First, we don’ t call it the “battle of Pearl Harbor”, because it was a surprise attack and almost completely one sided. We will consider the question, “how long was the attack on Pearl Harbor?”.
The attack began with the order to attack (“To To To”) at 0749 hrs. By 0800 hrs the majority of US fighter planes were destroyed. They had been lined up on the airfields to prevent sabotage. The torpedo planes inflicted most of the initial damage to the ships at Pearl Harbor. Torpedo attack lasted about 11 minutes and was followed by bombers. It was a bomber in the first wave of the attack that hit the USS Arizona’s magazine causing the devastating explosion.
The second wave of the attack arrived at 0840 hrs. There were 167 aircraft in the second wave, and no torpedo planes. A major goal of the second wave was to attack Ford Island and Kanoehe Naval Air Stations and Hickam Field. The second wave of the attack was not able to inflict as much damage as the first.
By 0950 hr the first wave of the strike force was arriving back at their carriers. At the same time the second wave was completing their attack and departing Oahu.
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