Images show seaplane that sank in Pearl Harbor attack
Images show seaplane that sank in Pearl Harbor attack This photo provided by the University of Hawaii Marine Option program shows the wreck of a seaplane downed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (Jeff Kuwabara, University of Hawaii Marine Option Program via AP)
Images show seaplane that sank in Pearl Harbor attack
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Images of a large Navy seaplane that sank in Hawaii waters during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor show a coral-encrusted engine. Reef fish swim in and out of a hull.
The video and photos are the clearest images taken of the Catalina PBY-5 wreckage to date. That is according to Hans Van Tilburg. He is a maritime archaeologist with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
The site isn't publicly accessible, so the images allow scientists to share the wreckage with others. They also help with documenting a historically significant wreck over time.
The seaplane had a wing span of 100 feet. That's about comparable to a modern-era Boeing 727 commercial jet. It now sits in pieces 30 feet below the surface in Kaneohe Bay. The bay is next to a Marine Corps base, about 20 miles east of Pearl Harbor on the other side of Oahu.
There were an estimated six of these planes. They were called "flying boats" and were in the bay at the time of the attack. Van Tilburg said nobody is sure what happened to the others.
The base was then a naval air station. It was among several Oahu military installations attacked by Japanese planes on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.
Van Tilburg said a mooring cable is still attached to the plane. But there are signs someone started the port engine before the plane sank. This indicates a crew may have died while attempting to take off as the aerial assault began.
The Catalina PBY-5 could hold an eight-man crew. It could carry four 500-pound bombs.
Standard practice was to keep someone on the seaplanes at night to make sure the aircraft didn't drift off. There were aviator casualties in the water. It's not known which planes they were on or when they got off, Van Tilburg said.
"That's one of the mysteries of the story," he said.
The seaplanes would have been priority targets. That is because they could fly as far as 2,000 miles. They would have been able to follow Japanese planes back to their aircraft carriers, Van Tilburg said.
Van Tilburg said the plane is a battlefield casualty, just like better-known counterparts like the battleship Arizona and other vessels bombed in Pearl Harbor. Van Tilburg said he imagines commanders rightfully assumed the plane was a total loss and not worth salvaging.
There's been no "dedicated discussion" to retrieving the plane. It is currently in three large pieces, he said. It would cost a great deal to stabilize it and bring it ashore.
The aluminum and other metals may leech over time. But that fact must be balanced with the habitat the plane provides for fish and other marine life, Van Tilburg said. The site has become a living reef, he said.
The wreck helps tell the story of what happened at Kaneohe Bay. It is where 18 sailors and two civilians were killed. Sixty-nine others at the base were injured.
More than 2,400 sailors, Marines, soldiers and civilians were killed across Oahu in the Japanese attack.

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What makes the new images of this seaplane so significant?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • masond1-sch
    12/09/2015 - 07:05 p.m.

    What:a seaplane that was destroyed and sunk in the battle
    at Pearl Harbor
    when:Dec 7, 1941
    why:seaplane was a very important target to the Japanese because it could follow them to their bases
    how:destroyed while trying to take off

  • william1108-yyca
    12/09/2015 - 09:44 p.m.

    WOW! People were killed. I have never seen a person die before. I think that it was a submarine. But if it was one then some people attacked and it either got holes and sank or the submarine broke down. I am sure that I never want to get in a dangerous fight ever in my life. But the seaplane looks pretty cool. But in the image in the article looks like the sea plane sank down and it is covered in seaweed. But if it is then it looks very gross. But that is really cool how it sank. If I was in that sea plane then I would have been dead by now. But I think that this happened a long time ago. But it makes sense that it sank because it is made out of metal and metal sink pretty well. But I also wonder how those kinds of things float. It is amazing that it floats. So maybe if I read more articles about it then I could figure out how they float. Because metal is very heavy and it should sink very fast. But it looks like that there is a special way it floats. So maybe one day I will find out how it floats of is there a special kind of thing inside it to keep if floating without sinking.

  • elizabetha1-sch
    12/10/2015 - 11:51 a.m.

    6) This is a "news" story because it describes a series of events that recently occurred as a result of efforts by a governmental organization. Until the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries conducted this studies, we did not know about the dimensions of the wreckage.

  • priscilaa-sch
    12/10/2015 - 12:49 p.m.

    Who:Hans Van Tilburg
    What:A large Navy seaplane that sank
    When:During the Japanese attack in Pearl Harbor
    Why:According to the picture it shows that a Navy seaplank sank
    How:The Japanese attack

    • jasminet-hyl
      12/18/2015 - 11:32 a.m.

      I like that you made a chart you made!!!!!!!

  • yusiryd-sch
    12/10/2015 - 12:50 p.m.

    Who:Hans van Tilbury
    what:navy seaplane
    when:December 7,1941
    where: Hawaii
    Why:during the Japanese attack
    how: fell during the attack

  • samanthas-1-ste
    12/10/2015 - 01:11 p.m.

    The images are significant because they are a huge part of our history. The planes can tell us what really happened back then too.

    • jasminet-hyl
      12/18/2015 - 11:30 a.m.

      I think these pictures are interesting too. But the picture is really evidence for the future. And they are making new images of this picture.

    • aidanl1-kai
      1/08/2016 - 02:18 p.m.

      I seriously agree with u that the planes tell us about the mystery's of the attack.

    • aidanl1-kai
      1/15/2016 - 02:11 p.m.

      the images tell us about history during world war 2. but not all of the history.

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