USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL
Submerged Cultural Resources Study:
USS Arizona and Pearl Harbor National Historic Landmark
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.
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)
A) Ships track on sortie
Chart III - Enemy Planes Seen, Shot down
Of special note were the directions given to aid the plotters:
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.
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:
It was possible to determine which sites held the greatest chance for discovery of Japanese naval aircraft remains.
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
2) Site No. 5
3) Site No. 7
4) Site No. 8
5) Site No. 12
6) Site No. 18
7) Site No. 19
8) Site No. 20
9) Site No. 26
10) Site No. 4
The sites below are less well-documented than the others, but appear to be worthy of investigation.
11) Site No. 23
12) Site No. 22
13) Site No. 31
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
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