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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Scouting Squadron Six Report for Pearl Harbor Attack

  SCOUTING SQUADRON SIX
U.S.S. Enterprise
 

From: Lieutenant Commander H.L. HOPPING, (Commander Scouting Squadron SIX, Pilot of 6-S-1).  
To: The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Enterprise  
Via: The Commander, Enterprise Air Group.  
   
Subject: Report of Action with Japanese at Oahu on December 7, 1941.
   
Reference: Art. 712 and 874, U.S. Navy Regulations.
   
Enclosures: (A1) to (A8) Reports of Pilots. (Omitted)
(B) Task Organization AM Search. (Omitted)
(C) Task Organization PM Search. (Omitted)

  1. In accordance with reference (a) this report is submitted via the Commander Enterprise Air Group to the Commanding Officer, Enterprise, for inclusion with the latter's report. Attached hereto as Enclosures (A1) to (A8) are the statements of eight additional pilots of Scouting Six aircraft which participated in the engagement. The pilots of the other four Scouting Six planes involved are killed, missing or in hospital.
  2. The Task Organization for the morning search is attacked as Enclosure (B). Planes were launched about 0615. One plane of Scouting Six departed immediately with the Group Commander, but the remainder of the flight rendezvoused with me, and at 0637 took departure from Enterprise.
  3. About half way out on the median of sector 095°-105° (T) contact was made with an unidentified ship broad on the port bow of 6-S-1, distance 20 miles. A signal was made to 6-S-3 to remain outside gun range while 6-S-1 investigated. it proved to be the Pat Doheny, a Richfield tanker, 0730 position from memory being latitude 20°-55', longitude 160°-20', course 070° (T). Upon completion of investigation 6-S-3 could not be found; 6-S-1 completed sector alone, then set course for Barbers Point.
  4. When a short distance from Barbers point heavy smoke was visible. At this time a report was heard over the radio: "Do not attack me. This is six baker three an American plane", and the same voice continued on telling his gunner to break out the boat as he was landing in the water. When abreast of Ewa the first Japanese planes were sighted. They were attacking Ewa Field.
  5. I broadcast a report that Pearl Harbor was being attacked by Japanese aircraft, dived down to low altitude and at 0845 landed on Ford Island during what proved to be the second of three attacks (considering the VT attack the first and the dive bombing as two waves).
  6. After landing I taxied to the Control Tower to make arrangements for bombs and to get detailed information to ComTaskFor Eight. The tower transmitter was not working so returned to plane and broadcast several times the details of the attack, and that Ford Island Field was usable. Gunner COLE then appeared and agreed to get bombs for the 3 VSB which had arrived and for others which might arrive later.
  7. In the absence of the Group Commander, who had reported to the Commander-in-Chief, I reported to Commander Patrol Wing Two. He directed me to send one plane to investigate reports of two Japanese carriers southwest of west of Barbers Point between 25 and 40 miles, and to hold remaining planes on ground as attack group.
  8. At 1030 took off in 6-S-1, and from Barbers Point flew tracks west 20 miles, south 20 miles, west 60 miles, south 20 miles, east 60 miles and back to Ford Island. There were no contacts except with own ships and sampans. During the return orders from the Enterprise were received to "refuel, rearm and rejoin". These orders were acknowledged and passed on to 6-S-7 who was in the air with three other planes. At 1145 landed at Ford Island and reported to ComPatWing Two that there were no Japanese surface craft within rectangle covering area 100 miles west and 60 miles south of Barbers point and informed him of my orders from Enterprise. ComPatWing Two then directed me to search sector 330° to 030° (T), attack enemy forces encountered, and return to Ford Island.
  9. At 1210 we took off with 9 VSB armed with 500 lb. bombs, task organization attached as Enclosure (C). No contacts were made. All planes returned by 1545.
  10. During the initial approach of 6-S-1 to land at Ford Island the antiaircraft fire was very heavy, but Japanese planes did not come within gun range. On the first take-off and second landing the anti-aircraft fire was not nearly so heavy, and on the take off and landing of the nine plane flight there was little or none. The only damage to 6-S-1 was a bullet in the battery which did not effect plane or radio. This is mentioned to point out the lesson learned namely that approach to land through antiaircraft fire can be made at very low altitude with relative security.
  11. The second Japanese attack was witnessed partly from the air and partly from the ground; the third attack from Ford Island Field Tower. It was noted that attacks were made in a glide rather than a dive, that pull-outs were as low as 400 feet, and that the machine gunning of Ewa Field destroyed planes on the landing mat almost immediately by burning. At least two dud bombs were noted. Two Japanese planes were seen to fall in flames one landing in or just east of Middle Loch and one west of Middle Loch.
  12. One Japanese plane was definitely shot down by Lieutenant C.D. DICKINSON Jr., USN, and MILLWE, William C., RM1c, USN, in 6-S-4.
  13. The total personnel casualties of Scouting Squadron Six were as follows:

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    [not included in report]

  14. The total material losses of Scouting Squadron Six were as follows:
  15. (a) Three (3) planes shot down:
      6-S-4
    6-S-9
    6-S-14
    - Bureau No. 4570
    - Bureau No. 2158
    - Bureau No. 4572
    (b) Three (3) planes missing:
      6-S-3
    6-S-15
    6-S-16
    - Bureau No. 2160
    - Bureau No. 2159
    - Bureau No. 4521 - Kauai
    (c) Several planes slightly damaged by gunfire but all in commission except 6-S-2 (Bu#2175) which was left at Ford Island for repairs.

  16. The conduct of all hands under fire was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy. We were separated in small two plane units and had no knowledge of the situation until near Pearl Harbor in the landing approach lanes. As soon as reports of the attack had been made, it is believed that all pilots adopted the same course of action. This was to get into a field, engaging only such enemy aircraft as would prevent them, in order to: (1) arm with bombs, (2) obtain information of position of enemy carriers, (3) insure transmission of full information to ComTaskFor Eight and (4) be prepared to search for and attack the Japanese raiding force. Six Scouting Six planes and eight Scouting Six pilots were assembled, reserviced and armed at Ford Island Field before noon. With the Group Commander's plane and two Bombing Six planes this made the search and attack group of nine SBD's shown in Enclosure "C". One Scouting Six plane was at Ewa Field reserviced and armed. Two Scouting Six planes were shot down by enemy aircraft after accounting for at least one Japanese single-seater fighter of a group which attacked this section. One Scouting Six plane was shot down by our own antiaircraft fire. What happened to the three missing Scouting Six planes is not known. Worthy of special commendation are the following:

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    [not included in the report]
  17. All aircraft and material functioned efficiently so far as is known except when damaged or destroyed by aircraft or anti-aircraft fire. Whether armored seats or leak-proof tanks would have saved an personnel or material is not known.

Addendum to report of Action with Japanese at Oahu on December 7, 1941:

It was noted that stations KGU and KGMB were both broadcasting music (presumably phonograph records) while the Japanese attack was in progress between 0800 and 0815. These were heard by pilots who knew nothing of the engagement and were taking radio bearing. In view of the fact that a broadcast of the attack might have been invaluable to naval forces and would appear the normal thing to expect this report is thought to be of possible interest to Naval Intelligence.

[signed]
H.L. HOPPING.


Source: Enclosure (E) to CINCPAC action report Serial 0479 of 15 February 1942, World War II action reports,
the Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740.
15 May 2001