Submerged Cultural Resources Study:
USS Arizona and Pearl Harbor National Historic Landmark
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Chapter II: Historical Record

Japanese Naval Crash Site Report 1986


A summary report was assembled on possible crash sites of Japanese naval planes lost over Pearl Harbor. Evaluations were made based on ships' charts and testimonies of eyewitnesses.

The report was completed on June 25, 1986 (Martinez 1986). Based on its findings, the Submerged Cultural Resources Unit developed an archeological plan to investigate crash sites located in the waters of Pearl Harbor.

removing Val dive bomber
Figure 2.41. "Val" dive bomber being removed from Pearl Harbor after the attack.
(NPS: USAR Collection)

In compiling these data concerning crash site areas, the main evidence used are charts filled in by individual ships that witnessed the attack.

On December 21, 1941, Commander in Chief Vice Admiral William Pye directed by memo that all ships present were to fill out three track charts of Pearl Harbor (U.S. Navy 1941). The information required was:

Chart I - Gunfire chart (rounds expended)

Chart II

    A) Ships track on sortie
    B) Track on sortie and continuation of Chart I
    C) Continuation Chart I

Chart III - Enemy Planes Seen, Shot down

Of special note were the directions given to aid the plotters:

On this chart, use the same symbols as on chart I, (T) - Torpedo plane, (H) - Horizontal bomber, (D) - Dive bomber, (F) - Fighter or Pursuit, indicating approximate location by (+) and the symbol of the type in red pencil. If a plane was actually seen in flames, mark the spot where last seen by the symbol of the type and write "flames."

One hundred ship charts were used to compile this report. Each report was tallied and sources evaluated to determine a probable crash site. The more ships that point to one particular spot obviously increase the possibility of a downed aircraft.

The parameters of this report are specific and only concerned with aircraft lost by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor.


Based on the reports of 100 vessels present during the Pearl Harbor attack, it is possible to make some observations as to the possible sites of downed Japanese naval aircraft.

close-up of Val dive bomber
Figure 2.42. Close up of "Val" that crashed during the attack.
(NPS: USAR Collection)

The basis for these inferences was the weight of historical evidence. A total of 35 crash sites were charted (U.S. Navy 1942). Obviously some were erroneous, because only 29 aircraft were lost in the attack and not all were downed in the vicinity of Pearl Harbor.

Three sources were used in evaluation of the ship charts:

A) Reports of 100 ships present during attack responding to Pye's memo (U.S. Navy 1941).

B) Master Map assigning a number to each crash site (U.S. Navy 1942).

C) Oral Testimony concerning crash sites.

It was possible to determine which sites held the greatest chance for discovery of Japanese naval aircraft remains.

The Evidence

A total of 35 sites were indicated on the 1942 ship charts. Evaluation of the evidence shows that 14 were located on land and 20 on water. The thrust of this investigation was to find which water crash sites held the most promise. Based on that criteria, 13 sites should be examined. They are as follows (see Figure 3.36):

The Crash Sites

1) Site No. 2
    Location - in East Loch near the stern of the USS DOBBIN.
    Evidence - 8 reports
    Conclusion - Aichi D3A1 Val Dive Bomber.

2) Site No. 5
    Location - near the mouth of Middle Loch, in or near channel. Around Ford Island, on starboard side of the USS CURTISS.
    Evidence - 12 reports
    Conclusion - Aichi D3A1 Val Type 99, Dive Bomber.

3) Site No. 7
    Location - in the Southeast Loch near Kaahua Point.
    Evidence - 21 reports
    Conclusion - Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" Torpedo Bomber

4) Site No. 8
    Location - on the channel northeast of Battleship Row, just off the starboard stern side of the USS NEVADA.
    Evidence - 11 reports
    Conclusion - Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" Torpedo Bomber

5) Site No. 12
    Location - in East Loch, just off the bow of the USS SOLACE.
    Evidence - 4 reports
    Conclusion - Aichi D3A1 Val Type 99, Dive Bomber

6) Site No. 18
    Location - in Middle Loch near the Pan Am Clipper landing, just east of Pearl City.
    Evidence - 4 reports
    Conclusion - Aichi D3A1 Val Type 99, Dive Bomber

7) Site No. 19
    Location - crash occurred on seaplane tender USS CURTISS. Some wreckage could be found in the vicinity of the mouth of Middle Loch on the north side, near Pearl City.
    Evidence - 11 reports
    Conclusion - Aichi D3A1 Val Type 99, Dive Bomber

8) Site No. 20
    Location - near Merry Point Landing in the Southeast Loch.
    Evidence - 8 reports
    Conclusion - Nakajima BN52 "Kate" Torpedo Bomber

9) Site No. 26
    Location - in the channel east of Ford Island, approximately 1,000 yards from the USS ARIZONA
    Evidence - 7 reports
    Conclusion - Nakajima BN52 "Kate" Torpedo Bomber

10) Site No. 4
    Location near the shoreline of Beckoning Point
    Evidence - 14 reports
    Conclusion - Aichi D3A1 "Val" Type 99, Dive Bomber

The sites below are less well-documented than the others, but appear to be worthy of investigation.

11) Site No. 23
    Location near the 1010 dock in area of mooring of the OGLALA and HELENA.
    Evidence - 3 reports
    Nakajima BN52 "Kate" Torpedo Plane

12) Site No. 22
    Location - near the starboard stern of the USS SOLACE.
    Evidence - 3 reports
    Probable Type: Cannot determine, could be either Val or Kate.

13) Site No. 31
    Location - in Middle Loch between the bow of the CURTISS and the MEDUSA.
    Evidence - 69D, 70D, 100T
    Aichi D3A1 Val Type 99, Dive Bomber.

The following is a prioritized list of 13 crash sites that were selected for investigation, based on the number of citations from ship reports regarding a particular crash site (see Figure 3.36).

    Site No. 7
    Site No. 4
    Site No. 5
    Site No. 19
    Site No. 8
    Site No. 20
    Site No. 2
    Site No. 26
    Site No. 18
    Site No. 12
    Site No. 23
    Site No. 22
    Site No. 31

These were selected for side-scan survey and review. Charts of ongoing and previous dredging of Pearl Harbor pointed to massive alteration of the harbor bottom by dredging, which may have eradicated many of the crash sites.

Last Updated: 27-Apr-2001