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The Attack on Pearl Harbor – 7 December 1941

On Sunday, December 7th, 1941 the Japanese launched a surprise attack against the U.S. Forces stationed at Pearl Harbor , Hawaii By planning this attack on a Sunday, the Japanese commander Admiral Nagumo, hoped to catch the entire fleet in port. As luck would have it, the Aircraft Carriers and one of the Battleships were not in port. (The USS Enterprise was returning from  Wake Island, where it had just delivered some aircraft. The USS Lexington was ferrying aircraft to Midway, and the USS Saratoga and USS Colorado were undergoing repairs in the  United States) 

In spite of the latest intelligence reports about the missing aircraft carriers (his most important targets), Admiral Nagumo decided to continue the attack with his force of six carriers and 423 aircraft. At a range of 230 miles north of  Oahu  , he launched the first wave of a two-wave attack. Beginning at 0600 hours his first wave consisted of 183 fighters and torpedo bombers which struck at the fleet in Pearl Harbor and the airfields in Hickam,  Kaneohe  and Ewa. The second strike, launched at 0715 hours, consisted of 167 aircraft, which again struck at the same targets. 

At 0753 hours the first wave consisting of 40 Nakajima B5N2 ‘Kate’ torpedo bombers, 51 Aichi D3A1 ‘Val’ dive bombers, 50 high altitude bombers and 43 Zeros struck airfields and Pearl Harbor Within the next hour, the second wave arrived and continued the attack. 

When it was over, the  U.S.  Losses were: 


US Army: 218 KIA, 364 WIA. 

US Navy: 2,008 KIA, 710 WIA. 

US Marine Corps: 109 KIA, 69 WIA. 

Civilians: 68 KIA, 35 WIA. 

TOTAL: 2,403 KIA, 1,178 WIA. 


USS Arizona (BB-39) – total loss when a bomb hit her magazine. 

USS Oklahoma (BB-37) – Total loss when she capsized and sunk in the harbor. 

USS California (BB-44) – Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired. 

USS West Virginia (BB-48) – Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired. 

USS Nevada – (BB-36) Beached to prevent sinking. Later repaired. 

USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) – Light damage. 

USS Maryland (BB-46) – Light damage… 

USS Tennessee (BB-43) Light damage. 

USS Utah (AG-16) – (former battleship used as a target) – Sunk. 


USS New Orleans (CA-32) – Light Damage.. 

USS San Francisco (CA-38) – Light Damage. 

USS Detroit (CL-8) – Light Damage. 

USS Raleigh (CL-7) – Heavily damaged but repaired. 

USS Helena (CL-50) – Light Damage. 

USS Honolulu (CL-48) – Light Damage.. 


USS Downes (DD-375) – Destroyed. Parts salvaged. 

USS Cassin – (DD -3 7 2) Destroyed. Parts salvaged. 

USS Shaw (DD-373) – Very heavy damage. 

USS Helm (DD-388) – Light Damage. 


USS Ogala (CM-4) – Sunk but later raised and repaired. 

Seaplane Tender 

USS Curtiss (AV-4) – Severely damaged but later repaired. 

Repair Ship 

USS Vestal (AR-4) – Severely damaged but later repaired. 

Harbor Tug 

USS Sotoyomo (YT-9) – Sunk but later raised and repaired. 


188 Aircraft destroyed (92 USN and 92 U.S.  Army Air Corps.) 

Disclaimer: The information contained here is the result of research undertaken by Navy Museum staff utilising the resources held in the museums collection. Information from external sources has not been consulted in the preparation of this enquiry sheet. This research is not definitive and information supplied here does not imply or infer that further information may not be available from other sources.

Posted on December 7, 2015
Filed under: Commentary

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