A Goose back over Dutch Harbor
With several important memorial dates this week (the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway, 73rd of D-Day, et.al.) one that is easy to slip through the cracks is the Battle of Dutch Harbor.
As a diversion to Midway, a fairly strong task force under Japanese Rear Admiral Kakuji Kakuta, comprising the carriers Ryūjō (10,000 tons) and Jun’yō (25,000 tons) as well as their escorts and a naval landing force, attacked the Aleutians in Alaska.
One engagement, where Katutka sent his 80~ strong combined airwing to plaster the only significant American base in the region, socked the base and port facility over the course of two raids on 3-4 June, sinking the barracks ship Northwestern, destroying a few USAAF bombers and USN PBYs, and killing 78 Americans.
The Japanese in turn got a bloody nose from the old school 3-inch M1918s and .50 cal water-cooled Browning of Arkansas National Guard’s 206th Coast Artillery (Anti Aircraft), which splashed a few Japanese planes, a PBY stitched up 19-year-old PO Tadayoshi Koga’s Zero (which crashed and was recovered in remarkable condition– an intelligence coup) and a group of Army Col. John Chennault’s P-40s out of Unamak accounted for a few more.
To honor the battle, a restored Canadian Harvard (the Canuks helped “retake” Attu and Kiska from the Japanese and defend Alaska during the War) an MH-65 of the USCGC Midgett, based in Kodiak, and a restored Grumman JRF-5 Goose made a ceremonial pass over Dutch Harbor on 3 June.
The Goose, of which 24 were used by the Coast Guard, mostly on the West Coast, was a small amphibian that could carry a couple of depth charges, drop off some scouts in a remote area, or rescue a downed aircrew in a pinch. The Army, Navy and (after 1947) the Air Force also used the Goose in varying numbers.