In one of the most infamous raids of WWII, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise strike attack on the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941. Launching from six aircraft carriers in two attack waves, over four hundred strike and fighter aircraft targeted the US Pacific Fleet moored at Pearl Harbour and the airfields at Ford Island, Hickam Field, Bellows Field and Wheeler Field. Despite inflicting significant damage, America would resolve to avenge this attack and destroy the Japanese war machine.
As the Japanese launched their surprise attack against US Forces at Pearl Harbor, most service personnel on the ground were oblivious to the perilous position they were in. As the first wave of Japanese fighters swept in, panic and confusion set in and most attempted to find whatever cover they could. Determined to fight back many servicemen manned their guns and did what they could to deter the attack. At Haleiwa airfield, Lt. Kenneth Taylor and Lt. George Welch climbed into the cockpits of their P-40 fighters and took off under a hail of enemy machine gunfire, before launching into a furious defence of their airfield.
Claiming a number of Japanese aircraft destroyed, the pair landed at Wheeler Field and ordered ground crews to re-fuel and re-arm the aircraft. Despite being ordered to remain on the ground the pair took to the air once more, as the airfield again came under further Japanese attack, with both men again managing to shoot down enemy aircraft. Despite their heroic efforts, the Americans lost some 188 aircraft destroyed and a further 159 damaged, during the two Japanese attack waves. Japanese losses were to be just 29 aircraft destroyed during the Pearl Harbor raid, but this would only be the start of the American military response and there was much worse to come.
Mitsubishi A6M2b Zero (A6M2 Zero IJN Pearl Harbour operation 1941) Length: 126mm Width: 166mm Pieces: 47mm Nakajima B5N1 Kate (B5N2 Kate IJN 1941) Length: 143mm Width: 216mm Pieces: 107 Curtiss P40B (P40B Lt. George Welch, 47th PS, 15th PG, Dec 1941 Hawaii) Length: 134mm Width: 158mm Pieces: 47