A Japanese bomber believed to have been involved in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor has returned to Hawaii in time for the 75th anniversary of the raid that drew the U.S. into World War II.
The Nakajima B5N torpedo bomber, dubbed “Kate” by the American forces, is the focus of a five-year restoration program at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, on Ford Island adjacent to what’s known as Battleship Row — the USS Arizona, Oklahoma and Utah memorials.
Ford Island, then a U.S. Army airfield, was struck by the first torpedoes and bullets to hit Hawaii, prior to the Japanese attack on the Pacific Fleet on Dec. 7, 1941.
“An aircraft can be scrambled much more quickly than ships can, so they attacked the airfields immediately,” museum historian Burl Burlingame says.
Although Japan’s imperial navy built more than 1,100 of the torpedo bombers, only “bits and pieces survive today,” Kenneth DeHoff, the museum’s executive director, says in a news release.
The museum has only the fuselage and wings of the plane and is seeking the nose and other missing parts.
In addition to a modern museum, guests can also visit the iconic red-and-white control tower as well as Hangars 37 and 79. The restoration work can be observed in Hangar 79, where bullet holes from Japanese planes still pockmark the windows.
“When you’re in these buildings, you’re in a place that’s like Lexington or Concord or Chateau-Thierry or Iwo Jima or Afghanistan,” Burlingame says. “It is part of the history and culture of America to revere where people died for freedom.”
The museum is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $25 for adults and $15 for children ages 4 to12.
Info: Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, (808) 441-1000