KEEGAN ON PEARL HARBOR
As we approach the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, military uber-historian John Keegan
, reflects in an article
An excerpt:"In fact the operators had detected the approach of the aircraft of the Japanese combined fleet, which were already flying off to attack Pearl Harbor. The fleet consisted of six large carriers, the Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, Soryu, Shokaku, and Zuikaku, which embarked 460 torpedo bombers, dive bombers, high altitude bombers, and their escorting fighters. The carrier fleet was accompanied by large numbers of destroyers, cruisers, and battleships and presented a large target to a vigilant defender. The defenders were not vigilant. At 7:55 A.M., as the Pacific Fleet began to hoist colors for the start of the day, the Japanese attacking aircraft arrived overhead and began to deliver ordnance against Battleship Row, where eight battleships were moored in pairs in the lee of Ford Island. The Japanese also attacked Hickham Field, barracks, and naval and military installations. The alarm was sounded, accompanied by the loud-speaker warning "This is no drill!" As ships began to sink, their shocked crews manned their guns and began to fire back at the attackers. Aircraft took off from Hickam Field. Some Japanese aircraft were hit, but at 8:50 A.M., a second wave of attackers appeared. Resistance was by then better organized and 20 of the attackers were shot down. Those losses were heavily outweighed by those suffered by American forces. Five of the eight battleships had been sunk and 188 out of 394 American aircraft destroyed and 159 damaged. Of the 94 warships in harbor, 18 had been sunk or seriously damaged. Almost the only consolation for the U.S. Navy was that none of its aircraft carriers were present at Pearl Harbor on December 7. They were either in the continental United States or delivering aircraft to U.S. island bases elsewhere in the Pacific."
Read the whole thing here