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Pearl Harbor: Photos and Facts from the Infamous WWII Attack

November 30, 2018 in History

By Patrick J. Kiger

The surprise Japanese assault inflicted heavy losses but failed to strike a decisive blow.

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japan launched a sneak attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, as part of a plan to eliminate any potential challenge to Japanese conquests in Asia. The attack compelled the United States to enter World War II as a combatant, and to wage a costly, bloody struggle to defeat the Japanese empire.

The events set in motion by the attack also led to the United States becoming a global superpower. As Peter Harris, an assistant professor of political science at Colorado State University, wrote in 2017, the attack dramatically altered U.S. foreign relations, “sidelining isolationism as a powerful force in domestic politics and making overseas engagement the accepted norm.”

On December 7, 1941 the Japanese military launched a surprise attack on the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor. The attack killed 2,403 service members and wounded 1,178 more, and sank or destroyed six U.S. ships. They also destroyed 169 U.S. Navy and Army Air Corps planes.

View the 17 images of this gallery on the original article

Here are some key facts about the attack.

Why Japan Attacked Pearl Harbor

  • The Japanese plan to attack Pearl Harbor was devised by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, a former student at Harvard University who had served as Japan’s naval attaché in Washington. Yamamoto knew that the United States had far greater resources than Japan, and that his country could not win a protracted war. As Steve Twomey details in his 2016 book Countdown to Pearl Harbor: The Twelve Days to the Attack, Yamamoto believed that Japan’s only chance for success was to stage a surprise assault that would knock the U.S. fleet out of action for a year or more.
  • Japanese forces trained for about a year to prepare for the attack. They added wooden fins to their aerial torpedoes and made other modifications, so that they could work on short runs at the 45-foot average depth of Pearl Harbor.
  • The Japanese Foreign Ministry wanted to present the United States with a declaration of war prior to the attack, so that they wouldn’t violate international law. But they were blocked by the Japanese military, which didn’t want to jeopardize the operation.
  • The Japanese attack force—which included six aircraft carriers and 420 planes—sailed from …read more

    Source: HISTORY

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