When Was Pearl Harbor?


Quick Answer

The attack on Pearl Harbor Navy Base by the aerial forces of the Japanese Navy began at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian time on Dec. 7, 1941 and ended about 90 minutes later. This surprise attack was the incentive for the United States to enter World War II, declaring war on Japan the following day and on the Axis forces on Dec. 11, 1941.

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Full Answer

The Japanese attacks came in two separate waves. The first wave of 183 planes included 89 heavy bombers protected by 49 Zero fighters. This group, making directly for Pearl Harbor, attacked the battleships and other large targets before the United States could mobilize a defense. Once the heavy bombers had arrived, the Zeros separated to breach the air fields throughout the island of Oahu, including Ford Island, Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, Barber's Point and Kaneohe. The rest of this wave included dive bombers targeting the two largest air fields at Ford Island and Wheeler Field. The second wave of 171 planes targeted primarily hangars and unused aircraft, as well as reinforcing the earlier wave.

The effects of the Pearl Harbor attacks included eight battleships lost or badly damaged and over 2,000 American servicemen killed, including 1,177 lost in the explosion and sinking of the battleship USS Arizona. During the attacks, all three Pacific-based American aircraft carrier groups were out to sea, along with most of the submarines, lessening the possible casualties.

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