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.

Japanese aircraft warm up on the flight deck of Kiryu before attack., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
So it begins.
Imperial Japan launches aircraft in the Pacific Ocean hoping to catch the US Naval Base by surprise.
Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island. View looks about east, with supply depot, submarine base and fuel tank farm in the right center distance. A torpedo has just his USS West Virginia on the far side of Ford Island (center). Other battleships moored nearby are (from left): Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee (inboard of West Virginia), Oklahoma (torpedoed and listing) alongside Maryland, and California, US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial

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

Japanese "Val" dive bomber in action during the raid., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
View looking North-East, during the initial moments of the attack, showing torpedo hits on USS West Virginia BB-48 and USS Oklahoma BB-37, and fires started from bombing at Ford Island's patrol plane hangars. Note destoyers in foreground and tenders USS Medusa AR-1 and USS Curtiss AV-4 at entrance to Middle Loch in center of picture., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
Japanese "Zeke" fighter trailing smoke after being struck by anti-aircraft fire. The anti-aircraft machine gun platform of a battleship is in the lower right., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial

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

View showing (right to left): USS Detroit CL-8, USS Raleigh CL-7, USS Utah capsized, and USS Tangier AV-8, partially obscurued by smoke from Ford Island., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
Planes and hangars burning at Wheeler Army Air Field, just after being attacked, as seen from a Japanese Plane., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial

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

Wheeler field and Schofield Barracks under attack. Most of the smoke comes from planes burning on the apron in the foreground., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
View of “Battleship Row” in the early stages of the Japanese attack. This photograph was taken by Japanese pilot and was used by Japan as proof of her successful attack on Pearl Harbor. Left to right: USS Nevada BB-36, USS Vestal AR-4 and USS Arizona BB-39; USS West Virginia BB-48 listing to port as a result of a torpedo hit (note shock waves in water and torpedo tracks alongside USS Tennessee BB-43); USS Oklahoma BB-37 alongside USS Maryland BB-46; USS Neosho AO-23 with USS California BB-44 off Neosho’s port bow., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial

Note the oil pouring out of Battleship Row

Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
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 Arizona was target of many bombs during Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
Moored inboard of the USS Oklahoma BB-37 which capsized - the 31,500 ton USS Maryland BB-46 damaged slightly and was one of the first ships to rejoin the fleet after the Japanese [attack]., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
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., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial

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 wreckage - going to general quarters at 0755 it is believed that USS Arizona sustained 8 bomb hits - one on the forecastle clanced off turret II and penetrated a black powder magazine, which set off a smokeless powder magazine. The resultant explosion touched off fires that burned for two days. USS Arizona sank at her berth with 1103 of her crew entombed. USS Arizona was struck from the Naval Register on 1 December 1942., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
USS Arizona, USS Tennessee and USS West Virginia, US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial

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

Fires at Pearl Harbor, US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
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. Arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on 29 December 1941 permanent repairs were commenced and returned to service on 25 February 1942. Returning to Puget Sound she was rebuilt and emerged again 7 May 1943. USS Tennessee earned a Navy Unit Commendation and ten battle stars for World War II., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial

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.

Beached USS Nevada, US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
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 Nevada BB-36 underway. USS Nevada received two torpedo hits and two to three bombs. As a result of her damage USS Nevada was beached at Hospital Point to preclude her blocking the channel. USS Nevada was refloated on 12 February 1942, repaired at Pearl Harbor and Puget Sound Naval Shipyards, returning to active sercie for Attu 11-18 May 1942. Completely remodernized she returned to action for the Normandy Campaign. USS Nevada was first commissioned in 1916. In the foreground is USS Avocet AVP-4 a small seaplane tender converted from a minsweeper first commissioned in 1918. USS Avocet into action early shot down the torpedo plane that had just hit USS California. In danger of fire from burning oil USS Avocet shifted berths and assisted in fighting fire on USS California, USS Nevada and later the light cruiser USS Raleigh. The heavy smoke in the background is from the fires on USS Shaw DD-373., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
USS California, US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
USS California BB-44 sinking from two bombs. The watertight integrity was very poor due to her readiness for a material inspection. USS California settled into the mud with only her superstructure showing. Refloated on 25 March 1942, drydocked at Pearl Harbor for repairs, she departed for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on 7 June 1942. Major reconstruction completed by 31 January 1944 she sailed to participate in the Mariana's operation. USS California received seven battle stars for World War II., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
Explosion of forward magazine USS Shaw DD-373, US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
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.
USS Shaw DD-373 on fire and burning in YFD-2, a floating dry dock. USS Shaw was one of sixteen destroyers of the Mohan class built at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and was first commissioned in 1936. She sustained three bombhits and her forward magazines exploded about 9:30 am. By 9 February 1942 USS Shaw was on her way to Mare Island Naval Shipyard to have a new bow installed. USS Shaw returned to active service at Pearl Harbor on 31 August. USS Shaw earned eleven battle stars during World War II. Six ships of this class were lost during the war., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
The magazine of the destroyer USS SHaw DD-373 explodes during the attack by Japanese Aircraft., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
View taken at Pearl Harbor after the Japanese attack on 7 December 1941. The ship had been damaged and was beach off area landing. Note scorched paintwork aft, where she was effected by the burning oil of USS Arizona BB-39., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
The Battle Rages On
With Battleship Row all but destroyed Imperial Japanese Aircraft move on to cruisers, destroyers, and tenders.
USS Shaw DD-373 burning after attack on Pearl Harbor, US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
Streaming from shattered fuel tanks, oil turn 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., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial

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 of parade ground, Marine Barracks, at Pearl Harbor between 0930 and 1030 on 7 December 1941. Note Marine combing hair in left foreground., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
View taken on the parade ground of the Marine Barracks, between 0930 and 1030, 7 December 1941. Note watertowers in background, sailors on right, and AA gun being set up (center)., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial

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).

Effect of Japan Raid. PBY destroyed in Pearl Harbor., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
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.
Smoking wreckage of Hanger 3 on the US Navy Sea Plane Base at Kaneohe, HI. Hanger 4 is burning in the background. the base was attacked by Japanese bombers on their way to Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. All 4 of the hangers on the base were either damaged or destroyed in the pre-dawn attack. Fortunately only 15 lives were lost in the attack., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
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 Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial

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.

Effect of Japanese Raid on Dec. 7, 1941, US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
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., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial

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.

Fire fighting after Japanese Raid, US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
Salvage attempts prior to bombing by Japanese on Pearl Harbor., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
Firing volleys over bodies of fifteen officer and men who perished in attack on Kaneohe by Japanese., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
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.
USS Nevada BB-36 showing bomb rupture on how. Forward no. 1 Turret, from deck of USS Rail AM-26, tied alongside., US Navy, 1941-12-12, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
USS Tennessee BB-43 Showing Penetration of bomb through catapult and top of turret III., US Navy, 1941-12-15, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
Under salvage, in Pearl Harbor, after the attack of 7 DEC 1941. Salvage pontoons in use include YSP-13, US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial

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

Sailors of the US Navy Sea Plane Base at Kaneohe, HI look over the rubble that was once a busy sea plane base. The small quiet base was attacked by Japanese bombers on their way to Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. All 4 of the hangers on the base were either damaged or destroyed in the predawn attack that took only 15 lives but practically destroyed all the base operations, and aircraft., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
View of the underside of the starboard wing of a Nakajima B5N-1 "Kate" torpedo/high level bomber shot down during the attack on 7 December 1941. Note #5 on wing and the holes where theh rising sun insignia should be - having been cut out by souvineer hunters. View taken at the Naval Hospital Grounds, Pearl Harbor., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
Effects of Japanese raid. PBY of VP-12 destroyed., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
Wreckage of USS Shaw in YFD-2. Motor launch alongside appears to be from USS Dobbins AD-3 a destroyer tender. Launches of this type came in 50ft and lesser lengths and were nested., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
Burning and damaged ships at Pearl Harbor, US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
Wreckage of USS Oklahoma, US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
Wreckage of Japanese aircraft., US Navy, 1941-12-07, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial
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 st reams from sunken and damaged ships., US Navy, 1941-12-10, From the collection of: US Navy Memorial

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

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.
Google apps