances of exposure, almost all are very high quality.
Several maps are presented, including Osprey’s ‘Bird’s Eye Views’:

    I. Primary Defense Installations and Air Order of Battle on Oahu
    II. The Japanese Attack Plan
    III. Route of the First Carrier Striking Force
    IV. Pearl Harbor Ship Locations, 0755hrs, December 7, 1941
    V. First Attack Wave Against Targets In Pearl Harbor 0750-0811hrs, December 7, 1941
    VI. Second Attack Wave Against Targets In Pearl Harbor 0848-0920hrs, December 7, 1941

Finally, beautiful and dramatic illustrations by artists Jim Laurier and Tim Brown:

    A. Two color profiles each of Zeros, dive-bombers, and torpedo planes
    B. A dramatic view of Battleship Row from underneath a torpedo plane just as the torpedo is released
    C. USS Ward engaging a midget sub

The cover art is one of the finest works that I have seen on an Osprey book.

When this title was announced I could not wait to get a copy and I have not been disappointed! On this eve of the 70th anniversary of The Day of Infamy, military historians, modelers, and students of that tragic day should find this to be an excellent source about the attack. It opened my eyes and changed my view about a few things, especially Yamamoto. The couple of typos don't detract from the work. The selection of photographs is excellent. The maps are clear and informative, the artwork is exceptional. I absolutely recommend this book!

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on
Highs: Well researched, detailed, easily read text. The selection of photographs is excellent. The maps are clear and informative, the artwork is exceptional.
Lows: A couple of typos.
Verdict: A thoroughly well presented detailed story of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 9781849085090
  Suggested Retail: $18.95, 11.99 GBP
  PUBLISHED: Dec 23, 2011
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

View This Item  |  View Vendor Homepage  |  More Reviews  

About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.


Aloha All, Mark did a nice job to update Carl Smith's PEARL HARBOR 1941 (1999)...which I rewrote in 2001... I shipped to Mark several texts which added more than my own text...Mark also added material from Alan Zimm's new book. For the newbie, this volume is a great beginning. Like any book, errors creep into the text, illustrations, and captions. However, the newbie may not notice these. Great job, Mark, Cheers, David Aiken
DEC 27, 2011 - 04:53 AM

Click image to enlarge
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move