Japanese Commander underestimated Pearl Harbor damage, shows battle map sold for $427,000

Revealed: An extraordinary battle map that charts in chilling detail the outcome of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

A battle map which extraordinarily charts the details of the damage done by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has surfaced 72 years after the fateful event. The  diagram shows the horrifying outcome of the surprise attack on the American Pacific Fleet. It was drawn immediately after the devastation.

It was made by Lieutenant Commander Mitsuo Fuchida who led the mission. The bombing comprised of 400 Japanese fighter planes all under the command of Fuchida who gave the famous radio signal “Tora! Tora! Tora!”. In the diagram are drawings of more than 60 US ships which are docked in the harbor. The ships are marked in symbols that show the extent of the damage that they have incurred.

A key code is drawn one side down which shows the types of munitions used and the corresponding damage inflicted. The damage were categorized in symbols as minor, moderate, serious and sunk. The famous USS Arizona was among the ships that was attacked during the Pearl Harbor bombing. The map shows four red dots and three red lines through it which means that the Arizona was categorized as seriously damaged.

However, the USS Arizona was sunk in shallow water. It was the only battleship that could not be raised and salvaged. It now serves as a permanent memorial to 1,177 crew and men who were on board during the Pearl Harbor attack and who were killed.

The battleship USS Arizona belches smoke as it topples over into the sea during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Three U.S. battleships are hit from the air during the Japanese attack

Another ship which was attacked was the USS Oklahoma. The map shows a large red cross through the middle of it which was to show that it was sunk. Twelve red arrows pointed to its starboard side. The arrows indicated the number of torpedoes which were used to destroy it. Another one of the eight ships is the USS West Virginia. The ship has a red cross and nine torpedo arrows. The three red dots also show that it was hit by three bombs. Another ship next to that is the USS California. It was marked with a red cross and three red dots.

The map was made in detail that Lt. Cmdr. Fuchida even drew plumes of large orange flames and smoke to many of the ships to show added effect. Three weeks after the successful attack, the Japanese officer gave the battle map to Emperor Hirohito during a presentation. The map is titled “Estimated Damage Report Against Surface Ships on the Air Attack on Pearl Harbour” and the document is marked “Top Secret”.

The Daily Mail reports that the map is incredibly accurate in detailing the positions of the 60 ships of the Pearl Harbor and is about 80 percent correct in marking the damage. 

After the war, the Japanese commander became a Christian evangelist and oddly, he settled in the US. He then turned over the map to historian Gordon Prange who interviewed him in 1947. The map measures 2 feet and 7 inches by 23 inches. Mr. Prange kept the battle map for over 40 years. It was later acquired by the late magazine magnate Malcolm Forbes.

His family have now sold the document at auction where it sold for £260,000.

Patrick McGrath said, “It is a remarkable artefact from World War II. “It is a It was very exciting to deal with such an historic document. It brings you right there at that moment in history.”In his autobiography, Fuchida said he felt his diagram was about 80 per cent accurate.”It was based on the action reports compiled on board an aircraft carrier following the attack.”He described unfolding the layout in front of the Emperor and using his finger to point at the relevant places on the diagram, giving a blow-by-blow account.

“It is remarkably detailed.”

Patrick McGrath is a books and manuscripts specialist at auctioneers Christie’s. The Pearl Harbor attack in Hawaii claimed the lives of 2,402 U.S. servicemen and sunk, destroyed or badly damaged around 20 ships. The Japanese thought that the Pearl Harbor bombing would discourage the Americans from joining the war in the Pacific between Japan and China. Instead, the attack resulted to the opposite. The Americans were able to salvage and rehabilitate almost all of the ships that were sunk, damaged or badly damaged. By 1944, they were all ready for use.



Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE