The Philippines, in December of 1941, was a country unprepared for war. Before Japan’s attack, few air bases could handle bombers. When the war began, the entire island chain had seven radar sets, but only two were working.

Filipino air watchers served as the early-warning system. Stationed at strategic points around the islands, they called-in (or telegraphed) plane movements which ultimately were reported to commanders at Clark Field, the main American base (on Luzon).

Not only was the air-warning system primitive, there were too few anti-aircraft units in the Philippines to effectively defend the country. Because it was imperative to protect Clark Field and the Manila Bay area, the two anti-aircraft squadrons were positioned there, leaving the rest of the territory completely vulnerable.

The Navy had ships in Manila Bay, but they would never be able to match forces with the Japanese combined fleet. Marines, stationed in China, could help - but they were otherwise occupied.

The islands did have about 275 planes - more than Hawaii and Panama had at the time - but many of the parts were still in other ports. Among aircraft assigned to the Philippines were:

 Two days before Pearl Harbor, General Marshall wrote a letter (dated December 5, 1941) to General MacArthur, advising that reinforcements would soon be on their way.  Closing his letter, Marshall wrote:

I assure you of my purpose to meet to the fullest extent possible your recommendations for personnel and equipment necessary to defend the Philippines.

The letter was never sent.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5186stories and lessons created

Original Release: Aug 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: May 21, 2015

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"UNPREPARED FOR WAR" AwesomeStories.com. Aug 01, 2005. Jun 24, 2019.
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