B-18s Over Diamond Head, 1940

Thank you to all of those who have served and those who are serving now to provide safety, security, and freedom to others!

Hawaii has been instrumental in that service for many decades. This stunning photo of B-18s in formation over Diamond Head in April of 1940 is a small reminder of the early military presence here in the islands.

The story that goes along with this photo, and many other archived images, comes from William J. Horvat’s Above the Pacific, freely available online.

In March, 1940, General George C. Marshall became the first U.S. Army Chief of Staff to pay an official call on Oahu. He made the trip to evaluate Hawaii’s increasingly vital defense capabilities. Although Marshall later declared defenses generally adequate, he pressed for sharp increases in aircraft, anti-aircraft and personnel in Hawaii. Two months later, President Roosevelt demanded the numbers of aircraft for both the Army and Navy be increased to the all-high figure of 50,000, with 500 modern warplanes and 10,000 men to be placed in the islands.

Soon after, Hawaii was placed in a state of “limited emergency,” due to the political situation. The formerly peaceful tropical scene changed to one with uniformed men in tanks, armored cars, military vehicles and equipment rushing noisily through the streets of Honolulu, purposely choosing the thickest of city traffic. Aircraft stormed through the skies on military missions. Sentries were set around important plants, buildings, other vital facilities. There was no question that Hawaii was preparing for defense.

Excerpted from: Chapter 11, Hard Expansion

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About Hawaii Aviation

"In 2006, the Hawaii historic aviation project was turned over to Marilyn Kali, the HDOT's Director of Public Affairs for more than 20 years, and historian for Honolulu International Airport. For more than four years Mrs. Kali located and scanned thousands of photos from the archives of the HDOT, the Hawaii State Archives, Hickam Air Force Base, U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii, U.S. Navy History Center, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and private collectors who made their photo collections available. Along the way, she also collected numerous stories, newspaper articles and magazine clippings about early aviation in Hawaii.