There is no surprise info in the Nat Geo article regarding the advance reconn of Pearl Harbor and Lahaina Roads: most books tell of this reconn.
Two E13A1 Type Zero [Alliied Code name JAKE] three-place reconn float planes were launched at 0530 Hawaii time from cruisers Tone and Chikuma. The Tone plane flew over Lahaina Roads and Chikuma plane flew over Pearl Harbor.
The US radar units at Kaiwailoa, Kaaawa, and Opana Ridge tracked the Chikuma plane to Oahu from 0645 to 0700. Info on this plane was forwarded to the info center by the three radar sites. The info center personnel duly placed markers on the incoming plane as they had done for other planes also in the air.
At 0700, the info center NCOIC cleared the board of markers and closed down the facility, the "problem" was over. A US Army Corps pursuit pilot watching the proceedings was surprised at the Signal Corps men shutting down for breakfast as he had duty until 0800.
Info on this plane was not forwarded to any higher echelon of command...there was nothing to identify this plane from any other plane as anything else than -just another plane. There were no IFF transponders on US aircraft until several months later.
Six minutes after 0700, the administrative phone line rang. The phone operator, PFC Joe McDonald got a call from Opana Ridge radar. They were still operating as Pvt Joe Lockhard trained a new man, Pvt George Elliott, in oscilliscope operation. On the other end of the phone, Pvt Elliott reported -very briefly- about another plot, "Large number of planes 132 miles out coming in from the north, three points east at 0702." As the Signal Corps NCOIC was not there, McDonald said to Elliott [whom he thought was his buddy Joe Lockard], "I am not sure what to do, there is nobody here." and Elliott replyed that McDonald get someone who would know what to do...at that point the connection was broken.
McDonald wrote the message down and looked up at the clock. He glimpsed outside and saw a US Army Air Corps truck still parked...so the Air Corps officer was still there. He went in the plotting room and found the officer, "I just received a call from 6QN Opana reporting a large number of planes coming in from the north three points east at 132 miles. Did they ring the plotting table?"
This turned out to be the main Japanese strike force.
Edited by David Aiken on --
David Aiken, a Director
Pearl Harbor History Associates, Inc.
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