December 7th, 1941, unfortunately for quite a few of my generation, it's in black and white and there might have been something happening that day. For some of us however, we remember what happened in the then territory of Hawaii at an anchorage called Pearl Harbor.
The United States of America in 1941 was a nation of mostly peace, the real war was in the Atlantic, where US Destroyers were actively engaging German U-Boats and the US was giving active support to the British war effort. In the Pacific, until December 7th, it was a game of politics, the United States was trying to find a peaceful solution to Japans rapid advance across all of China and its' very obvious threat to the Dutch, French and English colonies in South East Asia, all very oil rich and all capable of sustaining Japan in a major war for many years if unimpeded. The most significant course of action by the US was to impose sanctions on Japan in July after the Japanese grabbed French Indo-China and was poised again on the remaining French colonies and Dutch and British Colonies. According to our alien loving friends at the History Channel (Older readers ask about that meme!) Japan in one fell swoop, lost 75 percent of overseas trade, and 88 percent of imported oil. The problem then was clear for Japan, either back off and get the oil back, or do something else, unfortunately, they did something else, and it was to have tragic consequences for Pearl Harbor just a few months later.
The plan was devised by the likes of Japans best and brightest, and very probably most reluctant, it's a matter of record that Isoruko Yamamoto, the Commander in Chief of Japans largest fleet, and essentially the senior Admiral of the Japanese Navy, was very probably against every militaristic action taken by Japan up to and including the eventual sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. He was well known in Western Circles as a brilliant officer and with good reason, he served at Tsushima and gained experience for almost 15 years interacting with US, UK and other nations naval establishments in various postings. He also studied at Harvard and was keenly aware of the US military. He also kept appraised of other events, especially a raid on the Italian port of Taranto, in which obsolete Swordfish Torpedo planes attacked and sank a substantial number of capital ships in a daring night time raid which proved again, (see Bismarck for an earlier proving of Naval Aviation being a factor in battle,) that planes were rapidly overtaking Battleships as the most effective weapon on the high seas. The Japanese took notice, and had advantages over the British, for one, they included 6 full fleet carriers in the operation, a formidable strike package, they also included the most modern planes, A6M Zeros, the Aichi D3A Codenamed: Val dive bombers, and the Nakajima B5N Codenamed: Kate Torpedo Bomber. All of these planes were brand new compared to the Swordfish, the Zero could engage any fighter in the US Arsenal at the time of the attack and could ensure almost total air superiority very probably even if the strike waves had been met by more than just a few P-40s. The Bombers and Torpedo Planes also were ready, the crews were not per-se green, they had trained during China for almost 4 years before 1941. Commanding this Task Force of Carriers was Vice Admiral Nagumo, considered a steady hand for the job and his deputies on the aerial side of the attack were Minoru Genda and Mitsuo Fuchida, the former who helped plan the attack and devised the methods and the like and personally lobbied for the latter to lead the attack. The primary strategy was to both achieve surprise if possible and launch multiple destructive waves. This then was the attack from which three immortal words were uttered Tora! Tora! Tora!