Finding the Kam Zero – Prospectus

October 30, 2006

The Kam ZeroThis prospectus describes a digital history project that can be viewed as an electronic scholarly essay, a GIS or data mining project, an exhibit, or a discussion area.  The genesis of this project was an attempt to answer a simple question, but over time it has developed into a full-fledged investigation that leverages multiple online resources.  Because of this, it is an excellent candidate for a digital history to illustrate one or all of the following aspects:
• A microhistory of various aspects of WWII
• An example of “digital forensics,” or how different online sources can be investigated and cross-referenced for evidence
• A subject for web-enabled presentation, using different digital methods to present the investigation and its results.
During the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7th, 1941, a Japanese Mitsubishi Type O (“Zero”) aircraft crashed on the site of what was then part of the US Army Coast Artillery post of Fort Kamehameha.  A US Navy photograph of the crashed plane has appeared in many hard copy books and online documents.  Some of these sources identified the crash site as “Building 52” or a machine shop.  Today, many of the original buildings on the site of the fort have been demolished and the only structures remaining are the old officer’s quarters, which are still in use.  During the mid-1970’s, my family lived at Fort Kamehameha (“Fort Kam” as it was known) in Quarters #4.  These houses began at the east end of the Fort and were numbered sequentially along Worchester Road, the main street.  Curiously, the first house on this street was Quarters #2.  Legend among the residents was that Quarters #1 had been destroyed on December 7th.  The above-mentioned photo of the Kam Zero, with buildings in the background that looked much like the officers quarters, lent credence to this legend.  Using mostly online resources, I decided to determine where the Kam Zero crashed, and whether or not it crashed into Quarters #1.
While the story of the Kam Zero can be told through a simple PowerPoint presentation, a much more useful medium would be a website. This site will merge period and contemporary maps, period photographs, eyewitness accounts, and contemporary satellite imagery.  These will be introduced in chronological order; pertinent evidence will be extracted and cross-referenced with the evidence gleaned from the other sources.
The web site structure will take the viewer through a series of “rooms” that are set up by a combination of time period, historical subject and scope such as “Maps, prewar, Ft Kamehameha.”  Graphical user interfaces through maps and large scale images could, for example, link a 1922 map to images of the Kam Zero and other landmarks taken from various perspectives.  This map interface is similar to “The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War” website (  This site features unit histories, letters, maps and photographs that are cross-referenced. The spatially displayed, “floor plan” site map of this website is the model for the proposed Kam Zero website.  The connection of text to images is similar to the methodology employed in the “History Wired: A Few of Our Favorite Things” ( site developed by the Museum of American History.  The text explaining each artifact on that site is very brief and somewhat superficial and does not provide any other links, however.
The National Geographic site “Remembering Pearl Harbor” ( is a close parallel to the proposed Kam Zero site, though the Pearl Harbor site is targeted towards a younger audience and accordingly sacrifices detail for special effects such as audio links and videos.  The proposed Kam Zero site, targeted toward historians and those having a more specific interest in the subjects, would provide the level of detail and the interconnections that the National geographic site lacks.
Collection of the material to support this project should not require a great deal of resources, since most of the materials are already identified and captured.  On the other hand, developing the video files of the maps and the interfaces between the various “rooms” in the virtual museum would take some financial and technical resources. Possible sources of funding or sponsorship for this site could include:
•  Naval Historical Foundation
•  Pearl Harbor Memorial
•  US Army Museum of Hawaii
•  Hawaii Air National Guard (which occupies the site of the crash)
•  University of Hawaii
The following resources have already been surveyed and “mined” for information and images to support this project.
• Naval History Foundation Photo Archives.  Database online.  Available from
• American Seacoast Defenses Database: Military Reservations and Concrete Gun Batteries 1890-1945. Documents online. Available from
• Pearl Harbor History Associates. Documents online. Available from
• Historic Military Quarters Handbook; Document online.  Available from
• The Todd Pederson Collection of Original Hickam AFB Photo Laboratory Records of the Pearl Harbor Attack, Documents online.  Available from
• “Jacques Fuselier,” article in World War II Stories – In Their Own Words.  Database online.  Available from
• Dorrance William Henry, Fort Kamehameha: The Story of the Harbor Defenses of Pearl Harbor (Shippensburg PA, White Mane Publishing Co., 1993)


5 Responses to “Finding the Kam Zero – Prospectus”

  1. JML Says:


  2. Matt R Says:

    Good afternoon,

    Due to the passing of my Grandfather last evening, I was performing some online research in order to remember some of the events of his life. He was stationed at Fort Kam during World War 2 and was present on post December 7th during the attack on Pearl Harbor. I have a copy of several pages from his journal depicting what took place that morning and subsequent events the following day. Earlier in my life, my Grandfather mentioned that he remembered a zero crashing into a building on base, I believe using the general terminology of ‘barracks’. Though vague, I also remember seeing a black and white photo in his personal collection at that time showing the aircraft and the crash site. I will attempt to locate the image and any surrounding documentation. If you so desire, I would be more than happy to provide any information and images that I can locate. Regards, Matt

  3. Matt R Says:

    I did forget to mention. His unit of assignment at Fort Kam was in fact the coastal artillery unit mentioned within the context of your site. He maintained a very good written account of the events that took place the day of the attack.

  4. John Lillard Says:

    Matt – thanks very much for the offer, and I would really like to see the journal entries. Have you had a chance to look at the Kam Zero website? I developed it for a class and it’s not finished – much of the planned functionality isn’t installed yet – but it features a lot of images from the crash and from Kam’s early history.

  5. Peter Says:

    Brilliant Website. Please take a look at my website. Let me know what you think.
    Maybe you will link to it…Thank You.

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