Spring, 1946. Ten months after the end of World War II, an explosion rocks the Pacific off the coast of Hawaii. America has just destroyed one of Japan’s most advanced weapons systems – the I-401 aircraft carrier submarine. The supersub combined the stealth and tactical advantages of sea and sky and was invented to execute air strikes on land from the sea. But why did America sink one of its most prized military captures? Bound by an agreement to share any intelligence with the Soviets but feeling the pressure of the looming Cold War, it was a calculated decision to keep the technology out of Soviet hands. Six decades later, a team of researchers from the University of Hawaii located the submarine’s remains. The discovery of the sunken sub sparks a new examination of its forgotten place in military history.
Secrets of the Dead: Japanese SuperSub recounts Japan’s superior submarine technology and reveals how close the Japanese came to using the subs to blow up the Panama Canal, terrorize the U.S. and possibly enact a deadly biological attack.
Japanese SuperSub brings viewers first-hand veteran accounts from sailors and pilots who manned the Japanese subs, and from the American sailors who captured them. The engineering logistics and battle plans, explored by military historians, highlight just how innovative the submarines really were. The documentary examines two nations engaged in a war, and in a secret, experimental arms race. In the U.S., it was the Manhattan Project, with top scientists racing to create the atomic bomb. In Japan, it was the I-400 project, to build a submarine that could wrestle the advantage from a far superior American force. Once shrouded in secrecy and still with classified components, the powerful supersubs are finally being acknowledged as the precursor to modern attack submarines, and perhaps the greatest weapons that never did battle.
Produced by Windfall Films and Spy Pond Productions for THIRTEEN in association with National Geographic Channel and WNET.ORG.