Operation K- The 2nd ‘attack’ on Pearl Harbor

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On March 4, 1942, two Kawanishi H8K “Emily” flying boats embarked on Operation K, flying the longest distance ever undertaken by a two-plane bombing mission to that point.

 

The planes refueled at an atoll 500 miles from Hawaii, and then launched to drop their bombs on Pearl Harbor. Due to extensive cloud cover and confusion between the two pilots, one plane dropped its bombs on an uninhabited mountainside and the other dropped its bombs in the ocean. There were no American casualties.

In a repeat of events just prior to the December 7 attack, American codebreakers warned that the Japanese were preparing for reconnaissance and disruption raids, refueling at French Frigate Shoals, and again were largely ignored by their superiors.

The planning for Operation K began in the weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, when the Imperial Japanese Navy high command considered how to take advantage of the capabilities of the long-range Kawanishi H8K flying boats.

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Plans to bomb California and Texas were being discussed, when the need for updated information regarding the repairs to US Navy facilities at Pearl Harbor took precedence. An assessment of the repairs to the docks, yards and airfields of Oahu would help the Imperia Japanese Navy  staff to determine American ability to project power for months to come.

Initial plans called for the use of five H8K aircraft. They would fly to French Frigate Shoals, the largest atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, to be refueled by submarines prior to taking off for Oahu.

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The raid was planned to coincide with the full moon to illuminate the Pearl Harbor target area, but actual date of execution would depend on calm weather for refueling at French Frigate Shoals and clear skies over Pearl Harbor.If the first raid was successful, additional raids would be made.

In a repeat of events just prior to the 7 December attack, American codebreakers warned that the Japanese were preparing for reconnaissance and disruption raids, refueling at French Frigate Shoals, and again were largely ignored by their superiors. The codebreakers had reason to correctly interpret the Japanese intent. Edwin T. Layton’s staff included Lieutenant Jasper Holmes, who, writing under the pen name Alec Hudson, had a story entitled Rendezvous published in an August, 1941, Saturday Evening Post.

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His fictitious story about refueling United States planes from submarines at a remote island for an air attack on a target 3000 miles away had been withheld from publication for a year until the author convinced United States Navy censors the techniques described were known to other navies.

When time came for the raid, only two of the big flying boats were available. Pilot Lieutenant Hisao Hashizume was in command of the mission, with Ensign Shosuke Sasao flying the second airplane. They were sent to Wotje Atoll in the Marshall Islands, where each airplane was loaded with four 250-kilogram (550 lb) bombs.

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From there, they flew 3,100 kilometers (1,900 mi) to French Frigate Shoals to refuel, then set off for Oahu, 900 kilometers (560 mi) distant. In addition to their reconnaissance mission, they were to bomb the “Ten-Ten” dock – named for its length, 1,010 feet (310 m) – at the Pearl Harbor naval base to disrupt salvage and repair efforts. However, a comedy of errors ensued on both sides.

The Japanese submarine I-23 was supposed to station itself just south of Oahu as a “lifeguard” and weather spotter for the flying boats, but was lost sometime after 14 February.(picture below of the I-26 which was nearly identical to the I-23)

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Japanese crypt analysts had broken the United States Navy weather code, but a code change on 1 March eliminated that alternative source of weather information over Pearl Harbor. The mission proceeded on the assumption of clear skies over Pearl Harbor from knowledge of conditions at French Frigate Shoals.

American radar stations on Kauai (and later Oahu) picked up and tracked the two planes as they approached the main Hawaiian Islands, prompting a search by Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighters. Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boats were also sent to seek Japanese aircraft carriers, which were assumed to have launched the two invaders.

However, a thick layer of nimbus clouds over Pearl Harbor prevented the defenders from spotting the Japanese planes flying at an altitude of 4,600 meters (15,000 ft).

Those same clouds also confused the IJN pilots. Using the Kaena Point lighthouse for a position fix, Hashizume decided to attack from the north.

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Sasao, however, did not hear Hashizume’s order and instead turned to skirt the southern coast of Oahu.

Hashizume, having lost sight of his wingman, and only able to see small patches of the island, dropped his four bombs on the slopes of Tantalus Peak, an extinct volcano cinder cone just north of Honolulu sometime between 02:00-02:15 HST.

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He was unable to see Pearl Harbor, the only lit facility on Oahu due to blackout conditions intended to hinder air raids.Hashizume’s bombs landed about 300 meters (1,000 ft) from Roosevelt High School, creating craters 2–3 meters (6–10 ft) deep and 6–9 meters (20–30 ft) across.

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Damage was limited to shattered windows.Sasao is assumed by historians and officials to have eventually dropped his bombs into the ocean, either off the coast of Waianae or near the sea approach to Pearl Harbor.The two flying boats then flew southwest toward the Marshall Islands. Sasao returned as planned to Wotje atoll, but Hashizume’s airplane had sustained hull damage while taking off from French Frigate Shoals. Fearing the primitive base at Wotje was insufficient to repair the damage, Hashizume proceeded non-stop all the way to their home base at Jaluit Atoll, also in the Marshall Islands. That made his flight the longest bombing mission in history up to that point.

There were no American casualties. The raid did raise new fears of a potential Japanese invasion of Hawaii.

 

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Pearl Harbor

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Today marks the 75th anniversary of Japan’s biggest mistake in WWII, the attack on Pearl Harbor

Allegedly Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto said “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” after the attack and he was proven to be right.

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Inevitably the US would have been involved at some stage but the Pearl Harbor attacks made them more determined.

Rather then going into too much detail of that fateful day I will post pictures below,because after all a picture paints a thousands words.

The Media:

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on War Fatalities in Hawaii

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USS Arizona

Mortally Wounded and Sinking

USS West Virginia and USS Tennessee

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The Attack

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The aftermath

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Doris Miller-Cook,Soldier and Hero.

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Today marks the Birthday of Doris Miller.

Doris “Dorie” Miller (October 12, 1919 – November 24, 1943) was a Ship’s cook Third Class that the United States Navy noted for his bravery during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross, the third highest honor awarded by the U.S. Navy at the time, after the Medal of Honor and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. The Navy Cross now precedes the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.Miller’s acts were heavily publicized in the black press, making him the iconic emblem of the war for blacks and was their “Number One Hero” and so energized black support for the war effort against a colored Japanese enemy.[3]Nearly two years after Pearl Harbor, he was killed in action when USS Liscome Bay was sunk by a Japanese submarine during the Battle of Makin.

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After a boyhood of farming and football in Waco, Texas, Doris “Dorie” Miller enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1939. He was 19 and wanted to see the world and earn some money to send home.

Miller joined the Navy as a mess attendant, third class, but was soon promoted to second class, then first class, and finally to ship’s cook, third class

On December 7, 1941, Miller awoke at 0600. After serving breakfast mess, he was collecting laundry when at 0757 Lieutenant Commander Shigeharu Murata from the Japanese carrier Akagi launched the first of nine torpedoes that would hit the West Virginia.

When the “Battle Stations” alarm went off, Miller headed for his battle station, an anti-aircraft battery magazine amidship, only to discover that a torpedo had destroyed it.

He went then to Times Square, a central spot where the fore to aft and port to starboard passageways crossed, and reported himself available for other duty. Lieutenant Commander Doir C. Johnson, the ship’s communications officer, spotted Miller and saw the potential of his powerful build, and ordered him to accompany him to the bridge to assist with moving the ship’s captain, Mervyn Bennion, who had a gaping wound in his abdomen, where he had apparently been hit by shrapnel. Miller and another sailor lifted the skipper and, unable to remove him from the bridge, carried him from his exposed position on the damaged bridge to a sheltered spot behind the conning tower. The captain refused to leave his post, questioned his officers about the condition of the ship, and gave orders.

Lieutenant Frederic H. White ordered Miller to help him and Ensign Victor Delano load the unmanned #1 and #2 Browning .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine guns aft of the conning tower. Miller was not familiar with the machine gun, but White and Delano told him what to do. Miller had served both men as a room steward and knew them well. Delano expected Miller to feed ammunition to one gun, but his attention was diverted, and when he looked again, Miller was firing one of the guns. White had loaded ammunition into both guns and assigned Miller the starboard gun.

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Miller fired the gun until he ran out of ammunition, when he was ordered by Lieutenant Claude V. Ricketts, along with Lieutenant White and Chief Signalman A.A. Siewart, to help carry the captain up to the navigation bridge out of the thick oily smoke generated by the many fires on and around the ship.

Bennion was only partially conscious at this point, and died soon afterward. Japanese aircraft eventually dropped two armor-piercing bombs through the deck of the battleship and launched five 18 in (460 mm) aircraft torpedoes into her port side. When the attack finally lessened, Miller helped move injured sailors through oil and water to the quarterdeck, thereby unquestionably saving the lives of a number of people who might otherwise have been lost

The ship was heavily damaged by bombs, torpedoes and resulting explosions and fires, but the crew prevented her from capsizing by counter-flooding a number of compartments. Instead, the West Virginia sank to the harbor bottom as her surviving crew, including Miller, abandoned ship.

“It wasn’t hard,” said Miller shortly after the battle. “I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine. I had watched the others with these guns. I guess I fired her for about 15 minutes. I think I got one of those Jap planes. They were diving pretty close to us.”

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Just days after the attack, Miller was transferred to the U.S.S. Indianapolis, on the 15th of December.

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In May 1942 he became the first African American to receive the Navy Cross, presented for courage under fire.

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Miller continued to serve in the Pacific and was reassigned in 1943 to a new escort carrier, the U.S.S.Liscome Bay. Early on November 24, 1943, off Butaritari island, in the South Pacific, a Japanese submarine’s torpedo ripped into the Liscome. The torpedo detonated a bomb magazine, sinking the ship within minutes and eventually killing 646 of its 918 sailors, including Dorie Miller.

Miller’s sacrifices afforded him a reputation far above his rank. In honor of those sacrifices, the U.S. Navy in 1973 commissioned a new frigate–the U.S.S.Miller.

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Doris Miller was played by Cuba Gooding, Jr., in the 2001 ,Michael Bay movie,Pearl Harbor.