A WORLD WAR II SUMMARY: Page 1 · Page 2 · Page 3|
by James Burbeck
In Oahu, Hawaii, early on the morning of December 7, 1941, the War in the Pacific was already over an hour old. Nobody in Hawaii knew it yet, just like nobody yet knew that several flights of Japanese warplanes were already in the air and headed toward the island. The approaching Japanese aircraft were launched from Japan's six biggest and best aircraft carriers – part of a small task force that had brazenly steamed to within 200 miles of the American held Hawaiian Islands in order to execute a key part of the Imperial Japanese government's war plan.
The Pearl Harbor attack plan had two immediate goals; the destruction of American aircraft carriers known to frequent the area, and the sinking of as many other capital ships as possible, especially battleships. With these two tasks complete, the Japanese hoped to neutralize the American fleet's ability to project air and sea power in the Pacific Basin for at least six months. During that time they planned to occupy the East Asian and West Pacific regions with such firmness that the Allies would be forced to negotiate a settlement. In pursuit of these attack goals, Japanese naval officers created a detailed plan which took advantage of known factors such as the American Navy's habit of returning to its main anchorage at Pearl Harbor every weekend. Equally detailed alternate plans included options for attacking the American fleet's deep sea anchorage at Lahaina Roads, or hunting down U.S. fleet units in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands. This later plan was the worst case scenario for them, because it would require their carrier fleet to fight its way into the attack zone. They were however, prepared to do this if necessary and only if discovered before "X-Day" did they have any intention of withdrawing without a fight.
The core planning for the attack was conducted by Commanders Mitsuo Fuchida and Minoru...