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Christie's offers original map of Pearl Harbor attack, prepared by Japan's lead pilot
Post-battle damage assessment map of Pearl Harbor. Titled in Japanese with English translation: "Estimated Damage Report against Surface Ships on the Air Attack of Pearl Harbor, December 8, 1941,” 31 x 23 inches. Estimate: $400,000 - $600,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.

NEW YORK, NY.- On December 6, Christie’s will offer a remarkable artifact from World War II: an original, detailed post-battle damage assessment of the Japan attack on Pearl Harbor, the event that launched World War II.

This detailed, hand-drawn map of Pearl Harbor was prepared by Lt. Commander Mitsuo Fuchida (1902-1976), in the weeks following the devastating attack. An experienced pilot, Fuchida was chosen to lead the hundreds of carrier-based bombers and torpedo planes that attacked the American Navy’s Pacific Fleet on the morning of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, killing 2,300 Americans, wounding 1,200, and destroying much of the U.S. Pacific fleet at anchor there. The next day, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war, and memorably termed December 8, “a day that will live in infamy.”

It was Fuchida, flying with the first wave attackers, who gave the famous radio signal “Tora! Tora! Tora!” to confirm to his commanders that complete surprise had been obtained. This map was employed in Fuchida’s briefing of the Emperor on December 26, 1941, according to his autobiography, For That One Day. As Fuchida later recalled, “standing directly across from His Majesty, I unfolded the layout in front of him and, pointing with my finger at the relevant places on the battlefield diagram, gave a blow-by-blow description of our battle achievements against the enemy ships....” (Fuchida, p. 109)

The detailed map, drawn in bright colors, measures 31 by 23 inches. It carries a bold warning (in Japanese): “Top Secret.” The names, sizes and locations of the vessels under attack are carefully charted, as are the number of bomb and torpedo strikes. The English translations in red are also in Fuchida’s hand.

News of the attack shocked and galvanized Americans under the slogan, “Remember Pearl Harbor!” Japan’s bold gamble “gave the average American a cause he could understand and believe worth fighting for,” according to historian Gordon W. Prange, who interviewed Fuchida on June 29, 1947, and is a foremost historian of the event. The map is offered for sale by the Malcolm S. Forbes Collection. It was formerly owned by Gordon Prange (1910-1980).

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