Three-hundred and sixty Japanese planes broke through the clouds above Pearl Harbor at 07. 55. The planes attacked in rows of two or three, dropping torpedoes at 100 knots from 70 feet. The first wave of planes destroyed US hangers and the planes in the neat, anti-sabotage rows. Other attacks in the first wave were on ‘Battleship Row’, cruisers and other auxiliary ships. Most ships had numerous torpedo hits. To complete the destruction of the war ships, six submarines aided in the sinking and destroying of what was not already certain.
When torpedoing planes left the vicinity, bombers carrying 1 600 pound bombs were sent to destroy any remaining ships. Overlapping the first wave of attack at 08. 40 was a second one. They concentrated on the not yet fully destroyed airfields. By 09. 45 any ship of the US Pacific! Naval Fleet that was not on the Ocean floor was drifting helplessly. “It [the Arizona] sank like an earthquake had struck it,” a survivor remarked, 1 200 of his crew mates died. US troops returned from church or brunch to defend as best they could.
Fighting until they drowned or were crushed by exploding debris, sailors, fliers and anti-aircraft gunners fought heroically to save their doomed naval base. By reason of the attack occurring in what Americans thought was peace time, much of the ammunition was locked away, leaving the defending US troops with little defense. In the end, the US had eight battleships, three cruisers and a large number of smaller vessels sink or rendered out of use. The Japanese lost 0 30 planes and five submarines.
Although the destruction was not total, Japanese foremost naval strategist, Yamamoto, found the result better than he had anticipated . Military records state that the attack sank or destroyed 6 ships. US casualties included 2 500 as well as over 1 000 wounded. The Japanese lost less than 30 aircraft and about 55 men. The bombing of Pearl Harbor can be seen as a turning point in the war. Essentially, the war had been of mainly European involvement, now it took a global turn. The bombing prompted a US declaration of war on the following day, as well as great American shock and outrage tempered by anger.
The attack was dubbed ‘a day of infamy’ by President Roosevelt, as no American could forgive or forget the actions of the Japanese nation. The Japanese could not have devised a better way to rally the American citizens into full support for Roosevelt and his government’s plan of US involvement in the war. A previous promise between British Prime Minister, Winstin Churchill and President Roosevelt was honored when Britain declared war upon Japan two hours after the US declaration. The events surrounding the bombing of Pearl Harbor prove the US handled the situation very poorly.
Many opposing tactics were noted and ignored. Warnings were thought of as routine. Even survivors, who were fully aware of the Japanese tendencies of war on China, the government war warnings and their country’s unprepared state, still describe the attack as a surprise. The Japanese military strategies were intelligent and well executed; although, the Japanese attack would not have been nearly as effective had the Americans not have been so blatantly ignorant. The US had no knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and it was their fault.