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Capt. Mitsuo Fuchida
Capt. Mitsuo Fuchida
Photograph courtesy U.S. National Archives


Fuchida was the air-strike leader of the Japanese carrier force that attacked Pearl Harbor. Considered one of Japan’s most skillful fliers, he had gained combat experience during air operations over China in the late 1930s.

At 6 a.m. on December 7, 1941, then-Commander Fuchida took off from the carrier-flagship Akagi to lead the 183 planes of the first attack wave against the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor. Moments before the first bombs fell he transmitted the radio message to ra ... to ra ... to ra ..., the coded signal to Japanese commanders that the attack was a surprise.

Fuchida continued to serve as senior air commander with the fast-carrier striking force, leading air attacks on the Dutch East Indies and against British bases and ships in the eastern Indian Ocean in early 1942.

Fuchida was on board the Akagi at the Battle of Midway. Injured in the air attack, he was saved from the sinking carrier. When he returned to Japan, he was immediately ordered to the Naval War College as an instructor and directed to prepare a highly secret report on the battle.

Promoted to captain, Fuchida was the fleet air staff officer at the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, which marked the end of the effective Japanese carrier force.


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