December 7, 1941
Japanese aircraft carriers reached the launch point north of O'ahu undetected. In the darkness of 6:00 A.M., the first wave of 183 planes took off to strike the fleet in Pearl Harbor,
the garrison at Schofield Barracks, and the airfields at Hickam, Wheeler, Kaneohe, and Bellows. A second wave of 180 planes was launched at 7:15 A.M.
Attack on Pearl Harbor
Beginning at 7:55 A.M., groups of Japanese attackers swooped down on the Army airfields. Displaying great skill at low-level flying, and accurate marksmanship with bombs and machine gun
fire, they blasted the neatly parked American planes. By destroying the Hawaiian Air Force's fighters and bombers on the ground, the Japanese prevented interception or retaliation against
their carriers. In fact, most American planes were not ready to fly. Ammunition was unloaded at night for security and many planes were obsolete. Surprise was complete.
As the initial shock wore off, soldiers and airmen at all Army installations sprang into action. Anti-aircraft crews manned their guns, pilots scrambled for their planes; and everyone
who could, opened fire at the Japanese planes.
The attack surprised Honolulu's civilians as much as it did the military, but they reacted quickly to keep emergency services (police, fire, hospitals) functioning as the bombs fell.
The Japanese planned to hit only military targets but stray bombs and bullets spilled over into the civilian community, killing 68 and wounding 35.
Japanese Akagi carrier
Despite Japan's tactical success, they failed to sink any American carriers, or to destroy the ship repair facilities and fuel storage at Pearl Harbor, a costly error. Pearl Harbor and
Hawai'i rose out of the ashes to become the instruments of Japan's destruction.
- 5 "Kate" torpedo/level bombers
- 15 "Val" dive bombers
- 9 "Zero" fighters
- 5 midget submarines
- 64 men
- Killed in action: 2,403
- Wounded in action: 1,178
- Warships sank/severely damaged: 18
- Aircraft destroyed: 188
- Aircraft damaged: 151
Original text for the exhibit pages was provided
by Barbara Mills.