I am a long time military history enthusiast and Scuba diver.
I'm shown standing next to the Japanese HA-19 Mini Submarine captured December 8th, 1941, the day after the Imperial Japanese naval attack on Pearl Harbor. The HA-19 was one of five advanced miniature submarines that participated in the December 7th attack on U.S. forces and civilians in the Hawaiian Islands. Launched from a modified C-1 class submarine’s deck, this “midget” sub is about 78 feet long, 6 feet wide and held a crew of only two men. This 46-ton Type "A" midget submarine, was built at Kure, Japan, in 1938 and was code-named "Mato". Named after it’s “mother” ship, Submarine I-24, this vessel is also known as the I-24 "To". The midget sub was armed with two Type 97 18-inch torpedoes each with a 772-pound warhead.
Submarine I-24 was commanded by CDR Hiroshi Hanabusa, the midget Ha-19 submarine by Ensign Sakamaki Kazuo with Chief Warrant Officer Inagaki Kiyoshi as crew member.
The midget subs mission was to slip in the harbor and torpedo as many warships as possible left over from the air attack.
Of the five midget subs, designated "Midgets A through E" by the United States Navy for the order they had been spotted, none returned to rendezvous with the Imperial Task force.
At the height of 6' 6", I can't imagine being inside this iron boat while undergoing a combat mission. The heat, the humidity and the immense stress would be a real challenge to a determined warrior.
PBS in 2009 broadcast an excellent documentary on the Midget subs. The link is worth a look.
HURL (Hawaii Underwater Research Laboratory)
Please "click" on the image on the left for a larger photograph.
As the annual Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor arrives on Dec. 7th., I hope all Americans can take a moment to honor those brave and incredibly courageous warriors that have always taken on our enemies at the risk of life and limb.
I also hope that we as a nation can also learn to rise above greed, racial prejudice, ignorance, hatred and all the destructive influences that cause war in the first place.
Midget “A” was hit in the conning tower by the USS Ward using surface batteries, then depth charged.
It sank in about 850 feet of water.
Midget “B” was sunk by the destroyer USS Monaghan. After it was spotted inside Pearl Harbor, it was fired upon and then rammed.
Midget “C” is this very same vessel shown here. A malfunctioning gyrocompass prevented it from entering the harbor, it then floundered on a reef until it was depth charged loose.
It washed up on the beach near Waimanalo, Oahu and only Ensign Sakamaki Kazuo survived to be the first Japanese prisoner of war for the United States. The cruiser USS St. Louis was missed by two torpedoes, and fired upon a midget submarine likely to be “Midget “E”. Note the distinctive figure "8" anti-submarine net cutter and two torpedoes on the bow.
Midget "D" was found by U.S. Navy divers in 1960 during a training exercise. She still had both her torpedoes on board. It was raised and returned to Japan and is now a memorial shrine at the Submarine School at Eta Jima.
In 2002, Midget “A” was found by the University Of Hawaii at a depth of approximately 1200 feet. Both torpedoes were still on board.
The “Mother” submarine, I-24, was attacked by U.S. Patrol Craft PC-487 in heavy fog, depth charged and forced to surface. The PC-487’s Commander, Lt Wallace G. Cornell, then rammed the larger Japanese vessel. The I-24 sunk off Attu in the Aleutians 11 June, 1943. It lies at coordinates 53-16N, 174-24E.*6
I am most grateful to Tracy White, a Pearl Harbor historian, for contacting me and correcting errors in this page. Thanks, Tracy san!