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The Countdown to Pearl Harbor

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Nicholas "The_Chieftain" Moran

Jump to: 1900-1930 | 1930-1940 | 1941 | December 7, 1941

February 8, 1904:Japan "notifies" Russia of a new round of hostilities by attacking the Far East Squadron of the Russian Navy as it lays anchor in Port Arthur. Only three torpedo hits are scored and Russia's two best battleships are put out of action for several weeks. A precedent is set for opening a war with a surprise attack on a fleet at anchor.

July 21, 1921: The former SMS Ostfriesland is sunk by US Army Air Corps bombers off the Virginia Capes in the Naval Air Power Trials. This was heralded as the doom of the battleship, although Brigadier General Mitchell tweaked the rules in his favor by not allowing any damage control efforts between attack waves. The Navy remained unconvinced, though Japanese observers take notes.

(Snip)

Aftermath

The raid cost the Japanese 29 aircraft and five midget submarines. 2,403 people were killed, 88 aircraft were destroyed and another 159 were damaged, leaving 43 operational. 18 warships were lost and every battleship was knocked out of the fight, though only Arizona and Oklahoma would never fight again.

As Admiral Yamamoto expected, even with this unqualified success, Japan would run riot over the Pacific for only a short while before the US got back on its feet with a massive shipbuilding program never seen before or since. Yamamoto didn't see the war's end -- his transport aircraft was intercepted and shot down.

Pearl Harbor was a tragedy that galvanized the US into action. Winston Churchill said of that night, "I went to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful," for he knew that now the United States would be a part of the fight to preserve the ideals of freedom.

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