These color photos of Pearl Harbor will leave you in awe of the utter destruction that took place on December 7, 1941. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, in 2016—when color photography is a given. But it’s rare to imagine old black-and-white photographs in color. Here are some jaw-dropping color photos of Pearl Harbor you’ve probably never seen.
Incredible Color Photos Of Pearl Harbor
The Pearl Harbor attack lasted 110 minutes, from 7:55 a.m. until 9:45 a.m.
When Japanese Commander Mitsuo Fuchida called out, “Tora, Tora, Tora!” (“Tiger, Tiger, Tiger!”) upon flying over Pearl Harbor, it was a message to the entire Japanese navy telling them they had caught the Americans totally by surprise.
Many U.S. servicemen were either still in their pajamas or eating breakfast in the mess halls when the attack on Pearl Harbor began. U.S. servicemen also identified the invading planes as Japanese because of the “meatballs,” what they called the large, red circle (the Rising Sun) on the side of Japanese planes.
There were eight battleships at Pearl Harbor that day, which included all the battleships of the U.S. Pacific fleet except for one (the Colorado). (The above photo is one of the more recent color photos of Pearl Harbor, with the Pearl Harbor memorial & museum in the white building.)
The Japanese only attacked the ships at Pearl Harbor Naval base and airplanes at Hickman Airfield, leaving surrounding areas such as repair facilities, the submarine base and fuel oil storages areas unharmed. The Japanese struck the airfields at Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, Bellows Field, Ewa Field, Schoefield Barracks, and Kaneohe Naval Air Station. The United States aircraft carriers, the primary target of the attack, were not at the base at the time.
Because of this, the Japanese cancelled a planned second attack.
The Japanese attackers traveled 3,400 miles across the Pacific to execute their attack on Pearl Harbor. In addition, the Japanese attack force stationed itself approximately 230 miles north of the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
Plans for a surprise attack against the United States began as early as January of 1941. Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo led the Japanese forces, and their fleet consisted of 353 planes.
The USS Arizona exploded when a bomb breached its forward magazine (i.e. the ammunition room). Approximately 1,100 U.S. servicemen died on board. After being torpedoed, the USS Oklahoma was damaged so badly that it turned upside down.
To aid their airplanes, the Japanese sent in five midget subs to help target the battleships. The Americans sunk four of the midget subs and captured the fifth. Eleven other ships were sunk and 188 planes destroyed.
A total of 2,335 U.S. servicemen were killed while 1,143 were wounded. Sixty-eight civilians also died and 35 wounded. The Japanese lost 65 men, with an additional soldier being captured.
Have you seen any jaw-dropping color photos of Pearl Harbor you’d like to share? Let us know!
Pearl Harbor Warbirds offers the best Hawai‘i flight adventure tours available. Immerse yourself in the details of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor. Soar above the important sites that played a part in the “Day of Infamy.” Relive history as you retrace the steps of the Army and Navy airmen in the days following the bombing. Furthermore, you can fly on some of the same routes the Japanese attackers used into the airfields at Wheeler, Kāne‘ohe and Bellows. Hawaii offers many air tours, but only one warbird airplane flight. Located in Honolulu, Pearl Harbor Warbirds provides a personal historical experience, which makes it one of the best O‘ahu attractions.
Experience an immersive two-hour adventure that allows you to relive history as a Naval Aviator and fly Pearl Harbor like it was on December 10th, 1941. Learn more about the Admiral’s Warbird Adventure.