Did you know Japanese Kawanishi H8K flying boats conducted a second raid on Pearl Harbor in March 1942? Here’s how it went.

Did you know Japanese Kawanishi H8K flying boats conducted a second raid on Pearl Harbor in March 1942? Here’s how it went.

By Dario Leone
Dec 6 2022
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In March 1942 the Japanese staged a somewhat audacious plan of sending a flight of 2 Kawanishi H8K long range flying boats to reconnoiter the damage they had done to Pearl Harbor and drop bombs on the 10/10 repair dock.

The Kawanishi H8K was a flying boat used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service during World War II for maritime patrol duties. The Allied reporting name for the type was “Emily”.

The Kawanishi H8K was a large, four-engine aircraft designed for long range and extended endurance on patrols or bombing missions typically flown alone over the ocean. The prototype first flew in January 1941, and H8K1s made their first combat sortie in March 1942. The robust H8K2 “Emily” flying boat was also fitted with powerful defensive armament, which Allied pilots had substantial respect for wherever this aircraft was encountered in the Pacific theater. Aircraft historian René Francillon called the H8K “the most outstanding water-based combat aircraft of the Second World War.

The H8K was also used to conduct a second raid on Pearl Harbor on the night of Mar. 4, 1942.

Andrew Taylor, an aviation expert, explains on Quora;

‘In March 1942 they [the Japanese] staged a somewhat audacious plan of sending a flight of 2 Kawanishi H8K long range flying boats to reconnoiter the damage they had done to Pearl Harbor and drop bombs on the 10/10 repair dock.

‘The planes launched from the Marshall Islands, met a Japanese submarine for refueling in the French Frigate Shoals, and proceeded to fly to Hawaii. The raid was largely a failure as they were unable to locate Oahu due to the nightime blackout conditions. The raid was planned for a Moonlit Night, but they misread the US Navy’s coded weather reports and instead picked a cloudy evening. One plane is believed to have dropped it’s bombs in error over the ocean before heading back out to sea. The other crashed into Hawaii’s Tantalus Peak volcano just north of Honolulu, in the darkness. Thus alerting the American’s to what was going on.

‘From the Japanese standpoint the raid was a failure. But they planned to do it again in June. For the American’s it was an intelligence windfall. It allowed the American’s to work out how the H8K’s got to Hawaii. The June flight was to be Yamamoto’s reconnaissance flight to determine if the American Carriers were in port at Pearl Harbor right before the Midway attacks. The pilots had to abort the mission when their refueling submarine discovered French Frigate Shoals occupied by an American Destroyer and Minesweeper. This prevented Yamamoto from knowing that the American Carriers were already at sea laying a trap for him at Midway.’

Photo credit: War Thunder Forum


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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