Hara Chuichi (1889-1964)

Photograph of Hara Chuichi

Naval Historical Center #NH 62798.

Cropped by author.

Hara Chuichi (Hara Tadaichi) was commander of Carrier Division 5 (Zuikaku and Shokaku) in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He later wrote of the attack that it "did not fit any thinking that I knew to be right," believing that "we won a great tactical victory at Pearl Harbor and thereby lost the war."  Historians have largely come to share this view. 

Hara’s carriers fought at Coral Sea, where he found himself under the command of his close friend Takagi Takeo, but the carriers suffered sufficient aircrew attrition and combat damage that they were not present at the disastrous Battle of Midway.  Hara flew his flag from the Ryujo in the battle of the Eastern Solomons, where she was sunk. Following the battle, Hara was posted back to Japan to a training command.

In February of 1944, Hara was made commander of 4 Fleet at Truk, but his command became increasingly irrelevant as the Mandates were bypassed by the Allies (Leckie 1962):

The seasons do not change. I try to look like a proud vice admiral, but it is hard with a potato hook in my hands. It rains every day, the flowers bloom every day, the enemy bombs us every day — so why remember?

He remained at this post until the end of the war.

Like almost every other Japanese carrier commander of the war, Hara was not an aviator, but a torpedo expert like Nagumo. However, he had an intelligent and flexible mind and had commanded carriers long enough by the time the war broke out to have some familiarity with their strengths and weaknesses.  He had made his reputation as a staff officer in China between 1938 and 1940, where he had drawn some wrath to himself by opposing the escalation of hostilities and refusing to send inflammatory Army dispatches over his ship’s radio. Genda Minoru, who planned the Pearl Harbor attack, said that "He looked tough, but he did not have the tiger's heart" (Prange 1981). Hara occasionally drank to excess, and his behavior while drunk as well as his heavy build may have accounted for his nickname, "King Kong."

Service record

1889-3-15   born
Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 85th out of a class of 148. Assigned to CA Aso
1912-3.29   BC Ibuki
1912-12-1 Ensign BB Settsu
1913-12-1   CA Akashi
1914-12-1 Lieutenant junior grade     
Torpedo School Basic Course
1915-5-26   Gunnery School Basic Course
1915-12-13   DD Asakaze
1916-9-1   CA Yakumo
1917-9-10   Kongo
1917-12-1   Submarine Division 3
1918-12-1 Lieutenant Torpedo School Advanced Course
1919-12-1   Torpedo School Specialist Course
1920-12-1   Hakaze
1921-11-1   Yukaze
1922-12-1   Oi
1923-11-10   Instructor, Torpedo School
1924-12-1 Lieutenant commander     
Naval College A Course
1926-12-1   Commander, Tsuga
1927-12-1   Staff, 2 Fleet
1928-12-10   Staff, Destroyer Squadron 1
1929-11-30 Commander Instructor, Torpedo and Gunnery Schools
1932-12-1   Commander, Ataka
1933-10-20   Staff, Cruiser Division 11
1933-11-15 Captain  
1933-12-20   Trip to Europe, United States
1934-11-1   Commander, Tatsuta
1935-11-15   Chief of staff, Ryojun Guard District
1937-12-1   Staff, Naval Shipbuilding Command
1938-9-15   Staff, 5 Fleet
1939-3-10   Inspector, Asian Development Agency
1939-11-15 Rear admiral
Chief of staff, 2 China Fleet
1941-8-13   Staff, 1 Air Fleet
1941-9-1   Commander, Carrier Division 5
1942-7-14   Commander, Cruiser Division 8
1942-11-1 Vice admiral
1943-3-15   Navy General Staff
1943-5-18   Commander, 11 Combined Air Group
1944-2-19   Commander, 4 Fleet
1964-2-17   Dies


Hara (1961)

Leckie (1962)

Lundstrom (2006)

Materials of IJN (accessed 2008-2-18)

Prange (1981)

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