Because Japan was poor in natural resources, its government viewed these steps, especially the embargo on oil as a threat to the nation’s survival. Japan’s leaders responded by resolving to seize the resource-rich territories of Southeast Asia, even though that move would certainly result in war with the United States. The problem with the plan was the danger posed by the U. S. Pacific Fleet based at Pearl Harbor. Admiral Usurious Hampton, commander of the Japanese fleet, devised a plan to immobile the U. S. Let at the outset of the war with a surprise attack. The key elements in Hammock’s plans were meticulous preparation, the achievement of surprise, and the use of aircraft carriers and naval aviation on an unprecedented scale. In the spring of 1 941, Japanese carrier pilots began training in the special tactics called for by the Pearl Harbor attack plan. In October 1941 the naval general staff gave final approval to Hammock’s plan, which called for the formation of an attack force commanded by Vice Admiral Chichi Magnum.
It centered around six heavy aircraft carriers accompanied by 24 supporting vessels. A separate group of submarines was to sink any American warships which escaped the Japanese carrier force. Magnum’s fleet assembled in the remote anchorage of Tanks Bay in the Krill Islands and departed in strictest secrecy for Hawaii on 26 November 1941. The ships’ route crossed the North Pacific and avoided normal shipping lanes. At dawn 7 December 1941 , the Japanese task force had approached undetected to a point slightly more than 200 miles north of AAU.
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At this time the U. S. Carriers were not at Pearl Harbor. On 28 November, Admiral Kismet sent ISIS Enterprise under Rear Admiral William Halley to deliver Marine Corps fighter planes to Wake Island. On 4 December Enterprise delivered the aircraft and on December 7 the task force was on its way back to Pearl Harbor. On 5 December, Admiral Kismet sent the US Lexington with a task force under Rear Admiral Newton to deliver 25 scout bombers to Midway Island. The last Pacific carrier, ISIS Saratoga, had left Pearl Harbor for upkeep and repairs on the West Coast.
At 6:00 a. M. On 7 December, the six Japanese carriers launched a first wave of 181 planes composed of torpedo bombers, dive bombers, horizontal bombers and fighters. Even as they winged south, some elements of U. S. Forces on AAU realized there was something different about this Sunday ironing. In the hours before dawn, U. S. Navy vessels spotted an unidentified submarine periscope near the entrance to pearl Harbor. It was attacked and reported sunk by the destroyer ISIS Ward (AD-1 39) and a patrol plane. At 7:00 a. . , an alert operator of an Army radar station at Pan spotted the approaching first wave of the attack force. The officers to whom those reports were relayed did not consider them significant enough to take action. The report of the submarine sinking was handled routinely, and the radar sighting was passed off as an approaching group of American planes due to arrive hat morning. The Japanese aircrews achieved complete surprise when they hit American ships and military installations on AAU shortly before 8:00 a. M.
They attacked military airfields at the same time they hit the fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor. The Navy air bases at Ford Island and Kankakee Bay, the Marine airfield at Awe and the Army Air Corps fields at Bellows, Wheeler and Hickman were all bombed and strafed as other elements of the attacking force began their assaults on the ships moored in Pearl Harbor. The purpose of the simultaneous attacks was to destroy the American planes before they could sis to intercept the Japanese. Of the more than 90 ships at anchor in Pearl Harbor, the primary targets were the eight battleships anchored there. Even were moored on Battleship Row along the southeast shore of Ford Island while the ISIS Pennsylvania (B-38) lay in dooryard across the channel. Within the first minutes of the attack all the battleships adjacent to Ford Island had taken bomb and or torpedo hits. The US West Virginia (B-48) sank quickly. The ISIS Oklahoma (Baa-37) turned turtle and sank. At about 0 a. M. , the US Arizona (B-39) was mortally wounded by an reinforcing bomb which ignited the ship’s reward ammunition magazine.
The resulting explosion and fire killed 1 , 177 crewmen, the greatest loss of life on any ship that day and about half the total number of Americans killed. The ISIS California (88-44), ISIS Maryland (88-46), US Tennessee (88-43) and US Nevada (88-36) also suffered varying degrees of damage in the first half hour of the raid. There was a short lull in the fury of the attack at about 8:30 a. M. At that time the ISIS Nevada (B-36), despite her wounds, managed to get underway and move down the channel toward the open sea.
Before she could clear the arbor, a second wave of 1 70 Japanese planes, launched 30 minutes after the first, appeared over the harbor. They concentrated their attacks on the moving battleship, hoping to sink her in the channel and block the narrow entrance to Pearl Harbor. On orders from the harbor control tower, the LEIS Nevada (88-36) beached herself at Hospital Point and the channel remained clear. When the attack ended shortly before 10:00 a. M. , less than two hours after it began, the American forces has paid a fearful price. Twenty-one ships of the U. S.
Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged: the battleships US Arizona (B-39), US California (88-44), US Maryland (88-46), US Nevada (88-36), US Oklahoma (B-37), US Pennsylvania (B-38), US Tennessee (B-43) and US west Virginia (88-48); cruisers US Helena (CLC-50), US Honolulu (CLC-48) and US Raleigh (CLC-7); the destroyers US Cassini (AD-372), ISIS Downed (AD-375), US Helm (AD-388) and US Shaw (AD-373); seaplane tender US Curtiss (VA-4); target ship (ex-battleship) US Utah (GAG-16); repair ship US Vestal (AR-4); minelayers ISIS Googol (CM-4); tug US Stomp (YET-9); and Floating Doddery Number 2.
Aircraft losses were 188 destroyed and 159 imaged, the majority hit before the had a chance to take off. American dead numbered 2,403. That figure included 68 civilians, most of them killed by improperly fused anti-aircraft shells landing in Honolulu. There were 1, 1 78 military and civilian wounded. Japanese losses were comparatively light.
Twenty-nine planes, less than 1 0 percent of the attacking force, failed to return to their carriers. The Japanese success was overwhelming but it was not complete. They failed to damage any American aircraft carriers, which by a stroke of luck, had been absent from the harbor. They neglected to damage the shorebird facilities at he Pearl Harbor Naval Base, which played an important role in the Allied victory in World War II.
American technological skill raised and repaired all but three of the ships sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor (the US Arizona (B-39) considered too badly damaged to be salvaged, the ISIS Oklahoma (B-37) raised and considered too old to be worth repairing, and the obsolete US Utah (GAG-1 6) considered not worth the effort). Most importantly, the shock and anger caused by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor united a divided nation and was translated into a wholehearted commitment to victory in world war II.