Oahu bombed by Japanese planes Headlines rang out after Dec. 7, 1941

Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941--a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. An excerpt of a speech given to Congress on Dec. 8, 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Later that day war was officially declared on Japan.

On Dec. 7, 1941 about 360 Japanese attack planes had launched at dawn from aircraft carriers in an attack force of about 33 ships. The strike force had steamed, under the cover of darkness, to about 275 to 200 miles north of Oahu. Once the bombers sighted the island, they split into two groups proceeding overland at low altitude across the island and the over the water around the island to make an approach from the south. At 7:55 a.m., the first bombs and torpedoes were dropped. After two hours, the U.S. sustained 18 ships sunk or severely damaged, about 350 aircraft damaged or destroyed, and there were over 3,500 casualties. Japanese casualties were minimal.

Pearl Harbor was a shallow draft harbor and, as such, was considered to be safe from torpedoes that generally run deeper once in the water. The Japanese had developed a shallow running torpedo that would skim the surface of the water in the harbor after being dropped from a low-flying aircraft. The primary targets were the aircraft carriers and battleships that were among 92 naval vessels at anchor in the harbor. With data gathered and reported by Japanese spies on Oahu and Maui, the Japanese admiralty knew the location and quantity of vessels of each type in the harbor.


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