In 1939, Fuchida became the bomber group leader of 1st Carrier Division aboard the aircraft carrier Akagi. He was a major participant in planning for the Pearl Harbor attack and was selected as overall strike commander for the 330-plane force from Vice Admiral Nagumo Chuichi's First Air Fleet that surprised the U.S. Pacific Fleet on 7 December 1941. Fuchida actively participated in the attacks on Rabaul and Port Darwin and the devastating raid by the First Air Fleet into the eastern Indian Ocean during the spring of 1942. Fuchida was incapacitated by appendicitis during the Midway operation. When the Akagi was attacked and sunk by U.S. Navy dive-bombers he was severely wounded, barely managing to survive.
Following his recovery, Fuchida was posted to the staff of Yokosuka Kokutai and undertook a series of planning assignments before transferring to operational posts in the Mariana Islands and the Philippines. He returned to Japan with the rank of captain to participate in planning for the final defense of the home islands. Fuchida narrowly escaped death at Hiroshima; he left the city the day before the atom bomb was dropped. He attended the surrender ceremony aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri on 2 September 1945.
After the war, Fuchida took up farming and converted to Christianity with such fervor that he became a globe-circling evangelist. He emigrated to the United States in 1966 and became a citizen. Fuchida died while visiting Osaka on 30 May 1976. Paul E. Fontenoy
Evans, David C., and Mark R. Peattie. Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887–1941. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997.; Fuchida Mitsuo and Okumya Masatake. Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan. The Japanese Navy's Story. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1955.; Peattie, Mark R. Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power, 1909–1941. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2001.; Prange, Gordon W., with Donald Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon. At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981.; Stillwell, Paul, ed. Air Raid: Pearl Harbor! Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1981.
Paul E. Fontenoy