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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.

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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.

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The Japanese hit most of the US ships in Oahu before 8:00 a.m. Here a Japanese plane flies over Pearl Harbor while black smoke rises from the area.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here is another picture of USS Arizona.

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Destroyer USS Shaw explodes during the 3-hour Japanese attack.

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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.

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A Japanese plane dives into flames after it was hit by American naval antiaircraft fire. Fewer than 30 Japanese planes were lost in the attack.

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About 188 US planes were destroyed and another 159 were damaged. Here is a picture of Hickam Field near Pearl Harbor.

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Sailors at the Naval Air Station in Kaneohe, Hawaii, attempt to salvage a burning PBY Catalina in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

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People in Times Square, New York buy newspapers with headlines saying, “Japs Attack US.” American entered the Second World War after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

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Salvage work begins on destroyers USS Cassin and the USS Downes. The Japanese failed to damage any US aircraft carriers, which were surprisingly absent from the harbor.

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A Japanese torpedo plane is hoisted from the bottom of the sea. About 10% of Japanese planes were lost on December 7th.

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USS Oklahoma, seen in this photo with one of its propellers peeking out of the water, was considered too old to be worth repairing.

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A Marine holds a piece of shrapnel removed from his arm following the attack.

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This photo shows sailors participating in a memorial service for the more than 2,400 killed in the attack.

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