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December 7, 1941
Today in World War II Pacific History
SUNDAY, 7 December 1941

On December 7, 1941 the Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack against Pearl Harbor and Oahu in the Territory of Hawaii (Hawaii) in the United States. The attack involved five midget submarines and two waves of carrier aircraft launched from six aircraft carriers.

Japanese Midget Submarines
South of Oahu, five Japanese Navy fleet submarines: I-16, I-18, I-20, I-22, I-24 each launch a Type A midget submarine that attempt to penetrate Pearl Harbor while submerged then navigate counterclockwise around Ford Island, fire their torpedoes then exit to rendezvous with the "mother" submarines seven miles west of Lanai Island. All l five were lost or sunk, with only one managing to enter the anchorage as planned. When detected, the U.S. Navy gave each submarine a letter designation (A-E) based on the order they were detected or sunk.

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The first, HA-20 (Midget A) at 3:20am the periscope was spotted by USS Condor AMc-14 two miles off the entrance to Pearl Harbor and at 3:57am she notified USS Ward DD-139 that begins searching for the submarine. At 6:30am spotted by lookouts aboard USS Antares (AG-10) as it approaches the outer gate for Pearl Harbor. At 6:37am USS Ward DD-139 spots the periscope and at 6:45am opens fire with her 4" gun, overruns the submarine then releases depth charges that destroy it at 6:55am.

The second, HA-22 (Midget B)  entered Pearl Harbor, sunk by USS Monaghan DD-35. The third, HA-19 (Midget C)  grounded off Waimanaio, one crew member captured and became the first Prisoner Of War (POW). The fourth, HA-18 (Midget D) was damaged by depth charges and sank in Keehi Lagoon. The fifth, HA-21 (Midget E) was the only submarine that managed to enter Pearl Harbor and is believed to have fired two torpedoes at USS St. Louis (CL-49) then was sunk in West Lock.

Japanese Aircraft Carriers
The main attack force was the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) "Kido Butai" First Air Fleet Striking Force comprised of six aircraft carriers: Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, Soryu, Shokaku, and Zuikaku that launched carrier aircraft including A6M Model 21 Zero fighters, D3A1 Val dive bombers and B5N1 Kate torpedo bombers from 230 nautical miles north of Oahu.

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Japanese First Strike (First Wave)

The first strike consisted of 213 aircraft. Although spotted approaching Hawaii on radar, they were mistaken for a formation of thirteen B-17 Flying Fortresses scheduled to arrive on a ferry flight from Hamilton Field in California over the Pacific Ocean bound for Hickam Field on Oahu. At 7:55am, D3A Val tail EI-238 piloted by Lt Cdr Takahashi released the first bomb, a single Type 98 land bomb weighing 242 kg / 533.5 pounds hit the seaplane ramp in front of Hanger 6 at Ford Island Seaplane Base (NAS Ford Island) in the southeastern of Ford Island in the center of Pearl Harbor. Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement Click For Enlargement

B-17 Flying Fortress that arrived during the Japanese attack
Thirteen B-17s on a ferry flight from Hamilton Field to Hickam Field led by Major Richard H. Carmichael. The formation arrived during the first wave of attacking Japanese aircraft and the bombers landed at various airfields on Oahu, some attacked by Japanese aircraft and others accidentally fired on by American anti-aircraft gunners that mistook them for enemy aircraft.

88th Reconnaissance Squadron (88th RS)
B-17E "Why Don't We Do This More Often" 41-2429 pilot Carmichael (crew no. 1) landed Haleiwa Airfield strafed but not damaged
B-17E "Naughty But Nice" 2430  pilot Caffin (crew no. 2) landed Haleiwa Airfield
B-17E pilot 1st Lt Richard F. Ezzard (crew no. 3) aborted the flight after take off, returned to Hamilton Field
B-17E pilot 1st Lt Frank W. Potter (crew no. 4) aborted before take off, did not depart Hamilton Field
B-17E 41-2432  pilot Thacker (crew no. 5) landed Hickam Field but blew a tire on landing
B-17E "San Antonio Rose" 41-2416  pilot Bostrom (crew no. 6) force landed Kuhuku Golf Course
B-17E 41-2433  pilot Brandon (crew no. 7) landed Hickam Field
B-17E 41-2434  pilot Rawls (crew no. 8) landed Hickam Field strafed on the ground

38th Reconnaissance Squadron (38th RS)
B-17E 41-2413  pilot Landon (crew no. 1)
B-17E 41-2408  pilot Barthelmess (crew no. 2) landed safely Hickam Field
B-17C 40-2074  pilot Swenson (crew no. 3) strafed while landing at Hickam Field set on fire causing the rear to separate
B-17C 40-2063  pilot Allen (crew no. 4) landed safely Hickam Field
B-17C 40-2054  pilot Cooper (crew no. 5) landed safely Hickam Field
B-17E pilot 1st Lt Harold T. Hastings (crew no. 6) delayed by engine trouble and did not take off with the original group
B-17C "Skipper" 40-2049  pilot Richards (crew no. 7) force landed Bellows Field salvaged for parts
B-17E pilot 1st Lt Boris M. Zubko (crew no. 8) delayed by engine trouble and did not take off with the original group

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Japanese Second Strike (Second Wave)
The second strike consisted of 170 aircraft. Afterwards, the attack force departed westward back to Japan.

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American Interception
During the Japanese attack, roughly twenty American fighter planes managed to get airborne including five obsolete P-35s. Several P-40B Warhawks manged to intercept including 2nd Lt. George S. Welch and 2nd Lt. Kenneth "Ken" Taylor who both claimed aerial victories.

Immediately after the attacks, U.S. planes searched unsuccessfully for the Japanese fleet. Among the search aircraft was JRS-1 Baby Clipper 4346 pilot Ensign Wesley Hoyt Ruth took off on a patrol 250 miles north and found nothing.

American Casualties
2,403 killed in action and 1,178 wounded in action
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

Battleships sunk or damaged
USS Arizona BB-39 sunk by an armor piercing bomb that detonated her forward magazine
USS Oklahoma BB-37 capsized and sank as a total loss, salvaged 1943-1944, sunk while being towed May 17, 1947
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) total loss, sunk

Cruisers damaged
USS New Orleans (CA-32) light damage
USS San Francisco (CA-38) undamaged by the attack but under overhaul
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 to the hull from a near miss bomb

Destroyers sunk or damaged
USS Downes (DD-375) destroyed, parts salvaged
USS Cassin (DD-372) destroyed, parts salvaged
USS Shaw (DD-373) very heavy damage
USS Helm (DD-388) light damage

Minelayers Sunk
USS Ogala (CM-4) sunk, later raised and repaired.

Seaplane Tender Damaged
USS Curtiss (AV-4) severely damaged, repaired

Repair Ship Damaged
USS Vestal (AR-4)  severely damaged but later repaired.

Harbor Tug sunk
USS Sotoyomo (YT-9) sunk but later raised and repaired.

Fortunately for the U.S. Navy none of the three Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers were at port in Pearl Harbor. Also, the strategic fuel reserves and dry docks at Pearl Harbor were not targeted.

Aircraft Losses
A total of 188 American aircraft were destroyed:
US Navy: 92
US Army: 92
Other: 4

American aircraft lost (partial list)
SBD 2159  pilot Willis MIA December 7, 191
PBY 2357 sunk December 7, 1941
PBY 2359 sunk December 7, 1941
PBY 2361 sunk December 7, 1941
PBY 2362 sunk December 7, 1941
PBY 2363 sunk December 7, 1941 afterwards, salvaged and rebuilt and operated until stricken August 28, 1944
PBY 2364  sunk December 7, 1941
PBY 2365  sunk December 7, 1941
PBY 2369  sunk December 7, 1941
PBY 2451 destroyed December 7, 1941
PBY Kaneohe  sunk December 7, 1941 into Kaneohe Bay (likely PBY 2364, PBY 2365 or PBY 2369)

American aircraft on Oahu December 7, 1941
Aeronca 65TC Chief NC33768  in flight at the start of the attack displayed at the USS Missouri Memorial
J2F Duck 1649  stationed at NAS Pearl Harbor and survived the attack
P-40B 41-13297  stationed at Wheeler Field, survived the attack
PBY- 2446  stationed at NAS Pearl Harbor survived the attack, lost August 16, 1943
PBY 2447  stationed at NAS Pearl Harbor survived the attack, crashed October 26, 1943
SBD 2106  stationed at Luke Field survived the attack, ditched June 11, 1943
JRS-1 4346  stationed at NAS Pearl Harbor survived the attack displayed at NASM Udvar-Hazy Center

Japanese aircraft losses
A total of 29 Japanese aircraft were lost from the 353 planes that participated in the attack,

A6M2 Zero Fighters
A6M2 Zero 2266 Tail BII-120  pilot Shigenori Nishikaichi force landed Niihau Island, POW, suicide
A6M2 Zero 3277 Tail B1-151  pilot Fusata Iida crashed Ford Island
A6M2 Zero 5289 Tail AI-154  pilot Takeshi Hirano crashed Hickam Field
A6M2 Zero  crashed December 7, 1941 at 8:30am, clock displayed at the USS Arizona Memorial and Museum

D3A1 Val Dive Bombers
D3A1 Val 3133  crashed Aiea Heights
D3A1 Val 3178  crashed Pearl Harbor

B5N1 Kate Torpedo Bombers
B5N Kate crashed Pearl Harbor piece of left tail stabilizer displayed at USS Arizona Museum

Japanese Type A midget submarines losses
HA-20 (Midget A)  sunk at 6:55am by gunfire and depth charges from USS Ward DD-139
HA-22 (Midget B)
 entered Pearl Harbor, sunk by USS Monaghan DD-354
HA-19 (Midget C)  grounded Waimanaio, one crewman captured, salvage displayed National Museum of the Pacific War
HA-18 (Midget D)  damaged by depth charges, located and salvaged 1960, displayed Eta Jima
HA-21 (Midget E)  believed to have fired two torpedoes at USS St. Louis (CL-49) then sunk West Lock

Navy History & Heritage Command - Pearl Harbor Raid, 7 December 1941 Overview and Special Image Selection
7 December 1941 - The Air Force Story - Appendix D - B-17s Arriving During the Attack
7 December 1941 - The Air Force Story - Appendix E - Army, Army Air Forces, and Civilian Casualty List (Part 1)
7 December 1941 - The Air Force Story - Appendix F - Hawaiian Air Force Military Casualty List (Part 2)

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