Attack on Pearl Harbor, 1941


7 December 1941


A surprise military attack by the Japanese Imperial Navy Air Service on the U. S. Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor and Army Air Forces at nearby Hickam Field, also known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor, saw 100 U. S. warships and submarines and about 390 aircraft attacked by 353 Imperial Japanese aircraft in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers.



Japan planned for a preventive action to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with its planned military actions in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States.  Japan hoped to devastate the unprepared American Navy by destroying their aircraft carriers, but all carriers were out to sea at the time of the attack and were spared.



Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, United States

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the attack, Imperial Japanese Navy photo, Public Domain



Pacific Fleet


Hawaiin Department

Led by

Admiral Husband E. Kimmel

Kimmel, date unknown, U.S. Naval Photograph,, Public Domain

Lieutenant General Walter Short

Short, date unknown, Official U.S. Army Photo,, Public Domain



Led by

Marshal Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

Yamamoto, date unknown, National Diet Library of Japan, Public Domain

Vice Admiral Chūichi Nagumo

Nagumo, date unknown,, Public Domain

Commander Mitsuo Fuchida

Fuchida, date unknown, Official Japanese Navy photo,, Public Domain



A tactical victory for Japan

Captured Japanese photograph taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. In the distance, the smoke rises from Hickam Field, U.S. Navy photo, Public Domain



U.S. forces suffered the sinking of 4 battleships, all 8 battleships damaged, 1 ex-battleship sunk, 1 harbor tug sunk, 3 cruisers damaged, 3 destroyers damaged, 3 other ships damaged, 188 aircraft destroyed, 159 aircraft damaged, 2,335 killed, and 1,143 wounded.  Civilian casualties were 68 killed, 35 wounded and 3 civilian aircraft shot down.

Japanese losses were minimal with 4 midget submarines sunk, 1 midget submarine grounded, 29 aircraft destroyed, 74 aircraft damaged, 64 killed, and 1 sailor captured.

The Japanese were successful in surprising U. S. forces, but no aircraft carriers were damaged and all battleships except the USS Arizona were repaired and used later in battle.  The attack on Pearl Harbor lead to the United States declaration of war on 8 December 1941.


Actual footage of the attack


Aftermath of the attack

Newsreal of the attack

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