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On This Day... 15 December 2018

Pearl Harbor Attacked*

At 6:15 Honolulu time, the first wave of Japanese aircraft take off from their carriers which are located about 200 miles north of Hawaii. At 7:50, 43 fighters, 51 dive-bombers, 70 torpedo-bombers and 50 ordinary bombers arrive over Hawaii. They launch attacks against the airfields at Wheeler, Kaneohe, Ewa and Hickham and against the American warships anchored at "Battleship Row" in Pearl Harbor. Surprise was complete and within a few minutes 5 battleships and 2 light cruisers had been sunk and a large number of aircraft (180) destroyed on the ground. Within an hour, the second wave of Japanese strike aircraft (36 fighters, 80 dive-bombers, 54 bombers) had arrived over the target, sinking a further 3 destroyers and damaging another battleship. By 10:00 the attack was over; 3,500 Americans were killed or wounded, 350 aircraft were destroyed or damaged, and all eight ships of the Pacific Fleet were either sunk or badly damaged.
Japan's First Air Fleet was commanded by Chūichi Nagumo who was later criticized for his failure to launch a third attack against Pearl Harbor,because it might have destroyed the fuel oil storage and repair facilities, the submarine base, and intelligence station which may have prevented the ability of the US to engage the Japanese Navy until much later in the war.
The attack occurred before a formal declaration of war. The Japanese Embassy in Washington had been instructed to deliver a message immediately prior to the scheduled time of the attack, but did not. The attack was a major factor in changing U.S. public opinion from isolationist to support for direct participation in the war. Germany's prompt declaration of war quickly brought the United States into the European Theater as well.
[USS Shaw exploding during Pearl Harbor attack] [Japanese plane image during attack] [USS Arizona burning after the attack] [ Japanese aerial photo during the attack] [ Japanese mini-sub after the attack]

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