Pearl Harbor Day. 7 December 1941. Americans were outraged and angered seventy years ago today when the Japanese Imperial Navy (JIN) unexpectedly attacked the United States Navy Base, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. At the time the success of the attack was perceived as a major military set back for the United States.
No one at the time, however, knew that Pearl Harbor was going to be the JIN’s last (and only) naval victory in World War II. Pearl Harbor for the Japanese was a catastrophe. Even though the attack at Pearl was well planned, practiced, and well executed, it was far from being tactically brilliant. The most important targets at Pearl were not the six battleships, which were obsolete, but the fuel tanking station, the maintenance shops, dry docks, and ship yards. Six months after Pearl Harbor, 4 June 1942, the United States Navy won a decisive victory at the Battle of Midway sinking all four of the JIN’s largest carriers, a heavy cruiser, and 322 airplanes.
While the JIN was trying to recover from Midway, the United States built a "new" wartime navy that carried the war to the Japanese home islands and victory.