Pearl Harbor: Why and How Japan Attacked the U.S.

What happened during the first wave of attack at Pearl Harbor?

At 7: 55 AM, the Japanese dive-bomber made it to Pearl Harbor. Soon, about 200 Japanese aircraft came into the fray. It only took about 15 minutes for the harbor to get inundated with attacks from the Japanese. Prior to the attack, Short had ordered that the U.S. aircraft be packed at a naval air station on Ford Island, Wheeler, and Hickam fields (investigations later revealed that this act made them easy targets for the Japanese during the first wave of attack). Also, the U.S. planes struggled to quickly get air bond to counter their opponents.

To make matters worse, the fleet at Pearl Harbor had been anchored. This made it difficult for them to spring into action. The ships sat there and took fire from the Japanese. Another factor that came to play was the fact that many of the sailors were out because it was a Sunday. Furthermore, Adm. Kimmel had authorized some military personnel to go on leave during this period. The Japanese needed only 30 minutes to dish out severe damage to the battleships.

U.S. Battleships that got destroyed in the First Wave of Attack

There was a massive explosion that emanated from the USS Arizona battleship. Also, the USS Oklahoma turned upside down and went under after intense bombardment on her. The battleship USS Nevada did get hit once in the first wave, but she was still able to soldier on. As for the USS California, the men were asked to abandon her as she sank. A similar fate befell the USS Utah. All in all, the U.S. Pacific fleet took a significant amount of damages. There was also a bit of fierce resistance that came from U.S. anti-aircraft. But it was too little and too late. The damage had already been done.

Was there a Second wave of Attack on Pearl Harbor?

Yes. It occurred at around 8:05 AM. The second wave could not do as much damage as the first attack. The Americans had started pulling themselves together. Troops got in position. The Japanese lost significantly more men and aircraft in the second wave than they did in the first attack. The second wave ended at about 9:55 AM.

Battleships that got hit in the Second Wave

The USS Nevada battleship that got hit in the first wave was again on the receiving end of Japanese torpedoes and bombs in the second wave. All attempts of her escape proved futile. The ship’s movement was halted. The second wave also saw the USS Pennsylvania burst into flames after several pounding by the Japanese. Several docked destroyers got damaged as well. Some of the second wave attacks were so intense that they cut open the USS Shaw into two.

When did the Pearl Harbor attack stop?

After about two hours of numerous explosions and chaos, the Japanese command felt it had done much damage to the U.S. Pacific fleet. The Pearl Harbor attack ceased a few minutes before 10:00 AM.  The Japanese command did, however, contemplate going for a third attack, but that idea was quickly shut down because the second wave of attack resulted in relatively higher casualties than the first. Or perhaps the Japanese felt that they had done enough damage that would most likely take the Americans years to build any solid reprisal attacks in the Pacific.

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