Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor

At 7:55 a.m. local time, the Imperial Japanese Navy air force strikes military facilities at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, (including Hickam and Wheeler Fields) in a surprise attack. The first wave consists of 183 aircraft (91 dive bombers, 49 torpedo bombers, and 43 fighters). The second wave began 45 minutes later and consisted of 170 aircraft (80 dive bombers, 54 torpedo bombers, and 36 fighters). In less than two hours, crews flying the 274 aircraft dropped 152.7 tons of bombs and torpedoes. Only 25 AAF fighter pilots got into the air, mainly against the second wave. Maj. Truman H. Landon, leading a flight of unarmed and out-of-fuel Boeing B-17s flying from California, has to land at Hickam Field in the middle of the raid. These aircraft were virtually ignored by the Japanese, and only one was destroyed and three were damaged. Damage to the U.S. forces in Hawaii, however, was devastating: 2,403 were killed and 1,178 injured (including civilians, roughly 4,500 casualties): Five battleships were sunk (although one was later raised) and three more were damaged; two other ships were sunk; and three cruisers and three destroyers were damaged. Of the 231 U.S. Army aircraft in Hawaii, only 79 were usable; of 169 U.S. Navy aircraft, 82 survived the attack; and 47 of 48 U.S. Marine aircraft were destroyed. Fortunately, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers were at sea at the time of the attack.