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An introduction to the history of japan bombing pearl harbor

Introduction The attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor on the 7th December 1941 was an attempt by Japan to knock the US Pacific Fleet out of the war in a single strike and allow Japanese forces a free hand in the following months to expand the Japanese sphere of an introduction to the history of japan bombing pearl harbor in the Pacific.

The attack had been timed to take place an hour after the delivery to Washington of the Japanese declaration of war, which was to be handed in at 1300 hours. But due to difficulties in sending the message, the Japanese ambassador, Kichisaburo Nomura, did not receive all 14 parts and decided to postpone his meeting with the US Secretary of State, Cordell Hull until 1400 hours. The northernmost part has a yearly uniform temperature of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, a tropical climate, strong ocean breezes, rain forests and huge stretches of beach at the foot of mountains and volcanoes.

These islands, located roughly halfway between Japan and United States, are a perfect military base, for both naval and air power. Hawaii had been discovered by Europeans in mid-1700s. They became a US territory in 1900 but were an introduction to the history of japan bombing pearl harbor made a state until 1959. Japan had taken notice of these islands as a potential threat to their expansion in the Pacific. Since the turn of the century, Japan had been expanding and modernising its military forces.

This of course had increased its demand for natural resources steel, oil, gas, raw materials and minerals and its sires and actually turned south-west and south-east to China, Indo-China and the Pacific Rim. While Russia had traditionally been viewed as a major threat to Japanese interests in Asia, as the years passed, the American and European presence in the area increased to the point at which they became the greater threat.

The Japanese felt that the Europeans were limiting the growth of their empire, and as Japan continued to expand, European resistance coalesced and hardened which in turn supported the Japanese fears of intervention and limitation. The outbreak of war in Europe between Britain and France on the one hand, and Germany and Italy on the other meant that their attention would now be focused on events on the other side of the world from Japan.

The Japanese wondered if, in their desire to remain neutral, the Americans would overlook the Japanese expansion in Asia. As the Japanese and American spheres of influence grew, the two countries moved onto a collision course: The situation worsened and nationalistic distrust heightened to the point where a confrontation was inevitable.

With the war in Europe well under way, the European colonial powers could not now intervene effectively. In negotiations with United States, Japan would settle for nothing less than the Co-prosperity Sphere and so the negotiations eventually came to a standstill.

With the Japanese government under military control General Hideki Tojo was Prime MinisterJapan looked to negotiate with the United States, but if they could not come to an agreement, then Japan would perform its own version of blitzkrieg and when the dust settled would control the territory it wanted.

With Europe occupied in another war, a conflict in Asia would be an unwelcome second front. Nomura had a deadline for diplomatic success, which also became the deadline for the commencement of a Pacific offensive should Japan have to resort to its contingency plans if the negotiations collapsed. The roots of this originated in their great victories of Port Arthur and Tsushima, where the Japanese Navy had defeated the Russian fleet. The theory posited that the two fleets would sail towards one another led by battleships and engage in a sea battle the likes of which had never been seen before.

Japanese warships had been thoughtfully designed to better their American counterparts and so give them an edge in the event they should meet in combat.

Japan and the Path to War

Within the Japanese Navy however, there was a rift between those who still believed in the supremacy of the battleship and held true to the 'Great All-Out War' theory and those that had seen the British success at Taranto and believed that naval air power was now becoming dominant. In early 1941 Yamamoto began the preparation for the Japanese conquest of the resource-rich areas of Asia.

This was called the Southern Operation and one of its components comprised an attack on Pearl Harbor. The plans were clear; if the negotiations had not succeeded by the 23rd November 1941, a military solution would be sought. A code, tied to weather forecasts was devised and legations notified.

If the weather report mentioned 'east wind, rain', it meant that the negotiations had broken down, the code machines in the United States were to be destroyed, and the attack on Hawaii was to commence. The Japanese Navy had detailed plans of Pearl Harbor has the naval base was in plain view of the city, and visitors could take aerial sightseeing trips over it.

Pearl Harbor: A Rude Awakening

Espionage became a matter of merely looking, recording and keeping track of naval movements. And within a few months, operatives at the Japanese embassy had a complete record of all the vessels stationed at Pearl Harbor, their schedules, which were under repair or being overhauled, which had left for duty at sea and the disposition of combat aircraft. The military plan consisted of three phases. Phase two was to strengthen military dispositions on the perimeter and Phase 3 was to defend the new perimeter against external threats.

The plan of attack on Pearl Harbor called for a concentrated assault using a combination of dive bombers, high altitude bombing and torpedo attacks.

The crews began training and while their proficiency in dive bombing and high altitude bombing improved, the an introduction to the history of japan bombing pearl harbor of the crews who manned the torpedo bombers did not improve, the reason being that the harbour was too shallow for conventional torpedoes.

United States knew of the successful British torpedo attack at Taranto but did not put out torpedo nets in Pearl Harbor as they accepted that, as the Japanese had found out, the harbour was too shallow for conventional torpedoes. As Japan had identified bombing and torpedo runs as the most effective way to neutralise the US Pacific Fleet, a solution had to be found to the problem of their Model II torpedoes penetrating too deeply into the water and becoming stuck in the mud.

Generally, the pilots were dropping torpedoes, which hit the water and sank to a depth of 20 metres. Practice was gradually improving this level, but the pilots could not achieve a requirement of 10 metres, as set out by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida and Commander Minoru Genda.

Japanese Attack Pearl Harbor

In despair, they studied the situation and eventually came up with a clever but simple solution - the bombers would use torpedoes with added wooden fins. The fins would give the torpedo additional stability and enough extra buoyancy to successfully drop from an aircraft into shallow water.

The modified torpedoes sunk to only 12 metres on average and operated on a straight and narrow course, which was a bonus.

Once the Japanese had fitted wooden fins and began practising with them, their proficiency rose dramatically. The Japanese had broken Pearl Harbor into five distinct areas: Area A was subdivided into five additional areas: There seemed to be no unusual activity, which indicated that the United States was preparing for an attack an introduction to the history of japan bombing pearl harbor shore leaves had been granted as usual. Oklahoma and Nevada eventually arrived back in the harbour, while Lexington and five cruisers departed.

The total number of ships reported to be at Pearl, were eight battleships, three light cruisers, 16 destroyers and four Honolulu class light cruisers. Reports indicated that there were no balloons up, no blackout in force, no torpedo nets deployed and no flight patrols in evidence.

Each part of the attacking task force had responsibility for specific areas and targets. Hawaii was generally considered an easy posting, and the possibility of war seemed distant.

Short was more concerned about the possibility of sabotage and so ordered all army aircraft to be grouped together so they could be guarded more securely. This however made them easier targets in the event of an air attack. He additionally ordered that munitions be secured, coastal artillery be put on alert and radar stations be shut down at 0700 hours. Kimmel started rotating carriers in and out of the harbour and set up ship and naval aircraft patrols.

Vessels were ordered to be alert for a possible submarine threat to shipping. Despite these precautions it was generally felt that there was a stronger possibility of either sabotage or even an invasion force, rather than an air attack. Meanwhile US government cryptographers were monitoring Japanese transmissions and Washington, while still neutral, agreed with London that the allies would concentrate on defeating Germany first in the event of a general war.

Because of this 'Germany first' policy, men and material that could have bolstered the Pacific Fleet were diverted into the Atlantic and 50 lend-lease destroyers which the US Navy could have used in those early days were sent abroad. All in all, despite the shadow of war, life went on as usual in the naval base.

  • Faced with American military and economic might, it could never really win;
  • Impact of the Pearl Harbor Attack In all, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor crippled or destroyed nearly 20 American ships and more than 300 airplanes;
  • Almost the entire Pacific Fleet was moored around Ford Island in the harbor, and hundreds of airplanes were squeezed onto adjacent airfields.

Ships that went on manoeuvres usually returned in time to spend the weekend at their berths. In theory a third of the fleet was out at any one time, but comings and goings sometimes overlapped.

Pearl Harbor was the strongest US naval base in the Pacific and the first stopping point in any journey from the mainland to the Orient. The base had a strong complement of coastal artillery and although there were a number of older aircraft stationed there, a number of the new B-17s often flew in from United States.

Japan viewed Pearl Harbor as a major threat to its security.

Pearl Harbor

As the deadline for the completion of negotiations approached, Japanese naval vessels slipped out of their anchorages in small groups to rendezvous at Tankan Bay in Etorofu in the Kurile Islands.

If the negotiations were unsuccessful, they would sail on 26th November following a northerly route to avoid accidental sightings, refuel on 3rd December and then proceed towards Pearl Harbor with a destroyer screen which had orders to sink any vessels, to keep this attack a secret at any cost.

Dummy transmissions would be kept up from near the Japanese mainland in order to Allied intelligence that the feet were still in Japanese waters. The task force sailed on 26th November as planned, while maintaining radio silence. Nagumo received a telegram on 2nd December 1941 that told him to open a top secret envelope, the contents of which told him that the Japanese empire had decided to go to war against United States, Britain and Holland.

The date was set for 8th December 7th December, Pearl Harbor time. As the fleet headed for Pearl Harbor, the Japanese task force waited for an amendment, a retraction of the order or an encounter which would warn the Americans, but nothing happened. In the early hours of Sunday 7th December 1941 the first planes started to take off from the Japanese carriers.

The events that would follow would change the course of the Second World War. The Ward eventually stepped down from General Quarters, while the Crossbill and Condor returned to their births after the anti-submarine net had opened. Two Japanese seaplanes were launched from cruisers among the task force and proceeded to wing their way towards Lahaina and to Pearl Harbor to report on the target areas and the conditions they found there, in effect, breaking radio silence.

Their mission was in fact the last chance for the Japanese Navy to abort the planned attack if it was deemed necessary. As dawn broke on a fair Sunday, the Japanese task force swung to port and headed into the 14-knot wind.

The carrier's increased speed to around 24 knots and started to make preparations to launch the first wave. Although the crews were aware of the worsening relations between United States and Japan, the mission seemed routine and they planned to arrive in time for breakfast. Over 200 miles north of Oahu, the planes of the first wave from the Japanese carriers took off, formed up into a V formation and headed south-south-east towards their primary target of the Pearl Harbor naval base.

A PBY was launched from Oahu and when Ward arrived on seen, the duty officer, Lieutenant Outerbridge, saw what appeared to be a submarine's conning tower breaking the surface. As the vessel did not surface or attempt to communicate, Outerbridge followed standing orders and assumed the unidentified vessel was hostile. The An introduction to the history of japan bombing pearl harbor opened fire at 0645 hours and hit the conning tower with one round.

The PBY joined the attack and the Ward fired depth charges along its projected course. The submarine did not resurface and at 0653 the Ward sent a coded signal to the 14th Naval District headquarters to say that they had engaged a submarine. At 0706 hours the Ward dropped more depth charges and spotted a black oil slick on the surface. Hawaiian radio stations often broadcast music all night when aircraft were expected to be flying in from the United States mainland. This was one such night.

The signal broadcast by the station was loud and clear to the approaching Japanese aircraft who used it as a directional locater. Just after 0700 hours, privates Lockhard and Elliott who were manning the mobile US army radar post at Opana saw were a blip on the screen which represented a sizable force of unidentifiable aircraft.

They wondered where they could be from and whether the radar stations equipment was operating correctly as such a blip represented a force of over 50 aircraft.

At 0710 hours, Elliott notified headquarters at Fort Shafter and an introduction to the history of japan bombing pearl harbor the sighting with Lieutenant Tyler. By this time the blip was 72 miles out and closing. At 0715 hours the duty officers of the 14th Naval District and Admiral Kimmel received outer bridge's message which had been delayed in decoding.

Just over 200 miles north of Oahu, the second wave of Japanese attack aircraft started to take off 168 in all.

Lieutenant Tyler decided that the blip was probably the B-17s which were scheduled to arrive from mainland.