14 Rarely Seen Photos that Reveal the Horror of the Attack on Pearl Harbor



When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, they catapulted the United States into World War II in one swift stroke, removing from the international playing field the bulk of the American fleet, which had been strategically moved to Pearl Harbor only 18 months prior by President Franklin Roosevelt.

The damage to Pearl Harbor and the surrounding area was astounding. More than 2,400 Americans were killed in the attack. Nearly 20 American ships, including five of the eight battleships, and 300 aircraft were destroyed. 

The Japanese hit Pearl Harbor, located on Oahu, Hawaii, just after 8 a.m. The entire attack lasted a mere 75 minutes.

Today, 80 years later, these rarely seen photos from the U.S. Navy and National Archives demonstrate the horror and damage of the attack.

— Amy Bushatz can be reached at [email protected].

This story originally misstated the number of ships damaged in the attack. Nearly 20 ships were damaged. 


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