Open The Tower!
“AIR RAID PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NO DRILL.” These were the first words broadcast from Ford Island as the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor commenced.
For seven decades since, this historic landmark — the Ford Island Control Tower — has proudly stood guard over Pearl Harbor and Ford Island. It is a monument to the brave men and women who fought in WWII. Memorialized in such epic movies such as Tora! Tora! Tora! and Pearl Harbor, the Tower provides what we call “Freedom’s View,” encompassing all of Pearl Harbor.
Construction of the 158-foot control tower began in early 1941. At the time of the Japanese attack, the tower was only 80% completed. A two-story structure, located on top of the Operations Building, adjoining the tower structure, housed the field control cab on December 7, 1941.
The upper Control Tower, as it stands today, was completed on May 1, 1942. Originally, it was painted with a solid dark primer. Shortly after completion, it received a three-tone light gray, medium gray, and dark gray camouflage that graced this structure throughout all of WWII, and well into the late 1950s.
Its familiar red-and-white paint scheme did not appear until the early 1960s, and was very evident during the filming of Tora! Tora! Tora! Weather, corrosion, and neglect had taken a drastic toll over the years, threatening to erase this symbol of American resilience and sacrifice. Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum has made restoring and preserving the Tower for future generations a top priority.
Progress to date has been significant. The timeline appears below:
2012 – Completed stabilization of the Control Tower, with federal and private support. Fifty-three tons of steel were replaced to suspend corrosion and ensure structural integrity.
2016 – Completed restoration and window replacement of the two-story Aerological, or lower, Tower, which was the field control tower on December 7, 1941. Restoration was made possible by state and private support
Restoration of portions of the Operations Building’s first floor is underway, developing a public library, and other multi-purpose spaces.
Your Support is Needed
Repair of the Control Tower elevator: Help us match a $250,000 challenge grant that will restore operation of the historic elevator, extending access to the upper Control Tower cab to the public.
Renovation of the two-story Operations Building, providing work and meeting spaces for the museum and public use.
Completion of archival storage and replacement of all exterior windows to provide a secure internal environment.