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

  • Raul Arboleda / AFP / Getty

    FARC Guerrillas Demobilizing in Colombia

    AFP photographer Raul Arboleda recently spent time at a FARC camp, observing daily life as the rebels demobilize and prepare to move into the next phase of their lives.

  • Mark Makela / Reuters

    The Selling of the Presidents 2017

    The Hall of Presidents and First Ladies in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, recently closed down, auctioning off its collection of life-size wax figures of U.S. presidents.

  • Angela Jimenez

    Winning the Race Against Time

    Age can’t keep these senior track and field athletes from the finish line

  • Ryan Collerd

    Americans at Work: Philadelphia's Municipal Offices

    Part of our ongoing series of photo essays at the Atlantic titled Americans at Work. This week, photographs of the daily lives and spaces of workers in Philadelphia's Municipal Offices, made by photographer Ryan Collerd

Join the Discussion