In the 1930s, the Empire of Japan made a series of aggressive military actions in the Pacific region aimed at expanding their territory. The Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931, China in 1937, and French Indochina in 1940. During this time, the Japanese military conducted a series of violent attacks on the civilian population of China. The famous "Rape of Nanking" or Nanking Massacre took place at the hands of the Japanese in 1938, where an estimated 300,000 Chinese civilians were killed.
During this time, the United States condemned the military aggression of the Japanese and provided material aid to the Chinese in the form of $28 million. Though the United States was not yet ...view middle of the document...
The Japanese fighter planes, the now infamous Mitsubishi Zeros, were equipped with bombs or torpedoes. As the aircraft took to the skies and headed for the island of Maui, they met no resistance and took their enemy by complete surprise.
Devastation at Pearl Harbor
The Japanese gamble paid off -- the U.S. ships were sitting ducks, and the air defenses were not operational at the time. The Japanese planes had virtually uninhibited attack runs on the U.S. fleet.
At the end of the first wave, the American fleet had lost 8 battleships (4 damaged, 4 sunk), 3 heavy cruisers, 3 destroyers, and 4 small support ships, as well as over 2400 people killed. At nearby Hickam Airfield, 160 U.S. fighter planes were destroyed and 120 were badly damaged.
The only flaw in the Japanese battle plan was that they did not make a second attack to target the U.S. oil tanks at Pearl Harbor, which if destroyed, would have eliminated any chance for the U.S. to mount a prolonged attack in the Pacific in the immediate aftermath of this attack. Also, the 3 U.S. aircraft carriers were not in port at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor -- and this fact alone may have been enough to keep the U.S. strong enough in the short term...