America Wounded: Attack On Pearl Harbor


By: Nathan Chandler

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

On December 7, 1941, a Japanese surprise attack in the Pacific Ocean caused mayhem that spread throughout the region. How much do you know about the attack on Pearl Harbor?

Pearl Harbor is located on which Hawaiian island?

The base is located on the south side of Oahu. The state's capital, Honolulu, is located on the east side of the island.


What was one reason that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor?

Japan needed resources to fuel its desires for expansionism, and U.S. sanctions stoked the ire of Japanese officials, who decided that war was the only real option. They chose a surprise attack in the hopes of striking a decisive blow against the U.S. Navy.


During the planning phase, what was the Japanese codename for their attack on Pearl Harbor?

The codename Operation Z was simple and it didn't give the Allies any clues whatsoever as to the content of the plan. As the plan commenced, it was called the Hawaii Operation.


The Japanese sent a declaration of war before attacking Pearl Harbor.

As part of Japanese culture, it was typically considered dishonorable to attack an enemy without any sort of warning. In this case, they didn't send the declaration to the U.S. until after the attack, so as to maximize the damage they inflicted on the American fleet.


What time did the Japanese begin their attack?

The attack began just before 8:00 a.m. The weather was partly cloudy, with good visibility that helped the Japanese find and destroy their targets.


In the aftermath of the attack, how many U.S. personnel received the Medal of Honor?

For their heroism during the Japanese attack, 15 U.S. service members received the Medal of Honor. There were also dozens of other medals awarded for gallantry and bravery.


Two inexperienced U.S. radar operators detected the first wave of Japanese attackers. They mistakenly thought that the planes were what?

The radar operators did report the huge blips they detected, but their commanding officer thought the formation was a group of U.S. bombers. If he had seen the huge onscreen formation with his own eyes, he may have known differently.


How long did the attack last?

The attack lasted around two hours, more than enough time for the Japanese to inflict heavy losses on the American base. They destroyed nearly 20 naval vessels.


Which element of the base did the Japanese attack first?

The Japanese sent their slow, unwieldy torpedo bombers to the front of the formation so that they could immediately attack American battleships. That way, the torpedo bombers would be out of danger before the Americans realized what was happening.


U.S. servicemen were able to respond to the Japanese attack. How prepared were they for the assault?

Although tensions between Japan and the U.S. had been building for many months, no one really knew when conflict might begin. Many were asleep when the first bombs fell.


The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise was supposed to be in the harbor on the day of the attack. Why wasn't the ship at Pearl Harbor?

USS Enterprise was scheduled to be in the harbor on the morning of the 7th, but she encountered rough seas that slowed her progress. Had she been present, she probably would have been damaged or destroyed, which could have altered the momentum of the Pacific War.


At the time of the attack, what percentage of Hawaii's population was Japanese-American?

Roughly a third of Hawaii's population was Japanese-American. After the attack, some were gathered and placed into secure camps. Ironically, many Japanese-Americans on the mainland were treated far more harshly and forced into internment camps.


As the attack started, what happened to a destroyer named USS Aylwin?

Only about half of the crew was onboard when the chaos began, and the commanding officers were ashore, but four ensigns managed to get the ship moving. She dashed out of the harbor with guns blazing and found safety in the open sea.


How many U.S. battleships were damaged or destroyed during the attack?

The U.S. had eight huge battleships in the harbor, and all of them were damaged. By the end of the day, four of them had sunk beneath the waves.


The Americans captured just one Japanese service member during the attack. How did they catch him?

A sailor named Kazuo Sakamaki was attacking in a midget submarine that suffered damage. When he left the sub (and tried to blow it up) he lost consciousness and wound up in enemy hands.


What happened to Kazuo Sakamaki's disabled submarine after he was captured?

American sailors captured the submarine, which was paraded around the U.S. to encourage citizens to buy war bonds. Half a century later, Sakamaki visited America and saw his lost sub in person.


What effect did the attack have on onshore facilities, such as submarine docks, repair shops and oil depots?

The Japanese attackers focused their weapons on aircraft and ships but didn't have much of an impact on onshore facilities. That meant that the Americans still had a solid infrastructure to rebuild and fight in the Pacific.


Of the eight battleships damaged during the attack, how many were repaired and went on to fight against the Japanese?

The Americans sent six of their damaged battleships back into action in the war. To accomplish this feat, they raised three of the ships from under the sea and spent months repairing them. Only one -- the USS Arizona -- was left behind.


What happened to the USS Oklahoma after she was struck by a torpedo?

Torpedos pierced the hull of the USS Oklahoma. As she took on water, her weight shifted and the ship capsized and then sank into the harbor. More than 400 sailors died.


Where is the USS Oklahoma now?

In 1947, the ship was sold to a private company, which towed Oklahoma from Hawaii to San Francisco. En route, the ship suddenly began sinking and disappeared under the waves -- no one knows exactly where the ship came to rest.


After the USS Tennessee was hit by two Japanese bombs, how long did it take for her to return to action?

It took about three months for workers to complete repairs on the USS Tennessee. In the process, they upgraded her weapons and crew quarters. The ship played a role in numerous Pacific battles.


Which battleship is now a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives during the war?

A Japanese bomb struck a powder magazine on the USS Arizona, which exploded with unimaginable force, killing more than 1,000 sailors. The ship remains just under the surface of the water, and a memorial platform allows visitors to see her huge hulk.


Of the more than 400 aircraft they used to attack Pearl Harbor, how many aircraft did the Japanese lose?

The surprise attack left the Americans dazed. They did manage to destroy 29 Japanese planes, but that number was poor solace in the wake of the devastating defeat.


About how many American military personnel died during the attacks?

The Japanese attack was crushing -- it killed more than 2,400 military personnel. Another 1,200 were wounded, and nearly 70 civilians died, too.


Before the attack, how long had the U.S. been involved in World War II combat operations?

In spite of Hitler's atrocities and Japan's hostility, the United States stayed out of combat actions until Pearl Harbor. The surprise attack in Hawaii, though, meant that the Americans were forced to take part in the war.


After the battle, how did the Americans slowly but surely halt almost all oil imports to Japan?

Thanks to the intact infrastructure at Pearl Harbor, American subs were able to attack Japan's shipping lanes, slowing oil imports to a trickle. Without oil, Japan had very few options for continuing its fight.


When did Britain declare war on Japan?

After Pearl Harbor, but before the U.S. declared war, Britain declared war on Japan. The Japanese had attacked British interests in Southeast Asia, a fact that helped the U.K. decide that war was the only answer.


After the attack, the Senate and House of Representatives voted to go to war. How many politicians voted against war?

There was just one politician who voted against war. It was Jeannette Rankin, from Montana, who had dedicated her life to pacifism -- she's also voted against military action during World War I.


What was the ultimate impact of the Japanese attack?

The attack was powerful, but it wasn't crippling. The Americans were fortunate that its three aircraft carriers were at sea as the bombs fell, otherwise, history may not have been so kind to the U.S.


After the U.S. declared war on Japan, how long did it take for Germany and Italy to declare war on the U.S.?

Three days after the U.S. declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy declared war on America. With the gloves now totally off, the world marched towards a conflict unlike any it had witnessed before.


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