Climb Mount Niitaka!: The Japanese Fleet That Struck Pearl Harbor
Thurman, Paul, Hemming, Oscar, Sea Classics
Renown for the stealth with which it daringly approached Pearl Harbor; the Imperial Japanese Navy strike armada, which brought the United States into the Pacific War on 7 December 1941, paid dearly for its treachery. That long ago `Day of Infamy' on 7 December 1941 will forever be remembered for the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that brought about the United States formal entry into the Pacific War.
Shortly after 8 a.m. on that bright Sunday morning, two major waves totaling 353 Japanese torpedo and dive bombers, escorted by echelons of fighters, commenced successive air attacks that in a matter of hours all but destroyed the United States Pacific Fleet. All of America and the free world was shocked not only by the audacity of Japan's warlords, but at the appalling damage accomplished by naval strike aircraft. Of the 94 American ships in the harbor, 18 would be sunk - 6 of them battleships. Tragically, 3067 American servicemen were killed in the attack, more than 1100 of these lost on the battleship USS ARIZONA. Nearly 4000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and civilians, were injured.
A good morning's work for the Japanese, the American Pacific Fleet lay in fiery shambles as all but 29 of the Japanese planes returned in triumph to their carriers. History had been made. In a single blow the Japanese had successfully accomplished their aim of crippling the Pacific Fleet; paving the way for a fast and easy conquest of the Western Pacific. Once this was accomplished Japan would solidify its gains in Asia and be well on the road to world conquest with their Axis partners, Germany and Italy.
Regardless of one's perspective, the Japanese assault at Pearl Harbor had been brilliantly planned and flawlessly executed. A relatively small strike force of 33 ships, including six aircraft carriers, amazingly crept undetected across thousands of miles of ocean to launch its attack aircraft less than 200 miles north of Oahu. Escorted by two battleships, three cruisers and nine destroyers, the carriers not only suffered minimal losses to their air groups, but managed to escape American waters undetected. Absolute secrecy had been maintained despite the fact that British and American code-breakers had recently cracked Japanese diplomatic codes. …