Midget Submarines Based in the Philippines
© 2006-2013 Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp
5 August 1944:
The IJN decides to establish two midget submarine bases at
Davao and Zamboanga on Mindanao, Philippines. Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral,
posthumously) Harada Kaku (former CO of CHIYODA) is appointed CO of the 33rd
(Special) Base Unit located at Cebu. The unit is intended to operate against
Allied invasion shipping in the Sulu and Mindanao Seas.
Davao. The first two midget submarines arrive under Lt (
j.g.) Kojima Kozo and are incorporated into the 33nd (Special) Base Unit.
WO Maruyama Goro's midget submarine HA-78 and Lt
Ichikawa Hiroshi's midget submarine HA-79 arrive at Zamboanga. Lt ( j.g.)
Ichikawa is the CO of the two submarine unit.
12-13 September 1944:11 October
Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher’s Task
Force 38’s TG 38.1, TG 38.2 and TG 38.3 begins operations against Japanese
shipping and airfields in the Visayas. Planes from all three carrier groups bomb
installations on Cebu and destroy its submarine base.
Transports T. 9 and T. 10 arrive at Kure and Sasebo. Each embarks two
Type C midget
submarines (HA-81 thru -84).
15 October 1944:
T. 9 and T. 10 depart for Davao via Manila.
20 October 1944: American Operation "KING TWO" - The Invasion of Leyte,
Admiral (later Fleet Admiral) William F. Halsey's (former CO of
SARATOGA, CV-3) Third Fleet of 738 ships including 18 aircraft carriers, six
battleships, 17 cruisers, 64 destroyers and over 600 support ships land the
Army's X Corps (24 th Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions) and the XXIV Corps
(7th, 77th and 96th Infantry Divisions) that begins the campaign to retake
Following the landing at Leyte, transports T. 9 and T. 10 are diverted to
Late October 1944:
T. 9 and T. 10 arrive at Cebu and unload the midget
submarines. Lt ( j.g.) Sasakawa Tsutomu is appointed CO.
23 October 1944: Operation "TA" - The Reinforcement of Leyte:
Admiral Mikawa Gunichi (former CO of KIRISHIMA), C-in-C, Southwest Area Fleet,
commences "TA" to provide reinforcements, supplies and munitions to IJA forces
engaging the American invasion forces on Leyte. Between 23 October and 11
December 1944, nine major convoys attempt the 600-mile passage from Manila to
Ormoc Bay, Leyte.
1 November 1944:
Cebu. The midget submarine base is again operational
and supports six midget submarines. Lt Sasakawa Tsutomu's HA-81, HA-82, WO
Kashiwaki Kimihiro's HA-83 and WO Matsuda's HA-84, all landed by T. 9 and T. 10,
start patrols in Canigao Channel for working up.
Cebu. Later in the month, WO Maruyama Goro's midget submarine HA-78 and
Lt Ichikawa Hiroshi's HA-79 arrive from Zamboanga. Cebu's midget submarines
conduct operations in Ormoc Bay, Leyte, but are ineffective because of the four
to seven days travel time from Cebu to Leyte.
(USS Abbot (DD-629) website)
December 1944:8 December 1944:
Camotes Sea. Lt Sasakawa's midget submarine HA-81, WO
Mizuno Aimasa's HA-82 and WO Matsuda Sakuichi's HA-84 conduct patrols and
reconnoiter shore areas.
Ormoc Bay. Lt Sasakawa's HA-81
claims sinking an American destroyer in the Camotes Sea, but the report cannot
9 December 1944: Operation TA - The Reinforcement of Leyte:
In the afternoon, the ninth and final “TA” operation gets underway. Naval
transport T. 9 carries two midget submarines to Cebu. Later that day, T. 9
arrives and delivers Lt Shima Yoshimitsu's midget submarine HA-69 and Lt ( j.g.)
Shibuta Kiyoshi's HA-76.
Type C Midgets aboard Transport T. 5, 17 Aug '44
(Scanned from Paul Kemp's "Midget Submarines of the Second
18 December 1944:Late December 1944:
Bohol Sea. Lt ( j.g.) Shibuta's midget submarine HA-76
attacks a convoy and he claims sinking of two transports, but neither of the
claims can be confirmed. WO Mizuno Aimasa's HA-82 is grounded in Cebu Harbor and
rendered inoperable as a result of damage.
Cebu. WO Kashiwaki Kimihiro's HA-83 is lost after
being grounded and damaged.
3 January 1945:
S of Mindanao Island. WO Matsuda's midget submarine
HA-84 attacks a convoy and claims one destroyer and two transports as sunk, but
his report cannot be confirmed. 
Type C Midget HA-69 being launched from Transport T. 5, 17 Aug
(Scanned from A. J. Watts "Axis
5 January 1945:
General MacArthur and Admiral Kinkaid aboard PHOENIX
Lt Shima's midget submarine HA-69, WO Mizuno's repaired
HA-82 and another unidentified midget submarine depart Cebu in an attempt to
intercept enemy convoys heading for Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. HA-82 attacks USS
BOISE (CL-47) in Surigao Strait and surfaces after having fired its torpedoes.
Lookouts aboard PHOENIX (CL-46) sight the torpedoes' wakes and warn BOISE. She
turns and evades. General Douglas MacArthur is aboard at the time. TAYLOR
(DD-468) launches a depth charge attack. WO Mizuno Aimasa's midget submarine
HA-82 surfaces and is rammed by the destroyer.
Later that day, Lt Shimayoshi's HA-69 reports sinking one destroyer and one
unidentified vessel in the Mindanao Sea.
21 January 1945:
The Zamboanga midget submarine detachment led by Lt
Ichikawa, CO of midget submarine HA-79, departs the base for Cebu and join the
local unit after their arrival.
24 January 1945:
Mindanao Sea. Lt ( j.g.) Shibuta's midget submarine
HA-76 reports sinking a large transport. Lt Sasakawas HA-81 reports sinking a
seaplane carrier in the same area, but neither of the reports can be
Cebu. At 1330, WO Matsuda's midget submarine HA-84 departs for the
advanced base at Dumaguete. At 1725, Matsuda sights a convoy comprising some 50
vessels. At 2230, he fires two torpedoes at a large transport leading the left
column of the convoy. Two explosions are heard. After 2233, HA-84 is chased by
escorts that drop seven depth-charges. Lt ( j.g.) Shibuta's midget submarine
HA-76 and Lt Sasakawa's HA-81, operating in the same area, withdraw. 
24-25 January 1945:
Mindoro. Lt ( j.g.) Shibuta's midget submarine
HA-76, Lt Sasakawa's HA-81 and HA-86 launch attacks on American ships, but
25 January 1945:
At 0830, WO Matsuda's midget submarine HA-84 returns
8 February 1945:
Dumaguete. The advance base is ready. Early in the
morning, the first of Cebu's midget submarines departs for Dumaguete and arrives
the next day. Thereafter, the midget submarines lie in wait to attack American
convoys. When alerted by coast watchers, the midget submarines leave the
advanced base with fresh batteries to attack shipping in the Mindanao Sea and
the Surigao Strait.
Southern Philippines showing Cebu, Dumaguete, Zamboanga, Leyte and
13 February 1945:
Mindanao Sea. Lt Shima's midget submarine HA-69
reports sinking a large transport, but the claim cannot be confirmed.
Dumaguete. Lt ( j.g.) Shibuta's midget submarine HA-76 is rendered
useless by flooding and is scuttled.
Kure. That same day, medium submarine RO-43 prepares to depart the next
day to deliver a shipment of Type 97 (457-mm) torpedoes for the midget submarine
unit at Cebu, but the mission is canceled because of American activities in the
21 February 1945:
Siquijor Island, Mindanao Sea. Cdr G.H. Cairnes'
USS RENSHAW (DD-499), is part of Task Unit 78. 7. 6, escorting a convoy of about
50 various Landing Ship types (LSTs, LSMs, LCTs) with 12 other escorts from San
Pedro Bay, Leyte that later invade Palawan Island, Philippines.
Surigao Strait. Japanese coastwatchers send a report to Dumaguete about a
westbound enemy convoy. At 1059, RENSHAW's lookouts sight a torpedo wake, then a
submarine's periscope and part of a conning tower. This is probably WO Matsuda
Sakuichi’s midget HA-84 from Cebu. One minute later, the torpedo explodes about
six feet below the waterline. The explosion tears a 26 foot hole in the hull,
twists the keel, damages bulkheads and decks and causes flooding in the forward
engine room and after fire room and the ship loses all power. Nineteen crewmen
are KIA. RENSHAW's 40-mm AA gun crew spot a conning tower momentarily and get
off 20 rounds, but without apparent effect.
Cdr Cairnes jettisons his torpedoes, starts his emergency generator and
RENSHAW is able to continue under her own power. WALLER (DD-466) and SHAW
(DD-373) fire at the midget with their AA guns and conduct an unsuccessful
ten-hour search for the submarine.
USS RENSHAW after being torpedoed by HA-84
22 February 1945:
Dumaguete. At 1500, WO Matsuda's midget submarine
HA-84 returns and claims sinking a heavy cruiser.
23 February 1945:
Cebu City. Marine Aircraft Group 12's (MAG-12) VMF-115 XO Major Eldon Railsback's division sights two surfaced midget submarines hidden under the docks. Four USMC Chance-Vought F4U "Corsairs” attack with bombs, but miss and race back to base to rearm. When they return they release only 25 feet above the water doing about 320 knots IAS. One bomb is 100 feet short and skips towards the pier exploding near one of the submarines. Another bomb scores a near miss on the other midget. The resulting explosion causes a geyser of water 50 feet high. A third bomb skips over a midget submarine and explodes on the beach. On a second strafing pass, the F4U pilots notice a large oil slick near one of the midgets. The Marines actions result in a claim for a sinking, but in reality, there were several near misses that caused unknown damage.
10 March 1945: American Operation VICTOR V:
The U.S. Eighth Army
begins operations to retake Mindanao, southern Philippines.
10 March 1945:
That same day, WO Maruyama's midget submarine HA-78
and WO Matsuda's HA-84 from Cebu launch attacks on unidentified American ships
without results, while Lt Ichikawa's HA-79 attacks "Liberty" ship SS OLIVER
KELLY in the Surigao Strait. KELLY is damaged by what is most likely a dud
A Liberty Ship of the OLIVER KELLY Type
17 March 1945:
Lt Ichikawa's midget submarine HA-79 reports an attack
on two large transports in an unknown area, but the claims cannot be confirmed.
18 March 1945:
Davao Gulf. On the basis of reports from Filipino
guerillas, two Lockheed PV-1 “Venturas” of VPB-128 flown by Lts Dorrington and
Snyder sink one midget submarine and claim a probable.
19 March 1945:
Cebu. PV-1's of VPB-128 bomb and damage another midget
20 March 1945:
Mindanao Sea. Lt Ichikawa's midget submarine HA-79
reports sinking a large transport, but the claim cannot be confirmed. That same
day, Lt Shima's HA-69 is rendered inoperable as a result of a battery explosion.
22 March 1945:
Cebu City. Two PV-1's of VPB-128 flown by Lt George
Hall and Lt Tepuni attack a midget submarine at a wharf. The submarine is sunk
by rockets, but Lt Tepuni and his crew are killed when their PV-1 is hit by AA
fire and crashes immediately following the attack.
26 March 1945:
N coast of Cebu Island. In the morning, one of the
midgets embarks LtGen Suzuki Sosaku, C-in-C, 35th Army, and one of his staff
officers and delivers them to Cebu harbor.
Surigao Strait. WO Maruyama's midget submarine HA-78 reports sinking a
transport, but the claim cannot be confirmed.
Mindanao Sea. WO Matsuda's midget submarine HA-84 reports sinking a large
transport and an unidentified vessel, but the claims are not confirmed.
Talisay, Cebu. That same day, in Operation VICTOR II, Captain Albert T.
Sprague's Task Group 78. 2 lands the U.S. Army's Americal Division, less one
RCT, covered by Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Russell S. Berkey's Task Group,
consisting of three light cruisers and six destroyers. The landing is made
against only slight resistance. Several midget submarines are attacked south of
the city during the afternoon.
Following the landings, the Japanese scuttle Lt Shima's HA-69, WO
Maruyama's HA-78, Lt Ichikawa's HA-79 and Lt Sasakawa's HA-81. All the remaining
midget submarine crews join infantry units.
27 March 1945:
Talisay, Cebu. At 0038, WO Matsuda's HA-84 departs Cebu
as the last battleworthy unit. She gets entangled in the anti-submarine net at
the entrance of the bay. USS CONYNGHAM (DD-37), FLUSSER (DD-368) and NEWMAN
(APD-59), covering the landings on Cebu, sight the midget submarine. NEWMAN
attacks her and is given credit for a "possible" submersible sunk, but HA-84
evades her attacker.
29 March 1945:
Dumaguete harbor. WO Matsuda's HA-84 is rendered
inoperable after a forward battery explosion.
Late March 1945:
Davao. After the American landings, the two midget
submarines at the base are scuttled .
Cebu. Thousands of Japanese seek refuge in the impassable northern region
where 8,500 survive until the war ends.
18 May 1945:
Davao. The U.S. 24th Infantry Division seizes Davao City,
the last major Philippine city under Japanese control. The Japanese destroy as
much of the city as they can before withdrawing inland.
27 May 1945.
Davao Gulf, Mindanao. Three PV-1 patrol bombers of the
Seventh Fleet attack an abandoned Type C midget. The submarine, which has a long float alongside its port side, is hit by a
rocket and bullets from the planes' .50 caliber machine guns.
Midget submarine under attack by three PV-1 patrol bombers
(Official U.S. Navy Photograph, NARA via Naval Historical
30 August 1945:
Rear Admiral Harada and his 200 sailors (mostly sick
and/or wounded ) surrender to American forces.
25 September 1945:
Manila. Rear Admiral Harada dies in an American
hospital of a tropical disease contracted at the front. He is promoted Vice
 Author/historian Kimata Jiro speculates this could have
been the 69-ship convoy that departed Leyte on 2 January 1945. The credit for
Matsuda’s "kill” seems to be based on visual observations by a Japanese
aircraft, which also reported that considerable confusion ensued within the
convoy after the midget attack.
 On 25 May 1945, Admiral Toyoda Soemu, C-in-C, Combined Fleet,
promotes all three crewmembers of WO Mizuno Aimasa's HA-82 posthumously.
 Some sources credit the sinking of HA-82 to an aircraft from USS
MARCUS ISLAND (CVE-77).
 Kimata suggests that one of the ships damaged could have been the
dock landing ship USS SHADWELL (LSD-15), listed as damaged by an aerial torpedo
at 09-01N, 123-45E, on 24 January. According to Kimata, there were no Japanese
torpedo bombers left in that area by that time.
 According to some Japanese sources, there was a "Type Z” model midget
submarine among the Type C midget submarines deployed to Philippines. While a
Type Y certainly existed, the Type Z could well be a typo.
Thanks go to readers/authors Barrett Tillman and George Kernahan for more details about the 23 Feb '45 F4U attack on two midget subs off Cebu.
-Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp
Back to Submarine