Trivia Questions About the Bombing of Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, which led to America’s entry into World War II. Answer these trivia questions about what happened during the attack and what followed.


How Many Were Killed and Injured? # The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor took only about 90 minutes. When it had ended, 2,403 Americans were dead and another 1,178 were injured, according to Wikipedia. Breaking down the American casualties by branch of service, the U.S. Navy took by far the biggest hit with 2,008 sailors dead and another 710 wounded. The U.S. Army's losses totaled 218 dead and 364 wounded; U.S. Marines counted 109 dead and 69 wounded. In addition to the military casualties, 68 American civilians were killed and another 35 were wounded. Eighteen American ships were sunk or run aground. Of the vessels lost, five were battleships. Because of the nature of Japan's sneak attack, Japanese losses were much more limited. Japanese dead totaled 64 (55 airmen and 9 submariners). The Japanese air force lost 29 planes with another 74 badly damaged by antiaircraft fire.

How Many U.S. Ships Were Sunk? The Japanese sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one mine layer. All eight U.S. Navy Battleships at Pearl Harbor were damaged, with four sunk. The fate of three of those battleships are as follows: 

USS West Virginia, the first ship struck in the attack, was sunk by two bombs and seven torpedoes. She was raised, repaired, and returned to rejoined fleet in July 1944. 

The USS Oklahoma was hit by eight torpedoes in the first 10 minutes of battle and began to capsize. A ninth torpedo hit her as she sank. 32 men were cut through the hull while others were beneath the waterline. Banging could be heard for over 2 days and then there was silence. The Oklahoma was decommissioned September 1, 1944, due to the extensive damage. On May 17, 1947, she parted her tow line and sank 540 miles out, bound from Pearl Harbor to San Francisco for dry dock. 

The USS Utah is known as the "not so famous battleship." It was supposed to portray the role of an enemy warship during mock exercises. The ship was located at Ford Island, which is an islet in the center of Pearl Harbor. The ship was struck by two torpedoes within the first five minutes of the attack, rolled over, and sank. 58 men remain entombed inside. A quiet and under visited Memorial stands there today.


Which American Ship Had the Highest Death Toll from the Attack? # This Mitsubishi Zero is like many that were carried by Japanese aircraft carriers and used to attack ships and planes at Pearl Harbor. Photo source: U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation The USS Arizona was the most heavily damaged, suffering four direct hits from 800-kg bombs.  When the U.S.S. Arizona sunk at Pearl Harbor, it lost 1,177 men, almost half of the total number of military personnel lost during the attack.  The last bomb to strike, penetrated her deck and ignited the forward magazine. More than a million pounds of gun powder exploded, creating a huge fireball.  The ship sank in nine minutes. Today a 180-foot long Memorial spans the mid-portion of the sunken ship which is the final resting place for the 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives. This Memorial has come to commemorate all military personnel killed in the Pearl Harbor attack. 

How Many Aircraft Carriers Did the Japanese Use in the Attack? Six Japanese aircraft carriers arrived carrying hundreds of airplanes, including dive and level bombers, torpedo bombers and fighter planes. The attack began at 7:48 in the morning, Hawaiian Time. It ended 1 ½ hours later. All eight American battleships were damaged, and half of them sunk. Of the American aircraft at the base, 188 were destroyed.

Had Japan Declared War on the United States? Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of Japan's combined fleet until his death in 1943, reportedly had insisted that the attack should not begin until 30 minutes after Washington had been advised that peace negotiations were at an end and war was imminent. To that end, Japan had transmitted a 5,000-word message to its embassy in Washington that was to be handed over by the ambassador to the U.S. government. However, difficulty in translating the message into English resulted in a delay in delivering the message to the U.S. government. As a result, the attack on Pearl Harbor began before the U.S. government received any official word of the troubles to come.

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