General Douglas MacArthur and the American military seriously underestimated the Japanese. A crowning quirk of bad timing—sending up all aircraft while the Japanese were grounded on Formosa by bad weather, to be caught landing with their fuel low just as the Japanese planes arrived—resulted in the elimination of most of the U.S. Army Air Forces on Luzon in the first strike on December 8, 1941. The Japanese landed at selected targets in northern Luzon to establish air bases closer to the objective, and kept the Americans off balance from that point on. The main landing in Lingayen Gulf on December 22 was the prelude to a succession of events that ultimately led to a last stand on Corregidor and Bataan, and, finally, American surrender on May 6, 1942. —Jon Guttman, HistoryNet Historian
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