Dark Photos: A Mystery Object Spotted in a Pearl Harbor Photo


Computer enhancement of this infamous photo, taken from a Nakajima B5N2 torpedo bomber early on in Japan’s WW2 attack on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941, shows a wide view of the harbor mid-attack… with something curious. There appears to be noticeable aberrations in the surface of the water, with no corresponding splash to indicate an air-dropped weapon.

The attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii is typically remembered as a surprise aerial assault by over 350 Japanese aircraft. What is often left out of that narrative is that along with the hundreds of fighter jets and bombers, the Japanese also launched five miniature submarines as another wing of their attack, with the intent of invading the harbor from below.

These miniature, or midget, subs, were developed in secret by the Japanese Navy under the code name Type A Kō-hyōteki, or “Target A”. Each of the 46-ton water crafts could fit two pilots, and were armed with two 450-millimeters Type 97 torpedoes containing 800 pound warheads. The subs were designed to travel at a max speed of 26 miles per hour, at a depth no greater than 100 meters.

Their story is typically sidelined for good reason – the historical records show that of the five midget submarines launched from larger Japanese motherships just hours before the aerial attack began, none of them managed to infiltrate the harbor and inflict any additional damage to the American naval fleet.

At least, that’s how the story went until the late 1990’s, when close analysis of the aforementioned photo revealed a surprising twist to that narrative – that one of the five Japanese submarines may have successfully breached the harbor and launched an underwater attack, after all.

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