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Celebrating Kansas Aviation History, News & Aviation Careers

Aviation History Facts: December

December 4, 2013 by Carl Chance

Aviation History Facts: December

A Selection of Interesting Documented Facts by Centennial of Flight.


December 1

  • In 1783… J. A. C. Charles and another man make the first trip in a hydrogen balloon, flying 27 miles from Paris to Nesle, France. After landing, Charles goes up again by himself, achieving the first solo balloon flight. (OTM)
  • In 1934… The first airway traffic control center is opened in Newark, N.J., operated by staff of Eastern Air Lines, United Air Lines, American Airlines and TWA. (AYY)
  • In 1969… The first legislation to limit aircraft noise levels at airports is introduced in U.S. Federal Air Regulation, Part 36. (OTM)

December 2

  • In 1976… The Boeing 747 SCA, an ex-American Airlines airliner which has been adapted to carry the US reusable space shuttle, makes its flight. (AYY)
  • In 1986… A Concorde airliner carrying 94 passengers returns to Charles de Gaulle airport after an 18-day round-the-world journey; total flying time amounted to 31 hours 51 minutes. (AYY)

December 3

  • In 1945… A de Havilland Sea Vampire fighter becomes the first purely jet-powered airplane to operate from an aircraft carrier, when Lieutenant-Commander E. M. “Winkle” Brown lands his aircraft on the HMS Ocean in England. (AYY)
  • In 1958… An aircraft exchange, which will function like the stock markets and commodity exchanges, opens in New York. (AYY)

December 4

  • In 1908… The Englishman J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon (later Lord Tara of Brabazon) makes a flight of 1,350 ft. in a Voisin biplane at Issy-les-Moulineaux in France. He becomes one of the guiding lights of early British aviation and is issued the first British pilot’s license, then called an aviator’s certificate. (F&F)
  • In 1961… The National Air and Space Museum receives the Douglas C-54 transport Sacred Cow used by Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. (AYY)
  • In 1991… Pan Am World Airways goes out of business after 64 years of service. The sudden shutdown of this aviation pioneer strands many passengers and leaves about 9,000 employees out of work. (OTM)

December 5

  • In 1909… George Taylor makes the first manned glider flight in Australia in a glider of his own design. He eventually makes a total of 29 flights at Narrabeen Beach in New South Wales. (F&F)
  • In 1921… Western Australia Airways opens the first scheduled regular airline service in the country. (AYY)

December 6

  • In 1960… The first flight of the Sikorsky S-61L helicopter is made in the United States. It serves as a transport craft as well as patrol, rescue, and even anti-submarine duty. (OTM)
  • In 1975… The first airmail flight by a supersonic aircraft is made by the Tupolev Tu-144, carrying mail between Moscow and Alma Ata, within the U.S.S.R. (OTM)

December 7

  • In 1945… New Zealand National Airways Corporation is founded with amalgamation of Union Airways, Air Travel and Cook Strait Airways. (AYY)
  • In 1980… Pan Am’s Boeing 747 China Clipper arrives in Peking from New York via Tokyo to complete the first official flight between China and USA since shortly before 1949. (AYY)

December 8

  • In 1938… Germany officially launches its first aircraft carrier, the 280-foot by 89-foot Graf Zeppelin. (AYY)
  • In 1940… The New York City experiences its first blackout and anti-aircraft exercise, around the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (AYY)
  • In 1964… A United Lines Caravelle makes the first landing in the USA completely controlled by computer (automatic touchdown). (AYY)

December 9

  • In 1904… The Wright brothers discontinue trials with Flyer II after completing 105 tests and 80 brief flights since they began flying the new machine in May. (F&F)
  • In 1909… American Dr. Henry W. Walden makes the first flight with his triplane known as the Walden III. It is powered by a three-cylinder, 22-HP Anzani engine and takes off from Mineola, Long Island, N.Y. (F&F)

December 10

  • In 1919… Capts. Ross Smith and Keith Smith become the first Australians to fly directly between Great Britain and Australia, a distance of 11,340 mi., after flying 135 hr. 55 min. at an average speed of 83 MPH. (F&F)

December 11

  • In 1917… Katherine Stinson flies 606 miles from San Diego to San Francisco, setting a new American non-stop distance record. (AYY)

December 12

  • In 1953… Mach 2.5 (2 ½ times the speed of sound) is achieved for the first time by Major Charles “Chuck” Yeager in the Bell X-1A. The rocket-propelled experimental aircraft reaches 1,650 mph at 70,000 feet. (OTM)

December 13

  • In 1918… The first flight from England to India is made by A.S. MacLaren, Halley, and McEwen in Handley Page V-1500 four-engined bomber. (OTM)

December 14

  • In 1903… Wilbur Wright makes the first and unsuccessful attempt at powered flight at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. His aircraft stalls after 3 ½ seconds in the air and crash-lands 105 feet away. (OTM)
  • In 1965… A Learjet 23 executive transport shows off its impressive capabilities by climbing to 40,000 feet in 7 minutes 21 seconds with seven people aboard. (AYY)
  • In 1988… Japan Air Lines says its future Boeing 747-400s will be fitted with personal video screens in the first and business class. (AYY)

December 15

  • In 1920… The first of a number of flying schools to train reserve pilots for the military opens at Orly, south of Paris. (AYY)
  • In 1970… Artem Mikoyan, founder of the dynasty of MiG fighters, dies (AYY)

December 16

  • In 1951… The first helicopter powered by a gas-turbine engine flies successfully. The Kaman K-225 uses a turbine that makes for a lighter, simpler, more powerful engine compared to a conventional piston engine. (OTM)
  • In 1979… The British Airways Concorde lands in London after flying from New York in less than three hours (2 hours 58 minutes) at an average speed of 1,172 mph. (AYY)

December 17

  • In 1903… Orville Wright makes the first sustained, controlled, powered flight in the Flyer airplane at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. The historic first flight lasts 12 seconds and covers 120 feet. (OTM)
  • In 1969… The USAF closes Project Blue Book, its 22-year investigation into sightings of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. (AYY)

December 18

  • In 1912… French aviator Rolland Garros becomes the first pilot to bridge two countries in a single flight. He flies his Blériot monoplane from North Africa to Europe, half-way across the Mediterranean, 177mi. (F&F)
  • In 1970… Airbus Industrie is formally established to develop the Airbus A300; it is comprised of Aérospatiale, Deutsche Airbus, Fokker and Hawker Siddeley. (AYY)

December 19

  • In 1908… The world’s first aerodrome, Port-Aviation, is opened 12 miles outside of Paris. (AYY)
  • In 1968… The Boeing Company receives its first order, from Israeli airline El Al, for a long-range version of the 747 Jumbo Jet, production of which was announced just under a month ago. (AYY)
  • In 1978… The first solar-powered aircraft, Solar One, makes a successful flight in England. (OTM)

December 20

  • In 1916… The US Army Balloon School is established in Fort Omaha, Nebraska. (AYY)
  • In 1928… Australian George Wilkins and Lieutenant Carl Eielson make the first flight over Antarctica. They use a Lockheed Vega for the 10-hour flight. (OTM)

December 21

  • In 1960… The first major combat aircraft with variable geometry wings, the General Dynamics F-111, makes its first flight. (OTM)
  • In 1982… The last V-bomber squadron of Britain’s RAF, 44, is disbanded at Waddington, Lincolnshire. (AYY)

December 22

  • In 1930… The Tupolev ANT-6 heavy bomber makes its first flight in U.S.S.R. (AYY)
  • In 1974… The Dassault Breguet Mirage F1-E makes its first flight, in the hands of Guy Mitaux-Maurourard. (AYY)

December 23

  • In 1907… The chief signals officer of the U.S. Army, Brig. Gen. James Allen, issues specification no. 486, the first military aircraft specification for which commercial tenders were invited. The specification is written around the capabilities of the Wright Flyer and, though published for bids to conform to army requirements, only the Wrights are expected to respond by the closing date of February 1, 1908. (F&F)
  • In 1940… The first U.S. all-cargo air service is inaugurated by United Air Lines when at 11:30 P.M. a flight leaves New York for Chicago, where it arrives at 3:40 A.M. local time the following morning after stopping in Cleveland. (F&F)

December 24

  • In 1908… The world’s first aeronautical exhibition opens in Paris when the French president inaugurated the second half of the Annual Automobile Salon at the Grand Palais. (F&F)
  • In 1944… The people of the Philippines receive a surprise when airplanes of 43rd Bombing Group flew over to drop a million Christmas cards; each one contains the words: “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 1944 – General Douglas MacArthur.” (AYY)
  • In 1963… New York International Airport is rededicated as John F. Kennedy Airport in honor of the murdered president (AYY)

December 25

  • In 1934… French pilot Raymond Delmotte sets a new world speed record for landplanes of 314.33 mph, flying a Caudron 460. (AYY)
  • In 1946… Today is nicknamed “Black Christmas” as three airlines crash trying to land in bad weather, killing 72 people. It is the worst day so far in the history of Chinese civil aviation. (AYY)

December 26

  • In 1948… I. V. Fedorov becomes the first Soviet pilot to break the sound barrier. He achieves the necessary speed by diving his Lavochkin La-176 jet, powered by a Rolls-Royce Nene engine, at full throttle. (AYY)
  • In 1980… Aeroflot puts the Ilyushin Il-86 into service on its Moscow-Tashkent route. (AYY)

December 27

  • In 1773… George Cayley is born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. Pioneer of early aviation regarded by many as the father of flight. His glider takes his coachman on the first manned flight in 1853. (OTM)
  • In 1949… US carriers American Airlines and TWA begin coast-to coast coach-class flights with 60-passenger DC-4s, charging US $110 one-way (AYY)

December 28

  • In 1988… An analysis of the wreckage of the Pan Am Boeing 747, which crashed at Lockerbie, Scotland a week ago, reveals that a bomb had been planted in the jet’s luggage hold. (AYY)

December 29

  • In 1921… Edward Stinson and Lloyd Bertaud set a world endurance record of 26 hours, 18 minutes and 35 seconds flying a BMW-engined Junkers-Larsen over Roosevelt Field. (AYY)

December 30

  • In 1905… The Wright brothers sign a contract for one million francs with Frenchman Arnold Fordyce for the sale of a powered flying machine capable of flying a nonstop distance of 31 mi. When contingent of French government officials come to Dayton in April 1906 to change the agreement by seeking exclusivity for one year, the idea is dropped; for their trouble, the Wrights received 25,000 francs (then about US $5,000), the first money they earn from flying. (F&F)
  • In 1947… The prototype of the second Mikoyan Type S fighter, an early version of the MiG-15, makes its first flight; it has an imported Rolls-Royce Nene 2 jet engine. (AYY)

December 31

  • In 1908… Wilbur Wright at Auvours, France, makes the first flight over 2 hours. He flies for 2 hours and 20 minutes, covers 77 miles, and wins the Michelin Cup for 1908. (OTM)
  • In 1951… This year, for the first time, air passenger miles flown (10.6 million) have exceeded passenger miles traveled in Pullman cars on the railroad (10.2 million). (AYY)
  • In 1958… This year, for the first time, more passengers (1.2 million) have crossed the North Atlantic by air than by sea. (AYY)
  • In 1968… The world’s first supersonic transport aircraft to fly, the Tupolev Tu-144, takes to the air, powered by four 28,660/38,580-lb. s.t. Kuznetsov NK-144 turbofans. (F&F)

Works Cited

Editor-in-Chief: Bill Gunston, Aviation: Year by Year, Amber Books Limited, London, UK, 2001. (AYY)
Leonard C. Bruno, On the Move: A Chronology of Advances in Transportation, Gale Research Inc., Detroit, MI, 1993. (OTM)
Arthur George Renstrom, Wilbur & Orville Wright: A Chronology, United States, Library of Congress, 1971 (COFC)

From the Centennial of Flight web site.

Did You Know That…??!!

November 29, 2013 by Carl Chance


Did You Know That…??!!

by Frank Joseph Rowe

“Long forgotten but highly significant historical facts that played a major role in the evolution of the aviation industry.”

Lindbergh’s famous transatlantic solo flight in 1927 spawned the formation
of nearly 40 new aircraft manufacturing companies in Kansas. Such was
the excitement generated by Lindbergh’s flight that public interest supported
an unprecedented demand for new aircraft. It would last for only a few
years until the effects of the Great Depression would curtail this growth.

one time, Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna and Lloyd Stearman all worked together
at one company. In the early 1920′s, all three world-prominent aircraft
designers would work at the Travel Air Manufacturing Company in Wichita,
Kansas. Shortly thereafter, philosophical differences pertaining to the
way each thought aircraft should be designed would cause Stearman to leave
to form Stearman Aircraft Company, Clyde Cessna would leave to form Cessna
Aircraft Company and Walter Beech would stay on at Travel Air to evolve
the company into Beech Aircraft Company.

during the Great Depression that occurred in the Fall of 1929, many aircraft
companies went out of business. Some of the ones that managed to hang
on built inexpensive (under $1,000) , ultra-light weight (around 500 lbs)
aircraft known as “Flivver’s” that would typically be powered
by a 25 HP 2 cycle engine such as the American Eagle “Eaglet”
built in Kansaa City Kansas. Other attempts to ride out the depression
resulted in manufacturers building personal single-place gliders such
as the Cessna CG-2.

Lear, the multi-talented entrepreneur and originator of the Learjet, summed
up his marketing philosophy as thus, “the trick is to discern a market
before there is any proof that one exists”. The fact that the general
public still associates the name “Learjet” as being synonymous
with corporate jet aviation underscores the enormous impact of Bill Lear’s

of the lesser known, but most highly respected Kansas aircraft manufacturers
was the Helio Aircraft Company. Headquartered in the suburbs of Boston,
Massachusetts, and with it’s main manufacturing facility in Pittsburg,
Kansas, Helio produced some 530 examples of the much vaunted “Courier”
and “Stallion” series of C-STOL aircraft between 1954 and the
mid 1980′s. The Helio Courier was called the “tennis court airplane”
due to it’s ability to take-off and land in the length of a tennis court.
Conceived as an “every-person’s, affordable safety airplane”,
the Helio evolved into a high-dollar aircraft with it’s market restricted
in large part to military usage (particularly CIA). In the hands of a
seasoned Helio pilot, the Courier is capable of performing an incredible
display of low and high speed handling that has yet to be challenged.

original design of the Learjet 23 (originally called the SAAC 23) was
based in part on the Swiss P-16 Ground Attack Fighter. Most noticeable
lineage can be seen in a comparison of the wing shape / planform.

Melvin Moellendick , often reffered to as the “father of Wichita
aviation”, used his skills as a venture capitalist in the oil industry
to help underwrite the start-up of the first successful Wichita aircraft
production company E. M. Laird Aircraft Company (1919) and later in the
Swallow Aircraft Manufacturing Company. In 1918, oil field production
(largely focused in Eldorado, Kansas (as well as parts of Oklahoma) yielded
approximately 80,000 barrels a day. A portion of the profits from “black
gold” were plowed back into supporting an industry that continues
to thrive and set world standards for aviation.

during World War II, the production worker ranks at local aircraft companies
averaged between 50 – 60 % women. With an unprecedented number of working
women in the aviation factories the stage was set to underscore the future
job opportunities for women in what was prior to WWII , a mostly male-dominated
work-force. During the war, workers averaged 10 hour work days with every
other weekend off.

Note: Aviation historical author, Frank Joseph Rowe is Senior Multi-Disciplinary Engineer at Beechcraft. Rowe was formerly with Cessna as Supervisor, Advanced Design.

Tinker epitomized Native American Strength, leadership

November 28, 2013 by Carl Chance

Tinker epitomized Native American strength,


By Randy Roughton, Air Force News Service / Published November 21, 2013

The nation’s highest-ranking Native American general didn’t have to be on the ill-fated mission in the Pacific that took his life in 1942. The question of why he was always intrigued Dr. James L. Crowder, a historian and author of “Osage General: Maj. Gen. Clarence L. Tinker.”


Maj. Gen. Clarence L. Tinker was a natural leader who personally led his airmen into combat missions during the early days of World War II. He perished, along with his crew, during the battle of Midway. (U.S. Air Force photo/Courtesy)

So he once asked the question while talking to members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma.
“We were having a meeting about Osages who served in the military, and I asked them, ‘Why would he do that?’” Crowder said. “All of the key documents from that time showed he didn’t have to be on that mission. They said an Osage leader is never at the back of his band of warriors.”
Tinker, a one-eighth Osage, grew up on the reservation in Pawhuska, Okla. George Edward Tinker, his father, started Osage County’s first newspaper, the Wah-Sha-She News. Even after Tinker became a general, he sometimes called home to talk to his father, just so he could hear his native language.
“So General Tinker was always proud of his Indian heritage,” Crowder said. “In 1906, when they turned the tribe lands into individual holdings after oil was discovered in the Osage Nation, the Osage became the richest tribe in American history. As an alumni member at 19 years of age, General Tinker became quite well-to-do and had a lot more money than many of the officers he served with. He was not one to show off his wealth, although he did like to show off. He was known for coming in the MacDill (Air Force Base, Fla.) officer’s club on a mule with full Indian headdress for the Army-Navy football game. He liked to be the center of attention, yet he was kind of a quiet person, too.”

Crowder describes the general as 5-foot-10 and 150 pounds, with extremely long sideburns he was always proud of.”(Gen. Henry H.) Hap Arnold told him several times, ‘Get those sideburns shaved,’” Crowder said. “He would, as long as Hap Arnold was around. But then he would just grow them back out.”
Early in his military career, Tinker served with the 25th Infantry Division, originally in Spokane, Wash., and later moved with the division to Hawaii. In 1919, Tinker took an interest in flying, earned his pilot’s license and entered the Army Air Service in 1922. Five years later, he was named the commandant of the Air Service Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field in San Antonio, and later commanded several pursuit and bomber units. In 1940, he pinned on his first star, and, after Pearl Harbor, was named commander of the Army Air Corps’ Hawaiian Air Force, which became the 7th Air Force in February 1942, with Tinker as its first commander. He was promoted to major general a month earlier, just six months before he disappeared over the Pacific. In its announcement of Tinker’s appointment as Hawaiian Air Force commander, Time magazine described Tinker as “a spit-and-polish, sky-ripping flight officer part Osage Indian, flyer since 1920.”
When Tinker assumed command of the Hawaiian Air Force, his father reassured friends in the corner drugstore in Pawhuska, “You can go home and sleep peacefully now. The Tinkers have got the situation well in hand,” he said, according to an article in The Milwaukee Journal on Feb. 14, 1942.

Before Dec. 7, 1941, Tinker warned that the Japanese were the biggest threat instead of Germany, and he thought the Air Force would be the major factor during World War II. He also believed that a long-range attack against Japan would be the key to war in the Pacific. During the spring of 1942, he considered the Japanese on Wake Island as a threat to Midway and Pearl Harbor. However, he didn’t think the B-17 Flying Fortress could make the 1,300-mile trip so he acquired four Consolidated LB-30 Liberators and prepared for an attack on Japanese forces on the island, Crowder said. Tinker, then commander of the ArmyAir Forces Hawaiian Department, died with eight crewmembers when their B-24 Liberator disappeared through a formation of clouds over the Pacific Ocean during a long-range mission on Wake Island that he chose to personally lead. He was the first American Army general officer killed in combat during World War II. Oklahoma City Air Depot, the base that had only recently opened, was renamed Tinker Air Force Base.
“His career stretched from the beginning of the Air Force as we know it into World War II,” Crowder said. “He came through that period in the 1930s when the Army Air Corps wasn’t really held in great respect and was very poorly funded. Yet he came through it, and I think he was a very natural pilot.

“The fact that he gave his life in such a dramatic way as commander of the 7th Air Force leading his men, is also important in remembering General Tinker.

“But General Tinker’s favorite thing was working with young Airmen. He thought the key was the young men coming up in the military, and he always tried to give them positive experiences with officers. He was an encourager is a way anybody could remember him.”

Images and items of Tinker and his career can still be found throughout the base that was named for him more than seven decades since he disappeared over the Pacific. There’s a bust of Tinker in the Air Force Sustainment Center Headquarters, and a painting and a display of his awards and medals greet visitors to the Tinker Club.
But the first seeds of his leadership skills were planted in Tinker’s Osage childhood. His portrait hangs in the chiefs room of the Osage Tribal Museum in Pawhuska, and to this day, the Osage Nation honors him with a song and dance on the final day of their four-day In-lon-shka. The annual celebration emphasizes the culture and values that date back to the 1880s after they moved to their current reservation in Oklahoma. The Tinker family attends each year, with most of the men participating in the dancing.
“We have veteran dances that honor our soldiers,” said Chief John D. Red Eagle, principal chief of the Osage Nation. “My father was a World War II veteran, and we honor him during that time, as our other families honor their soldiers. We talk about when they were in the war because they were very proud to be a part of the military. That’s the way they felt about General Tinker because of his service to the United States as a soldier. It is a big honor to have a song in that dance.”

SR-71 Blackbird

August 21, 2012 by Carl Chance

Two SR-71 aircraft were used by NASA as testbeds for high-speed, high-altitude aeronautical research. The aircraft, an SR-71A and an SR-71B pilot trainer aircraft were based at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. They have been loaned to NASA by the U.S. Air Force. Developed for the USAF as reconnaissance aircraft more than 30 years ago, SR-71s are still the world’s fastest and highest-flying production aircraft.


The aircraft can fly more than 2200 miles per hour (Mach 3+ or more than three times the speed of sound) and at altitudes of over 85,000 feet. This operating environment makes the aircraft excellent platforms to carry out research and experiments in a variety of areas — aerodynamics, propulsion, structures, thermal protection materials, high-speed and high-temperature instrumentation, atmospheric studies and sonic boom characterization.

Data from the SR-71 high-speed research program may be used to aid designers of future supersonic/hypersonic aircraft and propulsion systems, including a high-speed civil transport.

The SR-71 program at Dryden was part of NASA’s overall high-speed aeronautical research program, and projects involve other NASA research centers, other government agencies, universities and commercial firms.

Research at Mach 3

One of the first major experiments to be flown in the NASA SR-71 program was a laser air-data collection system. It used laser light instead of air pressure to produce airspeed and attitude reference data such as angle of attack and sideslip normally obtained with small tubes and vanes extending into the air stream or from tubes with flush openings on an aircraft’s outer skin. The flights provided information on the presence of atmospheric particles at altitudes of 80,000 feet and above where future hypersonic aircraft will be operating. The system used six sheets of laser light projected from the bottom of the “A” model. As microscopic-size atmospheric particles passed between the two beams, direction and speed were measured and processed into standard speed and attitude references. An earlier laser air data collection system was successfully tested at Dryden on an F-l04 testbed.

The first of a series of flights using the SR-71 as a science camera platform for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., was flown in March 1993. From the nosebay of the aircraft, an upward-looking ultraviolet video camera studied a variety of celestial objects in wavelengths that are blocked to ground-based astronomers.

The SR-71 has also been used in a project for researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) who were investigating the use of charged chlorine atoms to protect and rebuild the ozone layer.


In addition to observing celestial objects in the various wavelengths, future missions could include “downward” looking instruments to study rocket engine exhaust plumes, volcano plumes and the Earth’s atmosphere, as part of the scientific effort to reduce pollution and protect the ozone layer.

The SR-71, operating as a testbed, also has been used to assist in the development of a commercial satellite-based, instant wireless personal comunications network, called the IRIDIUM system, under NASA’s commercialization assistance program. The IRIDIUM system was being developed by Motorola’s Satellite Communications Division. During the development tests, the SR-71 acted as a “surrogate satellite” for transmitters and receivers on the ground.

The SR-71 also has been used in a program to study ways of reducing sonic boom overpressures that are heard on the ground much like sharp thunderclaps when an aircraft exceeds the speed of sound. Data from the study could eventually lead to aircraft designs that would reduce the “peak” of sonic booms and minimize the startle affect they produce on the ground.

Instruments at precise locations on the ground record the sonic booms as the aircraft passes overhead at known altitudes and speeds. An F-16XL aircraft was also used in the study. It was flown behind the SR-71, probing the near-field shockwave while instrumentation recorded the pressures and other atmospheric parameters.


In November 1998 the SR-71 completed the NASA/Lockheed Martin Linear Aerospike SR-71 experiment (LASRE). LASRE was a small, half-span model of a lifting body with eight thrust cells of an aerospike engine, mounted on the back of an SR-71 aircraft and operating like a kind of “flying wind tunnel.”

During seven flights, the experiment gained information that may help Lockheed Martin predict how operation of aerospike engines at altitude will affect vehicle aerodynamics of a future reusable launch vehicle.

Dryden’s Mach 3 History

Dryden has a decade of past experience at sustained speeds above Mach 3. Two YF-12 aircraft were flown at the facility between December 1969 and November 1979 in a joint NASA/USAF program to learn more about the capabilities and limitations of high speed, high-altitude flight. The YF-12s were prototypes of a planned interceptor aircraft based on a design that later evolved into the SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft.

Research information from the YF-12 program was used to validate analytical theories and wind-tunnel test techniques to help improve the design and performance of future military and civil aircraft. The American supersonic transport project of the late 1960s and early 1970s would have benefited greatly from YF-12 research data. The aircraft were a YF-12A (tail #935) and a YF-12C (tail #937). Tail number 937 was actually an SR-71 that was called a YF-12C for security reasons. These aircraft logged a combined total of 242 flights during the program. A third aircraft, a YF-12A (tail #936), was flown by Air Force crews early in the program. It was lost because of an inflight fire in June l971. The crew was not hurt.


The YF-12s were used for a wide range of experiments and research. Among the areas investigated were aerodynamic loads, aerodynamic drag and skin friction, heat transfer, thermal stresses, airframe and propulsion system interactions, inlet control systems, high-altitude turbulence, boundary layer flow, landing gear dynamics, measurement of engine effluents for pollution studies, noise measurements and evaluation of a maintenance monitoring and recording system. On many YF-12 flights medical researchers obtained information on the physiological and biomedical aspects of crews flying at sustained high speeds.

From February 1972 until July 1973, a YF-12A was used for heat loads testing in Dryden’s High Temperature Loads Laboratory (now the Thermostructures Research Facility). The data helped improve theoretical prediction methods and computer models of that era dealing with structural loads, materials and heat distribution at up to 800 degrees (F), the same surface temperatures reached during sustained speeds of Mach 3.

SR-71 Specifications and Performance

The SR-71 was designed and built by the Lockheed Skunk Works, now the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. SR-71s are powered by two Pratt and Whitney J-58 axial-flow turbojets with afterburners, each producing 32,500 pounds of thrust. Studies have shown that less than 20 percent of the total thrust used to fly at Mach 3 is produced by the basic engine itself. The balance of the total thrust is produced by the unique design of the engine inlet and “moveable spike” system at the front of the engine nacelles and by the ejector nozzles at the exhaust which burn air compressed in the engine bypass system.

Speed of the aircraft is announced as Mach 3.2 — more than 2000 miles per hour (3218.68 kilometers per hour). They have an unrefueled range of more than 2000 miles (3218.68 kilometers) and fly at altitudes of over 85,000 feet (25908 meters).

As research platforms, the aircraft can cruise at Mach 3 for more than one hour. For thermal experiments, this can produce heat soak temperatures of over 600 degrees (F). The aircraft are 107.4 feet (32.73 meters) long, have a wing span of 55.6 feet (16.94 meters, and are l8.5 feet (5.63 meters) high (ground to the top of the rudders when parked). Gross takeoff weight is about 140,000 pounds (52253.83 kilograms), including a fuel weight of 80,000 pounds (29859.33 kilograms).

The airframes are built almost entirely of titanium and titanium alloys to withstand heat generated by sustained Mach 3 flight. Aerodynamic control surfaces consist of all-moving vertical tail surfaces above each engine nacelle, ailerons on the outer wings and elevators on the trailing edges between the engine exhaust nozzles.


The two SR-71s at Dryden have been assigned the following NASA tail numbers: NASA 844 (A model), military serial 64-17980, manufactured in July 1967, and NASA 831 (B model), military serial 64-17956, manufactured in September 1965. From 1991 through 1994, Dryden also had another “A” model, NASA 832, military serial 64-17971, manufactured in October 1966. This aircraft was returned to the USAF inventory and was the first aircraft reactivated for USAF reconnaissance purposes in 1995.

The SR-71 last flight took place in October 1999.

Development History

The SR-71 was designed by a team of Lockheed personnel led by Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, at that time vice president of the Lockheed’s Advanced Development Company, commonly known as the “Skunk Works.”

The basic design of the SR-71 and YF-12 aircraft originated in secrecy in the late l950s with the aircraft designation of A-11. Its existence was publicly announced by President Lyndon Johnson on Feb. 29, 1964, when he announced that an A-11 had flown at sustained speeds of over 2000 miles per hour during tests at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Development of the SR-71s from the A-11 design, as strategic reconnaissance aircraft, began in February 1963. First flight of an SR-71 was on Dec. 22, 1964.

Find this article at: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-030-DFRC.html

Armed Forces Day

May 7, 2012 by Carl Chance

US Dept of DefenseOn August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department — the Department of Defense. Each of the military leagues and orders was asked to drop sponsorship of its specific service day in order to celebrate the newly announced Armed Forces Day. The Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed day. The Marine Corps League declined to drop support for Marine Corps Day but supports Armed Forces Day, too.

In a speech announcing the formation of the day, President Truman “praised the work of the military services at home and across the seas” and said, “it is vital to the security of the nation and to the establishment of a desirable peace.” In an excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation of Feb. 27, 1950, Mr. Truman stated:

Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.

The theme of the first Armed Forces Day was “Teamed for Defense.” It was chosen as a means of expressing the unification of all the military forces under a single department of the government. Although this was the theme for the day, there were several other purposes for holding Armed Forces Day. It was a type of “educational program for civilians,” one in which there would be an increased awareness of the Armed Forces. It was designed to expand public understanding of what type of job is performed and the role of the military in civilian life. It was a day for the military to show “state-of-the-art” equipment to the civilian population they were protecting. And it was a day to honor and acknowledge the people of the Armed Forces of the United States.

According to a New York Times article published on May 17, 1952: “This is the day on which we have the welcome opportunity to pay special tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces … to all the individuals who are in the service of their country all over the world. Armed Forces Day won’t be a matter of parades and receptions for a good many of them. They will all be in line of duty and some of them may give their lives in that duty.”

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions, and air shows. In Washington D.C., 10,000 troops of all branches of the military, cadets, and veterans marched pass the President and his party. In Berlin, 1,000 U.S. troops paraded for the German citizens at Templehof Airfield. In New York City, an estimated 33,000 participants initiated Armed Forces Day “under an air cover of 250 military planes of all types.” In the harbors across the country were the famed mothballed “battlewagons” of World War II, the Missouri, the New Jersey, the North Carolina, and the Iowa, all open for public inspection. Precision flying teams dominated the skies as tracking radar were exhibited on the ground. All across the country, the American people joined together to honor the Armed Forces.

As the people gathered to honor the Armed Forces on this occasion, so too did the country’s leaders. Some of the more notable of these leaders’ quotes are stated below:

“Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.”

Former Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson

“The heritage of freedom must be guarded as carefully in peace as it was in war. Faith, not suspicion, must be the key to our relationships. Sacrifice, not selfishness, must be the eternal price of liberty. Vigilance, not appeasement, is the byword of living freedoms. Our Armed Forces in 1950–protecting the peace, building for security with freedom–are “Teamed for Defense …”

General Omar N. Bradley
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

“Real security lies in the prevention of war–and today that hope can come only through adequate preparedness.”

General Omar N. Bradley, 1951
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

“Armed Forces Day this year should serve to emphasize the practical application of unification in action, and to remind us of the continued need for unity in our Armed Forces and among all of our citizens in the interests of security and peace.”

Robert D. Lovett, Former Secretary of Defense

“It is fitting and proper that we devote one day each year to paying special tribute to those whose constancy and courage constitute one of the bulwarks guarding the freedom of this nation and the peace of the free world.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953

“Today let us, as Americans, honor the American fighting man. For it is he–the soldier, the sailor, the Airman, the Marine–who has fought to preserve freedom. It is his valor that has given renewed hope to the free world that by working together in discipline and faith our ideals of freedom will always prevail.”

Admiral Forrest P. Sherman

“Our Armed Forces and our national defense system represent a judicious investment of the nation’s resources in the cause of peace. The return on this investment, in terms of national strength, shows the determination of the American people to preserve our way of life and to give hope to all who seek peace with freedom and justice. “

The Honorable Neil McElroy, 1959
Former Secretary of Defense

“Close understanding between members of our Armed Forces and members of civilian communities is most important to preserve the high level of national readiness necessary for safeguarding the free world.”

General Nathan F. Twining, 1959
Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

“We cannot, in this day of exploding world competition on all fronts, be content to maintain the status quo. We must also realize that the preservation of our freedom in the years ahead may require greater sacrifices from us than those made by Americans who have walked before us.”

General Nathan F. Twining, 1960
Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

“Today we are strong enough to meet today’s challenge. But the very fact that we are strong may put off the challenge to another day. The Soviets think that time is on their side. We believe otherwise. But meanwhile we cannot afford to lower our guard.”

The Honorable Robert S. McNamara, 1961
Former Secretary of Defense

“…Word to the Nation: Guard zealously your right to serve in the Armed Forces, for without them, there will be no other rights to guard.”

President John F. Kennedy, 1962

“Only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.”

President John F. Kennedy, 1962

“The support of an informed American people is increasingly important to the Armed Forces in these days of rapid technological advance, quick reaction time, and grave threat to our freedom. I, therefore, encourage members of the DoD to observe Armed Forces Day by informing the American people of our ‘Power for Peace’ and by confirming their faith that in our strength we will remain free.”

The Honorable Robert S. McNamara, 1962
Former Secretary of Defense

“… Our Servicemen and women are serving throughout the world as guardians of peace–many of them away from their homes, their friends and their families. They are visible evidence of our determination to meet any threat to the peace with measured strength and high resolve. They are also evidence of a harsh but inescapable truth–that the survival of freedom requires great cost and commitment, and great personal sacrifice.”

President John F. Kennedy, 1963

“…Their contribution to our freedom and safety is measureless. Our national security depends on the maintenance of alert military forces as a deterrent to any possible aggressor.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964

“Armed Forces Day, above all, honors the dedicated individuals who wear the uniforms of their country. Each serviceman, wherever he may be, whatever his task, contributes directly and importantly to the defense of the nation. The task of each one is the task of all the Armed Forces: to protect the freedoms which underlie the greatness of America.”

General Earle G. Wheeler, 1967
Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

“Our servicemen and women shoulder the burden of defense as one of the responsibilities of citizenship in this free country. Having participated in protecting our rights and having met oppression on the battlegrounds of the world, they are able to appreciate and savor the blessings of citizenship in the country they serve.”

The Honorable Melvin Laird, 1970
Former Secretary of Defense

“At home and abroad, military men and women are showing purpose and dedication in defending American ideas. They are performing in our country’s best traditions under circumstances both difficult and complex. Thanks to their determined spirit of patriotism and professionalism, our country has a powerful and unified defense team, employing its forces in the constant quest for peace and freedom.”

The Honorable Melvin Laird, 1972
Former Secretary of Defense

The first Armed Forces Day came at a time of increased world tensions, political volatility and communist aggression. Some notable events that marked America’s first Armed Forces Week were as follows:

  • Bolivian police broke up “alleged” revolutionary communist-led general strike in LaPaz.
  • Two U. S. government buildings in Canton, China were taken over by the Chinese Communist Government. The buildings were U. S. property acquired prior to the Communist takeover.
  • The Burmese Army recaptured the city of Prome, a strategic communist-rebel stronghold.
  • Nicaraguans elect General Anastasio Somoza to a regular six-year term as president.
  • French and West German governments expected to talk shortly on the merger of the coal and steel industries of the two countries.
  • Communist China lifted the ban on daylight shipping along the Yangtze River due to the decline of Nationalist air activity.
  • Norway receives first US military aid in the form of two Dakota planes.
  • U. N. Secretary General Trygive Lie seeks West’s acceptance of Red China in the U. N.
  • Iran announced close range news broadcasts to the Soviet Union with $56,000 worth of Voice of America equipment.
  • Cuba celebrated the 48th anniversary of the establishment of its republic.
  • The Red Cross celebrated its 69th birthday.
  • Britain ended rationing of all foods except meats, butter, margarine, and cooking fat.
  • The U. S. Congress voted to extend the draft. “A Bill to extend registration and classification for the Draft until June 24, 1952 passed the House 216-11.”
  • The Allied Command announced it would “ease” the burden of occupation on Austria and would name civilian high commissioners to replace present military high commissioners.
  • Soviet authorities in Berlin withdrew travel passes of the U.S. and British military missions stationed at Potsdam in the Soviet zone of occupation.
  • The Soviets returned 23 East German industrial plants to East German authorities. The plants had been producing exclusively for the benefit of reparations to the USSR.
  • Twenty-eight Soviet vessels, consisting of tugs, trawlers, and supply ships remained in the English Channel as the Western Alliance prepared for air and naval maneuvers. Observers noted that many of them carried rollers at their sterns for trawling nets although no nets were visible.
  • Pravda denounced Armed Forces Day, calling it the militarization of the United States. “The hysterical speeches of the warmongers again show the timeliness of the appeal of the Permanent Committee of Peace Partisans that atomic weapons be forbidden.”
  • Western Powers renewed their promise to help Mid-Eastern states resist communism. They also announced an agreement to sell arms to Israel as well as to the Arabs.

Below are some of the themes and ideas that have prevailed over past Armed Forces Days:

Appreciation of a Nation
Arsenal of Freedom and Democracy
Dedication and Devotion
Deter if Possible, Fight if Necessary
Freedom Through Unity
Guardians of Peace
Lasting Peace
Pillars of Freedom
Power for Peace
Prepared to Meet the Challenge
Protectors of Freedom
Realistic Deterrence
Representatives of the World’s Mightiest Democracy
Special Opportunity for Thanks
Teamed for Defense

Again, from the May 17, 1952, New York Times article: “It is our most earnest hope that those who are in positions of peril, that those who have made exceptional sacrifices, yes, and those who are afflicted with plain drudgery and boredom, may somehow know that we hold them in exceptional esteem. Perhaps if we are a little more conscious of our debt of honored affection they may be a little more aware of how much we think of them.”

Armed Forces Day is celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May. Armed Forces Week begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May, the day after Armed Forces Day. Because of their unique training schedules, National Guard and Reserve units may celebrate Armed Forces Day/Week over any period in May.

Hispanic American Aviators in World War II

July 17, 2011 by Carl Chance

Hispanic American Aviators in World War II.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hispanics served in ground and seabound combat units, but they also distinguished themselves as fighter pilots and as bombardiers.

A "flying ace" or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The term "ace in a day" is used to designate a fighter pilot who has shot down five or more enemy aircraft in a single day. Since World War I, a number of pilots have been honored as "Ace in a Day"; however, the honor of being the last "Ace in a Day" for the United States in World War II belongs to First Lieutenant Oscar Francis Perdomo of the 464th Fighter Squadron, 507th Fighter Group.

First Lieutenant Perdomo, (1919–1976), the son of Mexican parents, was born in El Paso, Texas. When the war broke out, Perdomo joined the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) as an aviation cadet and was trained to pilot the P-47 Thunderbolt. After receiving his pilot training, he was assigned to the 464th Fighter Squadron, which was part of the 507th Fighter Group that was sent to the Pacific Island of Ie Shima off the west coast of Okinawa.

The atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945, but while the Allies awaited Japan’s response to the demand to surrender, the war continued. On August 13, 1945, 1st Lt. Perdomo shot down four Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar" fighters and one Yokosuka K5Y "Willow" Type 93 biplane trainer. This action took place near Keijo/Seoul, Korea when 38 Thunderbolts of the 507th Fighter Wing encountered approximately 50 enemy aircraft. This action was Lt. Perdomo’s tenth and final combat mission, and the five confirmed victories made him an "Ace in a Day" and earned him the distinction of being the last "Ace" of World War II. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action and the Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster.

Other Hispanics served with distinction in aerial combat, among which are the following men whose names are placed in accordance to their ranks: Commander Eugene A. Valencia, Jr., Lieutenant Colonel Donald S. Lopez, Sr., Captain Michael Brezas, Captain Mihiel "Mike" Gilormini, Captain Alberto A. Nido, Captain Robert L. Cardenas, 2nd Lieutenant César Luis González, First Lieutenant Francisco Mercado, Jr, Lieutenant Richard Gomez Candelaria, Lieutenant José Antonio Muñiz, Lieutenant Arthur Van Haren, Jr., Technical Sergeant Clement Resto and Corporal Frank Medina.

  • Commander Eugene A. Valencia, Jr., United States Navy (USN) fighter ace, is credited with 23 air victories in the Pacific during World War II. Valencia’s decorations include the Navy Cross, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, and six Air Medals.

  • Lieutenant Colonel Donald S. Lopez, Sr., USAAF fighter ace was assigned to the 23rd Fighter Group under the command of General Claire Chennault. The mission of the fighter group (the "Flying Tigers") was to help defend Chinese nationals against Japanese invaders. During 1943–1944, Lopez was credited with shooting down five Japanese fighters, four in a Curtiss P-40 and one in a North American P-51.

  • Captain Michael Brezas, USAAF fighter ace, arrived in Lucera, Italy during the summer of 1944, joining the 48th Fighter Squadron of the 14th Fighter Group. Flying the P-38 aircraft, Lt. Brezas downed 12 enemy planes within two months. He received the Silver Star Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal with eleven oak leaf clusters.

  • Captain Mihiel "Mike" Gilormini, Royal Air Force and USAAF, was a flight commander whose last combat mission was attacking the airfield at Milano, Italy. His last flight in Italy gave air cover for General George C. Marshall’s visit to Pisa. Gilormini was the recipient of the Silver Star Medal, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, and the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters. Gilormini later founded the Puerto Rico Air National Guard and retired as Brigadier General.

  • Captain Alberto A. Nido, Royal Canadian Air Force, the British Royal Air Force and the USAAF. He flew missions as a bomber pilot for the RCAF and as a Supermarine Spitfire fighter pilot for the RAF. As member of the RAF, he belonged to 67th Reconnaissance Squadron who participated in 275 combat missions. Nido later transferred to the USAAF’s 67th Fighter Group as a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with four oak leaf clusters and the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters. Nido co-founded the Puerto Rico Air National Guard and, as Gilormini, retired a Brigadier General.

  • Captain Robert L. Cardenas, USAAF, served as a B-24 aircraft pilot in the European Theater of Operations with the 506th Bombardment Squadron. He was awarded the Air Medal and two oak leaf clusters for bombing missions before being shot down over Germany in March 1944. Despite head wounds from flak, he made his way back to Allied control. On October 14, 1947, Cardenas flew the B-29 launch aircraft that released the X-1 experimental rocket plane in which Charles E. Yeager became the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound. Cardenas retired as Brigadier General.

  • 2nd Lieutenant César Luis González, USAAF, the co-pilot of a C-47, was the first Puerto Rican pilot in the United States Army Air Force. He was one of the inicial participants of the invasion of Sicily on July 10, 1943 also known as Operation Husky. During the invasion of Sicily, he flew on two night missions, the first on July 9, where his mission was to release paratroops of 82nd Airborne Division on the area of Gela and the second on July 11, when he dropped reinforcements in the area . His unit was awarded a "DUC" for carrying out this second mission in spite of bad weather and heavy attack by enemy ground and naval forces. González died on November 22, 1943, when his plane crashed during training off the end of the runway at Castelvetrano. He was posthumously promoted to First Lieutenant.

  • Lieutenant Richard Gomez Candelaria, USAAF, was a P-51 Mustang pilot from the 435th Fighter Squadron of the 479th Fighter Group. With six aerial victories to his credit, Candelaria was the only pilot in his squadron to make "ace". Most of his victories were achieved on a single mission on April 7, 1945, when he found himself the lone escort protecting a formation of USAAF B-24 Liberators. Candelaria defended the bombers from at least 15 German fighters, single-handedly destroying four before help arrived. He was also credited with a probable victory on an Me 262 during this engagement. Six days later, Candelaria was shot down by ground fire, and spent the rest of the war as a POW. After the war, Candelaria served in the Air National Guard, reaching the rank of Colonel prior to his retirement.

  • Lieutenant Francisco Mercado, Jr.,USAAF, flew 35 combat missions as a Bombardier over enemy occupied Continental Europe as a member of the 853rd Bomb Squadron, 491st Bomb Group, 8th Air Force. He was awarded the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Cluster and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He flew ten missions as the Squadron Lead Bombardier, and one as the Group Lead Bombardier on December 30, 1944, on a mission to the Railroad Bridge at Altenahr, Germany. On July 21, 1944, he earned a membership into the exclusive "Caterpillar Club" after he parachuted over England while returning from a mission with a crippled B-24.

  • Lieutenant José Antonio Muñiz, USAAF, served with distinction in the China-Burma-India Theater. During his tour of duty he flew 20 combat mission against the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force and shot down a Mitsubishi A6M Zero. In 1960, Muñiz was flying a formation of F-86s celebrating the 4th of July festivities in Puerto Rico and upon take off his airplane flamed out and crashed. In 1963, the Air National Guard Base, at the San Juan International airport in Puerto Rico, was renamed "Muñiz Air National Guard Base" in his honor.

  • Lieutenant Arthur Van Haren, Jr., USN, was a fighter pilot who was considered the top fighter ace of World War II from Arizona. He was part of the infamous U.S. Navy Fighting Squadron Two (VF-2 "Rippers"). Based on the USS Hornet, a United States Navy aircraft carrier of the Essex class, Lt. Van Haren, Jr., flew the F6F Hellcat. He downed nine confirmed enemy planes during grueling combat in the Pacific Theater skies, and had three additional unconfirmed kills. Three of his nine kills occurred in the Marianas Turkey Shoot. Additionally, Van Haren, Jr. was awarded two Distinguished Flying Cross (United States) medals.

  • Technical Sergeant Clement Resto, USAAF, was not an "ace" but served with the 303rd Bomb Group and participated in numerous bombing raids over Germany. During a bombing mission over Duren, Germany, Resto’s plane, a B-17, was shot down. He was captured by the Gestapo and sent to Stalag XVII-B where he spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war. Resto, who lost an eye during his last mission, was awarded a Purple Heart, a POW Medal and an Air Medal with one battle star after he was liberated from captivity.

  • Corporal Frank Medina, USAAF, was an air crew member on a B-24 that was shot down over Italy. He was the only crewmember to evade capture. Medina explained that his ability to speak Spanish had allowed him to communicate with friendly Italians who helped him avoid capture for eight months behind enemy lines.

Note: For a more complete chronicle of Hispanic Americans in World War II, please log on to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispanic_Americans_in_World_War_II.


April 10, 2011 by Carl Chance

U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet

In the spring of 1971, big things were in the air for the 190th. The Pentagon announced that the Squadron was to be reequipped, this time to be with RF-4 “Phantom” jets. The new equipment was scheduled to begin arriving in the following spring, and both the unit and the newspapers reflected on this at various intervals, the mechanics no doubt considering the F-4s notoriously difficult maintenance, and the pilots blithely soaring above such difficulties.

Conversion from RB-57s to RF-4s would not be a mere matter of landing new planes at the base, though. Not only would many of the personnel require retraining – both pilots and maintenance personnel – but the Aircraft Ground Equipment (AGE), which was essentially the same for any model of the Canberra , would have to be almost totally replaced to maintain the RF-4.

Fortunately, if there is one thing the Air National Guard has experience at, it is acquiring hand-me-downs from the regular Air Force. The AGE for the new planes was mostly in Vietnam , so in August of 1971, nine members of the 190th, under the command of LtCol Anthony Leis were dispatched to Tan Son Nhut AFB, RVN.

The team, consisting of both officers and enlisted men, left Topeka on 9 Aug 1971 , and arrived at Tan Son Nhut on the 14th. From that afternoon to the morning of the 19th, the team was almost continuously at work, identifying, locating and inspecting equipment with a total value estimated at almost five million dollars.

Several procedures may be noted. First, the team arrived while the losing unit (the 460th TRG) was still operational, thus letting the men of the 190th see the equipment in use, and speak with the men who used it. Second, by being on the spot, the 190th was able to look for particular items needed, in this case BAK-12 barriers. Third, the team was able to oversee packing, and see that TO’s, forms, diagrams and other time-saving devices were packed with test benches and related equipment.

On the morning of Aug 29, the team began leaving Tan Son Nhut, and the last elements (delayed by booked-up flights in Honolulu ) arrived at Topeka at 0925, 2 Sept 1971 . Behind them, in 10 Sea Land vans, came much of the more than 4,000 types of items needed to maintain the RF-4. The entire unit needed now was training and the aircraft themselves.

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

December 5, 2010 by Carl Chance

Poster by Allen Saalburg, 1942

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which is observed annually on December 7, is a holiday to remember and honor all those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. On August 23, 1994, United States Congress, by Public Law 103-308, designated December 7 of each year as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is also referred to as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or Pearl Harbor Day. It is a tradition to fly the Flag of the United States at half-staff until sunset.

The Attack on Pearl Harbor

On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941 America’s naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was attacked by the forces of the Empire of Japan. More than 2,400 Americans were killed and more than 1,100 were wounded. The attack sank four U.S. Navy battleships and damaged four more. It also damaged or sank three cruisers, three destroyers, one minelayer and damaged 188 aircraft.


The day after the attack, the United States declared war on Japan and entered World War II. President Franklin Roosevelt, in a speech to congress, stated that the bombing of Pearl Harbor was “a date which will live in infamy”.

Public Life

It is not a federal holiday. Government offices, schools, and businesses do not close. Some organizations may hold special events in memory of those killed or injured at Pearl Harbor.


Memorials have been built to remember the day and its events. The USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor is a marble memorial over the sunken battleship USS Arizona, which was dedicated in 1962. The memorial remembers all military personnel who were killed in the Pearl Harbor attack. Another memorial is that of the USS Utah, a battleship that was attacked and sunk in the attack. A memorial to honor the crew of the USS Utah was dedicated on the northwest shore of Ford Island, near the ship’s wreck, in 1972. The ship was added to the National Register of Historic Places and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989. In 1991, which marked the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Congress established the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal. This is also known as the Pearl Harbor Survivor’s medal and can be awarded to any veteran of the United States military who were present in or around Pearl Harbor during the attack. The medal can be awarded to civilians, who were killed or injured in the attack.


  1. http://answers.usa.gov/cgi-bin/gsa_ict.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=8440
  2. http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/pearl-harbor-remembrance-day

External links


February 8, 2010 by Carl Chance

Furnished by Ron Knott, former Navy pilot from his book, "Supersonic Cowboys."

The movie Thirteen
explains just how
threatened the United States was with nuclear war during the fall of
1962. Most Americans know very little about this impending danger
that could have destroyed a major portion of our population. The
movie explains the political predicament very well but only skims
over the military function that I and many others endured not only
for Thirteen Days but also for more than thirteen months. As indicated in the movie the
powers that be in Washington almost lost control of the situation
several times during the Thirteen
. Thank God a
peaceful agreement was achieved.

Retired Admiral Paul Gillcrist
represented the Navy and the pilots very well as the military adviser
for the movie Thirteen
He was my boss
in Fighter Squadron 62. We flew many missions together in and around
Cuba during those uncertain days. There were also several aircraft
lost and pilots killed during this operation that was not contributed
to hostile activity. The movie only noted the loss of one aircraft
and one pilot who was brought down by a Surface to Air Missile (SAM).

Our Air Group was placed on alert
during the first week of October 1962. We were briefed about the
missile build up and to be ready to strike our assigned targets in
Cuba at a moments notice. The entire Air Group (about 80 aircraft)
would hit selected targets and destroy the SAM sites when the orders
were given.

All pilots were restricted to the
base at Naval Air Station Cecil Field, FL and could not tell family
members when they would be home or why they were being retained on
base. We could only view pictures of our assigned target, in a dark
room, with our Top Secret clearance in hand. It was interesting to
note that these same pictures were published in “Time” and
“Newsweek” magazines the very next week.

After a few days into the missile
crisis we were deployed to Key West Naval Air Station, FL with our
F-8 Crusaders fighter aircraft for alert duty. This placed us only 90 miles from
the island of Cuba. That was only about nine minutes away in the
supersonic Crusader.
We were scrambled many times when MiGs got airborne in the little
island to the south. The Ground Control Intercept (GCI) site was very
good at supplying our pilots with the MiG’s heading, altitude and
speed. If the MiG headed north, or toward an American surveillance
aircraft we would be vectored in for the intercept at the ‘speed of
heat.’ Somehow the MiG pilots knew when we were in hot pursuit of
them and they headed back to Cuba as fast as possible.

We never got a shot at a MiG
although we chased many away from the fleet. We were like a big
brother coming to the aid of the surveillance aircraft. If some MiG
harassed them we took over the fight since they had no weapons to
defend themselves. Many times we would be skirting the three-mile
limit off the cost of Cuba. That limit was later changed to twelve
miles from the shoreline.

Our signal
to scramble was when the Red
Alert Phone
rang in our Ready Room. The two duty Fighter Pilots, in full flight
gear, would run fast as they could to the flight line. We were on the
second deck of a big hangar, which was about 100 yards from the armed
airplanes. At the first tingle of the Red
Alert Phone
we were off and running to the flight line. At the same time the line personnel were notified of
the alert, the plane captain would have the airplane engine started
by the time the pilot arrived. We only took time to fasten the two
upper fittings on the torso harness, close the canopy, and head for
the runway. Unfortunately, many pieces of support gear were blown over by jet blast from our
high power settings while taxiing.

The tower would clear us for
take-off with a green light. By the time we got airborne our radios
were warmed up and we could hear the vector commands coming from the
GCI site. Of course we were breathing so hard from the 100-yard dash
that our initial communications were sometimes garbled.

A humorous
event took place during one alert when LCDR Paul Gillcrist and I were
scrambled. When the Red
Alert Phone
rang Paul had just taken a bite out of a big donut, which was covered
with white powdered sugar. Paul ran out the Ready Room with the donut
in his mouth. He was about two paces in front of me and was unaware that an Admiral was about to
turn the corner in the passageway. He and the Admiral hit head-on.

As I passed
the bodies tumbling on the floor I noticed the white powder coming out of Paul’s mouth. I thought of “Puff the Magic Dragon”
as I ran by.

I ran to
the airplane, got airborne, and was laughing so hard I could hardly
talk to the controllers. Sure enough there was a pair of MiG-17s
making passes on an Air Force C-121 (AWEPS) aircraft just off the cost of Cuba. The MiGs departed just before my arrival.
The Air Force brothers were sure glad to see me on their wing.

If I recall
correctly the record time for getting airborne, after the Red Alert Phone
rang, was less than three minutes. An Air Force fighter squadron was stationed in portable buildings
next to the flight line and we would easily beat them in the air.

Jim Brady, who was one of our
outstanding pilots, wrote the following report. His statement
indicates how critical the situation was in those days.

LT Howie (Kickstand) Bullman
and LTJG Jim (Diamond) Brady of Fighter Squadron 62 were on minute
alert duty at Boca Chica NAS in Key West, Florida. The purpose of
this “hot” alert was to provide cover and protection for our
surveillance aircraft that were photographing Russian ships bringing
medium and short-range nuclear tipped missiles into Cuba.

the day in question, LT Bullman and LTJG Brady were scrambled to
intercept two MiG-17s that were making gun passes on several P-2Vs
and P-3Vs that were patrolling the Florida Straits. These Navy
aircraft were taking low altitude photos of the decks of Russian
ships carrying numerous missiles into Cuban ports for placement all
over Cuba.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was,
without a doubt, the
seminal point of the Cold War in that there was never a time when the
two nuclear powers stood more sternly, eye to eye, with the potential
for nuclear war as the result. The movie “Thirteen Days” in
recent years clearly depicted the level of tension that existed
between the antagonists during this period.

LT Bullman and LTJG Brady were
airborne in two and one half minutes from the sounding of the alarm
claxon (Red Alert Phone). They made a section takeoff in afterburner
and accelerated and climbed rapidly to twenty five thousand feet,
where they continued to accelerate to supersonic speed while taking
vectors from BrownStone, the ground control radar station which was
charged with the task of guiding such intercepts over the Florida

About 63 miles from Key West
and perhaps six minutes from take off, both LT Bullman and Brady
contacted the two MiG-17s via their APG-94 radar systems. BrownStone
confirmed the targets and LT Bullman acknowledged taking over the
intercept by calling “Judy” which was the code word for assuming
control over the intercept in the cockpit.

MiG-17s never saw LT Bullman or LTJG Brady as they slid in behind and
slightly below the rapidly departing MiGs that were heading south
toward Santa Clara, Cuba. With their Sidewinders growling in their
headsets, indicating an infrared lock on the tail pipes of the MiGs,
LT Bullman requested permission to attack by firing their missiles.
There was what seemed like an interminable silence from BrownStone.
Actually, the delay in responding was probably less than twenty

command was to, “Break off the intercept and return to base.”

Bullman acknowledged the command and the section of F-8s headed back
to Key West. Many hours were spent in debriefing the pilots by a host
of military and civilian officials.

Crusaders chasing
MiG-17s near Cuba


Post Script: It was many
years before both pilots came to understand why the attack had been
called off. Negotiations between the White House and the Kremlin had
reached a critical stage and the destruction of two Russian built
and, probably, Russian flown aircraft would have, perhaps, led to the
outbreak of hostilities between the Nations. No one can ever know for
sure what would have happened had LT Bullman not requested
instructions from “BrownStone.” The rules of engagement in place
at the time would have allowed the two F-8 pilots to fire on any
aircraft engaged in a hostile or threatening act against any elements
of the Armed Forces of the United States. LT Bullman, through his
cool-headed handling of the situation, may have prevented a chain of
events from unfolding that could have been extremely unfortunate for
both Nations
as well as
the entire world.

After many weeks at Key West our
squadron deployed on board the USS Lexington (CVA 16) for Combat Air Patrol near Cuba. Our primary mission at the time was for air
superiority in case a MiG harassed the Photo aircraft taking brownie pictures of
Cuba. These Photo Birds continued the surveillance flights for months
after the so-called Thirteen
had passed.

My squadron also flew CAP (Combat
Air Patrol) from the airport at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Gitmo)
for many weeks. Again our mission was to be on station, usually above
40,000 feet, orbiting just off the south coast of Cuba. We were there
ready for action should a MiG made a run on one of our surveillance
aircraft that was flying across Cuba.

There were two air fields at Gitmo at that time, Leeward Point which was 8000 feet long and McCalla
Field, east of the bay, which was only 4000 feet long.

The “powers that be” decided
that the long runway at Leeward Point needed to be re-surfaced during
this time of threat. This left McCalla Field as the only operating
airport at Gitmo.
This 4000-foot runway was the only one available for take-offs and

A fully loaded F-8, in
afterburner, could get airborne in less than 3000 feet, even on a hot
day. But, the same airplane required almost 8000 feet to stop on a
dry runway. Installing arresting gear mid-way down the runway to trap
our fast flying fighters on landing solved this problem. The same
tailhook that caught the cable for shipboard landing was used to
arrest the airplane on the short field. It worked and was fun. But,
if you got a hook skip, or missed the wire, you had to immediately go
to full power in order to keep from becoming a big jet ski off the
end of the runway.

Normally, there were two aircraft
returning from each mission. Both planes had to make an arrested
landing. It took about ninety seconds to re-set the arresting gear
after the first fighter landed before the second fighter could land.
We had to somehow delay the second plane from landing by at least
ninety seconds. We could not fly but a few hundred yards north of the
airport because of the border between the good guys and the bad guys.
The bad guys had Anti-Aircraft weapons trained in our direction and
we did not want to give them an excuse to use them.

Of course we could have separated
prior to reaching the field and delayed the second fighter from
entering that sacred airspace for a couple of minutes. But this is
not the way a Fighter Pilot thinks. He wants to be joined on his
leader’s wing in tight formation, at the speed of heat, all the way
to break.

The problem was simple to solve
with Fighter Pilot logic. As the first fighter pitched out for
landing the second airplane would automatically pull up into a
vertical loop. That stopped his forward motion and gave the ground
crew the extra time needed for the arresting gear to be re-set. More
importantly it allowed the pilot to demonstrate his real ‘Tiger’
spirit. His overhead loop should end where it started, if executed
properly, and he would then pitch-out for landing.

We got by with this procedure by
telling the “many-motor” pilots in charge of base flight
operations that was our only option. Those were the days when we
thought, “Having multi-engine time in your log book would be worse
than having ‘VD’ in your health record.” The many-motor,
station safety officer, thought we were a wild bunch to say the

When we first arrived at McCalla
Field the station Commanding Officer welcomed our squadron on board.
He asked us to make low passes over the base housing area, when
taking off, so the dependents would know that the fighters have

“During this tense time your
presence would give the civilians an added awareness of security,”
he said.

That was authorization a Fighter
Pilot loved to hear. We obeyed his worthy request by making a hard
right turn on take-off heading for the dependent quarters. We were so
low that I am sure some of the shingles were blown off their roofs.
And with F-8 afterburner blazing they were pounded with mega
decibels. These stunts had to be frightful to say the least. Our fun
only lasted one day.

The Commanding Officer came back
the next day and said, “They know you are here! You guys are
shocking them more than the Cuban threat. Knock it off!” We did!

At the end of this 4,000-foot
runway was a steep drop-off. It was about fifty feet straight down to
the bay where a squadron of P-5Ms and other Navy float planes were
moored. They had this little secluded cove all to themselves like a
flock of contented ducks along the sandy beach. Needless to say, we
had to get their attention as well. On take-off we would suck up the
landing gear, drop down to their altitude, and rake their place of
tranquility with the deafening noise of the F-8. In just a couple of
days they moved all aircraft far away from our area. As the old
saying goes, “Here comes the Fighter Pilots, pilots lock up the women and
kids.” We tried out best to live up to our reputation.

Other interesting aspects of
flying out of Gitmo were the danger the pilots faced in case they had to eject near the
runway. Hundreds of sharks could be seen swimming in the bay, at both
ends of the runway, where the natives dumped garbage. Therefore, a
water landing was not a good decision. The Marines had land mines
placed all around the perimeter of the base and stationed their big
K-9 watch dogs throughout the property. Landing on an explosive mine
or in the mouth of a German Sheppard was not the leisurely place one
would expect in the picturesque Caribbean. Perchance the pilot landed
across the fence in mainland Cuba, just a few hundred yards from the
end of the runway; he would become a prisoner of Cuba. Our resolve
was not to eject in this area. If all else failed we would go out to
sea and to make a nylon descent (parachute).

The Red
Alert Phone
rang. I
was duty Fighter Pilot. I ran to my airplane and mounted up like a
professional Fighter Pilot heading out to war, so I thought. In my
excitement I turned the corner too quickly and this caused the right
main tire to blow out. The airplane was flopping down the runway like
driving over a plowed field. A blown tire was not about to stop me.
I had to go. The Red
Alert Phone
was not to
be ignored.

The airplane had enough thrust to
get airborne with a blown tire. But my directional control was out of
hand. She was heading for the ditch on the right side of the runway
as I was quickly accelerating.

Going off the runway could have
ruined my whole day. So, in order to have symmetrical control of the
airplane, and to correct the extreme right drift, I just locked the
left brake and blew that tire as well. My directional problem was
solved, but the ride was terrible. In a few seconds I was airborne
looking for my bogie. Flat tires were the least of my concerns. I
learned long ago that an airplane is no good on earth.

The tower was screaming,
Silverstep 209
you blew a tire on take-off!”

I said, “No, I blew two tires
on take-off and I am switching frequencies to Combat Control.”

When I called the controller I
said, “This is Silverstep 209 where is my target?”

They said, “Your target is
flying around the east end of the island at 2000 feet at 160 knots,
vector 095 degrees for join-up.”

I thought, “Did I hear join-up
at 2000 feet and 160 knots?” I said, “Say again,” with a lot of
uncertainty in my voice.

The controller repeated what he
had said but added a little more information during this

He said, “Your target is a Navy
R4D (DC-6) carrying a group of Congressmen from Washington. They want
to take pictures of a Fighter flying wing on them in this hostile

I said to myself, “What?”
Here I almost destroyed a beautiful fighter, and possibly myself,
just so a group of Congressmen could go back to Washington with
pictures of a Navy fighter-flying escort on them!

I made sure they got some good
close-ups as I almost put my wing tip in their face. The R-4D pilot
was a little nervous to say the least.

Here I was airborne, armed for a
kill, with two live Sidewinder missiles, and 550 rounds of hot 20mm ammunition on board and my
mission was no more than a Photo Op. Dumb!

I flew with the politicians for a
few minutes then headed back to McCalla Field for landing.

When I called the tower, for
landing instructions, the tower operator said, “Silverstep 209 stand-by one!”

In a moment a very stern and
authoritative voice from the tower radio penetrated my helmet with
the following.

Silverstep 209 this is the Safety Officer speaking. You will not be allowed to
land at this airport because you have a blown tire.”

I said, “McCalla Tower I have
two blown tires. I can easily make an arrested landing with no danger
to me or my airplane.”

He said, “Silverstep 209 your airplane is fully armed and could blow up on landing.”

I thought to myself, “I know
why this senseless pilot is stationed at this remote place. He is out
of touch with reality.”

He said, “The USS Lexington is just a few miles south. You will have to fly there and make an
arrested landing on that carrier. You will not be allowed to land on
my airport with blown tires and live ammo.”

I switched over to the USS Lexington’s radio
frequency, told them of my problems and requested permission to land
on their ship. I had flown on and off that boat many times and was
well qualified to land there on.

The Air Boss of the ship said, “Silverstep 209 stand-by one!”

I thought, “Here we go again!”

In a moment the Air Boss called
and asked me if my plane had made an arrested landing at McCalla
Field in the past few days.

Of course it had and I said, “Yes

He said, “In that case Silverstep 209 you will not be allowed to land on this carrier.”

I said, “Why not?”

He replied, “There is a
regulation that requires the tailhook to be inspected after landing
on a concrete runway before it can make an arrested landing on a
ship.” He continued to say, “It is possible that the tailhook
point may be hardened after such a landing on concrete and could
possibly break upon landing on his ship.”

I said, “Sir, they won’t let
me land at the airbase and you won’t let me land on the ship. I am
too low on fuel to go to another airport what do you recommend?”

He said, “Silverstep 209 stand-by one!”

By then my oxygen mask was
percolating with cold sweat like a cheap coffee pot boiling over.

Finally, he came back on the air
and said, “Silverstep 209 this is the Air Boss speaking.”

I said, “Yes sir, go ahead, I
hear you loud and clear.”

He said, “I have worked out an
agreement with the tower controller at McCalla Field. You can make an
arrested landing there, but first you must expend all ammunition and
dump fuel down to the absolute minimum.”

I said, “WILCO SIR,” which
means I understand and will comply with his command. “Piece of
cake,” I thought, “Now I have a place to roost this crippled

LT John “Pirate
Nichols was returning to McCalla Field from CAP station and heard our
conversation. He joined on my wing and flew safety observer while I
fired 500 rounds of 20mm ammunition and two live Sidewinder missiles into the ocean. I then dumped fuel down to the minimum and
headed for the airport. John checked my landing gear to make sure the
blown tires had not damaged other systems in the wheel wells. He
landed ahead of me in case my landing might cause the field to be
closed for a while if things went wrong. My landing was a normal Navy
arrested landing that stopped my plane in just a few hundred feet.

After stopping I noticed hundreds
of people lined up on both sides of the runway to see this pilot and
airplane go up in flames. I thought, “They must have sold tickets
for this event.” Well, I disappointed them and lived happily ever
after, most of the time.

A few days later LT Dick Oliver
and I were flying CAP at 45,000′ when two additional fighters
relieved us on station. After flying the race tract pattern for
almost two hours we were ready for a little rest and relaxation. We
started descending rapidly and accelerated beyond the speed of sound
in a very short time as we were heading for McCalla Field. It was
always fun to let the Crusader do what it was designed to do and that was to fly very fast. In fact
the Crusader was the first US production aircraft that was able to exceed 1000

We were smoking through the air
at the speed of heat when all of a sudden LT Oliver’s aircraft
slowed down very fast. I was not expecting his rapid deceleration and
slid past him quickly. LT Oliver was a very smooth pilot and would
never try to throw his wingman out of position like that. Something
had to be wrong with his airplane.

I heard a muffled transmission
but could not determine what it was or where it was coming from. I
pulled almost straight up to stop my forward motion in order to get
back in position on my leaders wing. I rolled inverted and observed
him several thousand feet below flying very slow. In fact he had his
airplane configured for landing, with gear down, wing up, and we were
still about 75 miles from the airport.

I had to perform all kind of ‘S’
turns to get back in position. All the while I was calling him on my
radio but was only getting garble transmissions in return. As I was
joining on his starboard wing I noticed that his canopy was gone.
Wow! That explained his rapid deceleration and the muffled
transmissions I had heard.

Losing a canopy at any altitude
and airspeed can be a frightening experience. A canopy loss at
35,000′ and at 1.2 Mach is very dangerous for many reasons. It is
highly likely that the pilot can be ejected from the airplane without
notice. This is due to the fact that the Martin Baker ejection seat
is designed to fire, or eject, when the face curtain is pulled out of
its holder. The purpose of the face curtain is two-fold. It is
attached to the armed ejection pin by a cable and is actually the
trigger that fires the seat. It also helps protect the pilot’s face
from the sudden windblast during ejection.

As I looked at LT Oliver’s
airplane I noticed that his face curtain was flapping in the wind.
That meant his ejection seat could fire at any moment. All that was
needed was another half-inch of travel and he would have been shot
out of the airplane.

After we slowed down, our
transmissions were easier to understand. I told him what I observed
and the possibility of an unexpected ejection. We had no choice but
to continue to the airport, not knowing what might happen.

The other major consideration
was the fact that he would have to make an arrested landing at the
short field as noted above. In an arrested landing the airplane
decelerates very rapidly. If we made it to the airport without the
seat firing there was a good possibility that the seat may fire
during the sudden stop when catching the arresting cable.

These older F-8s did not have
ground level and zero airspeed capability of saving a pilot. As I
recall we had to have at least flying speed for the parachute to
completely deploy. Our concern was if the seat fired at the time of
the arrested landing the pilot probably would not survive. To say the
least the remainder of that flight was very tense. It sure would have
been nice to have an 8000′ runway nearby.

We carefully continued on to
McCalla Field for landing. The tower was notified and all the
emergency equipment was standing by for our arrival. In fact the
tower wanted me to land first in case the seat did fire causing the
airport to be closed. After I made my arrested landing and was
taxiing to the flight line I observed LT Oliver catching the wire,
coming to a rapid stop, and climbing out of his airplane as quick as

We noticed after landing that
this canopy had not separated from the airplane as we thought. The
canopy frame was still locked and attached. The problem was the glass
in the canopy had broken. Of course the results were the same, except
they could not fault the pilot for not properly locking his canopy.

These are just a few of the good,
the bad and the ugly times we experienced during the Cuban Missile
Crisis. Such events were not out of the ordinary when operating high
performance aircraft from land or sea. There are many similar stories
from those who flew missions in all branches of the military in all
types of airplane or helicopters. When you’re operating on the EDGE the normal can become abnormal instantly. We all required a lot of
professional attention and help from the Almighty to survive.

I can honestly say that my
military comrades are some of the most respected folks that I have
ever had dealing with. We worked together as a team, no matter the
rank or rate. We had a mission to perform and we did. I honor those
who gave all for their country no matter where or when.

I recorded these accounts for my
children and my children’s children. I would encourage all to take
the time to jot down some events of your past that can be passed on
to others. I have noted in my ‘remembering’ that a part of me is
awakened and the review is a tonic for my soul. You were there. You
did it. Record it.

[Author’s Note: Just
a little review of why and how the military can use Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba (Gitmo) for their operations. It was leased by the US Government
in 1903, during the administration of President Teddy Roosevelt. The
original agreement was reaffirmed by a treaty signed in 1934 by
President Franklin Roosevelt. The treaty, still in effect today,
gives the US perpetual lease on the land. Cuba has tried to break the
lease many times but the US would not cancel the contract with them.
One strange situation, especially during the Cuban Crises, was the
fact that native Cubans work on the Naval Base as employees of the US
government. They come in from main land Cuba each morning and go back
through the security gate each evening. We always questioned the
security of such an operation. Gitmo is the oldest overseas Naval
Base and the only one on communist soil.]

Ron Knott

Attack on Pearl Harbor

December 7, 2009 by Carl Chance

Attack on Pearl Harbor

Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II

Photograph from a Japanese aircraft of Pearl Harbor including Battleship Row at the beginning of the attack. The explosion in the center is a torpedo strike on the USS West Virginia


December 7, 1941


Primarily Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, USA


Clear Japanese tactical victory; strategic and grand strategic failure; United States declares war on the Empire of Japan; Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declare war on the United States.


 United States

Flag of Japan Empire of Japan


Flag of the United States Husband Kimmel
Flag of the United States Walter Short

Flag of Japan Chuichi Nagumo
Naval air force:
Flag of Japan Mitsuo Fuchida (first wave)
Flag of Japan Shigekazu Shimazaki (second wave)


8 battleships,
8 cruisers,
30 destroyers,
4 submarines,
49 other ships,
~390 aircraft

Mobile Unit:
6 aircraft carriers,
2 battleships,
2 heavy cruisers,
1 light cruiser,
9 destroyers,
8 tankers,
23 fleet submarines,
5 midget submarines,
414 aircraft

Casualties and losses

5 battleships sunk,
2 destroyers sunk, 1 damaged
1 other ship sunk, 3 damaged
3 battleships damaged,
3 cruisers damaged
188 aircraft destroyed, 155 aircraft damaged,
2,345 military and 57 civilians killed,
1,247 military and 35 civilians wounded

4 midget submarines sunk,
1 midget submarine run aground,
29 aircraft destroyed,
55 airmen, 9 submariners killed and 1 captured

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The attack on Pearl Harbor (or Hawaii Operation, as it was called by the Imperial General Headquarters) was a surprise military strike conducted by the Japanese navy against the United States’ naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, later resulting in the United States becoming militarily involved in World War II. It was intended as a preventive action to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from influencing the war Japan was planning to wage in Southeast Asia against Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States. The attack consisted of two aerial attack waves totaling 353 aircraft, launched from six Japanese aircraft carriers.

The attack sank four U.S. Navy battleships (two of which were raised and returned to service late in the war) and damaged four more. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and one minelayer, destroyed 188 aircraft, and caused personnel losses of 2,402 killed and 1,282 wounded. The power station, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the intelligence section) were not hit. Japanese losses were minimal, at 29 aircraft and five midget submarines, with 65 servicemen killed or wounded.

The strike was intended to neutralize the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and hence protect Japan’s advance into Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, where Japan sought access to natural resources such as oil and rubber. Both the U.S. and Japan held long-standing contingency plans for war in the Pacific which were continuously updated as tensions between the two countries steadily increased during the 1930s, with the Japanese expansion into Manchuria and French Indochina greeted by steadily increased levels of embargoes and sanctions from the United States and other nations.

In 1940, under the authority granted by the Export Control Act, the U.S. halted shipments of airplanes, parts, machine tools, and aviation gasoline, which was perceived by Japan as an unfriendly act. The U.S. did not stop oil exports to Japan at that time in part because prevailing sentiment in Washington was that such an action would be an extreme step, given Japanese dependence on U.S. oil, and likely to be considered a provocation by Japan.

Following Japanese expansion into French Indochina after the fall of France, the U.S. ceased oil exports to Japan in the Summer of 1941, in part because of new American restrictions on domestic oil consumption. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had earlier moved the Pacific Fleet to Hawaii and ordered a military buildup in the Philippines in the hope of discouraging Japanese aggression in the Far East. As the Japanese high command was (mistakenly) certain any attack on the United Kingdom’s Southeast Asian colonies would bring the U.S. into the war, a preventive strike appeared to be the only way for Japan to avoid U.S. naval interference. An invasion of the Philippines was also considered to be necessary by Japanese war plans, while for the U.S., reconquest of the islands had been a given of War Plan Orange in the interwar years.

While the attack accomplished its intended objective, it was completely unnecessary. Unbeknownst to Isoroku Yamamoto, who conceived the original plan, the U.S. Navy had decided as far back as 1935 to abandon ‘charging’ across the Pacific towards the Philippines in response to an outbreak of war (in keeping with the evolution of Plan Orange). The U.S. instead adopted "Plan Dog" in 1940, which emphasized keeping the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) out of the eastern Pacific and away from the shipping lanes to Australia while the U.S. concentrated on defeating Nazi Germany.

The attack was an important engagement of World War II. Unintentionally occurring before a formal declaration of war (which had been scheduled to be delivered shortly prior to the attack beginning), it pushed U.S. public opinion from isolationism to the acceptance of participation in the war being unavoidable. The lack of warning led Roosevelt to call it "a date which will live in infamy."

Background to conflict

War between Japan and the United States had been a possibility each nation had been aware of (and developed contingency plans for) since the 1920s, though tensions did not begin to grow seriously until Japan’s 1931 invasion of Manchuria. Over the next decade, Japan continued to expand into China, leading to all out war in 1937. In 1940, Japan invaded French Indochina in both an effort to control supplies reaching China, and as a first step to improve her access to resources in Southeast Asia. This move prompted an American embargo on oil exports to Japan, which in turn caused the Japanese to initiate its planned takeover of oil production in the Dutch East Indies. Furthermore, the transfer of the U.S. Pacific Fleet from its previous base in San Diego to its new base in Pearl Harbor was seen by the Japanese military as the U.S. readying itself for a potential conflict between the two countries.

Pearl Harbor on October 30, 1941.

Preliminary planning for an attack on Pearl Harbor to protect the move into the "Southern Resource Area" (the Japanese term for the East Indies and Southeast Asia generally) had begun in very early 1941, under the auspices of Admiral Yamamoto, then commanding Japan’s Combined Fleet.[16] He won assent to formal planning and training for an attack from the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff only after much contention with Naval Headquarters, including a threat to resign his command. Full-scale planning was underway by early spring 1941, primarily by Captain Minoru Genda. Over the next several months, pilots trained, equipment was adapted, and intelligence collected. Despite these preparations, actual approval of the attack plan was not issued by Emperor Shōwa until November 5, after the third of four Imperial Conferences to consider the matter. Final authorization was not given by the emperor until December 1, after a majority of Japanese leaders advised him the "Hull Note" would "destroy the fruits of the China incident, endanger Manchukuo and undermine Japanese control of Korea." By late 1941 U.S. Pacific bases and facilities had been placed on alert on multiple occasions, with hostilities between the U.S. and Japan expected by many observers. U.S. officials doubted Pearl Harbor would be the first target in any war with Japan, instead expecting the Philippines to be attacked first due to the threat it posed to sea lanes to the south and the erroneous belief that Japan was not capable of mounting more than one major naval operation at a time.

There has been ongoing controversy due to allegations made by conspiracy theorists that some members of the Roosevelt administration had advance knowledge of the attack, and that this was purposefully ignored in order to gain public and Congressional support for the U.S. entering WWII on the side of the British Empire.


The attack had several major aims. First, it was supposed to destroy American fleet units, thereby preventing the Pacific Fleet from interfering with Japanese conquest of the Dutch East Indies. Second, it was a means to buy time for Japan to consolidate her position and increase her naval strength, before the shipbuilding of the Vinson-Walsh Act erased any chance of victory. Finally, It was intended as a blow against American morale, which might discourage further fighting and enable Japan to conquer Southeast Asia without interference.

Making battleships the main target was a means of striking at morale, since they were the prestige ships of any navy at the time. Because both Japanese and American strategic thinking and doctrine was derived from the work of Captain Alfred Mahan,[26] which held battleships were decisive in naval warfare, it was also a means of striking at the fighting power of the Pacific Fleet; if it succeeded, it meant the ultimate Pacific battle ("decisive battle", in Japanese Navy thinking), which would inevitably be fought by battleships, would be postponed, if not prevented entirely.

Japanese confidence in their ability to achieve a short, victorious war also meant other targets in the harbor, especially the Navy Yard, oil tank farms, and Submarine Base, could safely be ignored, since the war would be over before the influence of these facilities would be felt.

Approach and attack

Route followed by the Japanese fleet to Pearl Harbor and back

On November 26, 1941, a Japanese task force (the Kido Butai, or Striking Force) of six aircraft carriers departed northern Japan en route
to a position to northwest of Hawaii, intending to launch its aircraft
to attack Pearl Harbor. In all, 405 aircraft were intended to be used:
360 for the two attack waves, 48 on defensive combat air patrol (CAP), including nine fighters from the first wave.

The first wave was to be the primary attack, while the second wave was to finish whatever tasks remained. The first wave contained the bulk of the weapons to attack capital ships, mainly torpedoes. The aircrews were ordered to select the highest value targets (battleships and aircraft carriers) or, if either were not present, any other high value ships (cruisers and destroyers). Dive bombers were to attack ground targets. Fighters were ordered to strafe and destroy as many parked aircraft as possible to ensure they did not get into the air to counterattack the bombers, especially in the first wave. When the fighters’ fuel got low they were to refuel at the aircraft carriers and return to combat. Fighters were to serve CAP duties where needed, especially over US airfields.

Before the attack commenced, two reconnaissance aircraft launched from cruisers were sent to scout over Oahu and report on enemy fleet composition and location. Another four scout planes patrolled the area between the Kido Butai and Niihau, in order to prevent the task force from being caught by a surprise counterattack.


Fleet submarines I-16, I-18, I-20, I-22, and I-24 each embarked a Type A midget submarine for transport to the waters off Oahu. The five I-boats left Kure Naval District on 25 November 1941, coming to 10 nm (19 km) off the mouth of Pearl Harbor and launched their charges, at about 01:00 7 December. At 03:42 Hawaiian Time, the minesweeper USS Condor spotted a midget submarine periscope southwest of the Pearl Harbor entrance buoy and alerted destroyer USS Ward. That midget probably entered Pearl Harbor, but Ward sank another at 06:37. A midget on the north side of Ford Island missed Curtiss with her first torpedo and missed the attacking Monaghan with her other one before being sunk by Monaghan at 08:43.

A third midget submarine grounded twice, once outside the harbor entrance and again on the east side of Oahu, where it was captured on 8 December. Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki swam ashore from her and became the first Japanese prisoner of war. A fourth had been damaged by a depth charge attack and abandoned by its crew before it could fire its torpedoes. A United States Naval Institute analysis of photographs from the attack conducted in 1999 indicated a midget may have successfully fired a torpedo into USS West Virginia. Japanese forces received a radio communications from a midget submarine at 00:41 8 December claiming damage to one or more large war vessels inside Pearl Harbor. That submarine’s final disposition is unknown.

Japanese declaration of war

While the attack ultimately took place before a formal declaration of war by Japan, Admiral Yamamoto originally stipulated the attack should not commence until thirty minutes after Japan had informed the United States she considered the peace negotiations at an end. In this way, the Japanese tried both to uphold the conventions of war as well as achieving surprise. Despite these intentions, the attack had already begun when the 5,000-word notification was delivered. Tokyo transmitted the message to the Japanese embassy, which ultimately took too long transcribing the message to deliver it in time, while U.S. codebreakers had already deciphered and translated it some nine hours before the Japanese embassy was scheduled to deliver it. While sometimes described as a declaration of war, "this dispatch neither declared war nor severed diplomatic relations". The declaration of war was printed in the front page of Japanese newspapers in the evening edition on December 8th.

First wave

The Japanese attacked in two waves. The first wave was detected by U.S.
Army radar at 136  nautical miles (252 km), but was
misidentified as USAAF bombers arriving from mainland U.S.A.
A. Ford Island NAS B. Hickam Field C. Bellows Field D. Wheeler Field
E. Kaneohe NAS F. Ewa MCAS R-1. Opana Radar Station R-2. Kawailoa RS R-3. Kaaawa RS
G. Haleiwa H. Kahuku I. Wahiawa J. Kaneohe K. Honolulu
0. B-17s from mainland 1. First strike group 1-1. Level bombers 1-2.
Torpedo bombers 1-3. Dive bombers 2. Second strike group 2-1. Level
bombers 2-1F. Fighters 2-2. Dive bombers
A. Wake Island B. Midway Islands C. Johnston Island D. Hawaii
D-1. Oʻahu 1. USS Lexington 2. USS Enterprise 3. First Air Fleet

Attacked targets:

  1. USS California
  2. USS Maryland
  3. USS Oklahoma
  4. USS Tennessee
  5. USS West Virginia
  6. USS Arizona
  7. USS Nevada
  8. USS Pennsylvania
  9. Ford Island NAS
  10. Hickam field

Ignored infrastructure targets:

  1. Oil storage tanks
  2. CINCPAC headquarters building
  3. Submarine base
  4. Navy Yard

The first attack wave of 183 planes was launched north of O’ahu, commanded by Captain Mitsuo Fuchida. Six planes failed to launch due to technical difficulties. It included:

  • 1st Group (targets: battleships and aircraft carriers)
    • 50 Nakajima B5N bombers armed with 800 kg (1760 lb) armor piercing bombs, organised in four sections
    • 0 B5N bombers armed with Type 91 torpedoes, also in four sections
  • 2nd Group — (targets: Ford Island and Wheeler Field)
    • 54 Aichi D3A dive bombers armed with 550 lb (249 kg) general purpose bombs
  • 3rd Group — (targets: aircraft at Ford Island, Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, Barber’s Point, Kaneohe)
    • 45 Mitsubishi A6M fighters for air control and strafing

As the first wave approached O’ahu a U.S. Army SCR-270 radar at Opana Point near the island’s northern tip (a post not yet operational, having been
in training mode for months) detected them and called in a warning.
Although the operators reported a target echo larger than anything they
had ever seen, an untrained officer at the new and only partially
activated Intercept Center, Lieutenant Kermit A. Tyler,
presumed the scheduled arrival of six B-17 bombers was the source. The
direction from which the aircraft were coming was close (only a few
degrees separated the two inbound courses), while the operators had never seen a formation as large as the U.S. bombers on radar. It is also possible the operators had only seen the lead element of the incoming attack.

Several U.S. aircraft were shot down as the first wave approached
land, and one at least radioed a somewhat incoherent warning. Other
warnings from ships off the harbor entrance were still being processed
or awaiting confirmation when the attacking planes began bombing and
strafing. Nevertheless it is not clear any warnings would have had much
effect even if they had been interpreted correctly and much more
promptly. The results the Japanese achieved in the Philippines were essentially the same as at Pearl Harbor, though MacArthur had almost nine hours warning that the Japanese had already attacked at
Pearl and specific orders to commence operations before they actually
struck his command.

The air portion of the attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time (3:18 a.m. December 8 Japanese Standard Time, as kept by ships of the Kido Butai), with the attack on Kaneohe. A total of 353 Japanese planes in two waves reached Oʻahu. Slow, vulnerable torpedo bombers led the first wave, exploiting the first moments of surprise to attack the most important ships present (the battleships), while dive bombers attacked U.S. air bases across O’ahu, starting with Hickam Field, the largest, and Wheeler Field, the main U.S. Army Air Force fighter base. The 171 planes in the second wave attacked the Air Corps’ Bellows Field near Kaneohe on the windward side of the island, and Ford Island. The only aerial opposition came from a handful of P-36 Hawks and P-40 Warhawks.

Men aboard U.S. ships awoke to the sounds of alarms, bombs exploding, and gunfire prompting bleary eyed men into dressing as they ran to General Quarters stations. (The famous message, "Air raid Pearl Harbor. This is not drill.", was sent from the headquarters of Patrol Wing Two, the first senior Hawaiian command to respond.) The defenders were very unprepared. Ammunition lockers were locked, aircraft parked wingtip to wingtip in the open to deter sabotage, guns unmanned (none of the Navy’s 5"/38s and only a quarter of its machine guns, and only four of 31 Army batteries got in action). Despite this and low alert status, many American military personnel responded effectively during the battle. Ensign Joe Taussig got his ship, USS Nevada, underway from dead cold during the attack. One of the destroyers, USS Aylwin, got underway with only four officers aboard, all Ensigns, none with more than a year’s sea duty; she operated at sea for four days before her commanding officer managed to get aboard. Captain Mervyn Bennion, commanding USS West Virginia (Kimmel’s flagship), led his men until he was cut down by fragments from a bomb hit to USS Tennessee, moored alongside.

Gallantry was widespread. In all, 14 officers and sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor. A special military award, the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal, was later authorized for all military veterans of the attack.

Second wave composition

The second wave consisted of 171 planes: 54 B5Ns, 81 D3As, and 36 A6Ms, commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki. Four planes failed to launch because of technical difficulties. This wave and its targets comprised:

  • 1st Group — 54 B5Ns armed with 550 lb (249 kg) and 120 lb (54 kg) general purpose bombs
    • 27 B5Ns — aircraft and hangars on Kaneohe, Ford Island, and Barbers Point
    • 27 B5N — hangars and aircraft on Hickam Field
  • 2nd Group (targets: aircraft carriers and cruisers)
    • 81 D3As armed with 550 lb (249 kg) general purpose bombs, in four sections
  • 3rd Group — (targets: aircraft at Ford Island, Hickham Field, Wheeler Field, Barber’s Point, Kaneohe)
    • 36 A6Ms for defense and strafing

The second wave was divided into three groups. One was tasked to attack Kāne’ohe,
the rest Pearl Harbor proper. The separate sections arrived at the
attack point almost simultaneously, from several directions.

Ninety minutes after it began, the attack was over. 2,386 Americans
died (55 were civilians, most killed by unexploded American
anti-aircraft shells landing in civilian areas), a further 1,139
wounded. Eighteen ships were sunk, including five battleships.

Of the American fatalities, nearly half of the total were due to the explosion of USS Arizona‘s forward magazine after it was hit by a modified 40 cm (16in) shell.

Already damaged by a torpedo and on fire forward, Nevada
attempted to exit the harbor. She was targeted by many Japanese bombers
as she got under way, sustaining more hits from 250 lb (113 kg) bombs
as she was deliberately beached to avoid blocking the harbor entrance.

USS California was hit by two bombs and two torpedoes. The crew might have kept her afloat, but were ordered to abandon ship just as they were raising power for the pumps. Burning oil from Arizona and West Virginia drifted down on her, and probably made the situation look worse than it was. The disarmed target ship USS Utah was holed twice by torpedoes. USS West Virginia was hit by seven torpedoes, the seventh tearing away her rudder. USS Oklahoma was hit by four torpedoes, the last two above her belt armor, which caused her to capsize. USS Maryland was hit by two of the converted 40 cm shells, but neither caused serious damage.

Although the Japanese concentrated on battleships (the largest vessels present), they did not ignore other targets. The light cruiser USS Helena was torpedoed, and the concussion from the blast capsized the neighboring minelayer USS Oglala. Two destroyers in dry dock were destroyed when bombs penetrated their fuel bunkers. The leaking fuel caught fire; flooding the dry dock in an effort to fight fire made the burning oil rise, and so the ships were burned out. The light cruiser USS Raleigh was holed by a torpedo. The light cruiser USS Honolulu was damaged but remained in service. The destroyer USS Cassin capsized, and destroyer USS Downes was heavily damaged. The repair vessel USS Vestal, moored alongside Arizona, was heavily damaged and beached. The seaplane tender USS Curtiss was also damaged. USS Shaw was badly damaged when two bombs penetrated her forward magazine.

Of the 402 American aircraft in Hawaii, 188 were destroyed and 159 damaged, 155 of them on the ground. Almost none were actually ready to take off to defend the base. Of 33 PBYs in Hawaii, 24 were destroyed, and six others damaged beyond repair. (The three on patrol returned undamaged.) Friendly fire brought down several U.S. planes on top of that, including some from an inbound flight from USS Enterprise. Japanese attacks on barracks killed additional personnel.

Fifty-five Japanese airmen and nine submariners were killed in the action. Of Japan’s 414 available planes, 29 were lost during the battle (nine in the first attack wave, 20 in the second), with another 74 damaged by antiaircraft fire from the ground.

Possible third wave

Several Japanese junior officers, including Mitsuo Fuchida and Minoru Genda, the chief architect of the attack, urged Nagumo to carry out a third strike in order to destroy as much of Pearl Harbor’s fuel and torpedo storage, maintenance, and dry dock facilities as possible. Military historians have suggested the destruction of these would have hampered the U.S. Pacific Fleet far more seriously than loss of its battleships. If they had been wiped out, "serious [American] operations in the Pacific would have been postponed for more than a year." Nagumo, however, decided to withdraw for several reasons:

  • American anti-aircraft performance had improved considerably during the second strike, and two thirds of Japan’s losses were incurred during the second wave. Nagumo felt if he launched a third strike, he would be risking three quarters of the Combined Fleet’s strength to wipe out the remaining targets (which included the facilities) while suffering higher aircraft losses.
  • The location of the American carriers remained unknown. In addition, the Admiral was concerned his force was now within range of American land-based bombers. Nagumo was uncertain whether the U.S. had enough surviving planes remaining on Hawaii to launch an attack against his carriers.
  • A third wave would have required substantial preparation and turnaround time, and would have meant returning planes would have had to land at night. At the time, no navy had developed night carrier techniques, so this was a substantial risk.
  • The task force’s fuel situation did not permit him to remain in waters north of Pearl Harbor much longer, since he was at the very limits of logistical support. To do so risked running unacceptably low on fuel, perhaps even having to abandon destroyers en route home.
  • He believed the second strike had essentially satisfied the main objective of his mission — the neutralization of the Pacific Fleet — and did not wish to risk further losses. Moreover, it was Japanese Navy practice to prefer the conservation of strength over the total destruction of the enemy.

At a conference aboard Yamato the following morning, Yamamoto initially supported Nagumo. In retrospect, sparing the vital dockyards, maintenance shops, and oil depots meant the U.S. could respond relatively quickly to Japanese activities in the Pacific. Yamamoto later regretted Nagumo’s decision to withdraw and categorically stated it had been a great mistake not to order a third strike.


A Japanese Mitsubishi A6M2 "Zero" fighter airplane takes off from the aircraft carrier Akagi on the morning of December 7, 1941.

Zeroes preparing to take off from Shokaku for Pearl Harbor

A Japanese Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" torpedo bomber takes off from Shokaku.

A Japanese Aichi D3A1 "Val" dive bombers preparing to take off. Aircraft carrier Soryu in the background.

Battleship USS California sinking

Battleship USS Arizona explodes.

Destroyer USS Shaw exploding after her forward magazine was detonated

Battleship USS Nevada attempting to escape from the harbor.

Battleship USS West Virginia took two aerial bombs (one dud) and seven torpedo hits; of the seven at least five were from aircraft and one from a midget submarine

B-17 after the attack on Hickam Field.

Hangar in Ford Island burns

From left are: USS West Virginia, USS Tennessee, both damaged; and USS Arizona, sunk.

Aftermath: USS West Virginia (severely damaged), USS Tennessee (damaged), and the USS Arizona (sunk).



USS Pennsylvania, behind the wreckage of the USS Downes and USS Cassin.

Though the attack inflicted large-scale destruction, the damage was
not significant in terms of American fuel storage, maintenance, and
intelligence capabilities. Had Japan destroyed the American carriers,
the Pacific Fleet’s ability to conduct offensive operations would have
been crippled for a year or so (given no diversions from the Atlantic
Fleet). As it was, the elimination of the battleships left the U.S.
Navy with no choice but rely on its aircraft carriers and submarines —
the very weapons with which the U.S. Navy halted and eventually
reversed the Japanese advance. A major flaw of Japanese strategic
thinking was a belief the ultimate Pacific battle would be fought by
battleships, in keeping with the doctrine of Captain Alfred Mahan. As a result, Yamamoto (and his successors) hoarded battleships for a “decisive battle” that never happened.

Ultimately, targets not on Genda’s list, such as the submarine base
and the old headquarters building, proved more important than any
battleship. It was submarines that immobilized the Imperial Japanese
Navy’s heavy ships and brought Japan’s economy to a standstill by
crippling the transportation of oil and raw materials. Also, the
basement of the Old Administration Building was the home of the cryptanalytic unit which contributed significantly to the Midway ambush and the Submarine Force’s success.

Admiral Hara Tadaichi summed up the Japanese result by saying, “We won a great tactical victory at Pearl Harbor and thereby lost the war.”


Captain Homer N. Wallin (center) supervises salvage operations aboard USS California, early 1942

After a systematic search for survivors, formal salvage operations began. Captain Homer N. Wallin, Material Officer for Commander, Battle Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, was immediately retained to lead salvage operations.

Around Pearl Harbor, divers from the Navy (shore and tenders), the
Naval Shipyard, and civilian contractors (Pacific Bridge and others)
began work on the ships which could be refloated. They patched holes,
cleared debris, and pumped water out of ships. Navy divers worked
inside the damaged ships. Within six months, five battleships and two
cruisers were patched or refloated so they could be sent to shipyards
in Pearl and on the mainland for extensive repair.

Intensive salvage operations continued for another year, a total of some 20,000 hours under water. Oklahoma, while successfully raised, was never repaired. Arizona and the target ship Utah
were too heavily damaged for salvage, though much of their armament and
equipment was removed and put to use aboard other vessels. Today, the
two hulks remain where they were sunk.

Films and books


  • The Final Countdown is a movie set around Pearl Harbor, in which the nuclear aircraft carrier, USS NimitzTemplate:WP Ships USS instances, from 1980 is time-warped back to December 6, 1941, one day before the attack on the base.
  • From Here to Eternity by James Jones. The attack on Pearl Harbor plays a crucial role for Robert E. Lee Prewitt.
  • In an episode of Freakazoid!, the hero goes back to 1941 and prevents the attack from happening.
  • The first season of seaQuest DSV featured Pearl Harbor as the headquarters of the United Earth Oceans Organization (U.E.O.). In the episode “Games”, a murderous criminal seizes control of the seaQuest’s weapons system and directs four missiles from the ship towards Pearl Harbor. Fortunately, Captain Nathan Bridger had anticipated that the criminal would attempt to gain control of the
    weapons and ordered all the warheads to be disarmed. Later, in the
    episode “The Sincerest Form of Flattery”, an experimental submarine
    piloted by a computerized profile of Captain Bridger launched a missile
    attack at Pearl Harbor, believing it to be part of a war games exercise.

Historical fiction

  • Tora! Tora! Tora!
    is a movie about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Many consider
    this to be the most faithful movie re-telling of the attack as it deals
    with many aspects of the battle with attention to historical fact.
  • Pearl Harbor
    is the title of a 2001 film about the 1941 attack. The film is a love
    story rather than an accurate portrayal of the event, although some of
    the events portrayed actually took place. Also, the portrayal of action
    and history is considered inaccurate. A number of the shipboard scenes
    were actually filmed on the USS LexingtonTemplate:WP Ships USS instances in Corpus Christi, TX. The film is directed by Michael Bay and stars Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Kate Beckinsale.


  • At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor by Gordon W. Prange is an extremely comprehensive account of the events leading up to the
    Pearl Harbor attack. It is a balanced account that gives both the
    perspective of the Japanese and United States. Prange spent 37 years
    researching the book by studying documents about Pearl Harbor and
    interviewing surviving participants to attempt the most exhaustive
    truth about what happened to bring the Japanese to attack the United
    States at Pearl Harbor, why the United States intelligence failed to
    predict the attack, and why a peace agreement was not attained. The
    Village said about At Dawn We Slept, “By far the most exhaustive and complete account we are likely to have of exactly what happened and how and why.”
  • The Attack on Pearl Harbor: An Illustrated History by Larry Kimmett and Margaret Regis is a careful recreation of the “Day of Infamy
    using maps, photos, unique illustrations, and an animated CD. From the
    early stages of Japanese planning, through the attack on Battleship Row, to the salvage of the U.S. Pacific fleet, this book provides a detailed overview of the attack.
  • Pearl Harbor Countdown: Admiral James O. Richardson by
    Skipper Steely is an insightful and detailed account of the events
    leading up to the Pearl Harbor disaster. Through his comprehensive
    treatment of the life and times of Admiral James O. Richardson,
    Steely explores four decades of American foreign policy, traditional
    military practice, U.S. intelligence, and the administrative side of
    the military, exposing the largely untold story of the events leading
    up to the Japanese attack.

Alternate history

  • Days of Infamy is a novel by Harry Turtledove in which the Japanese attack on Hawaii is not limited to a strike on
    Pearl Harbor, but is instead a full-scale invasion and eventual
    occupation after U.S. forces are driven off the islands (something that
    one of the key planners of the attack, Commander Minoru Genda wanted but the higher-ups rejected). The many viewpoint characters (a
    Turtledove trademark) are drawn from Hawaiian civilians (both white and
    Japanese) as well as soldiers and sailors from both Japan and the USA.
    Turtledove has to date written one sequel, The End of the Beginning.
  • In the computer game Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, Pearl Harbor is the location of a Soviet invasion during World War III.
    In the first game of the Red Alert series, Adolph Hitler was removed
    from history by Einstein’s ‘Chronosphere’ system, preventing the
    Holocaust and presumably the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. A general in
    the game jokes ,”as if someone could mount a successful attack there.”
    Interestingly enough, the Arizona memorial was still included in the
    game, even though the ship would never have been destroyed during the
    games alternate timeline.



  1. Ships present at Pearl Harbor 0800 December 7, 1941 US Navy Historical Center
  2. CinCP report of damage to ships in Pearl Harbor from www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar. Unless otherwise stated, all vessels listed were salvageable.
  3. Conn 2000,
    p. 194 (Navy and Marines: 2,117 killed in action or died of
    wounds, 779 wounded; Army 215 killed in action or died of wounds, 360
  4. GPO 1946, pp. 64-65.
  5. Martin Gilbert, The Second World War(1989) pg. 272
  6. Fukudome, Shigeru, “Hawaii Operation”. United States Naval Institute, Proceedings, 81 (December 1955), pp.1315-1331
  7. Parillo 2006, p. 288
  8. GPO 1943,
    p. 96 After it was announced in September iron and steel scrap
    export would also be prohibited, Japanese Ambassador Horinouchi
    protested to Secretary Hull on October 8, 1940 warning this might be
    considered an “unfriendly act”.
  9. GPO 1943, p. 94.
  10. Toland, Japan’s War.
  11. GPO 1943, p. 125.
  12. Peattie 1997.
  13. Hakim, Joy (1995). A History of Us: War, Peace and all that Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509514-6. 
  14. Calvocoressi, Wint, Pritchard, The Penguin History of the Second World War, p. 952-953
  15. This was mainly a Japanese Navy preference; the Japanese Army would have chosen to attack the Soviet Union. Peattie 1997; Coox, Kobun.
  16. Gailey 1995, p. 68.
  17. Gailey 1995, p. 70.
  18. Peter Wetzler, Hirohito and War, 1998, p.39
  19. Bix, Herbert. Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, 2000, p.417, citing the Sugiyama memo)
  20. Noted by Arthur MacArthur in the 1890s. Manchester, William. American Caesar.
  21. Peattie & Evans, Kaigun.
  22. Stinnett, Robert. Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor (Free Press, 1999); Toland, John. Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath (Berkley, 1986).
  23. Willmott, H. P. Barrier and the Javelin (Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute Press, 1983), p.14.
  24. Willmott, Barrier and the Javelin, p.14.
  25. Willmott, Barrier and the Javelin, p.14.
  26. Miller, Edward S. War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897-1945 (Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute Press,1991).
  27. Mahan, Alfred T. The Influence of Seapower on History, 1660-1783 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1918, reprinted 1949), passim.
  28. Willmott, Barrier and the Javelin
  29. Order of Battle – Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1941
  30. Stewart, A.J., Lieutenant Commander, USN. “Those Mysterious Midgets”, United States Naval Institute Proceedings, December 1974, p.56
  31. Stewart, p.56
  32. Goldstein & Dillon 2000, p. 274
  33. Stewart, “Those Mysterious Midgets”, p.57
  34. Smith 1999, p. 36.
  35. Stewart, “Those Mysterious Midgets”, p.58
  36. She was located by a University of Hawaii research submersible on 28 August 2002 in 400 meters of water, five miles outside the harbor. “Japanese Midget Submarine”. Retrieved on 2008-09-07.
  37. Stewart, pp.59-61
  38. Sakamaki’s unexpected survival was despised by many Japanese, who referred to his dead companions as “The Nine Young Gods.”
  39. Stewart, “Those Mysterious Midgets”, p.61-2
  40. Ofstie, R.A., Rear Admiral, USN. The Campaigns of the Pacific War (United States Government Printing Office, 1946), p.19
  41. Rodgaard 1999.
  42. Calvocoressi et al., The Penguin History of the Second World War, p.952
  43. Toland, Infamy.
  44. Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1988, p. 58
  45. Declaration of War handout
    The Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, Planning and Execution. First
    wave: 189 planes, 50 Kates w/bombs, 40 Kates with torpedoes, 54 Vals,
    45 Zekes Second wave: 171 planes, 54 Kates w/bombs, 81 Vals, 36 Zekes.
    The Combat Air Patrol over the carriers alternated 18 plane shifts
    every two hours with 18 more ready for takeoff on the flight decks and
    an additional 18 ready on hangar decks.
  47. NavSource 2003.
  48. Prange 1999, p. 98.
  49. Prange 1999, p. 97.
  50. Prange 1999, p. 174.
  51. In
    the twenty-five sorties flown, USAF Historical Study No.85 credits six
    pilots with ten planes destroyed: 1st Lt Lewis M. Sanders (P-36) and
    2nd Lts Philip M Rasmussen (P-36), Gordon H. Sterling Jr. (P-36, killed in action), Harry W. Brown (P-36), Kenneth M. Taylor (P-40, 2), and George S. Welch (P-40, 4). Three of the P-36 kills were not verified by the Japanese and may have been shot down by naval anti-aircraft fire.
  52. Odd
    though it may sound, “not” is correct, in keeping with standard Navy
    telegraphic practice. This was confirmed by Beloite and Beloite after
    years of research and debate.
  53. Parillo 2006, p. 293
  54. The
    gunners that did get in action scored most of the victories against
    Japanese aircraft that morning, including the first of the attack, by Tautog, and Dorie Miller’s Navy Cross-worthy effort. Miller was an African-American cook aboard West Virginia who took over an unattended anti-aircraft gun on which he had no training. He was the first African-American sailor to be awarded the Navy Cross.
  55. The wreck has become a memorial to those lost that day, most of whom remain within the ship. She
    continues to leak small amounts of fuel oil, over 60 years after the
  56. USS Shaw (DD-373).
  57. Ofstie 1946, p. 18.
  58. USAAF pilots of the 46th and 47th Pursuit Squadrons, 15th Pursuit Group, claim to have destroyed 10.
  59. In the event, loss of these might have been a net benefit to the U.S. Blair, passim.
  60. Gailey 1997, p. 68.
  61. Willmott, Barrier and the Javelin; Blair, Silent Victory.
  62. Gailey 1997, pp. 97-98.
  63. Hoyt 2000, p. 190.
  64. Hoyt 2000, p. 191.
  65. Prange 1999.
  66. Gailey 1997, p. 97.
  67. Willmott, p.16.
  68. Gailey 1997, p. 98.
  69. Haufler, Herve. Codebreaker’s Victory: How the Allied Cryptographers Won World War II (New York: NAL, 2003), quoted p.127.
  70. Commander Edward Ellsberg was ordered to [Massawa]] as his replacement, to assist the British in clearing scuttled Italian and German ships. This arguably delayed by several months British hopes for a useful port on the Red Sea. Commander Edward Ellsberg, O.B.E. Under the Red Sea Sun (Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1946).
  71. Raymer, E.C: “Descent Into Darkness”, Presidio Press, 1996.
  72. Post-attack ship salvage 1942-1944



  • Gailey, Harry A. (1997), War in the Pacific: From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay, Presidio, ISBN 0891416161
  • Hakim, Joy (1995). A History of Us: War, Peace and all that Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509514-6. 
  • Smith, Carl (1999), Pearl Harbor 1941: The Day of Infamy, Osprey, ISBN 1855327988 
  • Theobold, Robert Alfred (1954), The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor, New York: Devin-Adair 

U.S. Government Documents

Magazine articles

Online sources

Further reading

  • McCollum memo A 1940 memo from a Naval headquarters staff officer to his superiors
    outlining possible provocations to Japan, which might lead to war
    (declassified in 1994).
  • Gordon W. Prange, At Dawn We Slept (McGraw-Hill, 1981), Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History (McGraw-Hill, 1986), and December 7, 1941: The Day the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor
    (McGraw-Hill, 1988). This monumental trilogy, written with
    collaborators Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon, is
    considered the authoritative work on the subject.
  • Larry Kimmett and Margaret Regis, The Attack on Pearl Harbor: An Illustrated History
    (NavPublishing, 2004). Using maps, photos, unique illustrations, and an
    animated CD, this book provides a detailed overview of the surprise
    attack that brought the United States into World War II.
  • Walter Lord, Day of Infamy (Henry Holt, 1957) is a very readable, and entirely anecdotal, re-telling of the day’s events.
  • W. J. Holmes, Double-Edged Secrets: U.S. Naval Intelligence Operations in the Pacific During World War II
    (Naval Institute, 1979) contains some important material, such as
    Holmes’ argument that, had the U.S. Navy been warned of the attack and
    put to sea, it would have likely resulted in an even greater disaster.
  • Michael V. Gannon, Pearl Harbor Betrayed (Henry Holt, 2001) is a recent examination of the issues surrounding the surprise of the attack.
  • Frederick D. Parker, Pearl Harbor Revisited: United States Navy Communications Intelligence 1924-1941
    (Center for Cryptologic History, 1994) contains a detailed description
    of what the Navy knew from intercepted and decrypted Japan’s
    communications prior to Pearl.
  • Henry C. Clausen and Bruce Lee, Pearl Harbor: Final Judgment, (HarperCollins, 2001), an account of the secret “Clausen Inquiry” undertaken late in the war by order of Congress to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson.
  • Robert A. Theobald, Final Secret of Pearl Harbor (Devin-Adair Pub, 1954) ISBN 0-8159-5503-0 ISBN 0-317-65928-6 Foreword by Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.
  • Albert C. Wedemeyer, Wedemeyer Reports! (Henry Holt Co, 1958) ISBN 0-89275-011-1 ISBN 0-8159-7216-4
  • Hamilton Fish, Tragic Deception: FDR and America’s Involvement in World War II (Devin-Adair Pub, 1983) ISBN 0-8159-6917-1
  • John Toland, Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath (Berkley Reissue edition, 1986 ISBN 0-425-09040-X)
    is an excellent account by a Pulitzer Prize winning author, though
    thought by some not to back up his claims as thoroughly as expected by
    academic conventions.
  • Robert Stinnett, Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor
    (Free Press, 1999) A study of the Freedom of Information Act documents
    that led Congress to direct clearance of Kimmel and Short. ISBN 0-7432-0129-9
  • Edward L. Beach, Scapegoats: A Defense of Kimmel and Short at Pearl HarborISBN 1-55750-059-2
  • Andrew Krepinevich, PDF (186 KiB) (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments) contains a passage regarding the Yarnell attack, as well as reference citations.
  • Roberta Wohlstetter, Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision,
    (Stanford University Press: 1962). Regarded by many as the most
    important work in the attempt to understand the intelligence failure at
    Pearl Harbor. Her introduction and analysis of the concept of “noise”
    persists in understanding intelligence failures.
  • John Hughes-Wilson, Military Intelligence Blunders and Cover-Ups.
    Robinson, 1999 (revised 2004). Contains a brief but insightful chapter
    on the particular intelligence failures, and broader overview of what
    causes them.
  • Horn, Steve (2005). The Second Attack on Pearl Harbor: Operation K And Other Japanese Attempts to Bomb America in World War II, Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-388-8.
  • Seki, Eiji. (2006). Mrs.
    Ferguson’s Tea-Set, Japan and the Second World War: The Global
    Consequences Following Germany’s Sinking of the SS Automedon in 1940.
    London: Global Oriental. 10-ISBN 1-905-24628-5; 13- ISBN 978-1-905-24628-1 (cloth) Reprinted by University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 2007. Previously announced as Sinking of the SS Automedon and the Role of the Japanese Navy: A New Interpretation.
  • Daniel Madsen, Resurrection-Salvaging the Battle Fleet at Pearl Harbor.
    U.S. Naval Institute Press. 2003. Highly readable and thoroughly
    researched account of the aftermath of the attack and the salvage
    efforts from December 8, 1941 through early 1944.

External links



Historic documents

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