Japanese Midget Submarine

All posts tagged Japanese Midget Submarine

Ha. 19 beached on Oahu, US Territory of Hawaii, 8 Dec 1941

In the early hours of December 7, 1941, the Japanese midget submarine, HA. 19 (I-24tou) was launched from its parent sub I-24 with the mission to penetrate the defenses of the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor and attack the warships at anchor.[1] But the HA. 19 had a serious problem, it had a broken gyrocompass an instrument that was crucial for the navigation of the submarine. The submarine had a just two crew members, Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki and Chief Warrant Officer Kiyoshi Inagaki, they managed to maneuver their submarine to the entrance of Pearl Harbor but grounded the sub three times on a reef. The attack on Pearl Harbor was at its height at this time, the stricken submarine was spotted by the destroyer, USS Helm which blasted the sub off the reef but did not manage to sink the sub. Eventual the sub was disabled after it grounded on a different reef. At that point Sakamaki and Inagaki abandon the sub, Inagaki drown but Sakamaki managed to swim to shore and became the first enemy combatant captured by United States forces in WWII.[2] Days later the submarine was dragged onto the shore by a tractor and eventually moved to Pearl Harbor.

The HA. 19 on view in front of the Michigan State Capitol

The HA. 19 was transported, by the Navy Department, to various cities around the United States to raise money for War Bonds. On June 21, 1943, Claude Erickson, the chairman of the War Savings Committee announced that the HA. 19 was to be displayed in front of the Capitol between 3:30 and 10 pm on July 16, 1943.[3] The fund-raising event was sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees). The Navy Department had cut away part of the side of the submarine and installed glass windows to allow people to view the interior of the sub. For the purchase of a 25¢ war savings stamp, a child could mount the special catwalk and examine the interior of the submarine through the glass, an adult needed to purchase a $1 stamp to view the interior. (LSJ6/22/1943)

Note the side glass windows on the submarine, which allowed people who donated to the drive to view the interior of the sub. The Navy also placed two mannequins in the sub to represent the crew.

Unfortunately, when the HA. 19 visited Lansing, the weather played a part in the viewing. There was rain throughout the day and threatening weather in the evening, which kept the number of visitors to about 4000. In the afternoon, the Boys’ Vocational School Band provided the music for the event, while in the evening the Army Air Corps band from Michigan State College played. The Jaycees raised $4475.25 for War Bonds that day.(LSJ 7/17/1943) To put that in perspective, when the sub visited the Washington D.C. area on April 3, 1943, $40,000 was raised in a little over 20 minutes with a total of $1,061,650 by the end of the day.

[1]See World War II Databasefor an explanation of the naming of Japanese midget submarines.

[2]For a full account of the role of HA. 19 see the article in Wikipedia, HA. 19 (Japanese Midget Submarine).

[3]The Erickson Power Station is located in Delta Township, is named after Claude Erickson.

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