Pearl Har­bor 1941

Flight Journal - - FEATURES -

Few his­to­ri­ans re­gard the Ja­panese at­tack on Pearl Har­bor, Hawaii, as a bat­tle. But De­cem­ber 7, 1941, be­longs in our avi­a­tion sur­vey be­cause it was a one­day event that gave the air­craft car­rier a stel­lar role on the global stage. Two mis­sions in­flicted heavy dam­age on U.S. ships and fa­cil­i­ties but Vice Adm. Chūichi Nagumo, a non-avi­a­tor, de­cided against a third at­tack that could have proven de­ci­sive. Pearl’s fuel stor­age and dry docks were un­touched.

Bat­tle­ships, how­ever, played far less im­por­tant roles there­after in what could have been a clash of oceanic ti­tans with big-gun ships slug­ging it out. In­stead, only two bat­tlewagon du­els oc­curred through­out the Pa­cific War. The air­plane— whether ashore or afloat—sup­planted the bat­tle­ship for­ever af­ter.

Pho­to­graph taken from a Ja­panese plane dur­ing the tor­pedo at­tack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Is­land shortly af­ter the be­gin­ning of the Pearl Har­bor at­tack. View looks about east, with the sup­ply depot, sub­ma­rine base, and fuel-tank farm in the right cen­ter dis­tance. A tor­pedo has just hit USS West Vir­ginia on the far side of Ford Is­land (cen­ter). Other bat­tle­ships moored nearby are (from left): Nevada, Ari­zona, Ten­nessee (in­board of West Vir­ginia), Ok­la­homa (tor­pe­doed and list­ing) along­side Maryland, and Cal­i­for­nia. On the near side of Ford Is­land, to the left, are light cruis­ers Detroit and Raleigh, tar­get and train­ing ship Utah, and sea­plane ten­der Tang­ier. Raleigh and Utah have been tor­pe­doed, and Utah is list­ing sharply to port. Ja­panese planes are vis­i­ble in the right cen­ter (over Ford Is­land) and over the Navy Yard at right. U.S. Navy planes on the sea­plane ramp are on fire. Ja­panese writ­ing in the lower right states that the pho­to­graph was re­pro­duced by au­tho­riza­tion of the Navy Min­istry. (Photo cour­tesy of Wikimedia Com­mons)

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