Hawaii Operation 26 November–23 December 1941

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Map Code: Ax01640

The Japanese Hawaii Operation, which saw an unprovoked aerial attack on the US Navy base at Pearl Harbor, marked the beginning of hostilities between the US and Japan. The attack was a pre-emptive strike aimed at disabling the US Pacific fleet so that Japan could carry out its territorial expansion against weaker opposition. Six Japanese aircraft carriers left Japan for Hawaii on 26 November 1941, laden with over 400 aircraft which would attack the naval base at Pearl Harbor in two waves. The first wave of Japanese aircraft arrived over Hawaii just before 08:00 on 7 December and set about bombing US airfields and aircraft to cripple any defensive aerial threat. Heavy bombs and torpedoes were also dropped over the naval base, immediately causing heavy damage to the unsuspecting ships. The second wave of the Japanese attack began at around 08:50 and was met with a much more coordinated defensive response, but ultimately many American vessels were destroyed.

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