It came out of nowhere.
The Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor by a Japanese carrier force knocked eight U.S. battleships out of commission, destroyed almost 200 aircraft and left about 2,400 Americans dead.
The U.S. declared war on Japan the next day, launching a campaign in places most Americans had never heard of.
History’s most destructive war would end almost four years later, in an equally stunning fashion.
On Aug. 6, 1945, a U.S. B-29 dubbed the “Enola Gay” dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, destroying the city and tens of thousands of its inhabitants in a heartbeat. Three days later, a second bomb destroyed Nagasaki.
Last than a week later, Emperor Hirohito announced in an unprecedented radio broadcast that Japan would surrender.
Japan formally surrendered Sept. 2 aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
But the world was left with a terrifying weapon that would transform the very nature of war.