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At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, the first of 360 Japanese warplanes decended out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. What followed was a ferocious and devastating surprise attack that struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.
This photograph was taken from a Japanese plane during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December7. 1941 Ford Island, the tiny islet in the center of Pearl Harbor, was aquired by the US Navy in 1939, as a station for battleship and submarine maintenance. The view looks east, with the supply depot, submarine base and fuel tank farm in the right center distance. A torpedo has just hit USS West Virginia on the far side of Ford Island (center). Other battleships moored nearby are (from left): Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee (inboard of West Virginia), Oklahoma (torpedoed and listing) alongside Maryland, and California. On the near side of Ford Island, to the left, are light cruisers Detroit and Raleigh, target and training ship Utah and seaplane tender Tangier. Raleigh and Utah have been torpedoed, and Utah is listing sharply to port. Japanese planes are visible in the right center (over Ford Island) and over the Navy Yard at right. U.S. Navy planes on the seaplane ramp are on fire. Photograph courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command, Catalog #:.