HA-19 Midget submarine

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HA-19 Midget submarine

Post by aukepalmhof » Tue Jul 06, 2010 2:47 am

As plans and preparations were made in 1941 for the attack on Pearl Harbour, the Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto decided that a special submarine force would attack Pearl Harbour.

Already in 1934 the Japanese built on the yard of Kure Navy Yard two torpedo-shaped midgets, designed by Capt. Kishimoto Kaneji, the two midgets submarine were named A-HYOTEKI or A-TARGET. As a result of the experimentation a new version was built the A-HYOTELEI.
The HA 1 and HA 2 were built in 1936.
But in 1938 and under stringent security on the Kure Dry Dock and Ourazaki Dry Dock the construction of 40 Type A midgets, Ko-hyoteki class began. One of these vessels was the HA 19.

The crews of the 5 midget-submarines under which the HA 19 were notified in mid-October 1941 to concentrate their training on Pearl Harbour. The Japanese Sixth Submarine Fleets largest submarines were modified to carry the midgets piggy-back across the Pacific.
On 18 November 1941, the five mother submarines each with a midget-submarine lashed onto the deck by steel belts behind the conning tower sailed from the Kure Navy Base with destination Pearl Harbour.
Each midget was crewed by two men and carried two torpedoes; each midget was 81 feet long with a diameter of 6 feet, powered by a 600 hp electric motor. The motor was generated by 224 short-lived Type D batteries. The cruising range was limited, less than 100 miles.
The mission of the midgets was after arrival off Pearl Harbour and when launched from their mother to slip into Pearl Harbour, wait until the attack, after which she would launched their two torpedoes then escape from the harbor, and met with the mother submarine 7 miles west of Lanai Island.

The submarines arrived off Pearl Harbour on 5 December, and sneaked to their position around 10 miles from Pearl Harbour entrance.
The first midget was launched from the I-24 at 03.33 am in a position about 10½ miles of the entrance commanded by Ensign Sakamaki and Chief Warrant Officer Kiyoshi Inagaki. After launching she set course to the well lit harbor entrance of Pearl Harbour.

At 03.42 am the first sighting was reported of a submarine by the USS CONDOR ¾ miles south of Pearl Harbour the CONDOR reported the sighting to USS WARD. The WARD under command of Capt. William Outerbridge searched the area until 04.45 am but could not find anything.
At 05.45 am the USS ANTARES towing a target into the harbor, spotted a submarine following them in, A seaplane spotter dropped at 6.33 smoke pots near the submarine, and given the WARD a position. At 06.37 the WARD spotted the submarine behind the ANTARIS and opened fire with his guns, gun no 1 was fired at 06.45 but missed gun no 3 fired the same time and hit the conning tower of the submarine. The submarine heeled to starboard slowed down and sank. The WARD depth-charged the sinking vessel as it plunged 1200 feet down. At 06.51 Outbridge sent a message to headquarters that he dropped depth charges upon a submarine operating in the defensive zone of Pearl Harbour.
At 07.50 am the first Japanese wave of aircraft hit Pearl Harbour.

At 08.17 the first midget was spotted in the harbour entrance by USS HELM, and at 08.30 well into the harbour an other midget was sighted by USS ZANE.
At 08.36 the first torpedo was fired onto USS CURTISS that missed, the midget was thereafter spotted by the MONAGHAN, and when the midget fired his second torpedo, the midget was run down and rammed by the MONAGHAN, after which she sank, the MONAGHAN finished the job by dropping two depth charges.
The second torpedo passed harmless beneath the destroyer and exploded on the bank.

Outside the harbor the navy spotted numerous submarine contacts. At 10.04 the cruiser USS ST LOUIS was missed by two torpedoes, the crew spotted a midget and fired upon and apparently sank it.
The mother submarines waiting outside received on 01.11 am of 8 December on board the I-16 the last radio message from one of the midgets commanded by Ensign Yokoyama.

All of the midget submarines did not achieve any success at Pearl Harbour, and when the mother submarine on the evening of the 7 and 8 on the Lanai Island rendezvous arrived not one midget showed up.

The midgets named by the USA Navy A through E are gradually found, the A was sunk by the WARD and possible located in 850 feet of water in the summer of 1988. After the attack the B which was rammed by the MONAGHAN was found and raised and buried in a landfill at the submarine basis in 1942, later disinterred and reburied again. C was the midget HA-19 washed ashore at Bellows on the northern or windward side of Oahu on 8 December and captured. D was discovered by Navy divers in 1960, raised and is now a memorial at the Submarine School at Eta Jima, Japan.
Only E with ensign Yokoyama slipped out to sea but did not make the rendezvous, and the position of the E with the remains of the crew is still a mystery.\
Of all the crew on board the 5 midgets submarine 9 were lost and one was captured.

Guyana issued in 1991 a sheet of stamps each $50 one of the stamps top row second stamp from the right depict a midget submarine beached at Pearl Harbour, the only midget beached there was the HA-19.

Guyana 1991 $50 sg3198 scott2452b

The midget is lashed on the afterdeck of the submarine, class I, variant G1. Both submarine and midget sub are not identified on this Grenadines of St Vincent stamp.

Grenadines of St Vincent 1991 $1 sg 784, scott 818a

Source: USS Arizona Memorial Pearl Harbour National Historic Landmark by Lenihan.
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Last edited by aukepalmhof on Sun Nov 22, 2020 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

john sefton
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Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:59 pm

Re: HA-19 Midget submarine

Post by john sefton » Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:52 pm

Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki of HA-19 midget submarine

Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki was America`s fires prisoner of war during WW-II. On December 7,1941 he took part in the Japanese attack on US Naval base Pearl Harbor.
Sakamaki was the only survivor of the ten-man midget submarine force that attempted to sneak into Pearl Harbor and destroy US ships with their torpedoes. The five, type HA, midget subs, each with a two-man crew, failed to do any damage during the attack.

Trouble for Sakamaki and his crew-mate, Petty Officer Second Class Kiyoshi Inagaki, aboard the midget submarine HA-19 started soon after they were launched from their mother ship, Japanese submarine I-24. Their trim mechanism malfunctioned and they were barely able to right the craft. On their first attempt to enter the harbor, they missed the narrow channel entrance and crashed into a reef, destroying one of their two torpedo warheads. Battery gas escaped inside the boat, making breathing next to impossible.

After struggling to get off the reef, the midget sub missed the channel entrance a second time. On the third attempt, the sub again crashed into the reef. By the time the pair again managed to get their sub in deep water, the boat had lost all offensive capabilities.

But still they didn`t give up. Sakamaki`s next plan was to ram the Pennsylvania and climb aboard to engage the enemy in hand to hand combat.

Before this could be accomplished, the sub lost all power and the crew passed out from fatigue and near-asphyxiation. Sajkamaki and Inagaki awoke near dawn on December 8, and immediately crashed their boat into a reef again....this time in full view of US troops of the 298th Infantry Regiment who had been guarding the beach off Bellow Field. Sakamaki and Inagaki abandoned ship. Sakamaki lit a fuse to destroy his boat, so that it could not be captured, but the charge didn`t work. In the water, Inagaki was swept out to sea and drowned. Sakamaki washed onto the beach where he was captured, thus becoming the first Japanese prisoner of war.

Sakamaki`s determination and heroism was never recognized by his native land. On the contrary, according to the code of the Japanese soldier, Sakamaki became a non-person when he allowed himself to be taken prisoner. Though his treatment as a POW was not harsh, Sakamaki repeatedly requested that he be killed rather than live in shame. 

Sakamaki`s sub was shipped to the US mainland for intensive study by naval intelligence and later served as a draw for war bond sales rallies.


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