What started Pearl Harbor?

July 5, 2019
Japanese pilots get

The air attack was led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida. The first wave of planes consisted of 183 fighters, bombers and torpedo bombers. It started its attack at 07.55 a.m. The second wave had 170 planes in it and attacked Pearl Harbor at 08.54 a.m.

They took off from the aircraft carriers Akaga, Kaga, Hiryu, Soryu, Zuikaku and Shokaku. By the time the war ended, all six had been sunk by the Americans along with all the other Japanese capital ships involved in the attack.

The pilots in the first attack used a radio station’s mast near Pearl Harbor to home in on. The first casualties were 35 American servicemen who were having breakfast at the Army Air Forces’ Hickam Field – a 550lb bomb hit their dining hall.

The most serious casualty was the USS Arizona. One torpedo and eight bombs hit her, 1, 760 lbs. of explosives, as she lay moored up at Ford Island Naval Station. One bomb is thought to have pierced the forward deck setting off over one million pounds of gunpowder. 1, 177 men were killed on the Arizona alone.

Those who survived on the USS Nevada – moored directly behind the Arizona and badly damaged in the attack – claimed that the Arizona was launched up to ten feet into the air as a result of the huge explosion that tore her apart and sunk within nine minutes. One witness on the Nevada said that the Arizona was broken in two before she sunk. Along with the Arizona, the Utah and the Oklahoma never sailed again but all the other ships damaged in the attack did sail again once repairs had been successfully carried out.


USS Shaw exploding during the attack

Twenty-nine Japanese planes were brought down by the defences at Pearl Harbor during the attack that lasted for two hours. Midget submarines were also used in the attack and one managed to get into Pearl Harbor itself – only to be sunk by USS Monaghan.

Ships damaged or lost at Pearl Harbor

USS Detroit

Slight damage

USS Raleigh

Heavy damage

USS Utah


USS Tangier

USS Medusa

USS Curtis

Moderate damage

USS Nevada

USS Arizona


USS Vestal

USS West Virginia

USS Oklahoma

USS California

USS Oglala

USS Pennsylvania

USS Downes

USS Shaw

USS Cassin

USS Maryland

USS Tennessee

USS Helena

Total American casualties: 2, 395 deaths including 54 civilians

Why was Pearl Harbor attacked?

The Japanese saw the base as the pinnacle of America’s military supremacy in the Pacific Ocean. If a catastrophic blow could be struck against America at Pearl Harbor, then the Japanese surmised that America would pull out of the region leaving it free for the Japanese to continue their expansion in the Far East.

Source: www.historylearningsite.co.uk
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