Japanese mini sub stopped in Sumter

By SAMMY WAY
Posted 9/23/18

Reflections remembers when the American Legion Post No. 15 sponsored a two-man Japanese suicide submarine as an exhibit on Main Street in April of 1944. The sub captured after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was used to urge the …

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Japanese mini sub stopped in Sumter

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Reflections remembers when the American Legion Post No. 15 sponsored a two-man Japanese suicide submarine as an exhibit on Main Street in April of 1944. The sub captured after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was used to urge the local citizenry to purchase War Bonds. The photo was provided by Jane Hart, whose father Theodore DuBose was the photographer. The author will reprint an article secured from The Sumter Item archives to explain this event in its entirety with a modicum of editing.

"A two-man Japanese suicide submarine was exhibited in Sumter on May 11 on Main Street, sponsored by the American Legion. The submarine was on a nationwide tour to raise funds for the Bundles For America Inc. relief program, to provide necessities and comforts for U.S. men in the armed forces and their families."

"Bundles for America cooperated with Army and Navy relief societies, the United Seamen's Service and the Seaman's Church Institute and operated under a license issued by the President's War Fund Relief Control Board. The suicide submarine was used at Pearl Harbor, and it and its officers were captured during the attack. Prior to its capture, it was packed with explosives sufficient in power to blow up three battleships or other targets of comparable size."

"It carried two 18-inch torpedoes, 18 feet long, weighing 1,750 pounds. These were fired from the bow of the sub by means of compressed air, just as was done from a normal submarine. In addition to these two torpedoes, the undersea suicide crafts carried a 300-pound TNT charge to be used to destroy a third target. This was done by diving under the target or coming alongside of it. Then the officer would press a button connected to the demolition charge battery, blowing up the two-man crew, the submarine and the target."

"Horizontal fins on either side of the propellers alone controlled the diving and surfacing. No water ballast was used, and diving depth was only 15 feet. The sub was 81 feet long, 6 feet in diameter, had a cruising range from 100 to 150 miles, a surface speed of 16 knots and while submerged 6 to 8 knots. The highest interior part is directly under the conning tower and was only 5 feet, 1 inch. A 15 -inch hatch atop the conning tower was the only means of entrance or exit. The officer's station with all the buttons, valves, switches, gauges and instruments necessary to control the firing power and navigate the sub was crowded in this small section."

"The officer had to stand erect behind the periscope within arm's reach of all of these, as he had no room to move around or to sit down. To further illustrate the smallness of the room within these subs, it might be added that the officer of this sub, captured with it, was only 4 feet 3 inches tall and weighed about 90 pounds. It doesn't take big things on the part of individuals to do a major step toward victory. Don't wait to buy War Bonds and continue to contribute to war relief programs."