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Hickam Field

A Hawaiian Army Air Force installation under the command of Colonel W. E. Farthing (Farthing, W.E.) Hickam Field was the base of 18th Bombardment Wing (5th and 11th Heavy Bombardment Groups). It stands between the eastern side of Pearl Harbor and the sea, south of the Navy Yard. On the morning of 7 December a flight of B-17s from the mainland, aircraft of 38th and 88th Reconnaissance Squadrons, were expected and Colonel Farthing was on hand to welcome them. They were 10 minutes away when, at 0755, 15th Attack Unit from the Japanese carrier Shokaku arrived. Nine Aichi D3A1 Vals of 1st Division under Lieutenant Commander Kakuichi Takahashi dive-bombed the hangars north of the runway at the western end and another eight Vals of 2nd Division under Lieutenant Masao Yamaguchi hit those immediately to the east, destroying a B-18 being prepared for take-off. At 0810 the incoming B-17s attempted to land and eight managed to do so in spite of Japanese and American fire. Of the others two went for Haleiwa, one landed on a civilian field in the north of Oahu and one made it to Bellows Field Air Base, but was damaged on landing. Mitsubishi A6M5 Zeros from Akagi under Lieutenant Commander Shigeru Itaya strafed the bombers and hit Captain Raymond Swenson's aircraft before it landed; Itaya was credited with the kill. The broken plane slid along the ground, broke in two and burned on the runway. At 0900, as men hastened to fight the fires, 27 Nakajima B5N2 Kate horizontal bombers from Zuikaku, the 6th Attack Unit of the Second Attack Wave, targeted the Consolidated Barracks. Men in the mess hall were killed by their bombs.

Hickam Field was an important target because the bombers represented a major threat to the Japanese carriers, should they find out where they were and be able to get off the ground. In forestalling any such action the Japanese attack was entirely successful. Of the 12 B-17s present at dawn, four were hit. Of the 32 B-18s only 10 were unscathed. Of the 13 A-20 Douglas Havocs eight were hit. Here also the army sustained its heaviest loss. 11th Heavy Bombardment Group alone suffered 245 casualties, 16 fatal and the total army losses here were 158 killed or missing and 274 wounded. The long-term damage was less serious. Ninety per cent of machine tools in the workshops were undamaged and it would not be long before Hickam Field was fully operational once more.

See also: 15th Attack Unit; Akagi; Allen, Brooke E.; Bellows Field Air Base; B-17; Consolidated Barracks; Farthing, William F.; Haleiwa Field; Hawaiian Army Air Force; Kate; Landon, Truman; Navy Yard; Oahu; Pearl Harbor; Shokaku; Val; Zero; Zuikaku

You can find out more about Hickam Field in the following Osprey books:

CAMPAIGN 62 Pearl Harbor 1941; ELITE 46 US Army Air Force 1; ELITE 51 US Army Air Force 2