Under the South Pacific sun on December 7, 1941, troops serving the US fleet at Pearl Harbor began a calm Sunday morning unaware that Japanese bombers were headed toward America’s most important Pacific base.
There, like a string of pearls draped across the docks and waterfront, was the majority of the US’s naval might.
The devastating Japanese onslaught began at 7:48 a.m., eventually killing 2,402 Americans and wounding many others, sinking four battleships, and damaging military airfields.
The Pearl Harbor attack spurred America into World War II, leading ultimately to Allied victory over the Japanese in the East and Nazis and other Axis powers in the West.
Here are photographs from the attack and its immediate aftermath.
Kamelia Angelova contributed to this report.
On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, an attack planned by Admiral Isoroku Yamamotoa was carried out to demobilize the US Navy. This picture shows one of more than 180 planes used in the attack.
At 7:00 a.m., an Army radar operator spotted the first wave of the Japanese planes. The officers to whom those reports were relayed did not consider them significant enough to take action. This photo shows an aerial view of Battleship Row in the opening moments of the raid.
Here, planes and hangars burning at Wheeler Field during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Japanese also took the opportunity to attack military airfields while bombing the fleet in Pearl Harbor. The purpose of these simultaneous attacks was to destroy American planes before they could defensively respond.
There were more than 90 ships anchored at Pearl Harbor. The primary targets of the attack were the 8 battleships sitting at Battleship Row. Here is a picture of Battleship Row during the attack.
USS West Virginia (left) pictured here next to USS Tennessee, was one of the first battleships to sink during the attack. The Japanese successfully damaged all 8 battleships.
At about 8:10 a.m., USS Arizona explodes as the ship’s forward ammunition magazine is ignited by a bomb. About half of the total number of Americans killed that day were on this ship. Here is a picture of battleship USS Arizona.
Here is another picture of USS Arizona.
Destroyer USS Shaw explodes during the 3-hour Japanese attack.
The damaged USS Nevada tried to escape down the channel toward the open sea but became a target during a second wave of 170 Japanese planes, hoping to sink her in the channel and block the narrow entrance to Pearl Harbor. The ship was grounded with 60 killed on board.
The burning wreckage of an SBD Dauntless dive bomber pictured at Ewa Mooring Mast Field (later Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, Hawaii) after the attack.
Image: Naval Aviation Museum