The Japanese attacked in two waves. The first wave was detected by U.S. Army radar at 136 nautical miles (252 km), but was misidentified as USAAF bombers arriving from the American mainland
A. Ford Island NAS B. Hickam Field C. Bellows Field D. Wheeler Field
E. Kaneohe NAS F. Ewa MCAS R-1. Opana Radar Station R-2. Kawailoa RS R-3. Kaaawa RS
G. Haleiwa H. Kahuku I. Wahiawa J. Kaneohe K. Honolulu
0. B-17s from mainland 1. First strike group 1-1. Level bombers 1-2. Torpedo bombers 1-3. Dive bombers 2. Second strike group 2-1. Level bombers 2-1F. Fighters 2-2. Dive bombers
A. Wake Island B. Midway Islands C. Johnston Island D. Hawaii
D-1. Oahu 1. USS Lexington 2. USS Enterprise 3. First Air Fleet
1: USS California
2: USS Maryland
3: USS Oklahoma
4: USS Tennessee
5: USS West Virginia
6: USS Arizona
7: USS Nevada
8: USS Pennsylvania
9: Ford Island NAS
10: Hickam field
Ignored infrastructure targets:
A: Oil storage tanks
B:CINCPAC headquarters building
C: Submarine base
D: Navy Yard
- 1st Group (targets: battleships and aircraft carriers)
- 2nd Group – (targets: Ford Island and Wheeler Field)
- 3rd Group – (targets: aircraft at Ford Island, Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, Barber’s Point, Kaneohe)
Six planes failed to launch due to technical difficulties.
As the first wave approached Oahu, a U.S. Army SCR-270 radar at Opana Point near the island’s northern tip (a post not yet operational, having been in training mode for months) detected it and called in a warning. Radar had been in use in a training mode by the U.S Army Hawaiian Department for some time, but was not fully operational. Although the operators, Privates George Elliot Jr. and Joseph Lockard, reported a target, a newly assigned officer at the thinly manned Intercept Center, Lieutenant Kermit A. Tyler, presumed it was the scheduled arrival of six B-17 bombers. The direction from which the aircraft were coming was close (only a few degrees separated the two inbound courses), while the operators had never seen a formation as large on radar; they neglected to tell Tyler of its size, while Tyler, for security reasons, could not tell them the B-17s were due (even though it was widely known).
Several U.S. aircraft were shot down as the first wave approached land, and one at least radioed a somewhat incoherent warning. Other warnings from ships off the harbor entrance were still being processed or awaiting confirmation when the attacking planes began bombing and strafing. Nevertheless, it is not clear any warnings would have had much effect even if they had been interpreted correctly and much more promptly. The results the Japanese achieved in the Philippines were essentially the same as at Pearl Harbor, though MacArthur had almost nine hours warning that the Japanese had already attacked at Pearl.
The air portion of the attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time (3:18 a.m. December 8 Japanese Standard Time, as kept by ships of the Kido Butai),[nb 12] with the attack on Kaneohe. A total of 353 Japanese planes in two waves reached Oahu. Slow, vulnerable torpedo bombers led the first wave, exploiting the first moments of surprise to attack the most important ships present (the battleships), while dive bombers attacked U.S. air bases across Oahu, starting with Hickam Field, the largest, and Wheeler Field, the main U.S. Army Air Force fighter base. The 171 planes in the second wave attacked the Air Corps’ Bellows Field near Kaneohe on the windward side of the island, and Ford Island. The only aerial opposition came from a handful of P-36 Hawks, P-40 Warhawks and some SBD Dauntless dive bombers from the carrier USS Enterprise.[nb 13]
Men aboard U.S. ships awoke to the sounds of alarms, bombs exploding, and gunfire, prompting bleary-eyed men into dressing as they ran to General Quarters stations. (The famous message, “Air raid Pearl Harbor. This is not drill.”,[nb 14] was sent from the headquarters of Patrol Wing Two, the first senior Hawaiian command to respond.) The defenders were very unprepared. Ammunition lockers were locked, aircraft parked wingtip to wingtip in the open to deter sabotage, guns unmanned (none of the Navy’s5″/38s, only a quarter of its machine guns, and only four of 31 Army batteries got in action). Despite this low alert status, many American military personnel responded effectively during the battle.[nb 15] Ensign Joe Taussig, Jr., the only commissioned officer aboard USS Nevada, got the ship underway during the attack but lost a leg. The ship was beached in the harbor by the Senior Quartermaster. One of the destroyers,USS Aylwin, got underway with only four officers aboard, all ensigns, none with more than a year’s sea duty; she operated at sea for 36 hours before her commanding officer managed to get back aboard. Captain Mervyn Bennion, commanding USS West Virginia, led his men until he was cut down by fragments from a bomb which hit USSTennessee, moored alongside.