Battle of Midway III

Lead: In the late spring of 1942, two great armadas met off the Midway Islands.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Isoroku Yamamoto opposed the war with America. He had served as Naval Attaché at the Japanese Embassy in Washington and knew first-hand how lethal was the power of the giant American democracy once awakened. However, when the decision to go to war was made he insisted that Japan’s only hope for victory was a surprise attack which would cripple U.S. forces in the Pacific. Pearl Harbor proved him right but he had missed the American aircraft carriers on December 7th, because they were at sea on maneuvers. Yamamoto was back in the Central Pacific in late May 1942 to take out those carriers and to establish an early warning picket line anchored by the two tiny Midway Islands at the tip of the Hawaiian archipelago 1300 miles northeast of Honolulu.

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Battle of Midway II

Lead: Samuel Johnson, the author of the first great English Dictionary once said, “the prospect of hanging clears the mind, wonderfully.” In the early summer of 1942 with two great armadas converging on Midway Island, the mind of the Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was very clear.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Since civilian Eugene Ely first flew an airplane off a specially constructed platform on the USS Birmingham in November 1910, aircraft carriers played an increasingly important role in strategic planning. If there were any lingering doubts as to the value of the aircraft carrier, these doubts departed with the Japanese dive bombers leaving Hawaii on December 7, 1941. The Japanese attack was very destructive but it failed to take out the greatest prize of all. The three aircraft carriers assigned to the U.S. Pacific fleet were out at sea when Pearl Harbor was pulverized. In the early summer of 1942, a fleet under Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto returned to the Central Pacific to provoke a battle which he was confident he could win, take out those carriers, and establish an early warning line using the Midway Islands as an anchor.

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Battle of Midway I

Lead: In the early summer of 1942 United States forces in the Pacific could have been defeated at the distant tip of the Hawaiian archipelago.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: When the last Japanese dive bombers departed through the smoke that billowed from the ruined U.S. Naval Station at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, they left a job undone. While the line of battleships was hard hit and some of vessels such as the USS Arizona were lost for good, battleships were headed for a diminished role in strategic military planning. Hickam and Wheeler Air Fields were filled with many burning wrecks, but the aircraft could be easily replaced. Japanese had missed the greatest prize. Three aircraft carriers assigned to the Pacific fleet were absent on that fateful Sunday morning and to the Japanese command these ships remained a deadly threat.

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Sinking of the Patria

Lead: In late 1940, 267 Jewish refugees desperately trying to enter Palestine died when the ocean liner Patria was sabotaged in harbor of Haifa.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the dark early days of World War II, many Jews sensing the closing trap of Fascist hostility and the strange hesitation to provide a haven for Jews that seemed to grip the United States and England, tried to emigrate to Palestine. This region, at that time, was administered under a League of Nations mandate. Holding the mandate was a highly conflicted Great Britain. Sympathy for the plight of European Jews over the centuries had led to the Balfour Declaration of 1917 which committed Britain to work for a refuge for Jews in Palestine. This was almost immediately neutralized by a Foreign Office White Paper, which recognized the legitimate rights of Arab Palestinians. As the power of Fascism in Germany and Italy grew so did the flood of Jewish immigrants trying to escape. War in 1939 made the need to flee more desperate and various Zionist groups such as Hagana and Mossad, organized transports which illegally smuggled refugees by sea into Palestine.

 

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Spruce Goose II

Lead: With Allied shipping in serious jeopardy due to German submarine attacks during the early years of World War II, military planners turned to aircraft manufacturers. Howard Hughes responded with the Spruce Goose.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Metal for the construction of experimental aircraft was scarce in 1942. Therefore, when the designers at Hughes Aircraft began their mock-up of the gigantic new cargo plane, they built their model using Duramold, lightweight plywood saturated with synthetic glue to make it waterproof and very strong. The basic airframe had no nails, screws or rivets, no metal at all. Skilled woodworkers crafted special joints that were bonded with glue for strength.

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Spruce Goose I

Lead: Of all the problems the Allies faced in the summer of 1942, none was more threatening than unrestrained submarine warfare. German U-boats were sinking transport ships faster than they could be built.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Fresh challenges seemed to inspire Howard Robard Hughes, Jr.. At the age of 17 he took control of the Hughes Tool Company upon the death of his father. This provided the financial base for Howard's other interests. In 1926 he migrated to Hollywood where over the years he produced numerous motion pictures and premiered actors such as Jean Harlow and Jane Russell. Hughes eventually owned and later sold RKO Pictures.

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Kalashnikov Semi-Automatic Rifle II

Lead: Originally designed to help the Soviet army best the Germans in World War II, the AK-47 has become the weapon of choice for insurgent forces world-wide.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: An automatic weapon, in particular the AK-47, has a relatively simple operating mechanism. When a firing pin hits the cartridge primer, the exploding gunpowder creates a wave of gas which propels the bullet out of the barrel at enormous speed. Caught between the bullet and the cartridge, the gas builds up pressure because it has no place to go. Near the muzzle there is a small opening which bleeds off some of the gas into a tube above or below the barrel. The pressure of the gas in the tube pushes the bolt backward, ejecting the spent cartridge and opening the firing chamber to receive a fresh cartridge from the magazine which is pushed upward into the chamber by a spring. As long as the trigger is depressed, the process repeats itself over and over.

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