Nicely dramatized story of the monster Japanese submarines that were trained on the American mainland at the end of World War II.
Aviation scholar, researcher and journalist Geoghegan has scoured the archives to present a little-touted facet of Japanese naval history that offers a fascinating glimpse into the workings of the Japanese mindset at the endgame of the war. After Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto engineered the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, his next gambling idea was to bomb American cities so that “the American people [would] surely lose their will to fight.” A superfuel-carrying submarine that could double as an aircraft carrier was needed for such an ambitious, risky enterprise, and thus, a series of I-400 supersubs came under intensive design and construction well into 1943. While the Japanese were flirting with other bombing raids over the Oregon coast, time was running out; the Americans scored victory at Midway, among others, and Yamamoto had been ambushed, forcing a scale back of the I-400s; yet completing the first supersubs became a point of honor, even as the tide was turning for the Axis powers. Special attack planes called Seiran were tested to accompany the pair of subs, which were finally ready by January 1945. Geoghegan pursues the fate of the I-401 on its last mission in August 1945, manned by the incompatible pair of commanders Nobukiyo Nambu and Tatsunosuke Ariizumi, for whom the news of the Japanese emperor’s capitulation prompted two competing reactions as the sub was pursued by the American patrol sub Segundo, skippered by the young commander, Stephen Lobdell Johnson, who was “brash with a cockiness that put his crew on edge.”
An exciting narrative of a naval showdown revealing hubris and humility on both sides.