December 1941



ALASKA (Air Force, Alaska Defense Command):  Upon learning of the Pearl Harbor attack, the Command's 6 B-l8's and 12 P-36's take to the air to avoid being caught on their fields.

ZONE OF INTERIOR (1st Air Force):  The 119th Observation Squadron, I Air Support Command, begins flying ASW patrols from Newark Municipal Airport, New Jersey with O-47's, O-49's and O-52's.

CENTRAL PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Hawaiian Air Force):  The first wave of Japanese carrier-based airplanes (almost 200) hit Hickam Field and the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor at 0755 local (1325 Eastern Standard Time, 1825 GMT). Attacks follow quickly against Wheeler and Bellows Fields. A second wave of Japanese airplanes strikes other naval and military facilities. The Hawaiian Air Force loses 163 men, with about 390 others wounded or missing; has 64 of its 231 assigned aircraft destroyed. Only 79 of the remaining aircraft are deemed usable, and much of the Air Force's ground facilities are destroyed. These losses are light in comparison with the US Navy's: more than 2,000 killed or missing, and more than 900 wounded; 4 battleships sunk; 3 battleships, 3 cruisers, and 3 destroyers damaged; and over half of the Navy's 169 airplanes in the area destroyed.

The Japanese lose 20 aircraft over Hawaii, including 4 claimed destroyed by Second Lieutenant George S Welch of the 47th Pursuit Squadron (Fighter), 15th Pursuit Group (Fighter) piloting a P-40, one of the few US fighters to successfully attack airplanes during the day. About 20 other aircraft are lost by the Japanese during carrier landings. Altogether the Japanese pay a small price for the damage done to the Americans on Oahu. For the remainder of the day, following the attacks, the Army Air Forces carries out fruitless searches for the carriers.

The air echelons of the 38th and 88th Reconnaissance Squadrons (Heavy), 1st Bombardment Wing, begin operating from Hickam Field where they arrived during the Japanese attack. The crews of the 38th are dissolved and personnel are assigned to other units; the 88th will operate from Hickam Field until Feb 42.


Japan attacks Hawaii and other US and British possessions in the Pacific without warning. Japan already is at war with China, and Great Britain is at war with the Axis powers, Germany and Italy, which control most of Western Europe. The Royal Air Force (RAF) is conducting an aerial offensive against Germany, and the Luftwaffe is engaged in a campaign against Britain. Russians are fighting German forces that have invaded the USSR. British troops are battling Italians and Germans in Africa.


INTERNATIONAL:  The US, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Canada, the Union of South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Free France, and 8 Latin American republics declare war against Japan.


INTERNATIONAL:  Germany and Italy declare war on the US. The Congress declares war on Germany and Italy.

Please send additions / corrections to