The attack on Pearl Harbor was part of a grand strategy of conquest in the Western Pacific. The objective for the Japanese was to immobilize the Pacific Fleet so that the United States could not interfere with their invasion plans.

Japanese aircraft appeared in the air

USS Arizona under fire

over Pearl Harbor just before 8:00 am on that Sunday, December 6th, morning. The color detail was on deck in anticipation of raising the flag at the stern at 8:00. The Arizona came under attack almost immediately, and at about 8:10 received a hit by a 800-kilogram bomb just forward of turret two on the starboard side. Within a few seconds the forward powder magazines exploded, gutting the forward part of the ship. The foremast and forward superstructure collapsed forward into the void created by the explosion and turrets one and two, deprived of support, dropped more than 20 feet relative to their normal position. The explosion ignited furious fires in the forward part of the ship.

The attack was a great, but not total success. Although the U.S. Pacific Fleet was shattered, Its aircraft carriers (not in port at the time of the attack) were still afloat and Pearl Harbor was surprisingly intact. The shipyards, fuel storage areas, and submarine base suffered no more than slight damage. More importantly, the American people,

previously divided over the issue of U.S. involvement in World War II, rallied together with a total commitment to victory over Japan and her Axis partners.

During the following months and years of World War II, the destruction of the Arizona came to symbolize the reason the U.S. was fighting.

Fire and smoke pour from the battleships Arizona (right) and West Viginia (left).
The USS Arizona after the attack
The U.S. Flag flies over Hickam Field after the attack.