Bombing of Pearl Harbor (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: Japan’s surprise attack on the United States’ Pacific Fleet forces U.S. entry into World War II.
Summary of Event
The surprise attack by Japanese naval air forces upon the huge United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, has become synonymous with duplicity and cunning. Nevertheless, the circumstances of the attack engendered bitter controversy over the reasons for the failure of U.S. leaders to anticipate and to defend themselves against this devastating blow.
In retrospect, Pearl Harbor can be explained without recourse to a “devil theory of war”—that Japan, unprovoked by the United States, deliberately and wantonly struck the Navy’s Pacific command center. Given the Japanese military and political situation and the dictates of Japanese strategic thinking, the attack was the logical result of a series of confrontations between Japan and the United States. Although U.S. interest was focused primarily on Europe between 1939 and 1941, events in the Far East aroused increasing concern in Washington, D.C., as Japan carried forth its ambitious creation of a Japanese-dominated Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, which championed “Asia for Asians.” Much of China had fallen under Japanese control by 1939. Japan officially became an Axis power in September, 1940, with the signing of the Tripartite Pact—a “defensive” alliance among Germany, Italy, and Japan. By the...
(The entire section is 1721 words.)
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Pearl Harbor Attack (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Type of action: Air and sea battle in World War II. Result: Severe damage to U.S. Pacific Fleet and Army Air Corps; entry of United States into World War II.
Following a plan developed at the urging of Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Japanese aircraft struck the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. Launched by six aircraft carriers at 6:00 a.m. from a point 220 miles north of Oahu, the first wave of 49 bombers, 40 torpedo planes, 51 dive bombers, and 43 fighters attacked with complete surprise at 7:55 a.m. The second wave of 54 bombers, 78 dive bombers, and 36 fighters, launched at 7:05 a.m., began attacking at 8:40 a.m. and was gone by 9:45 a.m. At a cost of 29 aircraft and 6 submarines, the Japanese destroyed 164 warplanes, damaged 128 others, and sank or severely damaged 18 U.S. warships, including every U.S. battleship. U.S. casualties included 2,403 service personnel and civilians killed and 1,178 wounded. Although virtually every major U.S. military installation on Oahu was devastated by the attack, Japanese vice admiral Chuichi Nagumo retired without striking again. He left intact the Pearl Harbor repair facilities, oil storage tanks, and the U.S. submarine base. Despite the overwhelming Japanese success, some analysts have argued Nagumo should have ordered subsequent attacks to destroy these installations. Without them, the U.S. Pacific Fleet might have been forced to retreat to...
(The entire section is 679 words.)