On the morning of December 7, 1941, a surprise attack by the Japanese on “Battleship Row” brought the U.S. officially roaring into the World War it had until that day managed to somewhat avoid.
Ford Island, a 441-acre island smack in the middle of Pearl Harbor, HI had been in use as a defense airfield for the US army since 1918. Originally only in use by the Army, eventually the Navy moved operations there as well, and things started to get a little crowded. Eventually, the Army relocated to nearby Hickam Field, and the Navy had Ford Island all to themselves.
On that fateful day in 1941, Ford Island’s waters were filled with some of the largest ships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet; the battleships Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee, West Virginia, Maryland, Oklahoma, California and Utah were all peacefully floating in the tranquil waters. Many of the planes that would have normally been parked on the island were carrying out exercises at sea, but the airfield was still full of patrol and scout planes.
What happened that day is well-known history. 353 Japanese planes barreled down on the base in a surprise attack, damaging all of the battleships and sinking four, damaging or destroying several other ships, and 188 aircraft. After the dust had cleared, 2,402 people were dead, 1,282 wounded, and the nation sat in shock.
Now a National Historical Landmark, Ford Island is preserved as a reminder of “the date that will live in infamy”. Opened in December 2006, The Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a world class aviation museum that takes up a hefty 16 acres of the island that still bares the scars of war. The museum grounds include three preserved hangars, an air traffic control tower, and historical buildings from the nation’s first aviation battlefield. Several aircraft are featured, including the remains of Nishikaichi’s Zero, a relic from the infamous Ni’ihau Incident.
Know Before You Go
Adult $25 (USD)
Child (Ages 4~12) $15 (USD)
Combat Flight Simulators
($10 per 30 minute flight & briefing) $10