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Japanese Zero fighter
Japanese Zero fighter
Photograph from Corbis



2. WHY WAS THE JAPANESE ATTACK SO SUCCESSFUL?
 

The Japanese carriers sailed secretly and approached Pearl Harbor on a northern route, rarely used by merchant ships. They did not use their radios and hence were undetected.

The pilots who flew the air attack were combat veterans of the Japanese war in China. They had carefully practiced the attack procedures and had specific targets assigned for the attack. Thus prepared, the Japanese carried out the attack on a Sunday morning, when it was known that most of the U.S. Pacific Fleet would be in Pearl Harbor, with many of the officers and crews ashore.

Also, the Japanese carrier-based fighter, the A6M Zero, was greatly superior to the U.S. Army’s P-40 Warhawk fighter based on Oahu. The Zeros had little trouble brushing aside the few U.S. fighters that were able to take off during the attack.

 

 
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