Guide Across the Pacific

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Like the NASA engineers and astronauts who would later put a man on the moon in less than a decade, these earlier aviation pioneers built new aircraft, invented new technologies and overcame innumerable obstacles. They had begun in with a single, mile airmail route.

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How did they do it? That is the story of this film.

Though these odd aquatic aircraft may seem like nostalgic curiosities today, they played a critical role in the early days of commercial flight, particularly overseas. To cross the Pacific, Pan Am needed navigational methods that would allow its pilots to find their way unerringly across thousands of miles of trackless ocean. Leuteritz, before almost anyone else, realized the secret lay in radio — a technology that would be at the heart of virtually every navigational technique developed since the s.

By Edward S.

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Annapolis, Md. Douglas MacArthur.

IFC in the Pacific

The fact is, however, that until he was taught otherwise by his Japanese opponents and a handful of visionaries in the United States Navy, MacArthur, like most commanders of his time, looked on amphibious warfare as a tactical nightmare to be avoided at all costs. The disastrous World War I campaign of , in which Allied troops were repelled from the Gallipoli Peninsula of Turkey, had taught them that. The real heavy thinking in the years before the war about how to puncture the defenses of Japan -- should it pursue a course of aggressive expansion -- was done by relatively anonymous men who doped out a succession of contingency plans dubbed "War Plan Orange" originating as far back as Japan was designated Orange.

Now, in a masterly study of the evolution of "history's most successful war plan," Edward S.

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Miller, a retired mining executive who is well schooled in long-range planning, has pieced together the story in a way that would make any professional historian proud. Devising the trans-Pacific campaign was not a steady inching toward enlightenment, as Mr. Miller tells it.

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  4. It was just as zigzag and unpredictable as the paths eventually blazed by American forces during the war. Soon after the United States acquired the Philippines and Guam in the war with Spain , American officers came to realize that their new colonial toys were a great deal closer to Japan than to California.

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    What should we do, they asked themselves, if Japan tries to snatch them? There were two schools of thought. The "thrusters," as Mr. Miller calls them, were led by such eminences as Adm. George Dewey and Adm.

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    Alfred Thayer Mahan. Inspired partly by dreams of glory and the Nelsonian tradition of audacity, and partly by the political imperative of not seeming to abandon the Philippines -- "an outpost of Christianity" -- they tossed professional acumen to the wind and proposed a suicidal 5,mile naval charge from Hawaii to the relief of Manila. On the other hand, the "cautionaries," led by younger officers, refused to ignore the ineluctable fact that a battle fleet's power diminishes in direct proportion to the distance it travels from its nearest base.

    Consequently, they proposed a more rational, if time-consuming, step-by-step advance across the Pacific by way of mobile bases set up on intermediate islands.

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