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Aviation Art Chronology- Pearl Harbour December 7 1941
A chronology of the attack on Pearl Harbour as depicted through aviation art
pete hill (formerly Bunter)
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‘Morning Thunder’  by Robert Taylor

Shortly after the attack began, the US Navy Tug USS Hoga (YT-146) left her berth at the navy-yard and proceeded to Battleship Row, her fire-fighting hoses spraying the massive fires burning on the West Virginia and the Arizona. She moved in alongside the badly damaged repair ship Vestal and, attaching cables to the latter, helped pull her away from Battleship Row and enabled her to get underway.

The Hoga’s next job was to tow the listing minesweeper Oglala away from the damaged cruiser Helena in order to clear the field of fire for the latter. Then she and another tug helped to move the badly crippled battleship Nevada over to the western side of the harbour entrance so as to prevent the warship sinking in the middle of the channel and potentially blocking it. The Hoga remained alongside the Nevada, her powerful fire-hoses dousing the fires of the warship’s upper decks. Afterwards she returned to Battleship Row and assisting in fighting fires continuously for the next 72 hours. The Hoga remained on duty for another week, her exhausted crew sleeping in relays, assisting in retrieving corpses from the harbour, clearing debris and patrolling for enemy submarines.

In February 1942, the Hoga received a personal commendation from the Pacific Fleet’s new C-in-C, Admiral Nimitz. The tug remained in service with the US Navy until 1996. She is now on display at the Arkansas Maritime Museum.

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August 11, 2015 - 12:37 am
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‘Aichi D3A1’  by Jaroslaw Wrobel

The Battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) was located in dry-dock at the naval yard and she came under attack by D3As of the second wave.

The Battleship itself sustained less damage than her sisters over at Ford Island thanks to surprisingly in-accurate bombing by the D3As which attacked her. Only one hit was sustained, the bomb striking the starboard side of the boat deck. However the two Destroyers lying in dry-dock forward of her bows suffered much worse. The USS Cassin and the USS Downes were both hit by bombs and set alight, the fires raging uncontrollably. With the best of intentions, the dry-dock was deliberately flooded with the hope of dousing the flames. But instead the rising water merely carried the layer of burning oil up to the upper decks of the destroyers, igniting the magazines and fuel tanks, sparking a series of explosions which destroyed both ships. Cassin slipped from her keel blocks and leaned drunkenly on Downes  alongside her. Burning debris from both ships rained down on Pennsylvania, including a large chunk of Downes‘ torpedo tubes which was sent tumbling into the air by the force of the explosions and then crashed into the battleship’s forecastle.

The Pennsylvania’s crew suffered a loss of 29 men killed and 38 injured. The Downes lost 12 of her crew whilst the Cassin, most of whose crew were not aboard, suffered no deaths.

pete hill (formerly Bunter)
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‘Ground Zero’  by Don Kloetzke

Lieutenant Yasusihi Nikaido flying Zero fighter no AI-121 from the carrier Kaga flies low over Battleship Row during the second wave attack. After a strafing run over Hickam Field, the Kaga’s pilots made a pass over the southern tip of Ford Island before going on to attack Wheeler Field.

Nikaido, an experienced pilot, had had a narrow escape the previous year when, whilst performing a test flight of one of the brand-new Zero fighters, had pulled out of a steep dive only to have a section of the aircraft’s wing tear off. He managed to land safely and the new Mitsubishi fighters had their wings strengthened as a result of the incident.

Nikaido was killed in an accidental crash in May 1942.

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‘Waking of a Giant’  by Lance Kitchens

Second-wave Zero fighters of the Akagi skim low over the harbour.

pete hill (formerly Bunter)
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‘Pearl Harbour’  by Anthony Cowland

A depiction of the attack on Pearl Harbour. This work portrays a one of the ‘D3A’ replicas built for the making of the 1970 motion-picture ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!‘. The aircraft was actually a Convair BT-15 trainer, a number of which were modified to resemble Aichi D3As, by lengthening the fuselage by three feet, reshaping the tailplane and canopies, adding fibreglass wheel ‘pants’ to the undercarriage and adding a Pratt & Whitney R-1340 engine. Vultee BT-13s and North American AT-6s were modified to resemble B5Ns and Zero fighters.

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‘Zero Attack’  by Daryl Joyce

This illustration depicts the attack as it was portrayed in the 2001 motion-picture ‘Pearl Harbor’. The Zero fighter shown here bears in-correct markings and a olive-green paint scheme whereas in reality, all of the Zero fighters involved in the attack bore the pale green-grey paint scheme that was standard for Imperial Navy fighters in 1941-1942.

pete hill (formerly Bunter)
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‘Falling dive-bomber’  by Tom Freeman

This painting depicts Aichi D3A no AI-257, one of the two D3As lost by the Soryu during the second-wave attack. Both planes were lost to AA fire during the bombing attacks on vessels near Ford Island. The anti-aircraft fire encountered by the second wave was far heavier than what the first wave had to endure, hence the losses suffered by the second wave were double those of the first.

pete hill (formerly Bunter)
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August 11, 2015 - 2:22 am
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‘USS Curtiss’  by Tom Freeman

The USS Curtiss was a Seaplane-Tender moored at Pearl Harbour. A new ship, she had only been commissioned the previous year and was one of the youngest ships in the harbour that day.

Shortly after the attack commenced, the Curtiss got underway, evading a torpedo fired by a Japanese midget submarine just after 0830. The Curtiss fired her deck guns at the periscope in the water, damaging the small submarine which was then finished off by the destroyer Monaghan.

At 0905, her AA weapons began firing at a diving D3A, setting it alight. Either because the pilot was already dead or the Japanese aviator decided to make a suicide dive, the burning plane crashed into the Curtiss‘ No 1 crane, destroying it. Other dive-bombers attacked the vessel and her AA crews continued to fire. But a bomb then struck the Curtiss, setting her main hangar and No 4 handling room on fire. In addition to the aircraft which struck her, the vessel’s AA gunners claimed two other dive-bombers shot down. Total casualties for the Curtiss amounted to 19 killed and over 40 injured.

The Curtiss sailed to the US mainland after Christmas for repairs which were completed in only four days. She was back in service by January 1942. She performed extensive service throughout the Pacific War, taking part in numerous amphibious operations. On June 21st 1945 whilst stationed off Okinawa, the Curtiss was hit by a Kamikaze plane and badly damaged, killing 35 of her crew, a loss heavier than what she suffered at Pearl Harbour three years earlier. By the time she was repaired, the Second World War was over.

She remained in service with the US Navy for another 12 years, participating in the Korean War and numerous Atomic testing operations in the 1950s. Decommissioned in 1957, the Curtiss was eventually scrapped in 1972.

pete hill (formerly Bunter)
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August 11, 2015 - 12:28 pm
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‘Remember Pearl Harbour’  by Robert Taylor

Taylor’s painting depicts the USS Nevada in the process of beaching itself at Hospital Point, under fierce attack by D3A dive-bombers.

The USS Nevada (BB-36) was the first of the two Nevada-Class Battleships. Commissioned in 1916, she was considerably larger than US battleships of the previous generation. She was the first ship to have triple gun turrets, geared turbines, a single funnel and oil-fired steam power plants, giving the ship much greater endurance and reducing her boiler crew from over 200 men to just 24.

After her commissioning, the Nevada participated in numerous exercises to get her into operational standard. She undertook convoy escort duties between the US and Britain in August 1918 but she saw no action before the First World War ended three months later.

The Nevada spent the following nine years undertaking numerous fleet exercises and ceremonial duties before she underwent a major refit and modernisation program in 1927. This included the addition of extra anti-aircraft weapons, the installation of aircraft-launching catapults, the fitting of an anti-torpedo bulge onto the hull and the exchange of her ‘basket’ masts for the ‘tripod’ style masts.

After this was complete, the Nevada joined the US Pacific Fleet, participating in numerous fleet exercises although budget restrictions saw her progressively spending more time in port. In 1940, she was stationed in Pearl Harbour and was moored at the rear end of Battleship Row on the morning of Dec 7th.

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‘Japan Attacks Pearl Harbour’  by R G Smith

Smith’s painting depicts the USS Nevada under attack as it heads away from Battleship Row.

 Despite having been hit by a torpedo and two bombs in the opening minutes of the attack, the Nevada at least had two advantages- being moored on her own at the rear of the line meant she had room to manoeuvre and, by a stroke of luck, the ship, shortly before the attack, had lit a second boiler (ships moored in harbour usually lit only one boiler to supply electric power for the crew). This allowed the Nevada to get underway more quickly. The Officer on Deck was Ensign Joe Taussig who assumed command with no other senior officers on board. The ship began to list nearly five degrees after the torpedo hit so he ordered counter-flooding which evened the keel. At 0840, the Nevada was under-way, edging herself away from Battleship Row, her decks still smouldering from the earlier bomb hits.

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‘Attack on Pearl Harbour’  by Ivan Berryman

Berryman’s painting depicts the USS Nevada on its escape attempt out of the harbour.

As the Nevada moved away from Ford Island and made for the harbour exit, the dive-bombers of the second wave singled her out for attention. Thinking that if they managed to sink her, the ship would block the harbour entrance, the D3As attacked the battleship as she eased her away through the channel. If Nevada had sunk where the enemy pilots had hoped she would, she would not have blocked the harbour channel as the latter had sufficient width (1200 ft) to still allow ships through but she would have constricted the flow of traffic at a crucial phase of the war. However the 250kg bombs carried by the D3As lacked the destructive power needed to sink her outright. Nonetheless the dive-bombers commenced their attacks.

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‘A Dash for Freedom’  by Stan Stokes

Stokes painting depicts the Nevada steaming past the wreckage of the Arizona.

Nevada was hit by five bombs during the second-wave attack. Intense fires sprang up all over the ship, the most dangerous being a blaze near the main gasoline tank close to Turret No 1. Fortunately the turret’s ammunition magazines were empty, another stroke of good fortune as the ship had been in the process of exchanging her stores of 14-inch shells and they had been removed only a day earlier. Nonetheless the bombs caused severe damage and the fires raged uncontrollably, threatening to engulf the entire ship. Ensign Taussig made the decision to ground the ship to prevent it sinking in the channel and, with the assistance of two tugs, the Nevada was grounded on Hospital Point. Her AA gunners claimed to have shot down seven enemy planes during the attacks. Total casualties amongst the crew amounted to 60 dead and 109 injured, including Taussig whose leg was so badly injured, it later had to be amputated.

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‘USS Nevada: Pearl Harbour’  by artist- ?

Nevada was re-floated in February 1942 and temporary repairs were carried out in dry-dock in Pearl Harbour prior to the ship making her way to the US mainland for more extensive repairs and a major refit and modernisation. This was completed by October 1942 and she re-entered operational service in early 1943. Her first action was to supply artillery support for the re-capture of the Aleutians Island of Attu in the far north Pacific in May 1943.

Afterwards, Nevada served in the Atlantic theatre, escorting convoys en route to Britain. In June 1944, she was present at the D-Day landings in Normandy where her guns provided artillery support for Allied troops advancing inland (Nevada was the only warship to be present at both the Pearl Harbour attack and D-Day). In August-September, she supported the Allied landings in Southern France. In 1945, she was transferred to the Pacific where she participated in the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In June, she was hit by a Kamikaze plane which killed or injured 60 of her crew.

After the surrender of Japan, the Nevada was soon deemed too old to remain in the fleet and was assigned to be one of the vessels to be used as floating targets for the experimental A-Bomb detonations at Bikini Atoll in July 1946. Stripped of any thing salvageable, the empty Nevada was painted bright orange and, together with an assortment of other elderly ships and captured Axis vessels, was used in the testings of two bombs. Badly damaged and highly radioactive, the ship was towed to Pearl Harbour and decommissioned in August 1946. She was later used as a target for gunnery practice and sunk in 1948.

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‘A Commander’s Courage’  by Tom Freeman

Freeman’s painting depicts the Nevada making her run for safety.

pete hill (formerly Bunter)
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‘Zeroing In’  by Tom Freeman

Pilot Officer 1st Class Kikue Otokuni flying Zero fighter no AI-105 of the carrier Akagi makes a strafing run over Ford Island during the second-wave attack. To his left in Zero no AI-102 is his flight commander Lieutenant Saburo Shindo.

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‘America Fights Back’  by Robert Taylor

Two Army Pilots, 2nd-Lieutenants George Welch and Kenneth Taylor, both belonging to the 47th Pursuit Squadron, had spent the night before Pearl Harbour enjoying a dance party followed by an all-night poker game at Wheeler Field. They had just finished their game when they heard the first sounds of explosions and low-flying aircraft. Their aircraft were based at the small satellite airfield at Haleiwa on the northern side of Oahu where the 47th was temporarily stationed on detachment from their usual base at Wheeler.

As luck would have it, Haleiwa was the only one of the seven military air bases on Oahu not to be attacked (with the exception of a lone Zero of the first wave that made a half-hearted strafing run sometime before 0830). Welch and Taylor phoned ahead to the airstrip and ordered the ground crews to warm up their P-40s before jumping in a car and driving at 100 mph along a narrow twisting road to Haleiwa, narrowly avoiding a strafing pass by a Zero en route.

Arriving at the airstrip, the two young pilots quickly boarded their P-40s and took off, clawing for precious altitude as fast as they could. It was some time after 0830 when they left the ground and it was approximately 0855 when they spotted Japanese aircraft in the vicinity of Ewa Field. The planes were D3As of the second-wave and the two P-40s attacked without hesitation.

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‘This is No Drill’  by Craig Kodera

Disregarding the return fire from the rear gunners which peppered their P-40s with holes, Welch and Taylor got amongst the orderly ranks of the dive-bombers. Welch, in quick succession, shot down two D3As whilst Taylor destroyed two more. Out of ammunition, the two pilots broke off the attack and headed over to Wheeler Field. They landed amidst the devastation caused by the first wave attack. The two pilots had to sternly pull rank on the dazed ground-crews who wanted to disperse the parked fighters that were still intact rather than use up precious time refuelling and re-arming Welch’s and Taylor’s P-40s. Barely had the fighters been readied for take-off again when the second wave attackers arrived over Wheeler and the two pilots had to take off amidst the chaos.

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‘First Response’  by Brian Bateman

The two pilots found themselves amidst enemy dive-bombers almost immediately. Taylor was attacked by a D3A and was wounded in the leg and arm, his P-40 badly damaged. Welch came to his aid, shooting down his attacker and then destroying another dive-bomber for his fourth kill of the morning. Taylor was forced to land again at Wheeler and managed to put down safely, too injured to fly again that day. Meanwhile Welch flew back to Haleiwa and, having re-armed again, took off on his third sortie of the day just after 0930 but by now the second wave attackers were heading home and his patrol was un-eventful. That is, until he tried to land at Wheeler and was greeted by a barrage of ‘friendly’ anti-aircraft fire which he managed to survive intact.

Both Welch and Taylor were nominated for Medals of Honour but they received the DSC instead. One reason for the first award being turned down was that both men had taken off without orders.

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‘Taylor’s Second Kill’  by Tom Freeman

Welch, after a war-bonds tour of the US, later flew with the 36th Fighter Squadron in New Guinea, flying P-39s and afterwards with the 80th Fighter Squadron which flew the superior P-38. By the end of 1943, he had achieved a total of 16 confirmed victories. In 1944, Welch agreed to become a test pilot for North American Aviation. Welch flew various experimental aircraft including the XP-86 in which, at least one historian has claimed, he allegedly broke the sound-barrier before Chuck Yeager did in 1947.

In 1954, Welch was killed in an accidental crash whilst test-flying a new F-100 Super Sabre.

Taylor later was assigned to the 44th Fighter Squadron in the Solomon Islands Campaign and he achieved two more aerial victories in 1942-43. Injured in an air-raid, he was transferred back to the States and he worked as a training instructor for the remainder of the war. He was officially credited with two kills over Pearl Harbour but he claimed to have shot down four. Taylor served in the air-force until 1967. He died in 2006.

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‘Hawk of Haleiwa’  by Jack Fellows

The above painting by Fellows depicts Lt Harry Brown’s P-36 shooting down a B5N over Kaena Point for his second aerial victory. In actuality, no B5Ns were lost during the second wave attack and it is likely that the bomber that Brown attacked was one of a number of B5Ns that returned to the carriers in a badly damaged state.

In addition to Welch and Taylor, four other pilots managed to get airborne from Haleiwa whilst the Japanese attack was in progress. Three pilots, Lieutenants Robert Rogers, Harry Brown and John Dains got airborne around 0850 whilst another pilot, Lt John Webster, took off some time after 0900. Dains flew a P-40 whilst the others all flew P-36s.

Rogers, Brown and Webster all engaged enemy planes over Kaena Point on Oahu’s most northerly tip where the Japanese planes of the second wave were to assemble prior to their homeward leg. Webster was wounded in the leg and he returned to Haleiwa, as did Rogers after he claimed to have shot down a D3A.

Lieutenant Harry Brown engaged a flight of enemy aircraft. He attacked a Japanese Zero from behind and scored hits. Brown reported that the enemy plane flew out of sight, trailing smoke and he was credited with its destruction. It is now known for certain that the Zero, flown by Pilot-Officer 1st Class Takeshi Atsumi of the carrier Soryu, later crashed near Niihau Island. Brown then attacked a B5N and claimed it shot down (he was eventually officially credited with the kill in March 1942) but no B5Ns were lost from the second wave (although a number returned to their carriers badly damaged and several were written off).

Lieutenant John Dains engaged an enemy aircraft shortly after take-off but his aircraft was damaged. He landed at Haleiwa to re-arm and then took off again but, hampered by his damaged aircraft, he did not make contact with any enemy planes. Dains then landed again and exchanged his aircraft for a P-36 and took off again on his third sortie for the morning at around 0930. By now, the Japanese were withdrawing and the patrol yielded no contacts. Accompanied by Welch, Dains flew to Wheeler Field intending to land there but he was greeted by ‘friendly’ AA fire. His P-36 was hit and it crashed on a nearby golf course, killing Dains on impact.

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‘Lieutenant Harry Brown’s P-36’  by Mark Postlethwaite

Lt Harry Brown later served with the 49th Fighter Group in Australia and later over New Guinea. He achieved his third credited victory in March 1943 when, whilst flying a P-40, he shot down a Japanese Nakajima Ki-43 Army fighter over New Guinea. Later that year, promoted to Captain, he flew P-38s with the 475th Fighter Group in the New Guinea theatre and he achieved four more confirmed victories for a total wartime tally of seven.

Brown left the air force in 1948 but remained in the air-force reserve for a number of years and later was an officer in the reserve air-sea rescue. He died in 1991.

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‘Lieutenant Philip Rasmussen’  by Tom Freeman

As the pilots of Haleiwa struck back at the enemy, a handful of fighter pilots at Wheeler Field managed to get airborne. Six pilots took off from Wheeler between 0850 and 0920 at the height of the second-wave attack, five belonging to the 46th Pursuit Squadron with one man from the 45th. Four P-36s took off at 0850, flown by Lieutenants Lewis Sanders, John Thacker and Philip Rasmussen and 2nd-Lieutenant Gordon Sterling. The fourth pilot, Sterling, belonged to the 45th Squadron, having boarded a P-36 belonging to the 46th when its intended pilot had gone back to the ready room to exchange his parachute pack.

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‘Lt Rasmussen’  by Jaroslaw Wrobel

Lt Philip Rasmussen was still wearing his purple pyjamas from the night before, having not had time to get dressed before the alarm sounded. More seriously, his .50 calibre machine-gun was defective. Nonetheless he engaged enemy planes over Kaneohe Bay and he attacked a Zero fighter, mostly like the one flown by Pilot Officer 2nd Class Saburo Ishii of the carrier Soryu. When Rasmussen began firing, the defective machine-gun ran wild, spontaneously firing off its entire ammunition belt in a single long burst. But it was enough to send Ishii’s fighter spiralling down into the sea. Japanese accounts indicate that both of the Zero fighters destroyed by Brown and Rasmussen had already been damaged by AA fire.

Rasmussen’s P-36 was then attacked by two other Zeros which he managed to evade but not before his aircraft was considerably damaged with the tail wheel shot off and the hydraulics severed, leaving the aircraft without brakes. Returning to Wheeler, he had to land through ‘friendly’ AA fire but somehow managed to get down safely. Afterwards, approximately 500 bullet holes were counted in his P-36 and two Japanese cannon shells were found lodged in the radio located behind Rasmussen’s seat, the bulky set having saved his life.

Rasmussen later flew combat missions over New Guinea and was decorated for bravery whilst flying escort for bombing missions over Japan in 1945. He remained in the military until 1967 and passed away in 2005. The USAAF Museum in Ohio features a restored P-36 in the markings of Rasmussen’s aircraft on the day of the Pearl Harbour attack and the display includes a mannequin of Rasmussen wearing his purple pyjamas!

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‘Combat Over Kaneohe’  by Jerry Crandall

2nd-Lieutenant Gordon Sterling, a much less experienced pilot, encountered the Japanese over Kaneohe Bay and attacked a formation of D3A dive-bombers. He shot one down but then came under attack from one of the Soryu’s Zeros flown by Lieutenant Iyozo Fujita. Sterling’s P-36 was last seen diving towards the sea, neither he nor his aircraft have ever been found. Fujita then came under attack himself, from the P-36 flown by Lieutenant Lewis Sanders. Caught by surprise by the obsolete American fighter, Fujita’s Zero was badly shot up and it was trailing smoke by the time the Japanese pilot managed to shake off his attacker. Sanders was officially credited with a kill but Fujita actually managed to make it back to his carrier. Sanders then made a pass at a D3A and, in his word, left it ‘trailing smoke’ before he returned to Wheeler.

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‘Aichi D3A1 and Curtiss P-36 (Lt Rasmussen’s)’  by S. Fleischer

The above illustration, rendered as box-art for a plastic model kit of the D3A, depicts Lt Egusa’s D3A being attacked by Lt Rasmussen’s P-36. In reality, the two pilots never met in combat.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant John Thacker made a firing pass at the enemy formation but his guns jammed after only a single burst. His P-36 damaged, he returned to Wheeler only to be driven off by ‘friendly’ AA fire. Orbiting in the clouds for a short while, he tried again when some semblance of order had been restored below and was able to put down safely.

Two additional pilots (both also belonging to the 46th Pursuit Squadron) managed to take off from Wheeler prior to the end of the Japanese attack. 2nd-Lieutenant Fred Shifflet took off in a P-40 (which belonged to another squadron) sometime after 0900. He returned to base shortly afterwards, his aircraft badly damaged, possibly due to ‘friendly’ AA fire. And Lieutenant Malcolm Moore got airborne in a P-36 at around 0920 and reached Kaena Point just as the Japanese planes were withdrawing. He attacked an enemy B5N which managed to evade him (the same aircraft was then attacked and damaged by Lt Harry Brown). Moore then landed at Haleiwa, wisely choosing to avoid the trigger-happy AA gunners at Wheeler.

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‘Day of Infamy’  by Anthony Saunders

The above painting depicts a USAAC P-40 pursuing a D3A at low-level near Battleship Row. In actuality, none of the aerial combats took place over Ford Island as shown here.

In total, 14 US Army fighter pilots managed to get airborne during the attack. Although the exact total of Japanese planes they destroyed remains a subject of debate, the best estimate would be that they shot down at least eight and possibly as many as 11 enemy aircraft, a highly impressive achievement. In return, two of the pilots were killed by enemy action and a third lost his life to ‘friendly’ AA fire. Three more of the Army pilots were wounded.

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‘Incident Off Niihau’  by Jack Fellows

One of the most un-usual incidents of the day occurred shortly after the attack when the Japanese aircraft were returning to their carriers. Japanese pilots whose aircraft were damaged and who were unlikely to make it back to the carrier fleet had been ordered to make their way to the small island of Niihau located near Oahu and crash-land their aircraft there. The aircrew would then await the arrival of a Japanese submarine which would rescue them.

At least one, possibly three Zero fighters, either badly damaged in the attack or too low on fuel to make it back to the fleet, diverted their homeward course for Niihau island. One, a fighter from the Hiryu piloted by Pilot-Officer 1st Class Shigenori Nishikaichi, reached Niihau Island and crash-landed in a clearing near the shore.

The other two fighters, both from the Kaga and piloted by Warrant Officer Ippei Goto and Pilot-Officer 1st Class Tomio Inenaga, both vanished somewhere at sea, never having reached Niihau or the carrier fleet. Japanese log-books on the carriers indicate that radio signals were received from two pilots asking for directions home but these signals were not replied to as all ships were under strict orders not to break radio silence.

One of the lost Zeros may have been the pilot that attacked a pair of Curtiss S1 Seagull seaplanes launched from the Cruiser USS Northampton in Admiral Halsey’s Task Force 8 which was approaching Pearl Harbour. The Seagulls were flying a reconnaissance mission close to Niihau when they were attacked by a Zero fighter which appeared to be damaged and trailing smoke. According to the Seagull crews, the damaged Zero made seven passes at them, without causing any significant damage. Radioman Robert Baxter, on one of the seaplanes, fired his .30 calibre machine-gun at the Zero on its final pass, scoring hits on the fighter’s engine cowling. The Zero broke off the attack and was last seen heading towards Niihau, but was never seen again.

Meanwhile, after crash-landing on Niihau, Hiryu pilot Nishikaichi began to explore his surroundings and was surprised to find that the island was not un-inhabited as he had been told prior to the attack. A small community of Hawaiians lived on Niihau, including three Japanese-Americans. No-one on the island knew anything about the attack. The villagers confronted the Japanese pilot when he was still dazed after the crash and confiscated his pistol, intending to keep him in custody until US military authorities could be alerted. However the Hawaiians treated him with courtesy and were even friendly towards him, throwing a party in his honour that evening.

The Hawaiians sent for the Japanese-Americans who lived on Niihau to act as translators. One man, Ishimatsu Shintani, a ‘Issei’ (first generation Japanese-immigrant) spoke only a few words to the pilot but, once having learned of the attack, refused to speak to the flier any more. The others, married couple Yoshio and Irene Harada, both ‘Nisei’ (second-generation Japanese-Hawaiians) then spoke with Nishikaichi. Evidently, the pilot somehow convinced or manipulated the couple into helping him escape the island.

On the evening of December 7th, the Hawaiians on Niihau learnt about the attack on Pearl Harbour from the radio news broadcasts from Honolulu and the atmosphere grew more tense. Unbeknownst to the islanders, a ban on civilian boating traffic had been implemented and the private owner of Niihau, an American named Robinson, did not arrive the following (Monday) morning for his usual weekly visit. The Haradas offered to keep the Japanese pilot in their house. On the night of December 12th, Nishikaichi and Yoshio Harada overpowered and captured the young Hawaiian posted as guard outside the house and then they retrieved the pilot’s pistol, along with a shotgun.

Nishikaichi and Harada approached the nearby village, firing the shotgun. The villagers fled, hiding in nearby caves and forest whilst the two men went to the crashed Zero. The plane’s radio was out of action but the two men removed the 7.7mm Machine-Guns from the aircraft before setting fire to the rest of the plane (it only partially burnt). Meanwhile six of the Hawaiian villagers paddled for ten hours in canoes to reach the nearest island of Kauai to raise the alarm.

The Japanese pilot and his co-conspirator went back to the village. During the night, two of the locals, ‘Ben’ Kanahele and his wife Ella, attempted to steal the two machine-guns but they were caught and became hostages. On the morning of December 13th, Ben and Ella, seeing their two captors were tired and distracted, seized the opportunity, attacking Nichikaichi. The pilot managed to draw his pistol and he shot Ben three times. Despite his wounds, Ben Kanahele, a sheep farmer and extremely strong, bodily picked up Nishikaichi and hurled the pilot against a stone wall. He then drew a knife and slit the pilot’s throat whilst his wife Ella bashed in the aviator’s head with a rock. As Nishikaichi died, his accomplice Yoshio Harada, seeing all was lost, picked up the shotgun and turned it on himself, committing suicide.

The US authorities finally arrived the following day. Ben Kanahele recovered from his wounds in hospital and the story of he and his wife’s exploits were reported in the media throughout the United States in the weeks following the attack. Yoshio Harada’s widow Irene, implicated in her late husband’s treachery, was arrested and imprisoned for 31 months and, after her release, moved to Kauai. Meanwhile, Ishimatsu Shintani was placed into an internment camp but was later released and he became a US citizen in 1960.

The incident had serious repercussions for the large Japanese-American community on Hawaii as it strengthened suspicion and prejudice against them by US authorities in the wake of the attack, leading to the large-scale internment of most of them throughout the war.

The rusted remains of Nishikaichi’s Zero are on display at the Pearl Harbour Museum on Ford Island.

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‘Japan Signs Her Own Death Warrant’  by Norman Wilkinson

By 0945 the last of the attackers had departed Oahu. The strike commander, Fuchida, remained until last, circling above the island to observe and assess the damage. Finally, with the B5N’s fuel running dangerously low, he ordered his pilot to head for home. En route they reached the rendezvous point where aircraft of the second wave were meant to assemble prior to heading towards the carriers. They found a lone Zero circling amongst the clouds, its pilot lost. Fuchida shepherded it onto the correct course and headed for the fleet himself. However he then ordered his pilot to turn around and check the assembly point one more time. Fuchida’s instincts proved correct as they returned to the location and found another Zero circling, desperately low on fuel. They guided the stray fighter back towards the fleet and eventually Fuchida’s pilot landed on board the Akagi, the aircraft’s tanks almost dry. By 1215, the last aircraft had returned.

The cost was counted. A total of 29 aircraft had failed to return, nine from the first wave and 20 from the second. The first wave had lost five of the torpedo-carrying B5Ns, one D3A and three Zeros. From the second wave, 14 D3As and six Zeros had failed to return. None of the B5N high-level bombers of either of the two waves had been lost. Including one crewman dead on one of the bombers that had returned, a total of 55 airmen had been killed. The loss of 29 pilots could be deemed as a modest price for an operation of such size but to put it in perspective, up until 1941 the Imperial Naval air academy was only producing 90 new pilots a year. The loss of 29 pilots represented nearly a third of the academy’s pre-war annual output!

As often happens in battle, the cost had been shared un-evenly. Fifteen of the carrier Kaga’s air group failed to return whilst the Zuikaku only lost one plane and all of the Shokaku’s aircraft made it back. However, in addition to the 29 aircraft that were lost, another 111 were damaged, 26 of which were written off (12 from the first wave, 14 from the second). Many of the latter were damaged whilst landing on pitching and heaving carrier decks due to the rough seas the fleet was experiencing in the latter part of the morning.

Of the 29 Japanese planes lost in the attack, at least eight (possibly 11) were downed by US fighters, one collided with an American plane, one deliberately crash-dived into an air base, two crashed when their pilots flew too low and hit the ground, one plane crash-landed on Niihau Island and at least two (possibly four) aircraft ditched in the sea en route back to the carriers, leaving a maximum of 14 aircraft destroyed outright by anti-aircraft fire. Interestingly, the number of aircraft claimed shot down by AA gunners on board US warships at Pearl Harbour totalled 48!

One of the most enduring and popular myths of Pearl Harbour is that Fuchida begged his commander, Admiral Nagumo, for permission to send a third wave to attack Oahu. This was a largely self-serving myth created by Fuchida himself in his post-war writings. The truth was that there was never any intention of carrying out a third strike as the carrier fleet would have had to send a strike against fully alerted US defences.

The attackers would have been confronted with much heavier anti-aircraft fire and the air bases on Oahu still possessed at least 50 single-engine fighters that were still air-worthy, including approximately 30 P-40s. When considering that only 14 US fighters had successfully taken off during the morning’s attacks yet they had shot down at least eight Japanese planes for the loss of only three of their own number, a force of 50 US fighters would have likely staged an effective resistance. Another factor was that the fleet would have been obliged to remain in Hawaiian waters until nightfall in order to recover the third wave. Or perhaps take the even greater gamble of remaining overnight and launching the third attack on the morning of December 8th. Considering that there was at least one enemy carrier (the Enterprise) in the vicinity with a second (the Lexington) fast approaching, along with the threat of US submarines from Oahu, it seemed a risky venture.

Another problem was fuel. Even with two refuelling stops en route to Hawaii, the destroyers and cruisers with Nagumo’s fleet were again low on fuel and oil by December 7th and if the fleet had remained near Oahu for an extra day, the fuel situation would have become a serious issue, perhaps forcing much of the carrier’s escorts to depart for home.

Another factor was that 140 Japanese aircraft had been destroyed or damaged in the first two strikes and even with the addition of reserve aircraft, a third strike would have been considerably smaller, especially as, with the enemy now on full alert, it would have been a necessity to retain a high portion of the remaining fighters to protect the fleet. The fleet still had a supply of 60 aerial torpedoes but no more of the 800kg special bombs. With a torpedo attack likely to be far too expensive against fully alerted AA crews, the bombers would have been forced to use the smaller 250kg bombs, already proven to be far less effective against warships.

The Japanese leadership considered the risk too great and the potential cost too high. Thus there would be no third strike. Admiral Nagumo took his carrier fleet back towards home waters.

The fleet headed north-west towards Japan, following an circular course to the north to again avoid Midway island but en route, two of the carriers Hiryu and Soryu, were diverted to assist in the invasion of Wake Island where the attacking force had encountered un-expectedly stiff (and effective) resistance from its small garrison of US Marines. The rest of Nagumo’s fleet reached Japan on December 23rd.

Back at Pearl Harbour, the Americans were counting the cost. A total of 21 ships had been destroyed or had suffered severe or moderate damage. The Battleships Arizona and Oklahoma were total losses as was the Target Ship Utah. The Battleships West Virginia and California, the Minelayer Oglala and the Tug Sotoyomo had been sunk but all were eventually raised, repaired and returned to service. Two Destroyers- Cassins & Downes– had been virtually wrecked but much of their internal machinery remained intact so brand-new hulls were built around the exposed inners and both vessels eventually returned to service in 1944. Although they had been technically ‘repaired’, it would be truer to say that their remains had been salvaged to construct entirely new ships.

The beached and very battered Battleship Nevada was repaired and she was back with the fleet within a year. The Battleships Maryland and Tennessee had suffered considerably less damage than their sister-ships alongside them and both were repaired and back in service within four months of the attack. The Destroyer Shaw had lost her bow but she was repaired, as were the Cruisers Helena and Raleigh, Repair Ship Vestal and Seaplane Tender Curtiss. The Cruiser Honolulu and the Destroyer Helm had suffered only moderate damage from near-misses and both were repaired within a matter of weeks. Likewise damage to the dry-docked Battleship Pennsylvania proved to be relatively minor and was soon fixed. Finally Floating Dry-Dock No 2 (YFD-2) which had been sunk, was later raised and repaired.

In addition, there were eleven other ships, including the Cruisers New Orleans and St Louis, which had suffered minor damage, mostly from near-misses, shell splinters, strafing and stray AA shells but all were able to remain operational.

On the air-bases on Oahu, 198 military aircraft (plus two civilian planes) had been destroyed or damaged beyond repair and an additional 97 damaged. This figure includes 10 SBD Dauntlesses from the USS Enterprise destroyed or damaged beyond repair and five F4F Wildcats from the same ship that were destroyed by ‘friendly’ AA fire the evening after the attack (see below). At 0745hrs in the morning of December 7, there had been approximately 390 US military aircraft stationed on Oahu and at least 31 more arrived over the island whilst the attack was in progress. At the conclusion of the attack, barely 110 aircraft remained intact. To the credit of the survivors, the heavily depleted air units on Oahu still managed to fly some 48 reconnaissance sorties out at sea in the six hours following the attack in an un-successful attempt to locate the Japanese carrier fleet which was hurriedly retiring to the north-west. Their efforts were handicapped by the fact that of the two types of planes on Oahu best suited to long-range reconnaissance- the PBY and the B-17- fewer than a dozen remained fit to fly.

Casualties totalled 2,403 Americans (including 68 civilians) killed and 1,178 wounded. Most of the civilian deaths occurred not from Japanese bombing but from stray anti-aircraft shells landing in and around Honolulu.

Tensions were high and rumours were already flying about the island amongst both soldiers and civilians. The Japanese were invading the US west coast, an invasion fleet was approaching Oahu, Japanese battleships were just offshore. Nerves were stretched and there was much anger and indignation coupled with shock and grief. The many thousands of Japanese-Americans on Hawaii found themselves under suspicion, accused of being spies and fifth-columnists. Some were abused and beaten in the streets by angry whites. Men at their posts scanned the skies, expecting the Japanese to come again. Trigger-happy fingers caused some tragic accidents and near-misses. A flight of six F4F Wildcats from the Enterprise tried to land at Ford Island that evening only to run into friendly AA fire which shot down all but one of them, killing three of the pilots. Out at sea, a PBY mistook a US submarine for an enemy vessel and depth-charged it in an attack that was fortunately un-successful. Martial law was declared on Oahu and would remain in effect until 1944.

The US Pacific Fleet had been devastated by the blow and the United States was in a state of outrage and disbelief. But the popular belief that the fleet had been ‘destroyed’ does not stand up to scrutiny. Historian H P Willmott may have been somewhat cold-blooded when he described the US losses as ‘slight’ but in a strategic sense he was correct. The losses were severe but they need to be put into perspective.

Of the 100 US warships in Pearl Harbour that day, 79 were still perfectly intact. And of the vessels that were hit, only three- the battleships Arizona and Oklahoma and the target ship Utah- were total losses. The remainder were all eventually repaired and returned to active service, some within a matter of weeks. All of the battleships of the Pacific Fleet were ageing and outmoded, all overdue for refits and modernisations. Even if all had survived intact, they would have played little part in the war until they were all sent to the US mainland for lengthy upgrades.

Most of the harbour’s facilities were still intact, including the dry docks. And the large oil storage farm located beside the harbour was not touched, a crucial Japanese error. Many of the aircraft lost on the ground were obsolete types and all of the air bases remained operational.

Most importantly, none of the US aircraft carriers had been lost. The Enterprise and Lexington were both at sea, both now heading towards Oahu whilst the Saratoga was temporarily in dry-dock on the mainland, due to return to service soon. Added to that were over 40 additional US cruisers and destroyers currently at sea at various points around the Pacific. The US Pacific Fleet was a long way from being ‘destroyed’.

The Japanese had given the US a painful blow to the ribs but the latter was still standing.

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August 14, 2015 - 5:32 pm
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Thanks Pete!

Another superb thread.  I always appreciate the breadth of images you find.  Beyond the offerings of the major aviation art publishers.  The descriptions are the icing on the cake.

That unidentified Rasmussen P-36 vs Zero print is by Jerry Crandall called “Combat Over Kaneohe”.

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‘The Sleeping Giant Awakes’  by Richard Taylor

December 8th 1941. The Carrier USS Enterprise, with Admiral Halsey in command, arrives in Pearl Harbour, with some warships still burning from the previous day. Task Force 8 had been scheduled to arrive on the early morning of December 7th but by a stroke of fortune had been delayed by bad weather. As she sailed into the battered, smouldering harbour, some of her Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters circled protectively above. The pilots flew warily over the harbour, mindful of trigger-happy AA gunners below, the same gunners who had shot down five of the Enterprise’s fighters the previous evening in a tragic error.

Task Force 8 would refuel during the night of Dec 8 and be back at sea by the following morning, Halsey not wishing to be caught in the harbour by a follow-up attack by the Japanese. The CinC of the US Pacific Fleet, Admiral Kimmel, who had miserably watched the destruction of Battleship Row from his headquarters the previous morning, ordered the Task Force to sortie to Wake Island to assist the beleaguered defenders there, under attack by the Japanese. All across the Pacific, the Japanese were attacking, striking US forces in the Philippines and at Wake and Guam, Dutch forces in the East Indies and British & Commonwealth forces in Malaya.

The Enterprise would not reach Wake Island in time but she and her sisters would soon be striking back at the Japanese, attacking Japanese forces in the Marshals and Gilbert Islands early in the New Year. The Enterprise would fight in nearly all of the major carrier battles of the Pacific War. Indeed of the five carrier-versus-carrier battles fought between 1942 and 1945, the Enterprise would fight and survive four of them. At Midway in June 1942, her aircraft would sink three Japanese carriers. At the Eastern Solomons in August 1942 and at Santa Cruz in October 1942, the Enterprise would be badly damaged but survive them both. At the Philippine Sea in June 1944, her aircraft would join those of 14 other US carriers to destroy the Japanese Imperial Navy’s carrier air strength and at Leyte Gulf in October 1944, she and the US fleet would utterly destroy the bulk of the Imperial fleet. At Okinawa in April and May 1945, she would be hit twice by Kamikazes and still endured. Despite efforts by many to have her preserved as a museum, the Enterprise was sold to the scrap-yard in 1959.

As mentioned before, of all of the US ships damaged at Pearl Harbour, all but three were eventually repaired and returned to service. By contrast, every single Japanese vessel involved with the operation was sunk by the end of the war in 1945. Of the six Japanese carriers which carried out the attack, four of them- Akagi, Kaga, Soryu & Hiryu– were sunk by US Navy dive-bombers at the Battle of Midway in June 1942. The Shokaku was sunk by a US Submarine at the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944 whilst the last surviving veteran of Pearl Harbour, the Zuikaku, finally met her end by air attack at Leyte Gulf in October 1944.

The last surviving warship of the original Pearl Harbour attack force, the Cruiser Tone, was sunk whilst moored at Kure in Japan’s Inland Sea. She was destroyed on July 24th 1945 in a massed air attack mounted by US and British carrier task forces, an attack which comprised a total of 1,747 aircraft- nearly five times the size of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour less than four years earlier. The pendulum had swung back with overwhelming force.

As Admiral Yamamoto was reputedly believed to have remarked after the attack on Pearl Harbour, ‘I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant’.

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‘The USS Arizona Memorial’  by Tom Freeman

The wreck of the Arizona was declared a national shrine in 1962, to be preserved and treated with dignity and respect for the 1,117 members of her crew who perished, the bodies of 945 of whom still lay entombed in her hull.

A floating platform was built over the wreck as a permanent memorial with access to visitors and a list of names of the crew who lost their lives. Since the memorial’s construction, a number of the Arizona’s survivors who have passed away, have had, at their own request, their ashes scattered over the waters around the sunken battleship.

The waters around the wreck have a metallic sheen as a steady trickle of oil still dribbles up from the sunken ship’s rusting tanks. There have been recent discussions as to draining the still considerably large amounts of oil and fuel in the tanks of the crumbling wreckage so as to prevent a potential ecological disaster if the Arizona’s hull should rupture.

pete hill (formerly Bunter)
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August 15, 2015 - 4:47 pm
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fuzzy said
Thanks Pete!

Another superb thread.  I always appreciate the breadth of images you find.  Beyond the offerings of the major aviation art publishers.  The descriptions are the icing on the cake.

That unidentified Rasmussen P-36 vs Zero print is by Jerry Crandall called “Combat Over Kaneohe”.

Thanks Fuzzy! Nice to have such good feedback. I really enjoyed this thread.

Thanks for identifying the Jerry Crandall print, I shall amend it in the post. I found the image left by some-one on Pinterest but they hadn’t put the artist’s name nor the title. Cheers! 🙂

 Regards, Pete

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Fantastic thread Pete! I own a couple of those paintings.

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Blacksheep said
Fantastic thread Pete! I own a couple of those paintings.

Cheers! This was a thread I particularly enjoyed doing. You are fortunate to have such paintings in your collection. Regards Pete 🙂

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