The Battle of Pearl Harbor

US Navy Memorial

On December 7, 1941 Imperial Japan launched a surprise attack on the military installations on the island of Oahu, most notably the massive naval base Pearl Harbor.

So it begins.
Imperial Japan launches aircraft in the Pacific Ocean hoping to catch the US Naval Base by surprise.

The US Naval base is taken by surprise as the first torpedoes strike Battleship Row.

Within 45 minutes US warships are able to man their anti aircraft guns and begin to return fire.

Planes and hangars burning at Wheeler Army Air Field, just after being attacked, as seen from a Japanese Plane.

Note the oil pouring out of Battleship Row

This is not a drill.
Imperial Japan first targeted Wheeler Air Field to gain air superiority and Battleship Row in order to stymie the US launching an initial naval operation after the battle. USS Arizona received a bomb to her forward powder magazine that ignited more than 1 million pounds of black powder killing 1,177 Sailors and Marines.

USS Maryland BB-46 view taken at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 during the Japanese Attack, with USS Oklahoma BB-37 capsized alongside and USS Tennessee BB-43 in background.

USS Arizona BB-39
USS Tennessee BB-43
USS West Virginia BB-48

USS Tennessee BB-43 inboard of USS West Virginia - fighting fire started by debris and flaming oil from USS Arizona. Sinking USS West Virginia wedged USS Tennessee against two massive concrete piers and she could not move. Hit several times by bombs - USS Tennessee's two concrete piers were demolished by dynamite and were cleared away by 16 December.

USS Nevada BB-36
USS Nevada was able to get underway within 45 minutes, however she became a target for more waves of dive bombers. In order to prevent her from sinking in the channel and effectively cutting off the entrance to the harbor she was beached at Hospital Point. After the battle she was repaired and sent to Atlantic Fleet where the participated in Operation Overlord, D-Day.
USS Shaw DD-373
USS Shaw was dry docked in Pearl Harbor during the battle. A bomb pierced her bow and set off a massive explosion in her forward magazine raining shrapnel up to a half mile away. She was given a new bow and returned to service in July of 1942.
The Battle Rages On
With Battleship Row all but destroyed Imperial Japanese Aircraft move on to cruisers, destroyers, and tenders.

Streaming from shattered fuel tanks, oil turned parts of Pearl Harbor into a sea of flame, following the Japanese attacks. This picture was taken from near the Naval Air Station boat landing. Barely visible through the smoke are a damaged US Battleship and the capsized USS Oklahoma.

View taken on the parade ground of the Marine Barracks, between 0930 and 1030, 7 December 1941. Note water towers in background, sailors on right, and AA gun being set up (center).

Naval Aircraft Destroyed
In addition to the large ship and submarine base there were air bases that were destroyed. Most notably Kaneohe Bay and Ford Island.

Officers and Sailors pull together to move a damaged sea plan away from another that is burning as a result of an early morning surprise attack by Japanese Planes.

US Naval Sea Plane Base, Kaneohe, HI. Sailors man together to move a lightly damaged PBY-5 sea plane away from another that is burning as a result of an early morning attack by Japanese planes.

After the battle.
Once the Imperial Japanese Aircraft left, the destruction was slowly assessed. Fires burned for days, oil leaked from ships for weeks. Ships were either sent to yards and returned to service or scrapped for metal to repair salvageable ships. Capsized ships were righted and retrofitted. While the US Navy suffered a defeat, exactly 6 months later the Battle of Midway turned the tide for the war in the Pacific.

Under salvage after the attack of 7 DEC 1941. Salvage pontoons in use include YSP-13.

Aerial shot of Battleship Row three days after attack. Top to bottom: capsized USS Oklahoma lies next to USS Maryland; USS West Virginia, awash, next to USS Tennessee; and USS Arizona, destroyed. Note oil streams from sunken and damaged ships.

Credits: Story

Curator: Philip R Byrd

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