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World War II: Pearl Harbor

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On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on the United States, bombing warships and military targets in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. More than 350 Japanese aircraft attacked the naval base in two waves, strafing targets, dropping armor-piercing bombs, and launching torpedoes toward U.S. battleships and cruisers. The U.S. forces were unprepared, waking to the sounds of explosions and scrambling to defend themselves. The entire preemptive attack lasted only 90 minutes, and in that time, the Japanese sunk four battleships and two destroyers, pummeled 188 aircraft, and damaged even more buildings, ships and airplanes. (Two of the battleships were later raised and returned to service.) Some 2,400 Americans were killed in the attack; another 1,250 were injured, and a huge shock was dealt to United States. After the attack, Japan officially declared war on the United States. The next day President Roosevelt delivered his famous "infamy" speech, and signed a formal declaration of war against the Empire of Japan. Within days, Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy also declared war on the United States, and the U.S. reciprocated soon after. (This entry is Part 7 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II) [45 photos]

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The USS Shaw explodes after being hit by bombs during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in this December 7, 1941 photo. (AP Photo, U.S. Navy)
The USS Shaw explodes after being hit by bombs during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in this December 7, 1941 photo. (AP Photo, U.S. Navy)
Japanese pilots get instructions aboard an aircraft carrier before the attack on Pearl Harbor, in this scene from a Japanese newsreel. It was obtained by the U.S. War Department and released to U.S. newsreels. (AP Photo) #
The Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku, seen in September of 1941. The Zuikaku would soon sail toward Hawaii, one of six aircraft carriers used in the attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy. (U.S. Naval Historical Center) #
Aircraft prepare to launch from the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier Akagi during the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (National Archives) #
This photograph, from a Japanese film later captured by American forces, was taken aboard the Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku, just as a Nakajima "Kate" B-5N bomber launched off the deck to attack Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. (AP Photo) #
Aerial view of the initial blows struck against American ships, as seen from a Japanese plane over Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy) #
Captured Japanese photograph taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. In the distance, the smoke rises from Hickam Field. (U.S. Navy) #
Seen from a distance, the Battleship Arizona burns as it sinks in Pearl Harbor after the December 7, 1941 raid by Japanese bombers. (U.S. Navy) #
A Japanese bomber, its diving flaps down, was photographed by a U.S. Navy photographer as the plane approached its Pearl Harbor objective on December 7. (AP Photo) #
Japanese aircraft can be seen in the air above Pearl Harbor (top center and upper right) in this captured Japanese photograph taken during the initial moments of the Japanese attack. (U.S. Navy) #
American ships burn during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. (AP Photo) #
A wide-angle view of the sky above Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, filled with smoke and anti-aircraft fire on December 7, 1941. (National Archives) #
Officers' wives, investigating explosions and seeing a smoke pall in distance on December 7, 1941, heard neighbor Mary Naiden, then an Army hostess who took this picture, exclaim "There are red circles on those planes overhead. They are Japanese!" Realizing war had come, the two women, stunned, started toward quarters. (AP Photo/Mary Naiden) #
Aerial photograph, taken by a Japanese pilot, of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese bomber in lower-right foreground. (Library of Congress) #
Sailors stand among wrecked airplanes at Ford Island Naval Air Station as they watch the explosion of the USS Shaw in the background, during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7, 1941. (AP Photo) #
A U.S. flag flies from the stern of the sunken battleship USS West Virginia after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. (U.S. Navy) #
An A6M-2 Zero fighter aboard the Imperial Japanese Navy carrier Akagi during the Pearl Harbor attack mission. (U.S. Navy) #
The USS Shaw burns in Pearl Harbor. Japanese bombers hit the forward portion of the ship with three bombs. The resulting fires proved uncontrollable, and Shaw was ordered abandoned. Soon after, her forward ammunition magazines detonated in a spectacular blast, completely removing her bow. (U.S. Navy) #
The USS California sinks into the mud of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. (U.S. Navy) #
A small boat rescues a USS West Virginia crew member from the water after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. Two men can be seen on the superstructure, upper center. The mast of the USS Tennessee is beyond the burning West Virginia. (AP Photo) #
The forward magazines of USS Arizona explode after she was hit by a Japanese bomb on December 7, 1941. Frame clipped from a color motion picture taken from on board USS Solace. (U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives) #
Japanese planes over Hawaii during the attack on Pearl Harbor are shown in this scene from a Japanese newsreel. The film was obtained by the U.S. War Department and later released to U.S. newsreels. (AP Photo) #
Sailors at Naval Air Station (NAS) Kaneohe attempt to salvage a burning PBY Catalina in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy) #
The battleships West Virginia and Tennessee burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941. (U.S. Navy) #
Oil burns on the waters of Pearl Harbor, near the naval air station, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. (U.S. Navy) #
The USS Maryland, a battleship moored inboard of the USS Oklahoma, which capsized, was damaged slightly in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. (AP Photo) #
A sailor killed by the Japanese air attack at Naval Air Station, Kanoehe Bay. Photographed on December 7, 1941. (U.S. Navy) #
The battleship USS Arizona belches smoke as it topples over into the sea during a Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (AP Photo) #
White House reporters dash for the telephones on December 7, 1941, after they had been told by presidential press secretary Stephen T. Early that Japanese submarines and planes had just bombed the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (AP Photo) #
Selling papers on December 7, 1941 at Times Square in New York City, announcing that Japan has attacked U.S. bases in the Pacific. (AP Photo/Robert Kradin) #
Declaring Japan guilty of a dastardly unprovoked attack, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war, on December 8, 1941. Listening are Vice President Henry Wallace, left, and House Speaker Sam Rayburn. (AP Photo) #
President Roosevelt signs the declaration of war following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, at the White House in Washington, D.C., on December 8, 1941. (AP Photo) #
Young Japanese Americans, including several Army selectees, gather around a reporter's car in the Japanese section of San Francisco, on December 8, 1941. (AP Photo) #
The minelayer USS Oglala lies capsized after being attacked by Japanese aircraft and submarines in the attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy) #
Heavy damage is seen on the destroyers USS Downes and USS Cassin, stationed at Pearl Harbor, after the Japanese attack on the Hawaiian island on December 7, 1941. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy) #
An interior shot of a destroyed aircraft hangar at Wheeler Field, in Hawaii, on December 11, 1941. (U.S. Navy) #
In this photo provided by the U.S. Navy, eight miles from Pearl Harbor, shrapnel from a Japanese bomb riddled this car and killed three civilians in the attack of December 7, 1941. Two of the victims can be seen in the front seat. The Navy reported there was no nearby military target. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy) #
Wreckage of the first Japanese plane shot down during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. (U.S. Air Force photo) #
A Japanese midget submarine, part of the attacking force on Pearl Harbor, beached at Bellows Field. (U.S. Navy) #
An American seaman looks at the charred corpse of a Japanese flier brought up from the bottom of Pearl Harbor, where he crashed with his burning plane during the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941 in Hawaii. (AP Photo) #
A small crowd inspects the damage, both inside and outside, after a Japanese bomb hit the residence of Paul Goo during the Japanese air raid on December 7, 1941. (AP Photo) #
Unidentified attaches of the Japanese consulate began burning papers, ledgers and other records shortly after Japan went to war against the U.S., on December 7, 1941, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Police later stopped the fire after most of the papers had been destroyed. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #
This unidentified Japanese man turns to face a visitor at the Japanese Consulate in Chicago, on December 9, 1941. Clad only in underwear, he was startled while in the act of taking papers and files from a cabinet. Confidential papers at the consulate had been burned. (AP Photo) #
Following Hawaiian tradition, sailors honor men killed during the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Naval Air Station Kaneohe, Oahu. The casualties had been buried on December 8. This ceremony took place sometime during the following months. (U.S. Navy) #
Aerial view showing oil-streaked waters and the dry docks at U.S. Naval Base Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, following the Japanese attack, seen on December 10, 1941. (U.S. Navy) #

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