Wartime Shots

Inside the Pearl Harbor Attack (PHOTOS)

The flag of the USS West Virginia flying after the ship was sunk. The Arizona taking its death blow. A torpedo streaking toward the Oklahoma. See striking images from December 7, 1941.

Bess Taubman/My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

Bess Taubman & Earnest Arroyo/My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

In the summer of 1940, the Pacific Fleet was moved from California to Pearl Harbor as a way to counter Japan’s aggressive actions in Southeast Asia. Still, far away from the rest of the world in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, life in Hawaii seemed untouched. The islands’ breezy tropical climate and warm ocean beckoned visitors. Yet on the horizon, foreboding clouds gathered over Asia and slowly drifted toward the islands. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese struck—and changed the world forever. See photos from the Pearl Harbor attack.

At left, surfers ride the waves on long wooden surfboards at Waikiki Beach with Diamond Head in the distance.

Bess Taubman & Earnest Arroyo/My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

A group of sailors on liberty in Honolulu enjoys a round of Primo Beer at the Kiwali Inn

Bess Taubman & Earnest Arroyo/My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

On Army Day, a young girl poses on a cannon displayed at the Iolani Palace grounds. This gun had just won the prize for “top field” gun.

Bess Taubman & Earnest Arroyo/My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

The crew readies “ZERO” fighters for launch.

Bess Taubman & Earnest Arroyo/My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

Anti-aircraft guns on the carrier Zuikaku. The Akagi is visible in the background.

Bess Taubman & Earnest Arroyo/My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

In their day, the battleships were a symbol of America’s military might. Both Pearl Harbor and Battleship Row made an inviting target. All ships in port are vulnerable. These resting giants were nestled in pairs and were moored with their bows deliberately pointing toward the harbor entrance. In this photograph, a dropped torpedo can be seen racing in the water toward the USS Oklahoma, which some believe took up to nine torpedoes.

Bess Taubman & Earnest Arroyo/My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

On December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation one day after the attack and asked Congress for a declaration of war against the empire of Japan. Here, Roosevelt signs the declaration of war. Congress voted 388-1 for war against Japan. Pacifist Jeannette Rankin from Montana was the only “no” vote against war.

Bess Taubman & Earnest Arroyo/My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

An explosion on the USS Helena ruptures Oglala’s hull, causing it to capsize from extensive flooding. Heavy black smoke at right is from the burning USS Shaw.

Bess Taubman & Earnest Arroyo/My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

In one of the most spectacular images of the attack, the destroyer USS Shaw takes a hit from a Japanese bomb while in dry dock. Flames reach the forward ammunition magazine, which erupts in a spectacular explosion. This photograph was taken at 9:30 in the morning.

Bess Taubman & Earnest Arroyo/My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

Disregarding the risk of explosions, a yard craft explores the burning USS West Virginia. During the attack, the USS West Virginia was moored just forward of the USS Arizona and berthed next to the USS Tennessee. As the outboard ship, the West Virginia was hit by as many as nine torpedoes and two bombs, killing 106 men.

Bess Taubman & Earnest Arroyo/My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

At about 8:06 a.m., the USS Arizona took its death blow. A single 1,760-lb. bomb hurtled through the air, reportedly striking near turret No. 2 and penetrating deep into the battleship’s interior before exploding near the forward magazine. With a tremendous blast the Arizona blew up. Most of the men aboard were killed. The blast blew men off the decks of neighboring ships and threw tons of debris into the air and into the harbor. The Arizona was 608 feet long with a crew of 1,512 officers and men. One thousand one hundred seventy-seven sailors and Marines were killed on that fateful day. Nine hundred are still entombed.

Of all the ships attacked on December 7, 1941, the USS Arizona received the most damage. The explosion of the forward magazine demolished the front two-thirds of the ship. The Arizona was so badly damaged that it could not be repaired, even though salvaging ships was a priority at the time.

Bess Taubman & Earnest Arroyo/My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941

Against a pall of dark oily smoke from the nearby dying Arizona, the flag of the sunken West Virginia still flies gallantly amid the devastation.

Bess Taubman, the author of My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941, has been writing about the Pearl Harbor story for more than 20 years. This is her first book.