The Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor stocks many artifacts that capture the key parts of American history. The idea behind the establishment of the museum was to keep the legacy of America in the Second World War and to keep a visual record of the devastating attack of 7th December 1941 that changed the entire bearing of the war. The artifacts displayed in the museum tell a full story of the events of December 7th and the onset of the Japanese vs the USA war. Although I was aware of the proceedings of the events in the lead-up to the attack and other Pacific action during the war, visiting the museum not only made the content of books realistic but also added a practical touch to it. By visiting the museum, I learned aspects of the war that are not conscious in history books; the most important of these were the technologies that were applicable at the time.
The things I learned at the Pacific Aviation Museum enabled me to have a different perspective on American history and the World War II. The museum has greatly enhanced my knowledge of the second world way and in particular how the Pearl Harbor attack unfolded. Importantly, the museum helped me to gain knowledge of other aspects of the war other than the diplomatic conflicts between the various countries at war. For instance, at the museum, I have understood the role of differential technological advancement in determining the countries which turn victorious over the others. For instance, the Japanese were able to launch a massive attack on the Pearl Harbor as they had a superior naval technology to the USA at the moment. Furthermore, the museum has helped me to appreciate the practices of pre-World War II intelligence and how they helped to change the course of the war.
The site was, however, not devoid of surprises. Of these, I was greatly surprised by the condition of the hangars. Having read about the hangars and their role in the Second World War and the Pearl Harbor attack, I expected to find them rugged and greatly dilapidated. However, the management at the museum had maintained them in such good condition. As we were guided through the museum and told of the stories behind the artifacts in the museum, the condition of most of this artifacts made me to feel the moments of December 1941; the condition of artifacts in the museum made me relive the events of a war that was fought long before I was born. Additionally, even though I expected a great outing, I was surprised with the extent of vividness with which the state of the artifacts in the museum related to the events of the war; the events of the war were glaringly evident in the museum.
Of all the artifacts in the museum, the one that helped me the most with an understanding of the events of December 7th, 1941 was the iconic Ford Island Control Tower which has a height of 158 feet. The tower is a representation of the military intelligence of the time of the war and the contribution of intelligence failure to the detriment that the Pearl Harbor attack caused. The two hangars – 37 and 79 – and their condition also tell a story of the war. The bullet holes in hangar 79 particularly tell the story of the violence of the attack. Additionally, the museum has a collection of the remnants of World War II fighter jets – these jets not only relay a message of the technological advancements of the time but also remind us of the key role that aviation played in winning the war. Considering the importance of winning the war in twentieth-century American history – the artifacts are pivotal to a deep understanding of recent American history.
- Feis, Herbert. The road to Pearl Harbor: the coming of the war between the United States and Japan. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2015.
- Marrin, Stephen. “Preventing intelligence failures by learning from the past.” International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 17, no. 4 (2004): 655-672.