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

  • Greg Locke / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 4/15–4/21

    A massive statue of a Miao goddess erected in China, the “Hare Pie Scramble and Bottle Kicking event” in England, a manned rocket launch in Kazakhstan, and much more.

  • Ariana Cubillos / AP

    In Venezuela, the 'Mother of all Marches'

    On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities to step up their continuing demonstrations against the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

  • Jacky Chen / Reuters

    Along the North Korean Border

    Photographs from the past few years of North Koreans seen just over the border from parts of China and South Korea

  • Christopher Polk / Getty for Coachella

    Scenes From Coachella 2017

    This weekend, the first part of the 2017 Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival took place in Indio, California.

Join the Discussion