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Topic: Midget C (HA-19) Condition, Her interior condition< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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Chris Johnson Search for posts by this member.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 04 2002,11:29  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


Like my other posting on the Midget C, this one is going to be about her interior. Through contact with the museum, I was allowed to gain access into the subs interior, and it was fascinating to say the least. I was allowed to make the entries into the sub only prior to the museum opening. They didn’t want me climbing around in her when visitors were looking at her, which I understand fully. Especially since on the one display you can look inside of her from the windows mentioned in the other posting. I made two trips inside her. One day I was in there for about 20 minutes. The next day for about 45 minutes. I will summarize both days here into one.

I’m going to start my way at the back of the sub, (as I entered her) and make my way forward through the five compartments. The Motor Room, After Battery Room, Control Room, Forward Battery Room, and the Torpedo Room.

Getting inside-
About three quarters of the way back from the conning tower toward the end of the props, there is an access hatch leading into the aft part of the engine room. This hatch was an original one as to allow access to the aft side of the motor when it was in place. It was told to me that the Navy cut this after pulling her on the beach and inspecting her, but that isn’t true. To get up there, I was told to step up on the port side stabilizer, and boost myself up on top of the sub. The documents say that the hole is 22”x14½” but I swear it is smaller than that. In order to get inside her, you have to be small. Luckily I am. I have a 30-inch waist, and was still a little bit snug going in. But this was the easy part. You have to face the front of the sub when getting in, other wise it won’t work. When I got to the whole, I was surprised as to what I found. About 18” directly beneath the hole is the prop or drive shaft. It’s in a position that you HAVE to straddle it. You can’t put both legs on one side or the other. All right. I straddled the drive shaft and lower myself in. But remember that this is only 18” below the hatch opening. So now I am sitting on the drive shaft and can’t go any further, yet the hull is only midway up my chest. I’m only halfway in. What I had to do, and was told this is how to get in, is that I had to wiggle my rear end, back toward the rear of the sub while sitting in the shaft, all along trying to get the rest of my chest, shoulders and head in. Finally I made it and was inside.

Motor Room-
Once in the Motor Room, it is very dark. I had along my floor light that I used in this section to see a little better and it really helped. In the rear of this compartment, there is a bulkhead that formed the tail section. In all of the recent surveys I have read, this was never opened and is only accessible by unbolting the entire section. Into this bulkhead the drive shaft disappears along with the dive plane and elevator control rods. There are two of these from what I found. One was right along the middle of the floor, and the other on the port side of the hull. Also there are three or four other wires and small pipes that disappear into this bulkhead.
At the front of the drive shaft, (about the middle of the section) is where it was connected to the engine itself and the bearing mount. The bearings (22 of them) are still there and can move with the touch of the finger too! The engine itself sat in front of this of course, and all that is left is the mountings on both sides of the sub. From the mounting placing, it appears that the engine sat wall to wall and wouldn’t allow anyone to pass by it. The walls are an off white color in some places, with other places having the paint been chipped or flaked off leaving a dark rust colored area. Every once and a while I would be able to see a bit of the red paint that was in there originally. The floor, or in between the ribs, is full of paint chips, rust scale and dirt. I found this to be the case here in this room, in the forward Battery room and in the Torpedo Room. Here and there I found an odd bolt or screw. These were mainly found around the two hull joint sections. And there was one of those joints at the front of this room between it and the Aft Battery Room. Looking at these joints, only every fourth bolt is attached. So the sections aren’t attached to their fullest strength, but being in a museum, I guess it really doesn’t matter. Now running along the ceiling of the sub all the way through is an electric line that the Navy installed to house the lights. There are still light sockets throughout the sub, but none are in use.

Aft Battery Room-
Moving forward into the Aft Battery Room, this takes on a different look. The room is wide open. Originally, there were brackets that hung down from the ceiling that helped house the batteries. But they are no longer there. The holes that held these brackets are. The entire room is painted for the most part white. The majority of this room, from the outside of the display on the side portraying her on her war bond, can be seen. So the museum went ahead and painted the room all while. There are two Navy light sockets in the ceiling, but not being used. The Museum has installed a single light bulb running off of an extension cord on the starboard side out of view from the public so they can see the room. Battery racks line the walls all up and down this section. Originally there were rubber bumpers on the walls to cushion the batteries, but all that remain today are the brackets that held them. Near the front of the compartment, there is a ballast tank that runs under the floor for five frames. The tank can bee seen corroding rather bad. Some say this is from battery acid being spilled on it. Whether that is true is unknown. The Ballast tank is covered with a balsa wood or plywood floor covering that you could walk on. Now the walls in the same area of this section were also covered with this wood too. Three thin layers all up and down. Some places it had rotted out many years ago, but other areas still remain. There was one section that was loose near the floor, and you could see the red paint on the wood where the white paint had not reached. The floor in this section was less full of dirt and sediment than the engine room. Just like in the Engine room, there is the dive plane and elevator control rods that run along the floor and port wall.
In this room between the batteries was the faulty scuttling charge. I was unable to determine which side it was on, if not both. If anyone knows, I’d be interested in knowing. At the front of this section is the bulkhead leading into the control room. The watertight door has long been since removed. However, the fittings are still there. The hinges are on the right side of the door, and it would have opened up into the Battery Room.  

Control Room-
Now this was the most challenging room of them all to move around in. You really couldn’t. Like the Aft Battery Room, it was painted all white. But it was so cramped and crowded that it was almost impossible to move around in. The museum has added two mannequins to the display that are in this room which probably made it seem more crowded. They are both on the starboard side of the room dressed in white pants and a white t-shirt.
Very little remains in this room, as all of the gauges, periscope, gyrocompass, small motors and control wheel and levers have been removed. Mostly what remain are the housings for these items.
As soon as you enter the room, there is a round hollow metal “tube” almost that sits in front of you. This was the housing for the periscope when it was lowered. It’s sitting in its original position, but is loose a bit. Directly above is the hole or well for the periscope. This hole or well is actually just a little larger then the hatch chute to get in and out of the tower originally. But all that remains in this is a long round hollow pipe coming down straight from the middle. On the aft and starboard side of this well there seems to be a sort of stiff cloth like material attached to the sided with bolts. Actually its attached in one area, and it hanging loose elsewhere. This is original you can tell, but what its purpose is…I can only assume it was to keep moisture off of the metal sides of the well. The cloth moves a bit, but its almost like clothing sprayed with heavy starch. It still moves, but nowhere flexible like it should be. There are two wire cables that run up the starboard side of this hole to the top. These wires were electrically driven to raise and lower the periscope. The winch and cable system for this is on the side of the wall in the middle of the room on the starboard side. The cables are nicely wrapped around the winch as if it was just used. Below the winch is a ballast pump. However one of the mannequins were in the way and I couldn’t have gotten a better look.
Just to the left of the periscope housing, on the floor was a bunch of gears. These were the emergency rudder steering mechanism. Above these was where the motor meter board and battery meters hung. All that remain today is the fittings on the wall for them. All over in the room, there are pipes her and there, and brackets that once held things only now to sit empty. On the opposite side of the room (starboard side) it was up till a few yeas ago, there was an electrical panel that was on the aft bulkhead, but it has since disappeared. The bracket for holding the steering wheel, the Clinometer, and the Gyroscope are still there and are readily noticeable if you compare it to the photo taken upon the inspection after the capture.

Forward of the periscope housing (and adjacent) is the conning tower chute or access tower. There is a two-step folding ladder that folds down from inside the chute toward the periscope housing. I had no idea they had this on there. So this was a surprise to me. But it folds down, doesn’t slide down, it folds down and is hanging in the side that is closes to the periscope well. When anyone entered and exited the sub, they faced aft. That is the way the three steps are facing…aft. Well there are really five steps in all if you count the two on the folding ladder.
At the top of the access chute is the entry hatch. Its rusted shut, but the three latches and gears up there are still in good clean condition. The wheel that they had to turn to latch it and unlatch it is missing, but the latches are all in the open position. I climbed up there, and it wasn’t that bad of a fit. It was there that I had one of those “moments” that happen so rarely. I could picture and almost feel what Sakamaki and Inagaki were going through when they lit the scuttling charges and were scrambling up the ladder that I was standing on and out into the cold surf. One to his capture, and the other to his death.
There is a handlebar right at the top of the chute on the aft side that was used to steady oneself as you exited the sub. Like I mentioned in the other posting, there are two eyeholes in the chute here. One on each side. They are about 4” in diameter, and stick out from the wall of the chute about 1 ½”. They are threaded on the outside as if there was a covering of some sorts on them. Possibly an optical lens of some type. The walls up here are painted an off white color and has been flaking off over the many years.
Back down in the Control Room, just forward of the access chute and on the ceiling, is a knob that sticks down. This is where there was a wheel to crack to raise the radio antenna. The wheel is long gone, but the housing for it remains. On the forward bulkhead just to the left of the door, there is a metal fixture that has spots for six hoses and wires to come out of, and one lever that is about 8” long that still moves up and down. It’s sort of like an old electrical box connector where you take the lever and flip it up to make the electrical connection. That is sort of what it was like. What this is was the Torpedo firing mechanism. From original photos, the one above, it can be seen in the upper center. It is the three pronged fork looking like device. The center lever remains.
Now a sad note, above the door leading into the Forward Battery Room, there were some Japanese characters written in black which were quite possibly original. These were last seen in a photograph of the interior in 1988. But since the museum has painted this room all white, they have been covered over. I tried to look close to see if they could be seen through the paint, of if they left a little raised part on the surface, but they didn’t. What it said, I will probably never know.

Forward Battery Room-
Moving into the Forward Battery room, there is another watertight door that opens from the Control Room into here. The hinges are on the port side inside the Battery Room here. So I guess that when you were inside the Control Room, no matter which battery room you went into, the door would swing open to the left. The condition in this room is about the same as the Aft Battery Room as in the paint, dirt and rust conditions. There is an air cylinder mounted just inside the door on the ceiling. There aren’t any hoses attached to it anymore of course. It’s metal too. I believe that anything the Navy added later on was all wooden for the most part. Directly above the door on the bulkhead is a set of Japanese characters that have survived. They are 4” high and about 7” in length. I took a few photos of it and am going to try to find someone on the local university campus that might be able to decipher them for me. Like the other rooms too, there are Navy installed light sockets in here. All empty. The museum has not put any light in here so it was a little dark. Here you can see more original red paint than in any other room. There are many (6) rods and pipes in here along the walls. Most of them deal with the ballast tanks and torpedo firing mechanisms. The Battery racks are all gone like in the Aft room, and all that remains are the brackets for the bumpers.
The ballast tank under this room is half gone. The port side half has corroded away, while the starboard side remains. So in order to move forward you have to walk on what remains. However, when the Navy decided to take her on tour, they installed two large wooden air tanks on the floor 14”x 64”. One sits on the post side up against the hull (the battery racks here were removed) while the other one sits next to the racks on the starboard side and covers up almost all of the ballast tank you need to walk on. Right before you get to the bulkhead separating this room from the Torpedo room, there is a purge vent in the center of the ceiling. This bulkhead has another wooden fake air cylinder attached to the left of the door. The watertight door here opens up into the Battery room with the hinges being on the right side of the door.

Torpedo Room-
The door leading into the torpedo room has been almost doubled in size by the Navy. Reason being is that directly inside the door sit the two torpedo tubes. So without making a larger entrance, they wouldn’t have been able to remove all of the air cylinders originally in here. There are two wooden ones in their place. The paint in this room is remarkable still intact with a few spots of flaking. Just inside the door and on the starboard side of the bulkhead there are three rods and gears. They start and stop there as they have been disconnected from the remainder of where ever they went to. The tubes are in excellent condition. The gearbox for the lower tube is gone, but the top tube still has its box. That box was one fitted with wooden knobs to represent the original ones, but now they mostly lay on the floor.
There are two fake wooden air cylinders on both sides of the torpedo tubes that sit right up against the hull and the tubes and prevented me from going any further. But all that was further up was another bulkhead that the tubes went into. This was the forward ballast tank. It had two small access panels. One on each side of the tubes. The port side panel was removes, and all that could be seen was a control rod for flooding the tank and the hull as it tapered forward out of sight.
On the top left sides of both tubes, there were five long rods that went forward and into a bunch of gears right before the bulkhead. This was the torpedo arming mechanism and the control rods for the tubes. Both systems looked like they were in good condition.

Overall I would say the interior of the sub was in fair condition. It’s a sad sight from what it used to be originally. And that most of the original material removed has long been lost. Some of the items could be replicated to present a more authentic look than what is now. But maybe over time that will happen. It was an honor and a privilege to be able to step back in time for a moment in an actual instrument used that morning.

If anyone has any questions or wants more details on a certain thing, I will be more than happy to help. I took over 100 photos of the inside alone, so I can provide shots of anything too.


Chris Johnson
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Ken Hackler Search for posts by this member.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 04 2002,12:41 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


The last two postings on Midget C and her current condition are really great! Thanks for sharing information that obviously took a long time and effort to collect.

Ken Hackler
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1 replies since Oct. 04 2002,11:29 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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