Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pearl Harbour

The Attack

Just before 8:00 on the morning of December 7, 1941, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbour near Honolulu, Hawaii. The barrage lasted just two hours, but it was devastating: The Japanese managed to destroy nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight enormous battleships, and almost 200 airplanes. More than 2,000 Americans soldiers and sailors died in the attack, and another 1,000 were wounded. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan; Congress approved his declaration with just one dissenting vote. Three days later, Japanese allies Germany and Italy also declared war on the United States, and again Congress reciprocated. More than two years into the conflict, America had finally joined World War II.

The Battle of Midway

Six months after the attack on Pearl Harbour, the United States defeated Japan in one of the most decisive naval battles of World War II. Thanks in part to major advances in code breaking, the United States was able to pre-empt and counter Japan’s planned ambush of its few remaining aircraft carriers, inflicting permanent damage on the Japanese Navy. An important turning point in the Pacific campaign, the victory allowed the United States and its allies to move into an offensive position. (Right): The ferocious skies over the Pacific.

The Nuclear Bombs

On August 6, 1945, during World War II (1939-45), an American B-29 (Nicknamed 'Enola Gay') bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure.

Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people. Japan's Emperor Hirohito announced his country's unconditional surrender in World War II in a radio address on August 15, citing the devastating power of "a new and most cruel bomb." (Above right): The Enola Gay.

The Nuclear Age

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II ushered in a new nuclear age. The United States had developed the first atomic weapons, but other countries such as Russia were not far behind. Soon the arms race was on, as the two superpowers continually raised the stakes for nuclear supremacy. As the Cold War became more intense, events like the Cuban Missile Crisis pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war.


1 comment:

  1. Very timely post. Japanese Zeros attacked the American fleet in droves.