Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Japanese Midget Submarine

The National Museum of the Pacific War is fortunate to house one of five Japanese midget submarines intended for use during the attack on Pearl Harbor. After developing problems with her gyrocompass, Ha-19 was forced to make a visual entrance to the harbor and later ran aground on a coral reef off of Bellows Field on Waimanolo Beach. Her batteries were drained attempting to back off the reef and the two crewmen evacuated. Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki, who was piloting the submarine that morning, was captured becoming the first prisoner of war. In 1991, Sakamaki came to the museum as a symposium participant, where he was reunited with former Army Lieutenant, Steve Weiner, who was among his interrogators following his capture. This was his first public appearance related to his war service.

The exhibit panel near the submarine’s viewing windows reads as follows:

Ha-19 was one of the five Japanese midget submarines used in the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941. The next day, the damaged vessel washed ashore. The War Finance Committee soon put it to use to promote the sale of War Bonds. From 1942 to 1945, Ha-19 toured the United States, including a visit to Fredericksburg in 1943.

Windows were cut into the starboard hull of Ha-19 for public viewing of the interior. Dummy equipment, including sheet metal cones to simulate torpedo warheads, and two mannequins dressed as Imperial Japanese Navy crewmen were installed.

Eight War Bond drives raised a total of $185.7 billion, roughly half the cost of the war.”