Aloha All, Trivia question: How many American aircraft were airborne DURING the Pearl Harbor Attack?
As the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association limits their membership to those military on Oahu between 0755 and 0945 as the time frame of the attack...so let us limit ourselves to 'American aircraft airborne' between 0755 and 0945.
For a few of us ...'airborne' means: wheels off the ground...lol
Cheers, David Aiken
There were two J-3 (possibly J-2) Piper Cubs, one of which was shot down.
Supposedly the student in the surviving plane was quite irate when his instructor landed without ever giving him a chance at the controls: 'When do I get my turn?' A very nice lesson in situational awareness.
I believe the instructor was a woman, Carolyn? Fort.
all the best
I am not sure of the complete answer but around a half dozen civilian light aircraft were airborne. Cornelia Fort was instructing in one and had to evade several attacks. She later became the first U.S. female service pilot to die on active service killed in a ferrying accident. At least two civilian Piper Cub or Aeronca Champ type light aircraft were shot down by the Japanese with the wreckage and bodies of the pilots washing ashore some days later.
I believe that at least two of the civilian aircraft airborne during the initial attack survived and at least one was still flying on the mainland in the early 1990's.
I thought there was at least two P-40's aloft.
Haven't I also seen reports of a Stagger-wing Beachcraft airborne then too? ISTM that it was this aircraft that first made the report of the Japanese incoming formations.
Oh, there were! Several American fighters got into the air. I was merely giving the offbeat answer: I meant that the Cubs were *among* the planes aloft. (And unlike the P-40s, they were airborne when the attack began.)
all the best
I do not have a definitive figure, since there are a number of different organisations to check, Navy, AAF, Marines and civilian. The USAAF kills claims awarded on 7 December 1941 over Hawaii are as follows,
name, rank, serial, unit, claims awarded
RASMUSSEN PHILIP M, 2LT, AO00411732, 46FTR SQ, 1 SANDERS LEWIS M, 1LT, AO00360240, 46FTR SQ, 1 STERLING GORDON H JR, 2LT, AO00411852, 46FTR SQ, 1 BROWN HARRY W, 2LT, AO00424898, 47FTR SQ, 1 TAYLOR KENNETH M, 2LT, AO00409061, 47FTR SQ, 2 WELCH GEORGE S, 2LT, AO00398557, 47FTR SQ, 4
The next data is from Walter Lord's book Day of Infamy,
At least 3 PBYs on routine patrol (think of the PBY that helped the Ward hunt a midget submarine).
Twelve B-17s from the 38th and 88th reconnaissance squadrons.
Eighteen SBD's from Enterprise (13 from scouting squadron 6, 4 from bombing 6 and one additional reconnaissance plane). I presume any CAP over Enterprise does not qualify.
At least two civilian planes that survived being shot at.
Three P-40s tried to take off from Bellows field, by the looks of it two (just) made it into the air before being shot down. Lieutenant George Whitman at around 9 am, shot down, Lieutenant Hans Christianson on the ground, Lieutenant Sam Bishop was forced to crash land into the ocean just after take off and swim to safety.
It also appears none of the marine aircraft were able to make it into the air.
Possibly some of the unarmed (apart from issued rifles) utility squadron 1 aircraft sent up to find the IJN fleet.
According to Air War Pacific by Eric Hammel one of the Enterprise's SBDs was awarded a kill that day, also the US lost 2 P-36s and 2 P-40s in aerial combat plus another fighter shot down by friendly fire. Welch's kills are 2 B5N, 1 D3A and 1 A6M, one of Taylor's kills a B5N. Some thirteen P-36s and P-40s were able to become airborne during the attack.
The American Fighter by Angelucci and Bowers states four P-36A's of the 46th squadron managed to become airborne shooting down two B5N1s.
Geoffrey Sinclair Remove the nb for email.
I can't remember the title, either, but it was notable for the sure belief expressed therein that Hawaiians of Japanese ancestry were sabotaging American military installations on December 7/8.
Not mentioned in the movie (as I recall it) was the fact that the U.S. Army paid a Honolulu station to stay on the air all night in situations like this, when a flight was inbound from California. (The usual schedule was to take off at sunset, fly all night, and land in the early morning hours.) I believe that this was the same station that the Japanese pilots used to zero in (oops!) on Honolulu with their RDFs. Any truth to that, and would they have been at a loss without the broadcast?
all the best
None and no.
The Japanese ships made their approach under cover of darkness, the night of December 6-7. They had fairly precise location by celestial navigation. When they launched aircraft, they were only about 450 km from Hawaii. Plus Oahu's radio stations were back on the air at dawn.
Celestial navigation from a plane is much harder.
The RAF went into WW II believing that their crews could locate themselves at night by celestial navigation, with sufficient accuracy for bombing. They assumed the Luftwaffe could too. When R. V. Jones reported detecting German radio navigation beams, the RAF pooh-poohed his findings on the grounds that such gizmos were unnecessary. They were soon forced to admit that they were in fact very useful, and that celestial navigation of a plane is extremely inaccurate.
The B-17s coming from California were flying in the dark, about 3,500 km. Veering just few degrees off course could send the B-17 flight hundreds of kilometers north or south of Oahu; they might even miss the entire island group. And after flying 3,500 km, those planes would be low on gas; no time to be groping around for somewhere to land.
The night broadcast gave them a continuous direction fix throughout the flight.
Cheers and all,
how many wheere in the air
My father was in the Army Signal Corp. stationed at Schofield Barracks December 7, 1941. It was on Sunday morning and it was his day off. He was learning to fly on his own time. In my father flying log book he has 15 minutes logged on December 7, 1941 at 0800 hrs. He was flying a Steerman aircraft or a biplane. After the attack there was a shortage of pilot's, my father transfered into the Army aircorp and flew his first 50 combat missions as a flying sergent, he flew P-38 Lightning in the MTO in 1942 thru 1943.
There was one American fighter piolet that took off and shot down a **** plane on Dec.7 1941. I don't recall his name but it was on Unsolved Mysteries on the Military Channel. All I can tell you about the plane he flew, was that it was outdated and was shot down right after his kill (it was NOT a P-51).
I forgot something just as the battle was winding down B-17's from the US Enterprise were on there way to land (The Enterprise herself was on the way to dock). Unfortunatly the rest of the anti air guns were now ready for another raid and when they saw the B-17's they opend fire on them shooting them down. This too was on Unsolved History on the Military Channle.
P.S the stories of the flight instructer and civilian piolets were also true they just weren't involved and not part of the USAF.