Colorized Photos of Pearl Harbor Capture the Chaos of the Day on Anniversary of Attack

On the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, newly colorized images are offering a start reminder of just how devastating the attack was. The 90 minute areal assault claimed the lives of more than 2,400 Americans, most of them soldiers and sailors. The attack cemented America’s involvement in a war that wouldn’t end until we dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan.

The photographs, The Daily Mail writes, “are the work of Cardiff-based British electrician, Royston Leonard, 55, who painstakingly added color to the images: ‘The photos show what was an island at peace hit by the horror of war.”

“They are a reminder that no matter how much you want peace it can be taken in a moment,” Leonard writes. “I’ve been colourising pictures of Pearl Harbour for quite some time now, it’s a project that’s been ongoing for over three years now.”

Some of the images even show the Japanese preparations for the attack. Here Japanese sailors cheer the launch of a Zero.

“I think the key message to take from the photos is to never take peace for granted and always be ready. If they had been ready at Pearl Harbour the loss of people and equipment might’ve been less.”

This is what’s left of the USS West Virginia after it was struck by torpedoes.

While many of the ships and the airfields were bombed, the Japanese had little opposition. Their air dominance allowed them to use torpedoes with precision.

This is the USS Shaw after its magazine was bombed.

The USS Oklahoma was destroyed. It was one of three ships damaged beyond repair. The others, remarkably, stayed in service.

Numerous aircraft, though, were not so lucky.


The attack itself, months in the planning, saw 354 Japanese aircraft. The attack was a strategic victory for Japan, or so they thought. While it allowed for the country to expand its Pacific operations, it brought the full resolve of the American people into the conflict. The result of the attack, in the end, cost Japan dearly.