World War II: Pearl Harbor

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)
Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • David Gray / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 9/26-10/02

    Pope Francis in Philadelphia, Supermoon eclipse, tidal bores in China, Taliban in Kunduz, Afghanistan, lightning over Rio de Janeiro, BASE jumping in Kuala Lumpur, Neil deGrasse Tyson hugging a robot, Wasteland Weekend in California, Putin and Obama share a toast, and much more.

  • Carlo Allegri / Reuters

    Albino Children in Tanzania Targeted by Body Part Hunters

    Children born with albinism in Tanzania live in constant danger of being attacked by people looking to profit from superstitious beliefs. Reuters photographer Carlo Allegri recently documented the lives of several Tanzanian children receiving care in New York after being brutalized in their home country.

  • Dan Walter / Boulder County Sheriff’s Office via AP

    Animals in the News

    It's time once again for a look at the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless species that share our planet. Today's photos include reindeer herders in far northern Russia, an orangutan taking a wheelbarrow ride in Indonesia, a wild horse roundup in Spain, flying foxes in India, orcas in Puget Sound, a leopard with its head stuck in a pot in India, and much more.

  • Al Sayyid Abd al Ghaffar / Library of Congress—Mohammed Al-Shaikh / AFP / Getty

    Mecca Then and Now, 128 Years of Growth

    A series of photographs on Mecca and its surrounding area taken sometime around 1887 by the photographer Al Sayyid Abd al Ghaffar, compared with images from similar locations taken in 2015.

Join the Discussion