Skip to main content
Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Related Content

Japanese planes attacked in two waves. The first wave, arriving just before 8AM, began its assault with dive-bombing and straffing against Navy and Army airfields to ensure that there would be a minimum of opposition from U.S. fighter planes, and to reduce the risk of a counterattack by American bombers and patrol planes. Almost simultaneously, torpedo planes roared in low over Pearl Harbor, launching their weapons against warships moored on both sides of Ford Island and at the Navy Yard's 1010 Dock. Shortly after 8AM, high-flying horizontal bombers paraded in formation over "Battleship Row", dropping their heavy armor-piercing bombs on the ships below. Having achieved great results, the first wave departed the scene about a half hour after it appeared.

The second Japanese wave hit about fifteen minutes after the first had departed, and delivered dive bombing, horizontal bombing and fighter machine gun attacks over the next hour. It did more damage to airfields, struck targets in and around the Navy Yard, and pummeled USS Nevada, the only U.S. battleship to get underway. At about 0945 on the morning of 7 December 1941, their assigned missions successfully completed, the last Japanese planes left the area to return to their carriers.


Total Japanese aircraft losses were light, only 29 planes, nine of them in the first wave. The second attack wave, arriving over targets that were alert and intensely motivated, faced much heavier anti-aircraft fire and lost twenty of its number. Several of the downed planes fell in or near Pearl Harbor or the other targets and were recovered for technical examination, as was one "Zero" fighter that crash landed on a remote island in the Hawaiian group. These provided U.S. intelligence with its first close-up look at the new enemy's latest aerial equipment.