Pearl Harbour: Mystery Of The Killer Subs: On Target

April 9, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews


At first glance, it seems like a bit of strange title. Mystery Of The Killer Subs? Do they lurk in dark alleyways waiting to ambush unsuspecting drunkards on the way home from the pub? But in fact it’s a well-researched and compelling documentary that reveals that the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941 might have had slight more, um, depth than was initially expected.,

Most people think of the attack on Pearl Harbour as an aerial bombardment (not helped in part to Michael Bay’s glorified fireworks display of a movie by the same name).

But the discovery of a Japanese mini-sub missing for almost 70 years reignites a debate that there may be more to it than a simple airstrike but a two pronged bombardment, both naval and aerial.

What follows is CSI style investigation to find the truth behind the assault and the truth is like something out of a James Bond movie. Five mother subs were sent to Pearl Harbour, each carrying a smaller midget-sub, which were then eventually deployed and sent on their way.

These subs were supremely advanced technology for the time and could move twice as fast a normal submarine. Equipped with only two torpedoes, they were designed to penetrate behind enemy lines and cripple the fleet undetected.

But there’s a lot of argument over whether the sub was successful in its mission. There are interviews with survivors of the Pearl Harbour attacks who swear they saw torpedo trails in the water. But this conflicts with the photographic evidence which suggest that torpedoes were fired at a different ship.

It’s a wonderfully researched documentary and plumbs the depths of both US and Japanese military records with interviews from petty officers and former admirals on both sides of the conflict. And it’s also revealed that the Japanese submariners on board were hailed as heroes and almost deified back home – a titbit of information that I’ll bet very few people knew about.

The detective work by the scientists is marvellous to behold. The best of the best have been chipping away at the mystery for years – professors from Harvard, marine chemical experts and expects on extremely specialist fields all come together to collaborate on a mystery of one of the most significant events of WW2.

The way a complete picture of the event is created by some patient detective work, dogged persistence and advanced technology is constantly absorbing and each solution to a mystery gradually uncovers another one. Plus, you don’t have to put up with Ben Affleck for one second.