Japanese Sub on Kiska

A-type Midget submarine ( Ko-hyoteki 甲標的甲型 )

A-type Midget submarine ( Ko-hyoteki 甲標的甲型

Members of the USA Fish and Wildlife Service from their research ship called “Tiglax” visited the Aleutian island of Kiska in June 2015 to investigate the rusting hulk of a Japanese midget submarine left lying in the grass of the island since the Second World War.

The submarine left on Kiska is an A-type midget, 78 feet long. Its shape is unusual in resembling an orca or killer whale. The Japanese had transported six such subs to the island in July 1942. Similar midget submarines were used in the Pearl Harbor attack further south. The submarines moved to Kiska were actually sent there when their intended destination, the Midway Atoll, was lost to the USA.

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From time to time, scientists and archaeologists spend time on Kiska and other Aleutian islands to document the fauna, flora and historical artifacts there. One archaeologist, Debra Corbett, lived on the island for several weeks in 2014. She and Richard Galloway, another researcher on the island, described the submarine on the website of the Aleutian Island Research Group, which brings together researchers who focus on the island chain.

Corbett described how claustrophobic it must have been for the men who crewed these tiny subs. A pair of men would just manage to squeeze into the space. War historians have even likened the sub to a torpedo, so it was like a large torpedo which could fire a smaller one. It is possible for visitor to the island to squeeze into the rusty submarine to get a sense of how it must have felt to the Japanese crew.

There is a lot of other evidence left behind on Kiska by the Japanese. Where the hulk of the submarine is lying, there is a rail structure, which would have been used to help guide the submarines in and out of the water. There are some sheds which were used to conceal the subs. There is an underground hospital.  Corbett points out that the Japanese defenses were quite substantial, with anti-aircraft batteries in the valleys. There was also a seaplane base. In the end, the Japanese stayed for only fourteen months, but these structures show that they had intended to stay longer, the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

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The USA re-occupied the island in August 1943. They expected resistance but discovered that the Japanese had slipped away. They had used explosive charges to render the submarines unusable before they left. Eventually all but one of the six were destroyed or sunk in the island’s small harbour. Galloway has written that the cold subarctic climate of the Aleutians has slowed corrosion of the metal objects, but eventually even this last submarine will rust entirely away.

Article from: Warhistory online and Traces of War.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

Young submariners learn quickly to heed all signs!! SIGN reads: "SECURE! Sanitation tanks under pressure!

Young submariners learn quickly to heed all signs!!
SIGN reads: “SECURED! Sanitation tanks under pressure!

empty-launch-tube-submarine-slbm-navy-typhoon-demotivational-poster-1287174667

EMPTY LAUNCH TUBE? I don’t know where it went… Let’s check CNN…

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

James Crawford – E.Concord, NY; US Navy, Bahrain, Cmdr, KIA

Gavin Ferguson – Edmonton, CAN; RC Army, WWII, Signal Corps

"Tribute to Courage" by Rich Thistle

“Tribute to Courage” by Rich Thistle

David Jackman – Newcastle, AUS; RA Army, Vietnam

Lewis Jennings – Colby, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Medical/188th/11th Airborne Div.

Leonard Larsen – Beloit, WI; US Army, WWII,Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Matthew McClintock – Des Moises, WA; US Army, Afghanistan, SSgt.,  KIA

Richard Newdick – Whakatame, NZ; Z Special Force # 636815, WWII

Vernon Orr – Chandler, OK; US Army, WWII, Mechanic

Christian Rivera – Miami, FL; USMC, Afghanistan, Cpl., KIA

Kiernan Wimmer – Elizabeth City, NC; USMC, 1st Marine Special Ops Batt.

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on January 11, 2016, in Current News, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 121 Comments.

  1. I just returned from a trip in June where we saw this in Kiska Harbor. At the shoreline there is another smaller sub that never made it up the tracks. This really was an incredible site to see. As was the coastal gun guarding it not too far up the beach. From there we headed to the main Japanese camp and hiked for hours finding all kinds of war artifacts: grenades, ammunition, several dozen guns in their wartime positions, tunnels, docks, china, stoves… and an exasperating amount of bomb craters from the continual onslaught of bombs dropped on the island over a 14 month period.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tremendous photos. Thanks.
    It always scares me that it wasn’t that long ago.

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  3. Very interesting post and amazing photo’s

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  4. I was only reading about submarines this weekend, Scotland don’t want Trident and the leader of the Labour Party wants subs without warheads, at least I think I’ve got that right. Maybe ours will just be tourist attractions.

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  5. hello gp cox its dennis the vizsla dog hay wow a sub stranded on dry land!!! it is like sum sort of gopher tunnel in their i kant imadjin beeing in that littel toob under the water!!! ok bye

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So interesting to explore a submarine on land—especially when it is part of the landscape! It’s hard to imagine how small the space is. I visited the submarine USS Torsk and the very nice tour guide told me to climb into the middle bunk. I am on the petite side and I could not turn without hitting my shoulders. Space was at a premium. So it was very interesting to see that the only oversized “space hogging” equipment was the coffee urn. That’s something I totally understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Amazing photos. I can’t imagine being on that little sub, let alone being with others. Those masks in the water were eerie. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great article, I didn’t know there was a midget submarine up at the Aleutians! Yet another reason to one day try to visit that beautiful remote part of the world.

    Japanese midget submarines were also famously involved in an attack on Sydney Harbour. A wreck of one of them was only discovered in 2006.

    I hope 2016 is treating you well!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Fascinating, GP! The photo of the masks floating in the pool of water is haunting. This claustrophobic gal can’t even fathom the limited spaces! Wonderful article

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  10. This reminds me of the Hunley submarine located in Charleston, SC that was sunk in 1864 during the American Civil War.

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  11. Hi GP
    Great article on the Jap subs. I used to have covers signed by all the great U-boat commanders of the war. Regrettably I sold them…big mistake! Would have made a great story now.
    All best

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  12. Not what one would expect to see just lying in the grass! I don’t think I would’ve had the courage to be a member of that crew.

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  13. Great post!

    Did the Japanese intended to use these midget submarines to conduct Kamikaze type of missions?

    …It is incredible the type of courage and confidence anyone must have to board one of those for a mission!

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  14. Fascinating story, well researched. But would I expect anything less from you, GP ??

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  15. I still remember one of your post about a one-man submarine that carried bombs on a one way trip… i can’t imagine the claustrophobic effect this little subs have on people as you said. Aaaargh!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Very interesting – and glad there was one sub left – even though it will eventually rust away – and my son is actually studying corrosion for a school project and so I will have him peek at this – I think he is looking at rate of corrosion and so maybe this climate impact will interest him – hm – well have a nice day

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Interesting stuff. It’s just my opinion but the author sure doesn’t seem to know much detail about the war? In 1999, I was fortunate to be included in a personal family tour of the Edajima Self-Defense Navy Base outside of Hiroshima. Next to the crypt holding the remains of Adm. Yamamoto is a well restored “mini-sub”. I have no photos as pictures were prohibited on base.

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  18. I would’ve gone totally nuts within hours with duty in a sub , midget or otherwise . .

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  19. Those were tiny submarines, and I get claustrophobic just looking at the picture. From all their preparations, it would appear they expected a longer stay. It’s always interesting to see what has been left behind.

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    • It was a hasty evacuation for the Japanese. They left food, supplies and equipment. And, Bev – you are added to ever growing list of people who don’t want any part of going into that sub!! 🙄

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  20. Where mankind build machinery, there’s bound to be failure. I’ve often wondered how many of these things were flawed and killed their crews horribly, long before even carrying out their missions.

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  21. What an interesting post. Cannot even imagine getting into that mini-submarine. It does add to the mystery of those who actually managed to navigate it. Your war stories are fascinating! A learning experience. I’ve added some WWI history to my book as it starts in 1945, at the end. Also the war connection to German Jews (grandfather included) in the US who wanted to hide their roots to survive. Chryssa/ Christine

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    • Thank you for sharing that with everyone about your book, Christine. As far as getting into that sub, I don’t think too many people actually want to get in there!!

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  22. I am with Dan, above. I have just enough claustrophobia that the thought of crawling into one of those mini-subs and launching undersea gives me the creeps GP. –Curt

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  23. I wonder how many more of these relics lay undisturbed across the Pacific Islands. Must be tons of them all a record of lives long gone.

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  24. I hope that fascinating little sub finds its way into a museum…American or Japanese, before it disappears completely. Thanks for a really interesting post.

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    • You are very welcome, John. There are midget subs in museums, so I believe this particular one is being left where it is.

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      • In a way, this is in a museum; it is a living museum. A majority of the WW2 remains on Kiska, Attu and Umnak are positioned exactly how they were used in the war. It really gives you a good idea of what life was like for these guys. Quite humbling to see.
        On a side note: not far from this sub base was a large coastal gun protecting the area.

        Liked by 1 person

  25. Your work is always worth reading. I can not think of better researched posts than yours is……………….or better written. I have surgery for cancer tomorrow and my recovery will take 4-6 weeks so hope to be writing again in a couple of weeks.

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  26. I can’t imagine getting in that thing, let alone getting in it and heading out to sea.

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  27. Very interesting! Boy are they small and can’t imagine getting in and out of those. Loved the humor section especially CNN 🙂

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  28. I wonder why the Japanese gave up this position? Pretty far from Midway,isn’t it?

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    • The Aleutians were going to be the supply area for Midway – but they lost it – so no need to keep the islands. (in the Pacific, everything is far away from everything else, 🙂 ) Thanks for your interest.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Whatever navy they served in, the submariners in these tiny craft deserve some recognition for bravery above and beyond. I found this about British X-craft attacking the Tirpitz.
    http://ww2today.com/22nd-september-1943-x-craft-midget-submarine-attack-on-the-tirpitz
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  30. Dein Post war wie meistens sehr interessant. Doch wo hast du deutsch gelernt, mein lieber Freund GP?

    Like

  31. Very interesting. How did it get up there? Hmmm….

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    • The Japanese were good at having inland bases and tracks to run the subs to the water and then back in. They often used the same method for their heavy guns to protect them from Allied bombings.

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  32. How interesting! For something so deadly it looks pretty in the hill there.

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  33. What an extraordinary find. Any prospect of restoration? Thanks again for an extremely informative article GP. Rich.

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    • I don’t believe this one will be restored. Most of the relics in the Aleutians are being left where they were back then. But I do believe there is one being restored on Guam, maybe it’s done already – I’m afraid I’m not current on that.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. That sub is WOW, fantastic! I’d love to check it out! 😀 😀

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  35. I knew the Japanese had dug in rather substantially but I never knew about the mini-subs. Fascinating piece of history! I would not have wanted duty in one of those little tubes.

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  36. This reminds me of the H.L Hunley that was built by the Confederacy for the Civil War.

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  37. My Dad, before he was posted to India, patrolled the Northumberland Straights for Japanese subs.

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  38. Thanks for this very interesting story!

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  39. Wow that’s interesting. I’ve got claustrophobia as I only visited a german sub in Lorient, it must be horrible for the men inside…

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  40. Those pictures sure caught my eye. The story is fascinating. Thanks for all the research you do.

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    • This time I was lucky and stumbled on the story, after that it didn’t take much to research further. I do thank you for your loyal support here all these years, Peggy!!

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  41. I never knew this. Most interesting.

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  42. Certainly not a comfortably fighting environment, those mini-subs, but they appear to have been deadly little things, Though the British X Craft seem to have had more success than the Japanese midgets.

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  43. Awesome piece of History right there. I read a book not long ago about Jap Subs operating off the West Coast during WW2, and this clinches it all!! Thanks GP!!

    Like

  44. Wünsche dir eine glückliche neue Woche lieber Gruß Gislinde

    Liked by 1 person

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