Attack on Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Pacific War Campaign (December 7, 1941 – September 2, 1945)
Date(s): December 7, 1941
Principal Commanders: Husband
Kimmel, Walter Short [US]; Chuichi Nagumo, Isoroku Yamamoto [Japan]
Forces Engaged: 8 battleships, 8 cruisers, 30 destroyers, 4
submarines, 1 USCG Cutter, 49 other ships, 390 aircraft [US]; Mobile
Unit: 6 aircraft carriers, 2 battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 1 light
cruiser, 9 destroyers, 8 tankers, 23 fleet submarines, 5 midget
submarines, 414 aircraft [Japan]
Estimated Casualties: 4
battleships sunk, 3 battleships damaged, 1 battleship grounded, 2
other ships sunk, 3 cruisers damaged, 3 destroyers damaged, 3 other
ships damaged, 188 aircraft destroyed, 159 aircraft damaged, 2,402
killed, 1,247 wounded [US]; 4 midget submarines sunk, 1 midget
submarine grounded, 29 aircraft destroyed, 64 killed, 1 captured
[Japan]; between 48 - 68 killed, 35 wounded [Civilian casualties]
Description: The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military
strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United
States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of
December 7, 1941 (December 8 in Japan). The attack led to the United
States' entry into World War II.
The attack was intended as a
preventive action in order to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from
interfering with military actions the Empire of Japan was planning
in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United
Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. There were
simultaneous Japanese attacks on the U.S.-held Philippines and on
the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
the standpoint of the defenders, the attack commenced at 7:48 a.m.
Hawaiian Time. The base was attacked by 353 Japanese fighters,
bombers and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft
carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four
being sunk. All but one were later raised, and six of the eight
battleships returned to service and fought in the war. The Japanese
also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an
anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. 188 U.S. aircraft
were destroyed; 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded.
Important base installations such as the power station, shipyard,
maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the
submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the
intelligence section) were not attacked. Japanese losses were light:
29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 65 servicemen
killed or wounded. One Japanese sailor was captured.
attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led
directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific
and European theaters. The following day (December 8), the United
States declared war on Japan. Domestic support for
non-interventionism, which had been strong, disappeared. Clandestine
support of Britain (for example the Neutrality Patrol) was replaced
by active alliance. Subsequent operations by the U.S. prompted
Germany and Italy to declare war on the U.S. on December 11, which
was reciprocated by the U.S. the same day.
After the attack,
several journalists, authors, and retired military personnel argued
that parties high in the U.S. and British governments knew of the
attack in advance and may have let it happen (or even encouraged it)
with the aim of bringing America into war. However, this Pearl
Harbor advance-knowledge conspiracy theory is rejected by most
There were numerous historical
precedents for unannounced military action by Japan. However, the
lack of any formal warning, particularly while negotiations were
still apparently ongoing, led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to
proclaim December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy".
Due to the fact the attack happened without a declaration of war
and without explicit warning, the attack on Pearl Harbor was judged
by the Tokyo Trials to be a Japanese war crime.
Japanese major tactical victory. U.S. declaration of war on the
Empire of Japan. Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.
Entrance of the United States of America into the war