Hickam Field Zero

The Japanese attack on the American

base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on

December 7, 1941, is one of the decisive

milestones of the Second World War and

of the entire twentieth century. It was

the catharsis of a long-standing crisis

in Japanese–American relations and

brought the United States into the World

War 2. United States as a global economic

and military power had until then kept

aloof from the war in Europe, even they

were preparing for it and supporting

their future allies.

Japanese task force launched 350

machines into action out of the 414

available on board of six carriers. In the

first wave were lost three Zeros, one D3A

and five B5N bombers. In the second wave,

six Zeros and fourteen D3As were lost.

Fifty-five pilots were killed, none were

captured, except for the ironic situation

of fighter pilot PO1c Nishikaichi. A total

of 74 aircraft returned with damage.

Nine midget submarine crews also lost

their lives and one was captured. Of the

79 fighter pilots who took part in both

attack waves, only 17 lived to see the end

of the war.

The airstrike killed 2,335 members of

the US armed forces and injured 1,143.

68 civilians also lost their lives and 35

others sustained injuries. In addition to

the sunken and damaged ships, nearly

350 aircraft were destroyed or damaged.

Three civilian machines were also shot



INFO Eduard

During the two waves of the Japanese

raid on Pearl Harbor, 21 US Navy ships

were sunk or damaged, but 18 were

recovered or repaired and returned to

service. For example, the badly damaged

battleship USS Nevada was combat

deployed in October 1942.

The USS Enterprise, as one of the carriers

that escaped the raid on Pearl Harbor,

fought in the Battle of Midway six months

later and participated in the sinking of

four of the six carriers that participated

in the attack on Pearl Harbor.






unprecedented both in terms of scale and

the manner in which a large carrier group

was deployed, a number of dramatic

moments occurred. One was the landing

of B-17 bombers at Hickam Field. Their

arrival from the U.S. had been expected,

and the first wave of the Japanese raid

was initially mistaken by the Americans

for the very B-17 bombers that were to

arrive in Hawaii.

The unarmed B-17s arrived at Hickam just

as the base was being targeted. B-17s

were attacked not only by Zeros, but even

by crews of D3A Val dive bombers. One of

the four-engine machines they deployed

for the landing was a B-17C (40-2074)

of the 7th Bombardment Group, 14th

Bombardment Squadron, whose first

pilot was Captain Raymond T. Swenson.

Their aircraft was attacked by commander

of the first wave fighter escort, Lt. Cdr.

Shigeru Itaya of the aircraft carrier

Text: Jan Bobek

Illustration: Piotr Forkasiewicz

Akagi. His second wingman, who was

PO1c. Shinaji Iwama, managed to set

fire to a crate of flares in the fuselage

of Swenson's bomber just before landing

and a fire broke out on deck. Swenson

decided to abort the landing manoeuvre,

regained altitude and hid in the low lying

clouds. On the second landing attempt,

Swenson's machine broke in two shortly

after touchdown. As it did so, it was still

under attack by Japanese fighters, who

opened fire on the fleeing crew.

The wounded passenger, who was

a surgeon, 1st Lt. William R. Schick, was

strafed by Itaya's first wingman, PO1c

Takashi Hirano. Unfortunately, Schick

was hit again and soon succumbed to

his injuries. Hirano, however, struck the

surface of the airfield with his propeller

and auxiliary tank. His engine stopped

and the Japanese airman crashed in

a nearby street, causing the deaths of

four soldiers.

People flocked to the wreckage of

his Zero, shouting “kill him, kill him!”.

However, Hirano died when he crashed

into one of the buildings. His plane

AI-154 became the first Zero to be

examined after the attack on Pearl

Harbor. Among other things, a map

was found in its cockpit, which led the

Americans to attempt to attack the

Japanese as they sailed away.

June 2023