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Japanese Midget Submarines in Pearl Harbor

Discussion in 'Pearl Harbor' started by kimfdim, Aug 13, 2008.

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  1. kimfdim

    kimfdim Member

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    Let me preface this post by letting you know that I have spent the last 10 years studying Germany and the Third Reich in WWII (and still don't know crap!)...just recently I began to become interested in other aspects of WWII. Previously, I only watched documentaries/read books pertaining to Germany. Now I watch everything! (my tivo is packed, by the way...and yes, I do burn the good ones to DVD! My hubby thinks I'm sick! Actually, he jokingly tells me I was a Luftwaffe pilot shot down re-incarnated - this is how he explains my fear of planes and obsession to understand why the Germans bought into Hitler's sick ideals. Talk about insult!:rolleyes:)

    So....I need an opinion as I really don't know much outside of Germany...
    I am watching a program I tivo'd off Military Channel - Unsolved History: Myths of Pearl Harbor. In this program, the producers are showcasing a theory that 5 Japanese midget submarines were deployed to Pearl Harbor more than an hour before the arial attack and that this early warning of the coming arial attack went un-heeded. The two man submarines ran on battery alone and held only two torpedos each. The men operating the subs were instructed to engage the self-destruction schematics in the event that they were caught so as not to be captured. The program states that one of the midget subs, an hour before the arial attack, actually fired two torpedos at a ship in the harbor, missed, were detected and were shot at, thus destroying them. Supposedly, the sub was not confirmed as actually hit at the time (it was located years later underwater), but one of the crew washed up on shore barely alive and was taken captive. Incidentally, the program touted that this man was the first POW of Pearl Harbor. So, basically, the program is stating that the disaster at Pearl Harbor was initiated by the US (as they shot first, however, I understand that the torpedo's were launched towards the ship first and missed????:confused:) and the first fight began in the water, not the air. They even did air interviews by the US veterans who were involved in this as thier supporting documentation.
    Now, supposedly, there were 5 midget subs. The fate of the first sub was explained above, I didn't really catch what happened to the next three - I believe they were destroyed also. But the 5th sub is debated to have actually entered the harbor...they were using a picture that had been analyzed - and of course, there were people both supporting and debunking this whole theory based on a photo - but supposedly, the 5th sub did actually fire two torpedos, actually hitting battleships.

    Now....since I do not know much about Pearl Harbor and am trying to be very careful where I get my information...I am seeking the opinions of you fine folks. Especially those that may have watched this show. Did this really happen? If it did, why is it not common knowledge? Without sounding paranoid...was this covered up for some reason? Does this have something to do with the "conspiracy" that is being discussed in the other active Pearl Harbor thread? I really don't want to believe everything I hear...I would love to hear some opinions!

    Lisa
     
  2. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Lisa, that is an old show and has not been updated. While the "photographic" reconstruciton left the idea of a sub in the harbor rather undecided, all the subs have been found and documented. The four that were underwater are considered "war graves" and will neither be raised nor disturbed.

    None were in the harbor, and the guy didn't wash ashore exactly, his sub did whereupon he was captured. He was the longest held Japanese POW in American hands. I believe his commander set the charges to scuttle the little sub, committed suicide, but the charges didn't go off. So this poor guy was washed ashore in his dead sub, with his dead commander. He was interviewed post-war and was amazed at how well he was treated by his American captors. He expected to be tortured and executed. Oh well, we (Americans) aren't the bad guys all the time.
     
  3. kimfdim

    kimfdim Member

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    thanks for updating this show and setting me straight, Clint. I really hate when they run old shows with old info! That's where you guys come in handy!

    Oh, and sorry for sounding so green about it!

    Lisa
     
  4. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    LOL. Thats ok. Take everything that you see on THC or the Military Channel with a grain of salt.
     
  5. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    A huge amen to that! Check my sig for some sites on Pearl Harbor if you're interested in the events. :)
     
  6. rainbowtrout

    rainbowtrout Member

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    I do not know where this fits in, other than trivia: The USS Ward fired on a midget submarine right before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. SUE
     
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    You can read Capt. Outerbridge's testimony here:
    WARD'S ATTACK ON MIDGET SUB

    Further information available:

    The PEARL HARBOR ATTACK HEARINGS
     
  8. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I usually use two grains!
     
  9. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I use ~350!:D

    "Black powder is smokin'!"
    "Powder to the people!"

    (Okay, it's early, I'm tired and the coffee hasn't kicked in yet. :p)
     
  10. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    I wish some people would be made more aware about the programs and how accurate they are :(.
     
  11. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    My rule of thumb on watching "documentaries", regardless of the channel on which they appear, is to view them as entertainment, not serious sources of historical fact. I do not consider the citation of documentary films as proper support for an historical argument.
     
  12. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Thats been tried by others here before and those quoting so have been let known that the majority of fellow posters here feel the same way.
     
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    My wife used to hide when a mockumentary on Pearl Harbor came on. She bought me a set of "TV Bricks" to save the boob tube from immediate damage. It still earned a Purple Heart with three stars. :cool:
     
  14. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    "mockumentary", cute as all get out! Now, I won't try to be anything here as per "expert" and those odd spurts captured on the film which were attempted to be explained as the propellers on a "midget sub" when it released a torp. From that program where they showed the water spurts in the film.

    Is it not also possible that one of the air dropped torps with their ad hoc "wooden fins" didn't perform as expected? And one of them became a sort of a "porpise", producing that "spurt" shallow water effect until a wooden fin set completely broke away as designed?

    Just a guess on my part. Thanks for your input!
     
  15. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Danilo Vergilio did a very nice drawing of the modified torpedoes. It's in the Pearl Harbor Anniversary edition of Naval History magazine. (Dec. 1991, IIRC.) Worth a look. (DV was (or still is) an employee of the National Park service at Pearl Harbor.)

    The Japanese pilots were worried about porpising. And I think that picture is an example of such. Given that all the midgets have been accounted for now, it's the prime candidate for such. The Japanese Ordnance people were under great pressure to produce enough of the torpedoes, and under such conditions even the highly-vaunted Japanese methodicalness could suffer a break down. Plus beng in unheated hangar decks (in a saltwater environment) from Hittokapu Bay to the launch point could have had an effect on the ad hoc design.
     
  16. willhclark

    willhclark recruit

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    In fact, the 5th Japanese midget Submarine was never found!!! and remains a mystery...

    We do know that at least one of the midget subs did penetrate the harbor as it was sunk there and perhaps 2 others were reported at the harbor entrance.
    Ko-hyoteki class submarine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  17. ramborob17

    ramborob17 Member

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    Interesting topic. I don't know too much about the Japanese side of the war. I have spent most of my time studying the war in Europe. I have also seen this "documentary" on the midget subs as well. It was quite a while back when I saw it though.

    There is actually a midget sub at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg Texas that I was fortunate enough to see first hand. I am guessing that they still have it there, its been 4 or 5 years since my last visit. It is amazing how small it is. Here is a picture of it on their site, couldn't seem to find any others.

    Welcome to the National Museum of the Pacific War!


    Also if you are interested in reading a bit about how the Japanese handled prisoners I would recommend this book. Its called "Sorties Into Hell" I just recently finished it. It was a pretty good book about the war crimes committed on Chi Chi Jima to downed pilots. It has nothing to do with your midget sub question but I saw that Japanese POWs were mentioned and saw that you haven't done too much research on the Japanese. I thought it might be a good read for you.
     
  18. willhclark

    willhclark recruit

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  19. willhclark

    willhclark recruit

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    FROM http://www.nps.gov/history/maritime/nhl/ha19nhl.htm

    "Japanese Midget Submarines and the Pearl Harbor Attack

    The development of submersible craft as weapons for naval warfare began with the construction of small vessels. From Bushnell's "Turtle" and Capt. Horace Lawson Hunley's Confederate David, through John Holland's Fenian Ram and Holland I, submersibles grew larger, achieving greater size and effective use by the time of the First World War. The success of the "submarine" during the war led to increased programs of development and construction by various nations. In Japan, submarine development included "midget" submarines; "while some scoffed at the potential of small undersea craft, others were deadly serious in a belief in their capability of dealing destructive blows to the enemy." [11] In 1933, Capt. Kishimoto Kaneji, I.J.N., designed two torpedoshaped midgets as auxiliary weapons to be carried by fast surface vessels. Built in 1934 at Kure Navy Yard and known as "A-Hyoteki," or "A-Target," these vessels, with conning towers fitted as a result of experimentation, led to a later version, "A-Hyotelei," wherein two submarines, HA-1 and HA-2, were built in 1936. The midget program, operating under stringent security, commenced in earnest in 1938 as Ourazaki and Kure DY began the construction of 49 Type A vessels, HA-3 through HA-52. Among the vessels built during this initial burst of construction was HA-19, which would later participate in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The beginning of the Second World War led to increased midget construction, including Type-A, Type-B, Type-C, and Type-D boats, several experimental prototypes, and Kaiten type manned torpedoes. [2]

    Following Adm. Isoruko Yamamoto's determination to attack the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor as the opening blow of a war with the United States, military and naval planners began assembling the plan for the attack, which was designated "Operation Hawaii." Initially conceived as an air strike, the plan was modified to combat test the hitherto untested Type A midget submarines. The crews of the midgets, readying for war but not yet knowing their target, were notified in mid-October 1941 to concentrate their training on Pearl Harbor and Singapore while the Sixth Submarine Fleet's large submarines were modified to carry the midgets, piggy-back, across the Pacific. Doubts about using the midget submarines plagued the Japanese planners, and as late as November 14, the final decision to employ them was not made. On November 18, 1941, the mother submarines, each with a midget directly aft of the conning towers, attached to the deck by steel belts, departed Kure Navy Base for Pearl Harbor. [3]

    Five I-class fleet submarines, I-16, I-18, I-20, I-22, and I-24 of the First Submarine Squadron, Sixth Submarine Fleet, each carrying a Type A midget, were designated as the "Special Attack Force." The midget submarines' mission was to covertly slip into Pearl Harbor, wait until the attack, and then each launch their two torpedoes. They would then navigate submerged, counterclockwise around Ford Island, escape, and meet up with their mother subs some seven miles west of Lanai Island. Reaching their destination on December 5, 1941, the five submarines fanned out in their deployment pattern off Pearl Harbor, closing to within 10 miles of the harbor entrance. [4]

    The first midget submarine launched was from I-16. Manned by Ens. Masaharu Yokoyama and Petty Officer 2nd Class Tei Uyeda, the midget left at midnight. At 1:16, I-22 released the midget commanded by Lt. Naoji Iwasa, leader of the midget submarines. At 2:15, I-18 launched the third midget, that of Ens. Shigemi Furuno and Petty Officer 1st Class Shigenori Yokoyama. At 2:57, the fourth midget submarine was launched from I-20. This midget was commanded by Ens. Akira Hiroo and Petty Officer 2nd Class Yoshio Katayama. Last to launch was HA-19 from I-24 at 3:33. Commanded by Ens. Kazuo Sakamaki and Chief Warrant Officer Kiyoshi Inagaki, HA-19 slipped off the deck of I-24 some 10-1/2 miles off Pearl Harbor and headed for the lights of Honolulu. [5]

    One of the fears of the planners of the attack was that the presence of the submarines would give away the Japanese intent. The fear was justified; however, U.S. forces did not understand the significance of sighting, firing upon, and sinking a submarine within the Pearl Harbor defensive zone until too late. The first midget submarine sighting was by the minesweeper USS Condor. At 3:42, one and three-quarter miles south of the Pearl Harbor entrance buoys, Condor spotted a periscope. The minesweeper notified the destroyer USS Ward, whose commander, Capt. William Outerbridge, searched without success until 4:45. The next sighting came one hour later. At 5:45, USS Antares' crew, towing a target into the harbor, spotted a submarine following them in. The submarine's conning tower was exposed. A seaplane spotter dropped smoke pots off the submarine at 6:33, giving USS Ward a fix. At 6:37, Ward spotted the midget behind Antares at 12 knots, obviously making a run for the harbor. Captain Outerbridge made a decision in just three minutes to attack. Sounding general quarters at 6:40, Ward's engines surged full ahead as the gun crews loaded the deck guns. No. 1 gun opened fire and missed at 6:45; immediately No. 3 gun fired, hitting the submarine at the conning tower's junction with the hull. The submarine heeled to starboard, slowed, and sank. Ward depth-charged the sinking vessel as it plunged into some 1200 feet of water, and at 6:46 ceased fire. The United States Navy, which had traded shots with German U-Boats in the Atlantic and probably had sunk one, had just made its first confirmed kill in World War II; the opening shots of the war preceded the air attack at Pearl Harbor by an hour. Outerbridge sent a message to CINCPAC at 6:51; "We have dropped depth charges upon sub operating in defensive sea area." An amended message was sent at 6:53; "We have attacked, fired upon, and dropped depth charges upon submarine operating in defensive sea area." Advance warning of an attack was unfortunately not heeded, and at 7:50, the first wave of Japanese planes hit Pearl Harbor and other military bases on the island of Oahu. [6]

    At 8:17, the destroyer USS Helm's crew spotted a midget submarine hung up on the starboard side of the channel entrance. The submarine submerged but immediately popped up again at 8:18. Helm fired upon the submarine, but it submerged again and slipped away. Meanwhile, inside the harbor, USS Zane, a minesweeper, spotted another midget submarine 200 yards aft of USS Medusa at Berth K-23 at 8:30. Zane's report was noted, and at 8:32, CINCPAC sent out the alert "Japanese submarine in harbor." The seaplane tender USS Curtiss opened fire at a midget submarine inside the harbor at 8:36; the submarine fired a torpedo at Curtiss that missed. As Curtiss brought additional guns to bear, the destroyer USS Monaghan spotted the submarine and ran full speed toward it in an attempt to ram. Just as the submarine surfaced, damaged by Curtiss's shot to the conning tower, Monaghan struck it a glancing blow as a second torpedo passed harmlessly beneath the destroyer and exploded on the bank. Dropping two depth charges, Monaghan finished off the midget submarine. [7]

    Outside the harbor, other Navy vessels were busily depth charging numerous submarine "contacts." At 10:04, for example, the cruiser USS St. Louis was missed by two torpedoes. Spotting a midget submarine, the crew fired upon and apparently sank it. USS Ward, whose crew claimed first blood at Pearl Harbor, depth charged four separate "contacts" between 10:20 and 11:50. At 17:15, USS Case depth charged another target. Meanwhile, aboard the mother submarines, the Special Attack Force awaited news from their comrades. At 22:41, I-16 received a radio message from the midget submarine commanded by Ensign Yokoyama, "successful surprise attack." [8] According to historian Gordon W. Prang:
    On this slender evidence the Japanese Navy concluded that at least three midget submarines had penetrated Pearl Harbor and, after the air raid, had inflicted severe damage, including the destruction of a capital ship. Quickly the word spread that the minisubs had sunk the Arizona. During the spring of 1942, the Japanese Navy released this to the press, and the midget submariners were venerated as veritable gods, to the resentment of the fliers, who knew exactly when and under what circumstances the Arizona had exploded. [9]

    While the submariners were venerated as the "heroes of Pearl Harbor" by Japanese and German propagandists, the actual record was dismal; the midget submarines did not achieve any success at Pearl Harbor. On the evening of December 7 and 8, the mother I-submarines met at the Lanai Island rendezvous, but the midgets did not return. The last contact was by radio at 1:11 on December 8 when 1-16 heard from Ensign Yokoyama once again. By that time, Yokoyama and his crewman, and Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki and Chief Warrant Officer Inagaki in HA-19 were probably the last midget submariners left alive.

    Designated "Midgets A through E" by the United States Navy (for the order in which the U.S. encountered them) the midget submarines were or have been gradually accounted for. "Midget A," sunk by USS Ward, has possibly been located in 850 feet of water by a joint U.S. Navy/National Park Service submerged cultural resources survey of Pearl Harbor in the Summer of 1988. Immediately after the attack, "Midget B," rammed and sunk by USS Monaghan, was raised and buried in landfill at the Submarine Base in 1942. Subsequently disinterred and then reburied again, the midget still lies in coral and sand fill as a permanent part of the base it attacked. "Midget C." HA-19, washed ashore on December 8 and was captured. That midget submarine is the subject of this study. "Midget D" was located by Navy divers on a training exercise in 1960. Raised, it was returned to Japan and is now a memorial at the Submarine School at Eta Jima. Only "Midget E"'s location is unknown; if Ensign Yokoyama slipped out to sea in a failed attempt to rendezvous with the mother subs, "E" might hold his remains. [10]

    The Misadventures of HA-19 and Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki

    The last midget submarine launched by a mother submarine was HA-19, commanded and piloted by Ensign Sakamaki and crewed by Chief Warrant Officer Inagaki. While still aboard I-22, Sakamaki and Inagaki had learned that HA-19's gyro compass, a critical navigational aid, was out of order. Defying attempts at repair, the compass was still out of order as the time to depart for Pearl Harbor approached. Lt. Cmdr. Hiroshi Hanabusa, commanding I-22, asked what Sakamaki intended to do. "We will go,' Sakamaki declared firmly, whereupon Hanabusa, fired by the young man's enthusiasm, shouted with him, on to Pearl Harbor!" [11] The midget, with Sakamaki and Inagaki aboard, launched at 3:33 hours, Dec. 7th, and almost immediately began to sink, nose down. As the midget approached the 100-foot limit of its pressure hull, Sakamaki and Inagaki hauled the lead ballast pigs aft in an effort to correct the trim. Succeeding, they surfaced, took bearings of Honolulu's lights, and headed toward Pearl Harbor's entrance. Fighting to keep the submarine from surfacing, and navigating in circles because of the malfunctioning gyro compass, Sakamaki and Inagaki finally reached the harbor entrance at 7:00.

    Running at periscope depth, Sakamaki managed to navigate the entrance without being spotted by patrol craft, but nonetheless could not make Pearl Harbor before the air attack commenced. striking three times on submerged coral reefs at the entrance, Sakamaki surfaced just after 8:00. There, HA-19, aground and with propellers spinning in r everse, was spotted by USS Helm. The shots fired by Helm missed but blasted the midget off the reef, disabled one of the torpedo firing mechanisms, and knocked Ensign Sakamaki unconscious. [12]

    Regaining consciousness, Sakamaki saw billows of smoke from the burning ships in the harbor and pressed forward, only to run aground again. Backing off without being spotted, HA-19 once again ran for the harbor and grounded. Attempts to back off failed, and Sakamaki and Inagaki were forced to shift ballast one more time. Damaged, partially flooded, smoke-filled and reeking fumes from the batteries, the midget's interior was a shambles. Free at last, the midget would not answer its helm. Depth charged several times as it drifted through the defensive zone, HA-19's aborted role in the attack was over. The other torpedo's firing mechanism was now useless; as the midget swung in circles and drifted out of the harbor entrance, Sakamaki wept bitterly before he and Inagaki passed out from the bad air. Reviving in the evening, Sakamaki opened the hatch. Noting he was near land, the hapless ensign tried to beach his craft, but the engines died and HA-19 grounded on yet another coral reef. Ordering Inagaki to abandon ship, Sakamaki lit the fuses of the self-destruct charges and leapt into the surf. Calling to Inagaki, Sakamaki realized with despair that the charges had not exploded and his vessel was to fall into enemy hands. Separated from Inagaki, whose body washed ashore the next day, Sakamaki was battered into unconsciousness. On the morning of December 8, 1941, he woke on the beach with Sgt. David Akui standing guard over him. Ens. Kazoo Sakamaki, I.J.N., was the United States' first Second World War prisoner of war. [13]

    The submarine, aground on the reef, was bombed by Army planes. The bombs missed, but once again U.S. forces succeeded in freeing the vessel. Drifting ashore, HA-19 was captured by a salvage party from the Submarine Base at Pearl Harbor. Lines were secured to the vessel, and " ....plans for salvage were made. A demolition bomb in the after battery compartment was removed. It was found that the submarine consisted of three sections bolted together. By the aid of a jury mast, a heavy sled of 12- by 12-inch timbers, and an army tractor, the submarine was hauled higher on the beach. After considerable effort, the three sections of the submarine were unbolted, placed on trailers, and hauled to the Submarine Base." [14]

    At the same time, naval investigators recovered several documents, including a navigational chart of Pearl Harbor from the sub's interior. Ensign Sakamaki, imprisoned at Fort Shafter, was interrogated by Naval Intelligence. While "his revelations were less than earthshaking," the captured submarine provided allied intelligence with its first view of Japan's secret submersible weapon. The initial report on the captured midget submarine was produced on December 26, less than three weeks after the attack. [15] Shamed by his capture, and censured by his colleagues for that reason, Sakamaki briefly returned to Japan after his release. He now lives in Brazil."
     
  20. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    If I recall correctly, Sakamaki's sub is (or was) on display at the Nimitz Museum in Texas.
     

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