Japanese Attack On Pearl Harbor Essay, Research Paper
Japanese Attack on Pearl HarborThe Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor could be considered one of the worst surprise attacks inAmerican history. For every Japanese crewman or pilot killed, almost thirty-eight Americans were killed. Before the attack, the American government had tried to negotiate many times with Japan sleaders to withdraw their troops from China and put an end to the war. Japan had already seized manybases in northern Vietnam and occupied the south in July of 1941, threatening a route to China and theBritish control of Malaya and Burma. President Franklin D. Roosevelt then froze all Japanese assets andput an embargo on all of their trade in oil, chemicals, steel, machinery and other goods, which dealt Japan adevastating blow, because Japan bought more than fifty percent of its imports from the United States. TheBritish and Dutch later put similar embargoes on Japan s goods. Later that spring, Roosevelt moved thePacific Fleet s headquarters from San Diego to Pearl Harbor. In late 1941, the Nave Department sent a message to its commanders, specifically AdmiralHusband Kimmel, the Pacific Fleet chief in Pearl Harbor: This dispatch is to be considered a war warning.Negotiations with Japan have ceased and an aggressive move by Japan is expected within the next fewdays. Sixty-year-old Kimmel took the warning as no more than saying that Japan was going to attacksomeplace. Many people in Washington thought that the Japanese would attack the Philippines, so GeneralDouglas MacArthur, retired Chief of Staff, overconfidently said that he would have 200,000 Filipinos readyfor combat soon. On November 26, 1941, Chuichi Nagumo s armada left Hitokappu Bay, bound for Pearl Harbor.There were six carriers, 400 warplanes, two battleships, two cruisers, nine destroyers and a dozen otherships. Its orders were that if there was an agreement made with the United States, then the fleet wouldimmediately return to Japan. On December 2 (Tokyo time), Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto sent the message:Climb Mount Niitaka 1208. It meant for the ships to attack Pearl Harbor on 12/08 (December seventh inPearl Harbor, since they had to cross the International Date Line). At 5:50 a.m. Nagumo s fleet was abouttwo hundred and twenty miles north of Pearl Harbor, where the airplanes would take off. There would betwo waves of planes to attack. The first wave would consist of forty-nine horizontal bombers, fifty-one divebombers, forty torpedo planes, and forty-three fighter planes, one hundred eighty three planes total.Commander Fuchida had to choose between two ways of attacking, surprise , in which the torpedo planeswould go in to attack first, then would go the horizontal bombers, then the dive bombers, while the fightersremained above for protection. The Japanese attack plan was to drop as many torpedoes as possible beforethe smoke from the dive bombing ruined the targets. If it would be a surprise lost attack, the divebombers and fighters would hit the airfields and antiaircraft defenses first, then the torpedo planes wouldcome in when the American resistance was crushed. To tell his planes which attack it would be,Commander Fuchida would fire his signal gun once for surprise and twice for surprise lost . The problem was, Commander Fuchida didn t know if the Americans know about them yet or not,so he decided that they would carry out the surprise. He held out his signaling pistol and fired once. Thedive bombers went down to 3500 feet, and the torpedo planes dropped so they barely skimmed the sea,ready to lead the assault. Then Fuchida noticed that the fighters weren t doing anything at all. He thoughtthey must have missed his signal, so he fired another one. The fighters saw the signal this time, but so didthe bombers. They decided it was the signal for surprise lost and they would go in first. In a lot ofconfusion, the main plan for phases of attack was gone; dive bombers and torpedo planes all prepared to hitPearl Harbor at the same time. That Saturday night in Pearl Harbor was the same party night that it always was. Hundreds ofsoldiers and sailors went to Waikiki Beach as usual to go to the bars and shows. Admiral Kimmel went to adinner party and left early because he had an early morning golf date with Lieutenant General Walter C. Short. Short went to a charity dance at the Schofield Barracks and also left early. As he rode along thecoast highway, he admired the lights of Pearl Harbor glowing below him. Isn t that a beautiful sight? hesaid, and what a target it would make! At 7:49 a.m., as the Japanese fleet neared Pearl Harbor, Commander Fuchida signaled the attack.At 7:53, even before the first bomb fell, he was so sure of victory that he signaled the code word for
success: Tora (tiger), Tora, Tora. A couple of months earlier, the Japanese had finished their special torpedoes for the Pearl Harborattack. Normal torpedoes when released would drop underwater to at least one hundred feet before comingback up towards the surface to hit their target. That would be a problem at Pearl Harbor because theaverage water depth there was only forty feet. They had to attach wooden stabilizers to the torpedoes, sothat they would only drop to 35 feet before coming back up to the target. At 7:55, the attack began. Bombs blew up all over the place, while torpedoes tore into the sides ofthe ships. People in Pearl Harbor really didn t know that it was a real attack at first because the Navy would attack them every day for practice. When they finally did figure out that it was a real attack, there wasn tmuch they could do because out of the three hundred and some planes the Americans had, all but a fewwere not working or had been damages or destroyed by the Japanese attack force, and most of theirammunition was locked away. Some people on the ships would get machine guns, rifles, or even shotgunsto try to fight back. Boatswain s mate Thomas Donahue stood by and threw wrenches at low flying planes.Then someone yelled up to him and asked what he needed. Powder, he called back, I can t keepthrowing things at them. A sailor named Sands ran out of an armory with a Browning automatic rifle andfired at Lieutenant Fusata Iida, a Japanese pilot. Iida turned around to fire at the sailor, but Sands hadalready fired another BAR clip (BAR was what they called the Browning automatic rifle), and ducked thebullets that hit the armory s wall. Iida turned to go after him again, but his plane began to leak gas. He hadsaid before takeoff that any pilot whose plane fails should crash into the enemy, so he turned for one lastattack. For the last few moments of his life he and Sands faced each other and fired, Iida from his woundedairplane and Sands with his BAR. A few seconds later the plane hit a highway nose first and smashed intopieces. Lee Goldfarb was a radioman on the minelayer Oglala when the attack began. This is what he saidabout the attack: We were outboard of the Helena, a cruiser. A torpedo went under us, slammed into the Helena and loosened our plates. We started to take on water. Several minutes later I copied thefamous message, Air raid on Pearl Harbor. This is no drill. We re tilting–I know this is no drill. An hour later, the Oglala rolled over and sank. Me and Wally Gojanovich, who lives inFlorida now, got off together. While we were running, they were strafing us. Little chips ofcement were jumping up from the machine gun bullets. I looked up and saw the plane, Isaw–saw!–that smiling face. The mustache, the white scarf and the smiling face that I ll neverforget as long as I live. Never. In San Diego, when we were being assigned to ships, I said, What the hell is the Oglala? This young kid says, It s an old minelayer. An old tub. I got the battleship Arizona. He s stillon it. His name is Arthur Blais. In all, 354 planes attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. There were 183 planes in the firstwave of attack, 171 in the second wave. At the airfields, 188 planes were destroyed and 159 were damaged.The airfields at Ewa and Kaneohe were hit the hardest. Of the eighty-two planes at these two fields, onlyone was in shape to fly at the end of the raid. The American ships lost were the battleships Arizona andOklahoma, destroyers Downes and Cassin, and the target ship Utah. The battleships Tennessee, Maryland,and Pennsylvania, cruisers Helena, Honolulu, Raleigh, destroyer Shaw, seaplane tender Curtiss, and repairship Vestal were all damaged, while the battleships West Virginia, California, and Nevada, and theminelayer Oglala were beached or sunk but later salvaged. Eighteen ships in all were sunk or seriouslydamaged. There were 2,008 people from the Navy, 109 people from the marines, 218 from the Army and68 civilians that were all killed, and another 1,178 wounded. Of the 2,403 Americans killed, 1,102 diedwhen the Arizona exploded. The wreckage of the Arizona still holds the remains of all of the sailors whodied in that explosion. The Japanese lost twenty-nine airplanes in the attack–nine fighters, fifteen divebombers, and five torpedo planes. They also lost one large submarine, five midget subs, fifty-five airmen,nine crewmen, and an unknown number of people on the large sub. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was what brought the United States into World War II. Theday after the attack, President Roosevelt spoke to Congress: I ask that the Congress declare that since theunprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday comma December seventh comma a state of war hasexisted between the United States and the Japanese Empire period end.