Hello, aircraft fans!
This report is on the Attack on Pearl Harbor, due to the recent holiday, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Hope you enjoy reading it!
It was said by many men such as General Billy Mitchell that early some Sunday morning, the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor. On December 7th, 1941, disaster struck. American commanders were Husband Kimmel and Walter Short, and the Japanese had Chuichi Nagumo and Isoroku Yamamoto. In the American mobile unit, there were 8 battleships, 8 cruisers, 30 destroyers, 4 submarines, 1 USCG (United States Coast Guard) Cutter, 49 other ships, and 390 aircraft. But the Japanese had 6 aircraft carriers, 2 battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 1 light cruiser, 9 destroyers, 8 tankers, 23 fleet submarines, 5 midget submarines, and 414 aircraft. The American losses were 4 battleships sunk, 3 battleships damaged, 1 battleship grounded, 2 other ships sunk, 3 cruisers damaged, 3 destroyers damaged, 3 other ships damaged, 188 aircraft destroyed, 159 aircraft damaged, 2,402 killed, and 1,282 wounded. Japan still had major losses: 4 midget submarines sunk, 1 midget submarine grounded, 29 aircraft destroyed, 64 killed, and 1 captured. Of course, that was a 4,065 to 99 casualty ratio. The Japanese used 353 aircraft. Unfortunately for the Japanese, all 5 midget submarines were destroyed.
A Gallup Poll before the attack found that 52% of Americans expected war, 27% did not expect war, and 21% had no opinion. The downside of attacking Pearl Harbor was that none of the American aircraft carriers were in the bay. Due to Japanese expansion into French Indochina, the USA stopped oil exports to Japan in July of 1941. Then, the Japanese planned to take over Dutch East Indies, which was very oil-rich. Japan was forced to either withdraw from China and lose face or take over the European controlled countries of Southeast Asia. On November 26th, 1941, the Japanese Striking Force of the aircraft carriers Akagi, Kaga, Sōryū, Hiryū, Shōkaku, and Zuikaku left northern Japan towards a position northwest of Hawaii. They hoped to use aircraft to attack Pearl Harbor easily, as they had 408 aircraft.
The first of the two waves was to take out all primary targets, with the second finishing them off. At 3:42 AM Hawaiian Time, the American minesweeper Condor spotted a midget submarine periscope west of Pearl Harbor entrance buoy and radioed this to the destroyer Ward. It may have entered the harbor; however, Ward sank a midget submarine at 6:37 AM in the first American shots in the Pacific Theatre. A midget submarine north of Ford Island missed the seaplane tender Curtiss with her first torpedo and then missed the destroyer Monaghan with her other before being sunk by the Monaghan at 8:43 AM. Another midget submarine grounded two times, with one member swimming ashore to become the first prisoner of war from Japan. The boat was captured on December 8th. The USS West Virginia may have been hit by a midget submarine’s torpedo.
Slow, vulnerable torpedo bombers led the first wave, exploiting the first moments of surprise to attack the most important ships present (the battleships), while dive bombers attacked U.S. air bases across Oahu, starting with Hickam Field, the largest, and Wheeler Field, the main U.S. Army Air Force fighter base. The 171 planes in the second wave attacked the Air Corps’ Bellows Field near Kaneohe on the windward side of the island, and Ford Island. The only aerial opposition came from a handful of P-36 Hawks, P-40 Warhawks and some SBD Dauntless dive bombers from the carrier USS Enterprise. Most of the ships had crews that were asleep, so they showed little resistance. The entire attack lasted a stunningly short ninety minutes. Of the 402 American aircraft in Hawaii, 188 were destroyed, and 159 damaged, with 155 of them on the ground. Almost none were actually ready to take off to defend the base. Eight Army Air Corps (Air Force) pilots managed to get airborne during the battle and six were credited with downing at least one Japanese aircraft during the attack, 1st Lt. Lewis M. Sanders, 2nd Lt. Philip M. Rasmussen, 2nd Lt. Kenneth M. Taylor, 2nd Lt. George S. Welch, 2nd Lt. Harry W. Brown, and 2nd Lt. Gordon H. Sterling Jr. Sterling was shot down and killed by friendly fire returning from the fight. Of 33 PBY Catalinas in Hawaii, 24 were destroyed, and six others damaged beyond repair. The three on patrol returned undamaged. Friendly Fire brought down some U.S. planes on top of that, including five from an inbound flight from Enterprise. Japanese attacks on barracks killed additional personnel.
Fifty-five Japanese airmen and nine submariners were killed in the action, and one was captured. Of Japan’s 414 available planes, 29 were lost during the battle, with nine in the first attack wave, and 20 in the second. Another 74 were damaged by antiaircraft fire from the ground. Despite many of the Japanese crewmen’s wishes, a third wave was not carried out.
Here is a list of some of the main aircraft. The Nakajima B5N2 “Kate” torpedo bomber was actually the 2nd most important Japanese aircraft of the fight, only surpassed by the “Betty” bomber.
The Aichi D3A “Val” dive bomber was also important, but many were destroyed later in Kamikaze missions.
But on the American side, the main aircraft were the Curtiss P-36, Curtiss P-40, and the Douglas SBD Dauntless. The Dauntless was one of 4 aircraft that turned the war in the Pacific around, with the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Curtiss P-40, and the Grumman F6f Hellcat. Here are some photos of the American ships after the attack.
The USS Arizona Memorial on the island of Oahu honors lives lost during the attack. Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day , December 7th,is perhaps the largest holiday in the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii is still the largest military disaster on a land to become American.
Have a great day!
Isaiah S. Casey