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

  • Xie Mingfei / VCG / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Apple Crisp, Squirrel Tea, Floating Pumpkin

    A crab migration on Christmas Island, dengue-fever outbreaks in Pakistan, a castle in eastern France, migrants crossing the English Channel, and much more

  • Carlos Osorio / Reuters

    A Visit to Churchill, Manitoba, During Polar-Bear Season

    Carlos Osorio, a photographer with Reuters, has spent the past week in Churchill, Manitoba, taking photos of polar bears, the town, and the frigid landscape.

  • Emilio Morenatti / AP

    Buried in Volcanic Ash, Scenes from the Canary Islands

    Millions of cubic meters of fallen ash now blanket much of the landscape near the eruption.

  • Christopher Furlong / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Pelican Bench, Truffle Hunter, Supply Chain

    A snowstorm in Moscow, a vintage-car race in England, flooding in British Columbia, smoggy skies in India, big-wave surfing in Portugal, and much more