Forum: Aviation-Historical facts and commentary
Topic: Us aircraft in hawaii
started by: David Aiken

Posted by David Aiken on Jun. 25 2004,5:33
What follows is a roster of US aircraft in Hawaii on 7 Dec 1941 compiled by Jack McKillop for Larry Jewell. Transient aircraft are not listed. Additions, deletions, corrections are welcome:

The organization and aircraft of the Hawaiian Air Force on 7 Dec 41 are listed below sorted by type of aircraft.

THE BOMBERS

The Hawaiian Air Force bombers were assigned to the 18th Bombardment Wing at Hickam Field.  The total strength was 45 aircraft, 33 Douglas B-18 Bolos and 12 Boeing B-17D Flying Fortress'.  The organization of the 18th Bombardment Wing was:

18th Bombardment Wing, Hickam Field
  5th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Hickam Field
   23d  Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), Hickam Field
   31st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), Hickam Field
   72d  Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), Hickam Field
 11th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Hickam Field
   26th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), Hickam Field
   42d  Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), Hickam Field
  4th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy), Hickam Field
 50th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy), Hickam Field

THE FIGHTERS

Fighter aircraft and units were known as pursuit aircraft and wings/groups/squadrons in those days; pursuit units would become fighter units on 15 May 42; pursuit aircraft became fighter aircraft in 1947.

Detailed records exist in the Roberts Commission Report identifying the pursuit (fighter) aircraft at Wheeler Field by serial number, unit and status, i.e., in or out of commission or surveyed (junked).  The reason for an aircraft being out of commission is also indicated.  The reason falls into one of four categories, i.e.:
 
 1.  First echelon (squadron) maintenance,
 2.  Second echelon (base engineering) maintenance,
 3.  Third echelon (air depot) maintenance, or
 4.  Lack of spare parts.

The organization and aircraft of the pursuit (fighter) units of the Hawaiian Air Force were:

14th Pursuit Wing, Wheeler Field
 15th Pursuit Group, Wheeler
      2 Curtiss P-36A Hawks [1 out of comm-1st ech mtce, 1 surveyed]
      1 Grumman OA-9 Goose
   45th Pursuit Squadron (Fighter), Wheeler Field
     15 Curtiss P-36A Hawks [9 out of comm-1st echelon mtce]
      2 Martin B-12's
      2 Curtiss P-40B's
      1 Douglas BT-2BI [surveyed]
   46th Pursuit Squadron (Fighter), Wheeler Field
     21 Curtiss P-36A Hawks [8 out of comm-1st echelon mtce]
      5 Curtiss P-40B's [2 out of comm-1st echelon mtce]
      1 Curtiss A-12A
      1 Douglas BT-2BI [surveyed]
      1 Boeing P-26A Peashooter
   47th Pursuit Squadron (Fighter), Wheeler Field
     11 Curtiss P-40B's [7 out of comm-1st echelon mtce]
      2 Boeing P-26B Peashooters [1 out of comm-1st echelon mtce]
      2 Curtiss P-36A Hawks [1 out of comm-1st echelon mtce]
      2 Curtiss P-40C's [1 out of comm-1st echelon mtce]
      1 Martin B-12
   72d  Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), Wheeler Field
     No aircraft assigned
 18th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), Wheeler Field
      2 North American AT-6s (1 out of comm-1st echelon mtce]
      2 Grumman OA-9 Gooses
    6th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), Wheeler Field
     16 Curtiss P-40B's [6 out of comm; 4 for 1st echelon mtce, 2 for parts]
      1 Boeing P-26A Peashooter
      1 Boeing P-26B Peashooter [out of comm-1st echelon mtce]
   19th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), Wheeler Field
     15 Curtiss P-40B's [4 out of comm-1st echelon mtce]
      3 Curtiss P-40C's [1 out of comm-1st echelon mtce]
   44th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), Wheeler Field
      9 Curtiss P-40B's [2 out of comm; 1 for 1st echelon mtce, 1 for parts]
      7 Curtiss P-40C's [1 out of comm-parts]
      2 Boeing P-26A Peashooters
      2 Boeing P-26B Peashooters [1 out of comm-1st echelon mtce]
   73d  Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), Wheeler Field
     13 Curtiss P-40B's [4 out of comm; 2 for 1st echelon mtce, 1 for 2nd echelon mtce, 1 for parts]
      1 Boeing P-26B Peashooter
   78th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), Wheeler Field
     16 Curtiss P-40B's [7 out of comm; 6 for 1st echelon mtce, 1 for parts]
      3 Boeing P-26A Peashooters [1 out of comm-1st echelon mtce]


MISCELLANEOUS UNITS

Three additional flying squadrons were assigned to the Hawaiian Air Force on that day.  They were:

 19th Transport Squadron, Hickam Field
    2 Douglas C-33's (Douglas DC-2-145s)
 58th Bombardment Squadron (Light), Hickam Field
   13 Douglas A-20A Havocs
 86th Observation Squadron, Bellows Field
    6 North American O-47B's
    2 Stinson O-49 Vigilant Vigilants


The tables below list the Hawaiian Air Force aircraft available on 7 Dec 41. These aircraft are listed by basic mission type.  Under each type are the total available before and after the attack, the number of combat effectives (only the A-20A, B-17D, P-40B and P-40C could be considered combat effective) and the number available before and after the attack.

Advanced Trainers (AT)
 Before Attack: 4
   North American AT-6 Texan: 4 assigned, 3 in commission
 After Attack: 3
   North American AT-6 Texan: 3 available, 2 in commission

Attack Aircraft (A)
 Combat Effectives
   Before attack: 12
     Douglas A-20A Havoc: 12 assigned, 5 in commission
   After attack: 10
     Douglas A-20A Havoc: 10 available, 5 in commission
 Other Aircraft
   Before attack: 2
     Douglas A-12A Shrike: 2 assigned, 2 in commission
   After attack: 2
     Douglas A-12A Shrike: 2 available, 1 in commission

Bomber Aircraft (B)
 Combat Effectives
   Before attack: 12
     Boeing B-17D Flying Fortress: 12 assigned, 6 in commission
   After attack: 8
     Boeing B-17D Flying Fortress: 8 available, 4 in commission
 Other Aircraft
   Before attack: 36
     Douglas B-18 Bolo: 33 assigned, 21 in commission
     Martin B-12A: 3 assigned, 1 in commission
   After attack: 24
     Douglas B-18 Bolo: 21 available, 11 in commission
     Martin B-12A: 3 available, 1 in commission

Observation Aircraft (O)
 Before attack: 9
   North American O-47B: 7 assigned, 5 in commission
   Stinson O-49 Vigilant: 2 assigned, both in commission
 After attack: 8
   North American O-47B: 7 available, 5 in commission
   Stinson O-49 Vigilant: 1 available and in commission

Observation Amphibian Aircraft (OA)
 Before attack: 4
   Grumman OA-9 Goose: 3 assigned, all in commission
   Sikorsky OA-8: 1 assigned and in commission
 After attack: 2
   Grumman OA-9 Goose: 1 available and in commission
   Sikorsky OA-8: 1 available and in commission

Pursuit Aircraft (P)
 Combat Effectives
   Before attack: 99
     Curtiss P-40B: 87 assigned, 55 in commission
     Curtiss P-40C: 12 assigned,  9 in commission
   After attack: 57
     Curtiss P-40B: 50 available, 25 in commission
     Curtiss P-40C:  7 available,  2 in commission
 Other aircraft
   Before attack: 53
     Curtiss P-36A Hawk: 39 assigned, 20 in commission
     Boeing P-26A Peashooter: 8 assigned, 7 in commission
     Boeing P-26B Peashooter: 6 assigned, 3 in commission
   After attack: 43
     Curtiss P-36A Hawk: 35 available, 16 in commission
     Boeing P-26A Peashooter: 3 available, 2 in commission
     Boeing P-26B Peashooter: 5 available, 2 in commission

SUMMARY

The Hawaiian Air Force had a total of 231 aircraft assigned on 7 Dec 41 but only 123 (53%) could be considered combat effective.  About 61% of all aircraft were in commission before the attack. The Japanese destroyed 74 aircraft (32%) of which 48 were combat effectives. After the attack, the Hawaiian Air Force had a total of 79 aircraft in commission, 36 of which could be considered combat effective.

None of the Hawaiian Air Force aircraft were loaded with bombs or ammunition prior to the attack.  The Army's Hawaiian Department was obsessed with the idea of sabotage by the 157,000 civilians of Japanese blood living in Hawaii.  
In order to guard against sabotage, the Hawaiian Department had issued orders pertaining to aircraft on the ground.  Under these orders, (1) all  aircraft were to be neatly lined up to make it easier to guard them, (2) all bombs were to be removed and stored, and (3) all guns were to be unloaded and the live ammunition placed in hangars overnight.

The first Japanese attack occurred at 0755 local; the second attack began at about 0840 local.  The area was not clear until about 1000.  The following is the official Hawaiian Air Force log of aircraft takeoffs for 7 Dec 41:

 0830: 2 P-36A's and 4 P-40's
 0855: 2 P-40's
 0915: 6 P-36A's
 0930: 6 P-36A's and 5 P-40's
 0950: 1 O-47B
 1040: 3 O-47B's
 1127: 4 A-20A's
 1140: 2 B-17D's
 1200: 5 P-40's
 1300: 3 A-20A's
 1330: 2 B-18's
 1500: 11 P-40's and 3 O-47B's
 1520: 3 B-17D's

A total of 57 sorties for the whole day!
   

U.S. MARINE CORPS
-----------------

All Marine Corps aviation units in Hawaii were based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Ewa, Oahu, located west of Honolulu and east of the present NAS Barbers Point.  All USMC aviation units were assigned to Marine Aircraft Group Twenty One (MAG-21) based at NAS Ewa.  The four operational squadrons and the aircraft based at NAS Ewa were:

Marine Fighting Squadron 211 (VMF-211) (forward echelon on Wake Island)
 11 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats (1 under minor overhaul)
  1 North American SNJ-3 Texan
Marine Scout- or Dive-Bomber Squadron 231 (VMSB-231) (forward echelon in USS Lexington)
  7 Vought SB2U-3 Vindicators
Marine Scout- or Dive-Bomber Squadron 232 (VMSB-232)
 19 Douglas SBD-1 Dauntless' (1 partially stripped, no engine)
  3 Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless'
Marine Utility Squadron 252 (VMJ-252)
  2 Douglas R3D-2's (1 in hangar at NAS Pearl Harbor)
  2 Grumman J2F-4 Ducks
  1 Douglas SBD-1 Dauntless
  1 Lockheed JO-2
  1 Sikorsky JRS-1
  1 Vought SB2U-3 Vindicator


The 49 Marine aircraft assigned to MAG-21 units at NAS Ewa were:

Fighter Aircraft (F): 11
 11 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats
General Utility (J): 3
  2 Grumman J2F-4 Ducks
  1 Lockheed JO-2
Scout Bomber (SB): 31
 20 Douglas SBD-1 Dauntless'
  8 Vought SB2U-3 Vindicators
  3 Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless'
Scout Trainer (SN): 1
  1 North American SNJ-3 Texan
Transport ®: 2
  2 Douglas R3D-2's
Utility Transport (JR): 1
  1 Sikorsky JRS-1

Of the 48 aircraft on hand, 33 (69%) could be considered combat effective (the F4F Wildcats and SBD Dauntless';).  Like the Hawaiian Air Force, the Marine aircraft were neatly line up on the ramp to enable the ground forces to guard against sabotage.  During the attacks, the Japanese destroyed:

  9 of the 11 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats
 18 of the 31 SBD-1, SBD-2 and SB2U-3 scout bomber aircraft
  6 of the 7 utility aircraft

U.S. NAVY AVIATION UNITS
------------------------
Naval aviation units operated from three Naval Air Stations (NASs) in the Hawaiian Islands.  The three stations were:

 NAS Kaneohe on the island of Oahu
 NAS Pearl Harbor, on Ford Island, in Pearl Harbor
 NAS Puunene on the island of Maui


NAS KANEOHE

NAS Kaneohe, now Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, is located on the east coast of Oahu.  On 7 Dec 41, NAS Kaneohe was the home of the three squadrons of Patrol Wing One (PatWing One).  Each of the three squadrons operated 12 Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina seaplanes.  The three squadrons and their aircraft status were:

 Patrol Squadron Eleven (VP-11): All 12 PBY-5's could be made ready for operations on four hours notice.
 Patrol Squadron Twelve (VP-12)
   6 PBY-5's were ready for operations on 10 minutes notice
   5 PBY-5's could be ready for operations on four hours notice
   1 PBY-5 was under repair
 Patrol Squadron Fourteen (VP-14)
   3 PBY-5's were in the air on patrol
   3 PBY-5's were ready for operations on 10 minutes notice
   4 PBY-5's could be ready for operations on four hours notice
   2 PBY-5's were under repair
 Base Hack: One Vought OS2U Kingfisher was warming up on the ramp when the Japanese attacked

 Summary: 36 PBY-5's were based at NAS Kaneohe
   21 could be ready for operations on four hours notice
    9 were ready for operations on 10 minutes notice
    3 were in the air
    3 were under repair

Of the 33 aircraft on the ground, four were moored in the bay at about 1,000 yards (914 m) apart, four were in Number 1 Hangar and the reamining 25 were parked on the ramp.  Of these 33 aircraft, 27 were destroyed and six damaged during the Japanese attack.


NAS PEARL HARBOR

NAS Pearl Harbor was on Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor and served two functions; first, it was home for the four squadrons of Patrol Wing Two (PatWing Two) and second, it was the home base for the carrier based squadrons when the carriers were in port.  Generally, the carrier based squadrons would fly off the carriers to NAS Pearl Harbor before the carrier reached port; subsequently, the aircraft would fly back to the carrier when the ship left port.  Because it served as a home for carrier aircraft, there were seven spare carrier aircraft present during the Japanese attack.  NAS Pearl Harbor was also the home of two utility squadrons flying non-combatant utility aircraft.

The units at NAS Pearl Harbor and their aircraft on 7 Dec 41 were:

 Bombing Squadron Two (VB-2) in USS Lexington (CV-2)
   1 Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless
 Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6) in USS Enterprise (CV-6)
    1 Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless
 Fighting Squadron Two (VF-2) in USS Lexington (CV-2)
    3 Brewster F3A-3 Buffalos
 Fighting Squadron Three (VF-3) in USS Saratoga (CV-3)
    1 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat
 Patrol Squadron Twenty One (VP-21) based on Midway Island
    1 Consolidated PBY-3 Catalina under repair
 Patrol Squadron Twenty Two (VP-22)
   14 Consolidated PBY-3 Catalinas (12 could be made ready on four hours notice; 2 under repair)
 Patrol Squadron Twenty Three (VP-23)
   12 Consolidated PBY-5 Catalinas (11 could be made ready on four hours notice; 1 under repair)
 Patrol Squadron Twenty Four (VP-24)
    6 Consolidated PBY-5 Catalinas (4 in the air; 1 ready on 30 minutes notice; 1 under repair)
 Scouting Squadron Two (VS-2) in USS Lexington (CV-2)
    1 Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless
 Utility Squadron One (VJ-1)
    9 Grumman J2F Ducks
    9 Sikorsky JRS
 Utility Squadron Two (VJ-2)
   10 Grumman J2F Ducks
    2 Consolidated PBY-1 Catalinas

Seventy aircraft were available at NAS Pearl Harbor divided into the following categories:

 Fighter Aircraft (F): 4
    3 Brewster F3A-3 Buffalos
    1 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat
 General Utility Aircraft (J): 19
   19 Grumman J2F Ducks
 Patrol Bombers (PB): 35
   18 Consolidated PBY-5 Catalinas
        11 could be made ready on four hours notice
         4 were in the air
         2 were under repair
         1 could be made ready on 30 minutes notice
   15 Consolidated PBY-3 Catalinas
        12 could be made ready on four hours notice
         3 were under repair
    2 Consolidated PBY-1 Catalinas (non-armed utility aircraft)
 Scout Bombers (SB): 3
    3 Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless'
 Utility Transports (JR): 9
    9 Sikorsky JRSs

After the Japanese attack, the only operational aircraft were 6 Grumman J2F Ducks, a non-combatant utility aircraft.


NAS PUUNENE

NAS Puunene was located on the island of Maui and was not attacked by the Japanese.  NAS Puunene was the home of Utility Squadron Three (VJ-3)  equipped with:

 4 Beech JRB Expeditors
 2 Douglas BT-1s
 1 Grumman JRF Goose
 1 Grumman J2F Duck


Posted by Janne Honkala on Feb. 14 2005,8:26
Hi, all

This is little off topic, because these planes were not at Hawaii anymore. During September 1941 nine Hickam based B-17Ds were transferred to the Philippines. I have manage to get almost all the serial numbers, but one is still missing. This is what I have:

40-3061 O'Donnell
40-3078 Teats
40-3079 Smith
40-3086 Montgomery
40-3091 Schaetzel
40-3093 Fisher
40-3095 Kelly
40-3097 Godman
40-??  Keiser

This info is mainly from the book "Fortress against the sun". Unfortunately this book has several typos and one is Keiser's serial. Both Schaetzel's and Keiser's serials are listed as 40-3091, but I believe the Schaetzel's is correct. I know that Mitchell's "In alis vicimus - on wings we conquer" has more detailed info on this subject, but I haven't found a copy of this book. Hopefully you guys can help me.

Sincerely

Janne Honkala
Posted by David Aiken on Feb. 19 2005,9:40
Quote (Janne Honkala @ Feb. 14 2005,08:26)
40-3061 O'Donnell
40-3078 Teats
40-3079 Smith
40-3086 Montgomery
40-3091 Schaetzel
40-3093 Fisher
40-3095 Kelly
40-3097 Godman
40-??  Keiser

Hi Janne,
It took me a while to locate the particular B-17 file. Sorry.

There was more than just a typo with Keiser's B-17. He was supposed to fly 40-3089 and had to change to 40-3096.

I do not know how the typo happened in your source book.
Hope this helps,
Cheers,
David
Posted by Janne Honkala on Oct. 02 2006,2:44
Hi, all

Naval Historical Center's website has a table of USN and USMC aircraft in Hawaii on Dec. 7. (Enclosure D, Damage Report for Aircraft) Is this accurate? Do they match with BuNos for assigned aircraft?

I'm looking info for the fighters. NHC's table shows total 24 with 10 in commission and 14 out. I've compared this with the table in Lundstrom's First Team. His book shows 25.

From Lundstrom's book.

VF-6  4 F4F-3A
VMF-211  11 F4F-3
AirBatFor Pool  4 F4F-3, 1 F4F-3A, 5 F2A-3

Has anyone BuNos for these planes? I have managed compile some of them.

VMF-211 (info from Mark Horan)

3977, 3992, 4018, 4023, 4025, 4029, 4034, 4040 (all eight were lost)
4031 survived, later with VF-3

Unknown assignments

F4F-3: 3973, 3981, 3987, 4021
F2A-3: 01528, 01530, 01539, 01562, 01565

Can anyone help me with this?

Thanks,

Janne J. Honkala

Posted by Kiwiwriter on Nov. 30 2006,1:17
This is a fascinating and super list.

I'd like to mention that with so many planes destroyed on the ground, few American pilots were killed in the air, so these guys may have lost their mounts, but not their lives...however, their mechanics and support crews suffered greatly.:)

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