The Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor is home to a large collection of these incredible aircraft, some dating back to more than 76 years ago and the attack on Pearl Harbor that led the US into World War II. The collection is split between two pre-World War II-era hangars, number 37 and number 79. Hangar 37 houses fewer aircraft, but they all were connected to the Second World War in some way.
The museum is more than just a collection of Pearl Harbor-related aircraft. While it does feature a Japanese A6M Zero fighter and an American P-40, similar to planes that flew the morning of the attack, there’s much more to this museum that makes it appealing to history buffs hoping for a more extensive look into the aerial fleets of not just World War II, but of many conflicts since then.
The museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and if you book a tour in advance, you can be sure you’ll see all parts of Pearl Harbor and still have time to reflect on the tragic events of that day.
Pacific Aviation Museum at Ford Island
The U.S. Navy docked some of its best ships at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked it on December 7, 1941, but did you know that aircraft carriers and other airplanes were also there? Today the Pacific Aviation Museum takes up what used to be Hangars 37 and 79 and transports visitors back 70 years through the history of aviation in the Pacific.
When you arrive at the museum, the first thing you’ll do is enter Hangar 37— one of the few hangers not destroyed in the Pearl Harbor attack, and watch a 12-minute video. The video documents exactly what happened during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and showcases historical footage of the event.
After the movie ends, you’ll head to the next exhibit, which recounts the history of the Hawaiian Islands leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Throughout the rest of the hangar, you’ll see a number of cool Japanese and American planes that were flown during and after the fateful day. The exhibits tell other stories of World War II and offer comprehensive looks at the many battles fought in the Pacific.
In Hangar 79, 80,000 square feet of space shows signs of battle as bullet holes are still visible around the hangar. Once an engine and repair facility, Hangar 79 offers more of a modern look into military aircraft taking to the skies. The exhibits here show the more recent battles, like aircraft from the Korean War. You’ll find a number of modern planes, helicopters, and other vehicles that have been instrumental to the U.S. military. There’s also an exciting exhibit on the Korean War where visitors can learn more about the aircrafts used by both the U.S. and Soviet militaries.
Fully Restored Aircrafts
As you make your way through the two hangars that make up the Pacific Aviation Museum, you’ll see fully restored aircraft like the Boeing N2S-3 Stearman, the North American B-25B Mitchell, the Douglas SBD Dauntless, Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, and many more. You can also explore some deeper details of the torpedoes responsible for damaging and sinking multiple battleships at the December 7th,1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Combat Flight Simulators
Gear yourself up to feel what it’s like to be behind the controls of the military’s greatest planes. Pilot a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat or travel back to the 1940s in the Pacific, flying an A6M Zero fighter, P-38 Lightning, a Ki-61 Tony, and many other aircraft. Engage the enemy in the skies of Guadalcanal or bring it in for a landing on an aircraft carrier of the Pacific Fleet to feel how these crafts handle in mid-flight.
The Control Tower Tour
For almost 80 years, the Ford Island Control Tower has stood proudly as the silent guard over Pearl Harbor. Upgrade your ticket to the Top of the Tower Tour, a once-in-a-lifetime experience to get a view of the Pearl Harbor battlefield as the tower is open to the public for the first time in decades.
The Raytheon Pavilion and Outdoor Exhibits
The Raytheon Pavilion, located between Hangars 37 and 79, includes a number of traveling exhibits such as the future of aviation to the heroes of World War II. Outside the pavilion is a huge outdoor collection of historic and modern-day aircrafts including WWII-era helicopters and modern models that fly the skies today.
Most tours of Pearl Harbor include stops at the museums and monuments on Ford Island. Located in the middle of Pearl Harbor, Ford Island is a 441-acre island that’s prominent in both Hawaiian culture and American history. While it’s best known as the location of Battleship Row, the scene of massive destruction during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Ford Island also played a prominent role in military aviation.
Known today as Ford Island, the island was known to the Hawaiian people as Moku’ume’ume, meaning “island of attraction.” The history of American involvement on the island dates back to the mid-19th century. The island got its current name from Dr. Seth Porter Ford who came into possession of it through marriage. Not long after Ford’s death, the island became the focus of interest for the United States military. Though Hawaii was at the time an independent kingdom, the United States had been on the lookout for a base that could help provide a defense to its Pacific coast.
Pearl Harbor Tour