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Operation Vengeance—The Mission Shoot Down Yamamoto
April 23 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Special Event: Operation Vengeance—The Mission Shoot Down Yamamoto
History Presentation, P-38 Engine Run-Up and Taxi
Special Cockpit Photo Opportunity
April 23, 2022 at 9:30 am
Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet in 1941, was a complex, thoughtful man. A graduate of the Japanese Naval Academy and Naval Staff College, he gained insight into America’s military and industrial capabilities as he traveled while studying at Harvard and serving as Japan’s naval attache in Washington. As tensions with the U.S. grew in response to Japan’s quest for resources in the Southwest Pacific, Yamamoto came to understand that war with the U.S. was inevitable. He believed Japan’s only chance for victory lay in a quick and decisive attack to cripple American naval forces in the Pacific, leading to a negotiated peace. To accomplish this, Yamamoto conceived, planned and led the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7th, 1941.
Over the following year, U.S. forces slowly began to turn the tide of the initial Japanese victories in the Pacific. First came the naval battles in the Coral Sea and at Midway. Then the Allies began taking back and occupying islands, including Guadalcanal in the Solomons. The island became a center of U.S. military air power and was home base for several units including the 339th Fighter Squadron, a P-38 Lightning-equipped outfit. Its commander was Major John Mitchell, an experienced and respected combat leader.
In April 1943, the destinies of Admiral Yamamoto and Major Mitchell intersected. Mitchell was tasked with leading a difficult, long-range surprise attack of his own that would catch Yamamoto in the air over Bougainville.
This presentation will cover the circumstances and converging events that brought these two men together, and the high risk, low-probability mission that would change the course of the Pacific war. The presentation will include an engine run-up and taxi demonstration of White 33, the museum’s combat veteran P-38. The presentation will be followed by a rare photo opportunity of the cockpit of White 33.
Doors to the museum open at 8am. The presentation begins at 9:30am. White 33 will be available as long as needed for the individual cockpit photo opportunities.