Attack on Pearl Harbor

Attack on Pearl Harbor
Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II

The two attack sorties of Imperial Japanese Navy approached from different directions. The U.S. radar which detected them 136 miles (218 km). Operator Lockard reported 136 miles, not 200 to the congressional committee. As an army signals technician, he would have specified nautical miles if he meant other than statute miles. He did not.
Date December 7, 1941
Location Pearl Harbor, Hawaiʻi, USA
Result Decisive Japanese victory, United States declares war on the Empire of Japan and enters World War II on the side of Allies, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declare war on the United States.
Casus belli Oil and trade embargo by the United States, diplomatic stall between Japan and the US
United States Empire of Japan
Husband Kimmel (USN),
Walter Short (USA)
Chuichi Nagumo (IJN),
Mitsuo Fuchida (IJNAS) (1st aerial wave),
Shigekazu Shimazaki (IJNAS) (2nd aerial wave)
8 battleships,
8 cruisers,
29 destroyers,
9 submarines,
~50 other ships,
~390 planes
6 aircraft carriers,
9 destroyers,
2 battleships,
2 heavy cruisers,
1 light cruiser,
8 tankers,
23 fleet submarines,
5 midget submarines,
441 planes
2,335 military and 68 civilians killed,
1,143 military and 35 civilians wounded,
4 battleships sunk,
4 battleships damaged,
3 cruisers damaged,
3 destroyers sunk,
2 other ships sunk,
188 planes destroyed,
155 planes damaged
55 airmen, 9 submariners killed and 1 captured,
29 planes destroyed,
4 mini-submarines sunk
Pacific campaigns 1941-42
Pearl Harbor – Thailand – Malaya – Pacific Islands – Hong Kong – Philippines – Netherlands East Indies – New Guinea – Singapore – Australia – Indian Ocean – Doolittle Raid – Coral Sea – Midway
Pacific Ocean campaign
Pearl Harbor – Wake Island – Doolittle Raid – Midway – Aleutian Islands – Guadalcanal – Solomon Islands – Gilbert and Marshall Islands – Marianas and Palau – Volcano and Ryūkyū Islands

The Attack on Pearl Harbor or Bombing of Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, USA. It was launched on the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941 (Hawaii time) by Japan's 1st Air Fleet against the U.S. Pacific Fleet and other US armed forces stationed there at the harbor and also on the other side of the Oahu island. The attack spurred the US into entering World War II. US casualties were heavy and included 2,403 dead; 1,178 wounded; 4 battleships, 3 destroyers, 3 cruisers, and 188 planes. Japan casualties, by contrast, included 64 dead, 1 captured, 29 planes and 4 submarines. The date of the attack is said to "live in infamy," uttered by US President Franklin Roosevelt and is observed each year in the US, her flag at half-mast.

The day after Pearl Harbor, began the Battle of the Philippines (1941-42) a sucessful Japanese invasion of the US colony of the Philippines.




For more information, see the article about Causes of World War II .

After the Meiji Restoration, the Empire of Japan embarked on a period of rapid economic, political, and military expansion in an effort to achieve parity with the European and North American powers. This strategy included extending territorial and economic control to increase access to natural resources which were thought needed to sustain and accelerate growth. Military personnel played an increasing role in government. For example, Generals Hideki Tojo and Kuniaki Koiso became Prime Ministers.

Japan's economic and military expansion caused many confrontrations with other countries. These included the First Sino-Japanese War with China in 1894, in which Japan took control of Taiwan, and the Russo-Japanese War with Russia in 1904, by which Japan gained territory in and around China and the Korean peninsula. From about 1910 through the 1930s, Japan became extensively militarized, building a large and modern navy, third largest in the world at the time. After World War I, the League of Nations awarded Japan custody of most of Imperial Germany's possessions and colonies in East Asia and the Pacific. In 1931, Japan imposed the puppet state of Manchukuo in eastern Manchuria. Starting in 1937, Japan ramped up its conflict with mainland China, killing over 7 million Chinese.

These attacks against China were condemned by the U.S., the UK, Australia, and the Netherlands, all of which had territorial interests in Southeast Asia and the Philippines. In response to the diplomatic pressure, Japan resigned from the League of Nations. In July 1939, the U.S. terminated the 1911 U.S.-Japan commerce treaty, an action which showed official disapproval and, more concretely, allowed the U.S. to impose trade embargoes. Nevertheless, Japan continued its military campaign in China and later signed with Nazi Germany the Anti-Comintern Pact, which formally ended World War I hostilities and declared common interests. In 1940, Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Fascist Italy to form the Axis Powers.

These actions by Japan led the U.S. to embargo scrap metal and gasoline and to close the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping. In 1941, Japan moved into northern Indochina. The U.S. responded by freezing Japan's assets in the U.S. and instituting a complete oil embargo.[1] Oil was Japan's most crucial resource; her own supplies were very limited, and 80% of Japan's imports were from the U.S. The Imperial Navy relied entirely on imported bunker oil stocks.[2] To replenish its oil, Japan could have forcibly obtained it from the Dutch East Indies; however, the Navy was certain this would bring the U.S. into the war. With the Hull note of November 26, 1941, Japan's leaders felt they had to choose either continued expansion or compliance with U.S. and U.K. demands of backing down from its actions in China and surrounding areas. The latter meant losing international prestige and "losing face". The former meant possible war with the United States, United Kingdom, and Netherlands.

On September 4, 1941, at the second of two Imperial Conferences concerning an attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Cabinet met to consider the attack plans prepared by Imperial General Headquarters. It was decided that:

Attack on Pearl Harbor
Our Empire, for the purpose of self-defence and self-preservation, will complete preparations for war ... [and is] ... resolved to go to war with the United States, Great Britain and the Netherlands if necessary. Our Empire will concurrently take all possible diplomatic measures vis-a-vis the United States and Great Britain, and thereby endeavor to obtain our objectives ... In the event that there is no prospect of our demands being met by the first ten days of October through the diplomatic negotiations mentioned above, we will immediately decide to commence hostilities against the United States, Britain and the Netherlands.
Attack on Pearl Harbor

Japanese strategy and plans

Around December 1941, Japan became certain that all out war with America, Britain, and the Netherlands was highly likely. So Japan readied its military forces to battle-ready state in order to defend its territories and interests. But even before this, Japan had drawn plans to attack Pearl Harbor. [1]

The intent of these plans to attack Pearl Harbor were to make a pre-emptive strike in order to neutralize American naval power in the Pacific, if only for a year or so. These plans were later drawn as part of a theater-wide, near-simultaneous coordinated attack against several different countries. Thus, the future of Imperial Japan hinged on her successfully dealing with the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The difficulties in such an attack were two-fold. First, for classic battleship warfare, the relative isolation of Hawaii would make it difficult for any naval fleet to be outflanked. Second, for aerial attack, Pearl Harbor's shallow waters all but eliminated the possibilty of using conventional air-dropped torpedoes.


Intel and Reconnaissance

Several Japan naval officers had been impressed with U.K. Admiral Andrew Cunningham's Operation Judgement (the Battle of Taranto), in which 20 near-obsolete Fairey Swordfish were launched from a carrier far from the main British base at Alexandria and disabled half the Italian battle fleet, forcing its withdrawal from Mediterranean combat. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto dispatched to Italy a naval study delegation which concluded that a larger and better-supported version of Cunningham's strike could similarly force the U.S. Pacific Fleet to retreat to bases in California, thus allowing time and space for Japan to achieve the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere". This "Co-prosperity sphere" was shorthand control of the resources (especially oil reserves) of Southeast Asia, the Dutch East Indies, and a defensible buffer around them. But most importantly, the delegation returned to Japan with information about the shallow running torpedoes Cunningham's engineers had devised.

Some Japan strategists may have been influenced by U.S. Admiral Harry Yarnell's approach in the 1932 joint Army-Navy exercises, which assumed an invasion of Hawaiʻi. Yarnell, as commander of the attacking force, placed his carriers northwest of Oʻahu in rough weather and launched "attack" planes on the morning of Sunday, February 7, 1932. The exercise's umpires noted Yarnell's aircraft were able to inflict serious "damage" on the defenders, who for 24 hours after the attack were unable locate Yarnell's fleet. But Yarnell's tactic was dismissed as impractical and as navy doctrine held that any attacking force would be destroyed by the battleship force (the "battle line").


Early Planning

Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the implementer at the throne
Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the implementer at the throne
Major General Minoru Genda planned the attack
Major General Minoru Genda planned the attack

In early 1941, Fleet Commander-in-Chief Isoroku Yamamoto began considering an attack on Pearl Harbor as a preemptive attack in the event of Japan deciding to go to war. After some conflict with Naval Headquarters, he was authorized to create the Carrier Striking Task Force, and assigned Minoru Genda of the IJN to plan it. Genda developed the attack plan that was used, stressing that, given the expected balance of forces, surprise would be essential. Yamamoto obtained permission to begin formal planning and training exercises for the proposed attack.

Over the summer of 1941, Japan created and tested aircraft torpedo modifications allowing successful shallow water drops. The effort resulted in a heavily modified version of the Type 91 torpedo which inflicted most of the damage to U.S. ships during the attack. Japanese weapons technicians also produced special armor-piercing bombs by fitting fins and release shackles to 14 and 16 inch (356 and 406mm) naval shells. These were able to penetrate the armored decks of battleships and cruisers.


X Day

The Carrier Striking Task Force was ordered to

Attack on Pearl Harbor
proceed to the Hawaiian Area with utmost secrecy and, at the outbreak of the war, will launch a resolute surprise attack on and deal a fatal blow to the enemy fleet in the Hawaiian Area. The initial air attack is scheduled at 0330 hours, X Day.[2]
Attack on Pearl Harbor

Upon completion, the force was to return to Japan, re-equip, and re-deploy for "Second Period Operations". However, the option of diplomacy was left open. "Directive 5" commanded Yamamoto to "immediately assemble and call back the operational units if the Japanese-American negotiation is successful.[3]."

Finally, Order number 9, issued on 1 December 1941 commanded Yamamoto that

Attack on Pearl Harbor

1. Japan has decided to open hostilities against the United States, Great Britain, and the Netherlands early in December.
2. The Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet will smash the enemy fleets and air forces in the Orient and at the same time will intercept and annihilate enemy fleets should they come to attack us.
3. The Commander-in-Chief of the Combined fleet will occupy immediately the key bases of the United States, Great Britain, and the Netherlands in East Asia in close cooperation with the Commander-in-Chief of the Southern Army and will capture and secure the key areas of the southern regions.
4. The Commander-in-Chief of the Combined fleet will cooperate with the operations of the China Area Fleet, if necessary.
5. The time of the start of operations based on the aforementioned items will be made known later.
6. The Chief of the Naval General Staff will issue instructions concerning particulars.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

Carrier Strike Task Force (Kido Butai)

On November 26 1941, the Carrier task force, Carrier Striking Task Force, with a strength of six aircraft carriers, two battleships, three cruisers, nine destroyers, eight tankers, 23 fleet submarines, five midget submarines, 441 planes commanded by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo left Hitokappu Bay in the Kuril Islands bound for Hawaiʻi under strict radio silence.

Ensign of the Imperial Japanese Navy and presently of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Ensign of the Imperial Japanese Navy and presently of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

The task force divisions were from the Imperial Japanese Navy

A6M5 Type 0 Model 52
A6M5 Type 0 Model 52
Aircraft carrier Hiryu
Aircraft carrier Hiryu

The aircraft carriers were: Akagi, Hiryū, Kaga, Shōkaku, Sōryū, and Zuikaku. Two fast battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, 9 destroyers, and 3 fleet submarines provided escort for the task force. The carriers had a total of 423 planes, including Mitsubishi A6M (Type 0) fighters (Allied codename "Zeke", commonly called "Zero"), Nakajima B5N (Type 97) torpedo bombers (Allied codename "Kate"), and Aichi D3A (Type 99) dive bombers (Allied codename "Val"). Japan's task force, and its air group, were larger than any prior aircraft carrier-based strike force. Accompanying the force were eight oilers for refueling. In addition, the Advanced Expeditionary Force included 20 fleet submarines and five two-man Ko-hyoteki-class midget submarines which were to gather intelligence and sink any U.S. vessels that might try to flee Pearl Harbor during or after the attack.


United States preparedness

Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, commander-in-chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, commander-in-chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Battleship Row presented an attractive concentration of targets.
Battleship Row presented an attractive concentration of targets.

U.S. civilian and military intelligence forces had, between them, good information suggesting additional Japanese aggression throughout the summer and fall before the attack. None of it specifically indicated an attack against Pearl Harbor. Public press reports during summer and fall, including Hawaiian newspapers, contained extensive reports on the growing tension and on developments in the Pacific. Late in November, all Pacific commands, including both the Navy and Army in Hawaii, were explicitly warned that war with Japan was expected in the very near future, probably in the Philippines, Indochina, or Russia. The warnings were not specific to any area, noting only that war with Japan was considered likely in the short term and that all commands should act accordingly. Had any of these warnings produced an active alert status in Hawaii, the attack would have been resisted more effectively, and perhaps might have caused less death and damage. Conversely, recall of men to the ships might have led to still more being casualties, and closing watertight doors might have left more trapped in capsized ships. When the attack arrived, Pearl Harbor was effectively unprepared: anti-aircraft weapons were not manned, ammunition was locked down, anti-submarine measures were not implemented (e.g., no submarine nets), combat air patrols not flying, available scouting aircraft not in the air at first light, aircraft parked wingtip to wingtip to lessen sabotage risks, and so on.

U.S. signals intelligence, through the Army's Signal Intelligence Service and the Office of Naval Intelligence's OP-20-G unit, had intercepted and decrypted considerable Japanese diplomatic and naval cipher traffic, though none of those actually decrypted carried significant tactical military information. Decryption and distribution of this intelligence was capricious and sporadic, and has been blamed on lack of manpower. At best, the information was fragmentary, contradictory, or insufficiently distributed. It was also incompletely understood by decision makers, and poorly analyzed. Nothing pointed directly to an attack at Pearl Harbor, and lack of awareness of the Imperial Navy's capabilities led to an underlying belief that Pearl Harbor was safely out of harm's way. Only one message from the Hawaiian Japanese consulate (sent on 6 December 1941), in a low level consular cipher, included mention of an attack on Pearl; it was not decrypted until 8 December 1941. [3])

Lieutenant General Walter C. Short, commanding general of the Army post at Pearl Harbor.
Lieutenant General Walter C. Short, commanding general of the Army post at Pearl Harbor.

In 1924, General Billy Mitchell produced a 324 page report warning that in future wars (including with Japan), would include a new role for aircraft, against existing ships and facilities. He even discussed the possibility of an air-attack on Pearl Harbor. He was essentially ignored. Navy Secretary Knox had also appreciated the possibility in a written analysis shortly after taking office. American commanders had also been warned tests demonstrated shallow-water aerial torpedo launches were possible, but no one in charge in Hawaiʻi fully appreciated that fact. Nevertheless, because they believed Pearl Harbor had natural defenses against torpedo attack (e.g., the shallow water), the Navy did not deploy torpedo nets or baffles, which they judged as interference with ordinary operations. As a result of limited numbers of long-range aircraft (including Army Air Corps bombers, by a prewar arrangement), reconnaissance patrols were not being made as often as required for adequate coverage against possible surprise attack. The Navy had only 16 operational PBYs long range aircraft. General Short was low on the priority list for additional B-17s in the Pacific, as General MacArthur in the Philippines was successfully demanding as many as could be made avaialble in that area. At the time of the attack, Army and Navy air defense were both on training status rather than alerted. There was also confusion about the Army's readiness status as Short had changed the designations without keeping higher commands (ie, Washington) informed. Most of the Army's mobile anti-aircraft guns were secured, with ammunition locked down in armories. To avoid upsetting property owners, and in keeping with Washington's admonitions not to alarm civil populations (e.g., in the late November war warning messages from Navy and War Departments), officers did not keep guns dispersed around Pearl Harbor (i.e., on private property). Additionally, aircraft were parked on airfields to lessen against sabotage risks, not air attack, in keeping with Short's decision to concentrate on sabotage.


Breaking off negotiations

Carrier Striking Task Force two-way route.
Carrier Striking Task Force two-way route.

Part of the Japanese plan for the attack included breaking off negotiations with the United States 30 minutes before the attack began. Diplomats from the Japanese Embassy in Washington, including the Japanese Ambassador, Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura, and special representative Saburo Kurusu, had been conducting extended talks with the State Department regarding the U.S. reactions to the Japanese move into Indochina in the summer (see above).

In the days before the attack, a long 14-part message was sent to the Embassy from the Foreign Office in Tokyo (encoded with the PURPLE cryptographic machine), with instructions to deliver it to Secretary of State Cordell Hull at 1 p.m. Washington time (In fact, Japan halted all further communication with the U.S. 30 minutes before the attack was scheduled to begin). The last part arrived not long before the attack but, because of decryption and typing delays, and because Tokyo had neglected to inform them of the crucial necessity to deliver it on time, Embassy personnel failed to deliver the message at the specified time. The last part, breaking off negotiations was delivered to Secretary Hull several hours after the Pearl Harbor attack:

Attack on Pearl Harbor
Obviously it is the intention of the American Government to conspire with Great Britain and other countries to obstruct Japan's efforts toward the establishment of peace through the creation of a new order in East Asia ... Thus, the earnest hope of the Japanese government to adjust Japanese-American relations and to preserve and promote the peace of the Pacific through cooperation with the American Government has finally been lost.
Attack on Pearl Harbor

The United States had decrypted the last part of the final message well before the Japanese Embassy managed to, and long before a fair typed copy of the decrypt was finished. It was decryption of the last part with its instruction for the time of delivery which prompted General George Marshall to send the famous warning message to Hawaii that morning, though there wqas a delay in sending it becasue he could not be immediately located. It was actually delivered, by a young Japanese-American cycle messenger, to Gen. Walter Short at Pearl Harbor several hours after the attack had ended. The delay was due to an inability to locate General Marshall after decryption and translation of the 14th part (he was out for a morning horseride), trouble with the Army's long distance communication system, a decision not to use Navy facilities to transmit it, and various troubles during its travels over commercial cable facilities. Somehow its "urgent" marking was misplaced during its travels and it was delayed by several additional hours.

Japanese records, admitted into evidence during Congressional hearings on the attack after the war, established that the Japanese government had not written any declaration of war until after they heard of the successful attack on Pearl Harbor. That two-line declaration of war was finally delivered to U.S. Ambassador Grew in Tokyo about 10 hours after the attack was over. He was allowed to transmit it to the United States where it was received late Monday afternoon.




Japanese tactics for attack

Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo commanded the Carrier Striking Task Force for the attack
Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo commanded the Carrier Striking Task Force for the attack

The task force order number 7 stated that the task force would engage the enemy fleet if it appeared [4]. The whole operation was meant to be conducted in utmost secrecy in relation to the enemy. Isoroku Yamamoto, and the other Navy generals and leaders put out a plan to implement three waves of attack, but Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo decided to carry out just two of these. There were also supporting submarines and midget submarines assigned to engage U.S. ships leaving the harbor. The location of the attack force remained unknown to the U.S. until after the Japanese pilots were already on the return to the Eastern Pacific; they were not located after the attack, in part because several searches were conducted south of Oahu. The total number of planes involved in the aerial attack was 350. Ninety-one planes were engaged in protection of aircraft carriers and other ships during the attack. The fleet stopped 200 miles north of the enemy's location in Hawaii and launched the aerial attack.[5] On the return trip (after the attack), the Japanese force was instructed to respond aggressively should American forces locate and engage them. Under this same set of circumstances they were also commanded to re-route south to the Marshall Islands.



Pre-attack reconnaissance

For pre-attack reconnaissance, two planes from the 8th Cruiser Division secretly scouted the Hawaii for the US aircraft carriers and targets, and so for the possibility of counter-attack.


First Attack Unit

 Crews aboard Shokaku giving the banzai salute to the planes taking off
Crews aboard Shokaku giving the banzai salute to the planes taking off

The first wave of attack consisted of 49 level bombers, 51 dive bombers, 40 torpedo bombers and 43 fighter planes (a total of 183 planes) started from north of Oahu, led by Captain Mitsuo Fuchida. This unit included

The first attack wave was divided into six formations with one directed to Wheeler Field. Each of the aerial waves started with the bombers and ended with the Fighter Combat Units to fight any pursuers when returning. First Attack Unit engaged the enemy from the right flank.

1st Air Fleet's bombers prepare to take off.
1st Air Fleet's bombers prepare to take off.

The second wave consisted of 54 level bombers, 78 dive bombers and 35 fighter planes (a total of 167 airplanes), launched from much the same location led by Lieutenant-Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki. This unit was composed of

The second wave was divided into four formations with one formation tasked to Kāneʻohe Marine Corps Base away from Pearl Harbor proper and the rest sent against the main naval base. The separate sections of the attacking aircraft arrived at the attack point almost simultaneously, from several directions. Second Attack Unit engaged the enemy from the left flank.


Post attack

For post attack survey, some planes from the Fighter Combat Units were scheduled to fly as low and fast as possible to study the damage inflicted to the targets.



Even before Nagumo began launching, at 04.30 Hawaiian Time, the minesweeper USS Condor spotted a midget submarine outside the Harbor entrance and alerted destroyer Ward. Ward carried out a fruitless search. The first shots fired and the first casualties in the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred when Ward attacked and sank a midget submarine, possibly the same one, at 06:37. Five Ko-hyoteki-class midget submarines had been assigned to torpedo U.S. ships after the bombing started. None of these made it back safely, and only four out of the five have since been found. Of the ten sailors aboard the five submarines, nine died; the only survivor, Kazuo Sakamaki, was captured, becoming the first prisoner of war taken by the Americans in World War II. Sakamaki's survival was considered traitorous by the Japanese, who referred to his dead companions as "The Nine Young Gods." United States Naval Institute analysis of photographs from the attack, conducted in 1999, indicates one entered the harbor and successfully fired a torpedo into the West Virginia, in what appears to have been the first shot by the attacking Japanese. The final disposition of this submarine is unknown.[4] The first wave of 1st Air Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy attack was coordinated by Captain Mitsuo Fuchida of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service. He flew and led the first strike formation covering the right flank, followed by second wave led by Lieutenant-Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki covering the left flank in order.

Captain Mitsuo Fuchida
Captain Mitsuo Fuchida

On the morning of the attack, the Army's Opana Point station (an SCR-270 radar, located near the northern tip of Oahu), which had not entered official service, having long been in training mode, detected the Japanese planes, but the warning was interpreted by an untrained new officer (Lieutenant Kermit A. Tyler) at the new and only partially activated Intelligence Center. Although the operators at Opana Point reported an aircraft sighting larger than anything they had ever seen, Tyler assumed the pending, scheduled arrival of 6 B-17 bombers was the cause because of the direction from which the aircraft were coming, and because the radar operators had only seen the first element of incoming attackers. In addition, some commercial US shipping may have reported "unusual" radio traffic in the preceding days.

Several U.S. aircraft were shot down as the air attack approached land; one at least radioed a somewhat incoherent warning. Other warnings were still being processed, or awaiting confirmation, when the shooting began. It is not clear that these forewarnings would have had much effect even if they had been interpreted correctly and much more promptly. For instance, the results the Japanese achieved in the Philippines were essentially the same as at Pearl Harbor, though there, MacArthur had nine hours of warning that the Japanese had attacked at Pearl (and specific orders to commence operations).

The air portion of the attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:53 a.m. December 7 Hawaiian Time; this was 3:23 a.m. December 8 Japanese Standard Time. Japanese planes attacked in two waves; a total of 353 planes reached Oʻahu. Vulnerable torpedo bombers led the first wave of 183 planes, exploiting the first moments of surprise to attack the most important ships (the battleships), while dive bombers attacked U.S. air bases across Oʻahu, starting with Hickam Field, the largest, and Wheeler Field, the principal fighter base. The 170 planes in the second wave attacked Bellows Field and Ford Island, a Marine and Naval air station in the middle of Pearl Harbor. The only significant air opposition came from a handful of P-36 Hawks and P-40 Warhawks that flew 25 sorties,[5] and may have been from naval anti-aircraft fire.

USS California sinking
USS California sinking

Men aboard U.S. ships awoke to the sounds of bombs exploding and cries of "Away fire and rescue party" and "All hands on deck, we're being bombed" and other various calls to General Quarters. (The famous message, "Air raid Pearl Harbor. This is not a drill." was issued by Commander Logan Ramsey) Despite the lack of preparation, which included locked ammunition lockers, aircraft parked wing to wing against sabotage, and a lack of heightened alert status, there were many American military personnel who served with distinction during the battle. Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, and Captain Franklin Van Valkenburgh, commander of the Arizona, both rushed to the bridge to direct her defense, until both were killed by an explosion in the forward ammunition magazine from an armor piercing bomb that hit next to forward turret number 2. Both were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Ensign Joe Taussig got his ship, Nevada, under way from a dead cold start during the attack. One of the destroyers, USS Aylwin, got underway with only four officers aboard, all Ensigns, none with more than a year's sea duty. That ship operated for four days at sea before its commanding officer caught up with it. Captain Mervyn Bennion, commanding West Virginia, led his men until he was cut down by fragments from a bomb hit in Tennessee, moored alongside. The earliest aircraft kill credit went to submarine Tautog, which claimed the first attacker downed. Probably the most famous single defender is Doris "Dorie" Miller, an African-American cook aboard West Virginia, who went beyond his duty assignment and training when he took control of an unattended anti-aircraft gun, on which he had no training, and used it to fire on attacking planes, downing at least one, even while bombs were hitting his ship. He was awarded the Navy Cross. In all, 14 sailors and officers were awarded the Medal of Honor. A special military award, the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal, was later authorized to all military veterans of the attack.

  B-17 Bomber after the attack on Hickam Field
B-17 Bomber after the attack on Hickam Field

Ninety minutes after it began, the attack was over. 2,403 Americans died (68 were civilians, many killed by American anti-aircraft shrapnel and shells landing in civilian areas, including Honolulu), a further 1,178 wounded. Eighteen ships were sunk, including five battleships.[6]

 USS Pennsylvania, behind the wreckage of the USS Downes and the  USS Cassin
USS Pennsylvania, behind the wreckage of the USS Downes and the USS Cassin

Nearly half of the American fatalities — 1,102 men — were caused by the explosion and sinking of Arizona. She was destroyed when the forward main magazines exploded after it was hit by a bomb (a modified 40 cm naval gun shell) dropped by Tadashi Kusumi from a bomber. The hull of Arizona has become a memorial to those lost that day, most of whom remain within the ship. It continues to leak small amounts of fuel oil, 65 years after the attack.

Nevada attempted to exit the harbor, but was deliberately beached to avoid blocking the harbor entrance. Already damaged by a torpedo and on fire forward, Nevada was targeted by many Japanese bombers as she got underway, sustaining more hits from 250 lb (113 kg) bombs as it beached.

California was hit by two bombs and two torpedoes. The crew might have kept her afloat, but were ordered to abandon ship just as they were raising power for the pumps. Burning oil from Arizona and West Virginia drifted down on her, and probably made the situation look worse than it was. The disarmed target ship Utah was holed twice by torpedoes. West Virginia was hit by seven torpedoes, the seventh tearing away the ship's rudder. Oklahoma was hit by four torpedoes, the last two above her side armor belt which caused it to capsize. Maryland was hit by two of the converted 40 cm shells, but neither caused serious damage.

Although the Japanese concentrated on battleships (the largest vessels present), they did not ignore other targets. The light cruiser Helena was torpedoed, and the concussion from the blast capsized the neighboring minelayer Oglala. Two destroyers in dry dock were destroyed when bombs penetrated their fuel bunkers. The leaking fuel caught fire, flooding the dry dock with water made the oil and fire rise, and that burned out the ships. The light cruiser Raleigh was hit by a torpedo and holed. The light cruiser Honolulu was damaged but remained in service. The destroyer Cassin capsized, and destroyer Downes was heavily damaged. The repair vessel Vestal, moored alongside Arizona, was heavily damaged and beached. The seaplane tender Curtiss was also damaged.

Almost all of the 188 American aircraft in Hawaii were destroyed or damaged, and 155 of those were hit on the ground where most had been parked wingtip to wingtip at the center of the airfields to minimize sabotage risks. Attacks on barracks killed additional pilots and other personnel. Friendly fire brought down several U.S. planes (including at least one inbound from Enterprise) which was heading for Pearl at the time of the attack.

Fifty-five Japanese airmen and nine submariners were killed in the action. Of Japan's 441 available planes (350 took part in the attack), 29 were lost during the battle (nine in the first attack wave, 20 in the second)[7], another 74 were damaged by antiaircraft and machine gun fire from the ground. Over 20 of the aircraft that safely landed on their carriers could not be salvaged.


The Third Wave

The forward magazines of the USS Arizona exploded after it was hit by a bomb dropped by Tadashi Kusumi.
The forward magazines of the USS Arizona exploded after it was hit by a bomb dropped by Tadashi Kusumi.

Some senior officers and flight leaders urged Nagumo to attack with a third strike to destroy the oil storage depots, machine shops, and dry docks at Pearl Harbor. The United States had considered the vulnerability of the fuel oil storage tanks before the war and secretly started construction of the bomb resistant Red Hill fuel tanks before Japan's attack. Destruction of these facilities would have greatly increased the U.S. Navy's difficulties, as the nearest immediately usable fleet facilities would have been several thousand miles east of Hawaiʻi on America's West Coast. Some military historians have suggested that the destruction of oil tanks and repair facilities would have crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet more seriously than the loss of several battleships. Nagumo decided to forgo a third attack in favor of withdrawing for several reasons.

Fuel farm at left, Submarine Base (right center). October 1941.
Fuel farm at left, Submarine Base (right center). October 1941.

Additional U.S. losses on 23 December 1941

I-26 sank the Cynthia Olson, a U.S. Army chartered schooner, off the coast of San Francisco with a loss of 35 lives.[7]


Subsequent attack

Later during the war another small-scale attack was also made on Pearl Harbor.

In March, 1942, in Operation K-1, a preparation for the Midway invasion, two Japanese H8K flying-boats, based at Wotje in the Marshall Islands, were tasked with reconnaissance to see how repairs were progressing, and to bomb the important "Ten-ten" repair dock. The distance involved required refueling en route, and was done from submarines at French Frigate Shoals, 500 miles (800 km) north-west of Pearl Harbor. Poor visibility hampered the mission, and the bombs were dropped some miles from their target.

Five Japanese submarines supported the operation: I-9 as a radio beacon; I-19, I-15 and I-26 to refuel the flying boats and I-23 to provide weather reports. However, I-23 was lost without trace.

American ships were posted to the Shoals thereafter, which precluded another attempt using the same approach.


Immediate aftermath

Ninety minutes before the attack on Pearl Harbor began (December 7, 1941 Japan time, on the other side of the International Date Line), Japan invaded British Malaya. This was followed by an early morning attack on the New Territories of Hong Kong and within hours or days by attacks on the Philippines, Wake Island, and Thailand and by the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse.[8]


American Response

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Declaration of War against Japan on the day following the attack.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Declaration of War against Japan on the day following the attack.

On December 8, 1941, Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress, calling 7 December 1941 "a date which will live in infamy". Amid outrage at the attack and the late delivery of the note breaking off relations, actions considered treacherous, Congress declared war on Japan with Jeannette Rankin (Republican of Montana) casting the only dissenting vote. Roosevelt signed the declaration the same day. Continuing to intensify its military mobilization, the U.S. government finished converting to a war economy, a process begun by provision of weapons to Britain.

The Pearl Harbor attack immediately galvanized a divided nation into action. Public opinion had been moving towards support for entering the war during 1941, but considerable opposition remained until the Pearl Harbor attack. Overnight, Americans united against Japan, and that response probably made possible the unconditional surrender position later taken by the Allied Powers. Some historians believe the attack on Pearl Harbor doomed Japan to defeat simply because it awakened the "sleeping U.S. behemoth", regardless of whether the fuel depots or machine shops had been destroyed or even if the carriers had been caught in port and sunk. U.S. industrial and military capacity, once mobilized, was able to pour overwhelming resources into both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters. Others believe Japanese trade protection was so incompetent, U.S. submarines could have strangled Japan into defeat alone.

Perceptions of treachery or possible treachery in the attack before a declaration of war sparked fears of sabotage or espionage by Japanese sympathizers residing in the U.S., including citizens of Japanese descent and was a factor in the subsequent Japanese internment in the western United States. Other factors included misrepresentations of intelligence information (none) suggesting sabotage, notably by General John DeWitt, commanding Coast Defense on the Pacific Coast, who had personal feelings against Japanese Americans. In February 1942, Roosevelt signed United States Executive Order 9066, requiring all Japanese Americans to submit themselves for arrest and internment.


Japan's Allies' Response

Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on the United States on December 11, four days after the Japanese attack. Hitler and Mussolini were under no obligation to declare war under the mutual defense terms of the Tripartite Pact. However, relations between the European Axis Powers and the American leadership had deteriorated since 1937. Earlier in 1941, the Nazis learned of the U.S. military's contingency planning to get troops in Continental Europe by 1943; this was Rainbow Five, made public by sources unsympathetic to Roosevelt's New Deal, notably the Chicago Tribune. Hitler seems to have decided war with the United States was unavoidable, and the Pearl Harbor attack, the publication of the Rainbow Five plan, and Roosevelt's post-Pearl Harbor address, which focused on European affairs as well as the situation with Japan, probably contributed. Hitler also underestimated American military production capacity beyond Lend Lease, the nation's ability to fight on two fronts and the time his Operation Barbarossa would require. Similarly, the Nazis may have hoped the declaration of war, a showing of solidarity with Japan, would result in closer collaboration with the Japanese in Eurasia.

Regardless of Hitler's reasons, the decision was an enormous strategic blunder and it enraged the American public. It allowed the United States to immediately enter the European war in support of the United Kingdom and the Allies without much public debate about the relative lack of retaliation against Japan. Conversely, the Pacific theater became Japan's sole focus of attention; overwhelming the Americans and, later, defending against them, undermined cooperative efforts against British and Russian holdings in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region. Opening a second front against the Soviet Union, which never came to fruition, would have been of considerable value to the combined Axis' war effort.


Logistical and Strategic Analysis

The attack on Pearl Harbor failed to destroy the three aircraft carriers assigned to the Pacific Fleet (Enterprise, Lexington, and Saratoga). The attack did result in the loss of Arizona and Oklahoma, and it removed several other battleships from the order of battle (including Nevada, West Virginia, and Tennessee). However, almost all of these were older ships. Probably more important in the short run was the destruction of over 155 aircraft, and the damage to the principal forward Naval base in the Pacific, and to American morale. In terms of shock, Pearl Harbor may be compared to Gunther Prien's attack on the Royal Oak inside Scapa Flow in the Orkneys.

The politics of a Europe First strategy, loss of air cover over Pearl Harbor, and subsequent losses through the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, meant that the U.S. Navy and Army Air Corps were unable to play a significant role in the Pacific War for several months. With the bulk of the Pacific Fleet essentially out of the picture for a time, Japan was temporarily free of worries about the rival Pacific naval power. It conquered Southeast Asia, the Southwest Pacific, and extended its reach far into the Indian Ocean, albeit without occupying territory.

However, in the end, the attack was a strategic disaster. It spurred the United States into 'total mobilization' and to a determination to fight to complete victory. It resulted in the destruction not only of the Japanese armed forces, but also in the destruction of Japan's allies.


Investigations and Blame

USS Utah took a torpedo hit and capsized early in the battle. The wreck remains at Pearl Harbor.
USS Utah took a torpedo hit and capsized early in the battle. The wreck remains at Pearl Harbor.

President Roosevelt appointed an investigating commission, headed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts to report facts and findings with respect to the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was the first of many (nine total) official investigations. Both the Fleet commander, Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, and the Army commander, Lieutenant General Walter Short (the Army had been responsible for air defense of Hawaii, including Pearl Harbor, and for general defense of the islands against hostile attack), were relieved of their commands shortly thereafter. They were accused of "dereliction of duty" by the Roberts Commission for not making reasonable defensive preparations. The decisions of the Navy Department and the War Department to relieve both was controversial at the time and has remained so ever since. On May 25, 1999, the US Senate voted to recommend both officers be exonerated on all charges of dereliction of duty, citing allegations of the denial to Hawaii commanders of vital intelligence which was available in Washington.



During the first days following the attack, various rumors began to circulate.

One of the most damaging was the claim that Japanese workers had cut arrows into the cane fields, thus pointing the way to Pearl Harbor for the Imperial pilots. This rumor's influence was due to perhaps to its implication that the enemy (Japan) was inept and would be easily defeated. However, there was no truth to the rumor. It was considered ludicrous by military officers (especially pilots), who knew that any force which could fly hundreds of miles to find O'ahu would have no difficulty finding the largest harbor in the Central Pacific. The rumor also ignored the larger evidence of Japanese navigational skills.

Another rumor was that Roosevelt (or Marshall or someone) had known the attack was coming, but had allowed it to proceed for any of several reasons depending on the purveyor of the rumor. This began as early as the morning of the 8th, perhaps first by Congressman Guy Gillette.


Japanese views of the attack

Although the Imperial Japanese government had made some effort to prepare the general Japanese civilian population for war with the U.S. via anti-U.S. propaganda, it appears that most Japanese were surprised, apprehensive, and dismayed by the news that they were now at war with the U.S., a country that many Japanese admired. Nevertheless, the Japanese people living in Japan and its territories thereafter generally accepted their government's account of the attack and supported the war effort and victory until their nation's surrender in 1945,[9] Yamamoto was angry with Nagumo for not launching a third attack and for not destroying the aircraft carriers and the oil supply soon after the attack.

Japan's national leadership at the time appeared to believe that the war between the U.S. and Japan had been inevitable and Japanese-American relationship had already significantly deteriorated since Japan's invasion of China, of which the United States disapproved completely. In 1942, Saburo Kurusu, former Japanese ambassador to the United States, gave an address in which he traced the "historical inevitability of the war of Greater East Asia."[10] He said that the war was a response to Washington's longstanding aggression toward Japan. According to Kurusu, the provocations began with the San Francisco School incident and the United States' racist policies on Japanese immigrants, and culminated in the "belligerent" scrap metal and oil boycott by the United States and Allied countries to contain or reverse the actions of the Empire of Japan whilst expanding its influence and interests throughout Asia. Of Pearl Harbor itself, he said that it came in direct response to a virtual ultimatum from the U.S. government, the Hull note, and that the surprise attack was not treacherous because it should have been expected since Japanese-American relationship already had hit the lowest point and since their interests contradicted greatly. Japanese leadership also saw itself as doing everything that it could do to alleviate tension between the two nations as presented by its own statement and resolution, and eventually decided to settle score militarily when diplomacy looked failed.

Many Japanese today still feel that they were "pushed" or compelled to fight the U.S. because of threats to their national security and national interests from the U.S. and certain other European powers, and because of embargoes and uncooperation by certain Western powers against the Empire of Japan, particularly United States, United Kingdom and the Netherlands. This embargo was mostly about oil that fueled the whole Imperial Japanese Military operations in its missions. [11] For example, the Japan Times, an English-language newspaper owned by one of the major news organizations in Japan (Asahi Shimbun), ran numerous columns in the early 2000s that echo Kurusu's comments in reference to Pearl Harbor.[12] Putting Pearl Harbor into context, Japanese writers repeatedly contrast the thousands of U.S. servicemen killed in that attack with the hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians later killed by U.S. air attacks [13] not to mention the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States.

However, in spite of the perceived inevitability of the war, many Japanese believe that the Pearl Harbor attack, although a tactical victory, was in reality part of a seriously flawed strategy for engaging in war with the U.S. As one columnist eulogizes the attack:

The Pearl Harbor attack was a brilliant tactic, but part of a strategy based on the belief that a spirit as firm as iron and as beautiful as cherry blossoms could overcome the materially wealthy United States. That strategy was flawed, and Japan's total defeat would follow.[14]

Prime Minister of Japan Hideki Tojo
Prime Minister of Japan Hideki Tojo

In 1991, the Japanese Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that in 1941 Japan had intended to make a formal declaration of war to the United States at 1 p.m. Washington time, 25 minutes before the attacks at Pearl Harbor were scheduled to begin. This officially acknowledged something which had been publicly known for years, that diplomatic communications had been coordinated well in advance with the attack, but had failed delivery by the intended time.

It appears that the Japanese government was referring to the "14-part message", which did not formally break off negotiations, let alone declare war, but which did in fact officially raise the issue. However, because of various delays, the Japanese ambassador was unable to make the declaration until well after the attack had begun. The Japanese government apologized for this delay. Imperial Japanese military leaders appear to have had mixed feelings about the attack. Yamamoto was unhappy about the botched timing of the breaking off of negotiations. He is rumored to have said, "I fear all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with terrible resolve" . Even though this quote is unsubstantiated, the phrase seems to describe his feelings about the attack. He is on record as saying, in the previous year, that "I can run wild for six months ... after that, I have no expectation of success."[15]

The first Prime Minister of Japan during World War II Hideki Tojo later wrote that

When reflecting upon it today, that the Pearl Harbor attack should have succeeded in achieving surprise seems a blessing from Heaven.

Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto had stated that, in the impending war with the United States,

Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it is not enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. We would have to march into Washington and sign the treaty in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices?" [8]


Long term effects

Memorial Service for men killed during the Japanese attack on NAS Kaneohe.
Memorial Service for men killed during the Japanese attack on NAS Kaneohe.
The attack inflamed U.S. sentiments against Japan as shown in US propaganda.
The attack inflamed U.S. sentiments against Japan as shown in US propaganda.

A common view is that the Japan fell victim to victory disease because of the perceived ease of their first victories. It has also been stated by the Japanese military commanders and politicians that visited and lived in the United States that the Japanese leadership (mostly military personnel) took the war relatively lightly with the United States compared to them. For instance, Isoroku Yamamoto's quote and Battle of Iwo Jima commander Tadamichi Kuribayashi expressed the views and concerns of the greater industrial power of the United States compared to that of Japan.

Despite the perception of this battle as a devastating blow to America, only three ships were permanently lost to the U.S. Navy. These were the battleships Arizona, Oklahoma, and the old battleship Utah (then used as a target ship); nevertheless, much usable material was salvaged from them, including the two aft main turrets from Arizona. Heavy casualties resulted from Arizona's magazine exploding and the Oklahoma capsizing. Four ships sunk during the attack were later raised and returned to duty, including the battleships California, West Virginia and Nevada. California and West Virginia had an effective torpedo-defense system which held up remarkably well, despite the weight of fire they had to endure, enabling most of their crews to be saved. Many of the surviving battleships were heavily refitted, including the replacement of their outdated secondary battery of anti-surface 5" guns with a more useful battery of turreted DP guns, allowing them to better cope with Japan's threats. The destroyers Cassin and Downes were constructive total losses, but their machinery was salvaged and fitted into new hulls, retaining their original names, while Shaw was raised and returned to service.

Of the 22 Japanese ships that took part in the attack, only one survived the war. As of 2006, the only U.S. ships still afloat that were in Pearl Harbor during the attack are the Coast Guard Cutter Taney and the yard tug USS Hoga. Both remained active over 50 years after the attack and have been designated museum ships.

In the long term, the attack on Pearl Harbor was a strategic blunder for Japan. Indeed, Admiral Yamamoto, who devised the Pearl Harbor attack, had predicted that even a successful attack on the U.S. Fleet could not win a war with the United States, because American productive capacity was too large. One of the main Japanese objectives was to destroy the three American aircraft carriers stationed in the Pacific, but they were not present: Enterprise was returning from Wake Island, Lexington was near Midway Island, and Saratoga was in San Diego following a refit at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Putting most of the U.S. battleships out of commission was regarded—in both Navies and by most observers worldwide—as a tremendous success for Japan.

Though the attack was notable for large-scale destruction, the attack was not significant in terms of long-term loss. Had Japan destroyed the American carriers, the U.S. might have sustained significant damage to its Pacific Fleet for a year or so. As it was, the elimination of the battleships left the U.S. Navy with no choice but to put its faith in aircraft carriers and submarines—and these were the tools with which the U.S. Navy would halt and eventually reverse the Japanese advance. One particular flaw of Japanese strategic thinking was that the ultimate Pacific battle would be between battleships of both sides. As a result, Yamamoto hoarded his battleships for a decisive battle that would never happen.

Ultimately, targets that never made the list, the Submarine Base and the old Headquarters Building, were more important than any of them. It was submarines that brought Japan's economy to a standstill and crippled its transportation of oil, immobilizing heavy ships. And in the basement of the old Headquarters Building was the cryptanalytic unit, Station Hypo.


Historical significance

This battle has had history-altering consequences. It only had a small strategic military effect because the Japanese Navy failed to sink U.S. aircraft carriers, but even if the air carriers had been sunk, it may not have helped Japan in the long term. The attack firmly drew the United States and its massive industrial and service economy into World War II, and the U.S. sent huge numbers of soldiers and a great amount of weapons and supplies to help the Allies fight Germany, Italy, and Japan, contributing to the utter defeat of the Axis powers by 1945. It also resulted in Germany and Italy declaring war on the United States four days later.

Damage to the headquarters building at Hickam Air Force Base, still visible.
Damage to the headquarters building at Hickam Air Force Base, still visible.

The United Kingdom's Prime Minister Winston Churchill, on hearing that the attack on Pearl Harbor had finally drawn the United States into the war, wrote: "Being saturated and satiated with emotion and sensation, I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful."[16] The Allied victory in this war and the subsequent U.S. emergence as a dominant world power have shaped international politics ever since.

In terms of military history, the attack on Pearl Harbor marked the emergence of the aircraft carrier as the center of naval power that was extensively practiced by the Imperial Japanese Navy as exemplified in this attack, replacing the battleship as the keystone of the fleet. However, it was not until later battles, notably the Coral Sea and Midway, that this breakthrough became apparent to the world's naval powers.


Monumental status

Pearl Harbor is generally regarded as an extraordinary event in American history marking the first time since the War of 1812 America was attacked on its home soil by another country. The event has assumed monumental status, and its prominence was vividly demonstrated sixty years later when the September 11, 2001 attacks took place: the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks were instantly compared to Pearl Harbor.


Cultural impact

Anti-Japanese sentiment in the U.S. peaked during World War II. The government subsidized the production of propaganda posters using racial stereotypes. Shown here Adolf Hitler and Hideki Tojo of the Axis alliance.
Anti-Japanese sentiment in the U.S. peaked during World War II. The government subsidized the production of propaganda posters using racial stereotypes. Shown here Adolf Hitler and Hideki Tojo of the Axis alliance.

The attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese alliance with the Nazis and the ensuing war in the Pacific along with racism and xenophobia, fueled anti-Japanese sentiment greatly. Japanese, Japanese-Americans and Asians having a similar physical appearance were regarded with deep seated suspicion, distrust and hostility. The attack was viewed as having been conducted in an extremely underhanded way and also as a very "treacherous" or "sneaky attack" fueled by extensive anti-Japanese propaganda to later to sell war bonds among others. The fear of a Japanese-American Fifth column led to a massive detainment of this ethnic population since February 19, 1942 and its resulting Japanese American internment in both the United States and Canada.

The attacks on Pearl Harbor were depicted in the joint American-Japanese film Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), the American film Pearl Harbor (2001) and in several Japanese productions.


Recipients of the Medal of Honor

* Awarded posthumously.[17]


See also



  1. Roland H. Worth, Jr., No Choice But War: the United States Embargo Against Japan and the Eruption of War in the Pacific (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1995). ISBN 0-7864-0141-9
  2. Yuichi Arima, The Way to Pearl Harbor: U.S. vs Japan, ICE Case Studies Number 118, December, 2003 (accessed April 10, 2006).
  3. John Costello, Days of Infamy (Pocket hardback, 1994)
  4. John Rodgaard et al., "Pearl Harbor—Attack from Below," Naval History, December 1999 (accessed June 10 2005).
  5. USAF Historical Study No.85 credits 6 pilots with 10 planes destroyed: 1stLt Lewis M. Sanders (P-36) and 2nd Lts Philip M Rasmussen (P-36), Gordon H. Sterling Jr. (P-36, killed in action), Harry W. Brown (P-36), Kenneth M. Taylor (P-40, 2), and George S. Welch (P-40, 4). Three of the P-36 kills were not verified by the Japanese
  6. Stetson Conn et al, "Chapter 7 - The Attack on Pearl Harbor" Guarding the United States and Its Outposts, Center of Military History United States Army, Washington, D.C., 2000
  7. USAAF pilots of the 46th and 47th Pursuit Squadrons, 15th Pursuit Group, destroyed 10 of the planes
  8. Kelley L. Ross, "The Pearl Harbor Strike Force" (accessed June 10, 2005).
  9. Robert Guillain, I saw Tokyo burning: An eyewitness narrative from Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima (J. Murray, 1981). ISBN 0-7195-3862-9
  10. Saburo Kurusu, Historical inevitability of the war of Greater East Asia, Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service, Tokyo, November 26, 1942 (accessed June 10, 2005).
  11. Haruko Taya & Theodore F. Cook, Japan at War: An Oral History (New Press; Reprint edition, 1993). ISBN 1-56584-039-9
  12. Charles Burress, "Biased history helps feed U.S. fascination with Pearl Harbor," Japan Times, July 19, 2001 (accessed June 10, 2005);
  13. Hiroaki Sato, "The View From New York: Debunking America's 'Good War' myth," Japan Times, June 25, 2001 (accessed June 10, 2005);
  14. Burritt Sabin, "The War's Leagacy: Dawn of a tragic era," Japan Times, February 8, 2004 (accessed June 10, 2005).
  15. Isoroku Yamamoto to Shigeharu Matsumoto (Japanese cabinet minister) and Fumimaro Kondoye (Japanese prime minister), quoted in Eagle Against the Sun : The American War With Japan by Ronald Spector (Vintage, 1985).
  16. Churchill, Winston. The Second World War, Vol. 3, 539.
  17. Medal of Honor Citations, U.S. Army Center of Military History.
  1. Kiroku Hanai "U.S. War Conduct: No sense of proportionality," Japan Times, September 28, 2004 (accessed June 10, 2005);
  2. Gregory Clark , "Shedding imposed war guilt," Japan Times, April 15, 2005 (accessed June 10, 2005).
  3. McCollum memo A Roosevelt Administration internal document from 1940 (declassified in 1994) which detailed the administration's plan to provoke a war with Japan.

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