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Japanese midget submarine
Japanese midget submarine
Photograph courtesy U.S. Naval Historical Center

7. How did the U.S. fight back at Pearl Harbor?

Taken by surprise, the U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor immediately responded to the attack. Navy ships in the harbor opened fire with antiaircraft guns as soon as possible, although in some ships the “ready” ammunition was locked up.

Ashore, several Army P-36 and P-40 fighters managed to take off and may have shot down as many as ten Japanese planes.

Antiaircraft fire from shipboard guns is credited with 15 Japanese planes, and 1 was shot down by small-arms fire over Fort Shafter. Possibly 3 more were shot down by U.S. Navy planes flying from ships at sea.

The total Japanese losses in the attack were 29 aircraft, of the 350 involved in the attack; 54 fliers were killed in those aircraft and another was killed in an aircraft that returned safely to the Japanese carriers.

In addition, all five of the Japanese midget submarines that participated in the attack were lost--and they almost certainly inflicted no damage. Nine of the submarines’ crew members were lost, and the one survivor became the first U.S. prisoner of war.


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