Subscribe!Get all the best of On Walkabout by subscribing.

Places on Oahu: The US Army Museum of Hawaii

Basic Information

US Army Museum of Hawaii

Narrative

Waikiki is well known for how expensive everything can be from hotel rooms, food, rental cars, parking, etc.  It seems like the only thing free is access to the beach.  Well there is at least one more thing free that I have discovered in Waikiki and that is the US Army Museum of Hawaii:

The museum is located in the old Fort DeRussy which for decades was a coastal artillery base that defended the Waikiki coastline.  The fort was eventually closed after World War II and converted into the museum seen today.  The Museum is located not far from the Hilton Resort and across the street from the Trump Intercontinental Hotel in Waikiki:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

Before going inside to see the museum and checked out the static display outside.  One of the items on display is a Type 95 tank used by the Imperial Japanese military during World War II:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

Interestingly I saw rusting relics of these tanks while exploring the World War II battle sites in the jungles of Saipan where the largest tank battle in the Pacific theater of World War II happened.  Here is a picture of one of those tanks on Saipan:

Also on display was one of the pillboxes that used be emplaced along the beaches around Oahu during World War II:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

Another interesting piece of equipment was this old cannon the former Kingdom of Hawaii once had installed on Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

After checking out the static display outside I then went inside and viewed some of the old historical photographs on display.  For example here is a picture of General René Edward De Russy (1789–1865) who the fort was named after:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

Rene and his brother Lewis were both graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Rene fought for the Union Army while his brother fought for the Confederate Army.  Also of interest was a photograph that showed how large the coastal artillery guns that were once installed at Fort DeRussy were:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

Here is a model of one of the guns on display inside the museum:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

There was also a model on display that showed what Fort DeRussy looked like when it was actively used by the US Army:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

Here is what the fort would have looked like from the front side:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

This is what the front of Fort DeRussy looks like today where the earth piled in front of the compound has been removed and replaced with a large green space:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

Another model on display was what the search lights used to spot ships and aircraft:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

Besides the interesting models to look at, the inside of the museum is filled with historical artifacts and displays:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

One of the displays shows how large the artillery shells were and how they were loaded into the cannons:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

Here is another historical picture that shows what the Schofield Barracks Army base in the center of Oahu looked like back in 1915:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

Schofield Barracks was built in the center of island so the soldiers there would have flexibility to respond to any attack on any portion of the island.  Speaking of attacks on the island, a very interesting display is of the little known second bombing attack on Pearl Harbor:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

The bombing attack known as Operation K was launched on March 4, 1942, four months after the original Pearl Harbor bombing.  The Imperial Japanese hoped to hit targets they missed during the original attack by using two flying boat bombers.  The bombers flew from the Imperial Japanese occupied Marshall Islands and then were refueled at sea by submarine at the French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.  After refueling the two bombers flew towards Honolulu, but cloudy skies prevented them from spotting Pearl Harbor which caused one plane to drop its bombs on the slopes of Mt. Tantalus near Honolulu and the other just off the coast of Pearl Harbor.  Here is the route from the Marshall Islands to Hawaii that the bombers took:

Map via Wikipedia.

The museum had plenty of other World War II displays with authentic Imperial Japanese artifacts to check out:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

Also of interest is the display for retired four-star Army General Eric Shinseki who was born on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

After checking out the displays inside the museum I then went up to the roof to see the Cobra attack helicopter on display:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

From there I exited the museum and went out and enjoyed the views from the front of the museum of beautiful Waikiki Beach and Diamond Heard Crater in the distance:

Picture from Fort DeRussy

Conclusion

For those looking for something to do on a rainy day in Waikiki it is well worth taking the time to check out the US Army Museum of Hawaii.  There is not many free things to do in Waikiki and this is one of them.  The museum can be walked through in little as 30 minutes or take a couple hours for those who want to read all the displays.  Either way visiting the museum provides an interesting perspective on the military past of Waikiki.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *