The Japanese Attack On Pearl Harbor

1572 words - 6 pages

The 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...

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