on targets in Oahu from an altitude of 3,000 meters.
Only a few American fighters tried to intervene against the attackers and
were quickly shot down. The American personnel recovered from the
sheer shock and fought back with all available means. Japanese veterans of the first attack wave recalled after the war being surprised at how
quickly the Americans were able to open fire. The Japanese airmen quickly became desperate, in some cases having to change course at the last
minute to reduce the risk of being hit before the torpedoes were dropped.
Fuchida gave the order to return at four o'clock, but he stayed over the
target, as he was the main commander of the raid. By this time a second
attack wave was already approaching, led by Lt. Cdr. Shimazaki, who at
the same time commanded 54 B5N bombers, a formation of 78 D3A dive
bombers was led by Lt. Cdr. Takashige Egusa, and escorting them were 36
Zeros under the command of Lt. Shindō.
Shimazaki gave the order to attack at 4 hours 25 minutes, but by that
time his aircraft were already the target of heavy anti-aircraft fire. The
targets were shrouded in a smoke screen, or they were heavily burning.
The bombers had to significantly lower their attack altitude, but this put
them at greater risk of hits from anti-aircraft artillery. Japanese airmen
had difficulty identifying targets, so they began attacking the hot spots of
Nagumo and his staff considered sending a third wave, but eventually
abandoned it, mainly because of the heavy anti-aircraft fire and the fact
that the sinking of the American ships had succeeded in achieving the
objectives of the operation. They sent 350 machines into action out of the
414 available. In the first wave were lost three Zeros, one D3A and five
B5N bombers. In the second wave, six Zeros and fourteen D3As were lost.
Fifty-five pilots were killed, none were captured, except for the ironic situation of fighter pilot PO1c Nishikaichi. A total of 74 aircraft returned with
damage. Nine midget submarine crews also lost their lives and one was
captured. Of the 79 fighter pilots who took part in both attack waves, only
17 lived to see the end of the war.
The airstrike killed 2,335 members of the US armed forces and injured
1,143. 68 civilians also lost their lives and 35 others sustained injuries. In
addition to the sunken and damaged ships, nearly 350 aircraft were destroyed or damaged. Three civilian machines were also shot down.
Underway with President Herbert Hoover on board, March 1931. The Presidential Flag
is flying from her mainmast peak of battleship USS Arizona.
misunderstanding in radio communications, four of them were shot down
and three pilots were killed.
The Japanese aircraft industry in the 1920s and early 1930s was oriented
towards the production of aircraft built under foreign licenses. However,
the armed forces, especially the Navy, with regard to the specifics of the
Chinese and Pacific battlefields, came up with requirements that foreign
aircraft designs did not offer.
Due to these circumstances, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries created the Type
96 naval fighter aircraft, better known as the A5M “Claude”. It was a purely Japanese design. The head of the design team was a young Japanese
engineer, Jirō Horikoshi. With an engine that did not have much power, he
managed to design a light and fast fighter with a fixed landing gear, which
at the time of its creation had no comparison in the speed achieved.
In October 1937, Mitsubishi and Nakajima were approached to begin development of Prototype 12-shi Carrier-based Fighter. The requirements
for the parameters of this machine were at first sight so extreme and
sometimes contradictory that the two design teams investigated whether
they could be relaxed. Nakajima eventually withdrew from the project, and
the parameters of the prototype were even tightened based on experience
on the Chinese battlefield. The only significant part of the aircraft whose
design relied on foreign license was the retractable landing gear.
In the end, Horikoshi's team managed to meet the technical specifications,
not only thanks to the aerodynamic design and a new type of light alloy for
the aircraft's skin, but also thanks to the Sakae 11 engine from Nakajima.
During the flight tests, the wing surface suffered cracking during overload
and aileron control during high-speed maneuvers had to be addressed.
The new fighter plane had a powerful armament of two guns and two machine guns, extremely long range (over 1800 kilometers) and excellent
maneuverability. Its top speed was 533 km/h at an altitude of 4,550 m.
Photo: Shizuo Fukui
American aircraft carriers
The main target of the Japanese attack, the American carriers, were not
attacked and their location was unknown to the Japanese. The USS Saratoga was just in San Diego, embarking her air group and USMC fighters.
She was immediately ordered to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on December 15, and proceeded to Wake Island.
USS Lexington sailed in Task Force 12 to Midway Atoll to transport Marine
Corps bombers. After the announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor, TF
12 was ordered to begin a search for the Japanese carriers. Her aircraft
conducted intensive patrol activity until December 13, when the USS Lexington returned to Pearl Harbor.
The USS Enterprise sent eighteen SBD bombers under the command of
commander of Carrier Air Group Lt. Cdr. Howard L. “Brigham” Young. At
the end of the patrol, they arrived at Pearl Harbor but came under fire
from both Japanese airmen and their own gunners. Seven Dauntlesses
were shot down, eight airmen were killed and two suffered injuries.
At 17.00, the USS Enterprise, based on wrong information, sent a formation
of 18 Devastator bombers, 6 Dauntlesses and 6 Wildcats against the Japanese alliance in the wrong direction. After an unsuccessful search, the
bombers returned aboard the mothership, but the Wildcats were sent to
Pearl Harbor and approached for a landing in the dark. Through a tragic
Photo: U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command
Battleship Kirishima and aircraft carrier Akagi near Sukumo Bay, Japan in April 1939, both ships participated in Pearl Harbor attack two years later.
INFO Eduard - December 2021