The United States, located on the front platform, had sought to gain positions to the West as the only means of their naval forces can impose their views, in the sense of economic exploitation in Asia.
On the way from San Francisco to the China Sea, the U.S. relied on the base at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. This archipelago is found at 2,100 miles from San Francisco and the coast of Japan 3200 Ali had been concentrated at the Pacific Fleet, consisting of nine battleships, two aircraft carriers, 20 cruisers and 40 destroyers.
When war became inevitable, given the U.S. determination to halt the expansionist Nippon, the Japanese high command thought the only way to neutralize his great rival was to take the initiative and to inflict a final blow and unexpected. This was the essence of the Plan Zeta.
In early January 1941, the Japanese Combined Fleet Admiral, Isoroku Yamamoto, commanded to be planning a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. In designing this plan, must be taken into account the lessons of the attack by Japanese torpedo boats against the Russian fleet at anchor in Port Arthur, without prior declaration of war in February 1904. It is equally certain that Yamamoto studied, in addition, detail, details of the attack aircraft of the Illustrious, the November 11, 1940, the Italian base of Taranto.
The August 1, 1941, the U.S. enacted an embargo of oil to Japan This meant that the same nation that received this stifling of North America 80 percent of its fuel. In October he resigned Prime Minister Konoye and assumed the Government General Hideki Tojo. Yamamoto latter received the green light to implement the Plan Zeta.
This plan was part of a wider strategic program whose main objective was to enable the nation to seize oil and raw materials sufficient to carry out a long and costly war. Therefore, in addition to the attack on U.S. base, were provided simultaneous offensives against Singapore, Hong Kong, Netherlands and the Philippines Islands.
For the bombing of Pearl Harbor was organized a force of six aircraft carriers, with more than 400 aircraft, two battleships, three cruisers and nine destroyers, under the command of Vice Admiral Nagumo Chuichi. Accompany this force, during part of the way, three submarines, destroyers and eight tankers would fueling ships at sea.
The date chosen for the attack was on December 7, 1941, according to the local time of Pearl. Yamamoto thought (and well) that a Sunday morning would be the best time to catch the Americans off guard. The network of spies who kept the Japanese in Hawaii pointed out as very likely the presence in the harbor, one Sunday morning, the two aircraft carriers in the United States operating in the area.
The November 14, and among the greatest secrecy, Nagumo's fleet was concentrated in the Bay of Hitokappu, Curilhas the islands, and 26 went to sea following a fleet as far away as possible from all commercial traffic, navigating the almost along the parallel 40 ° north, up near Hawaii, then to infiltrate the islands of the archipelago towards South
During the Imperial Conference of December 1, considering they were closed all doors to a peaceful solution of the problems of Japan, the Emperor gave his consent for the attack.Nagumo received the signal encoding: Climb Mount Niitaka. This phrase was the execution order for the Plan Zeta. Nagumo, fulfilling the plan outlined by Admiral Yamamoto, had planned to attack the enemy with 353 aircraft in two waves able to completely eliminate the defenses of Pearl Harbor. At six-twenty in the morning (time in Hawaii), finished off the first wave. They were put on air in record time, 183 planes among which were: 41 dive bombers Aichi D3A2 Val, 49 Kate torpedo bombers and 43 Nakajima B5B2 Mitsubishi A6M2Zero fighters. At seven, the island's radar detected the Japanese planes 132 miles north, but were mistaken for a group of U.S. bombers B-17, which were expected from another base.
The battleship Arizona, one of the first targets, received in rapid succession a salvo of torpedoes, followed by a bunch of bombs. After a terrible explosion sank, taking 1,177 men of the crew. The Oklahoma sank after suffering the impact of seven torpedoes, leaving the bottom of the bay with 315 male prisoners in his bowels. At eight twenty-five had been sunk or seriously damaged the battleships Arizona, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Nevada, the bulk of the Pacific Fleet. The battleship Maryland was also damaged, as well as a number of cruisers and destroyers.
While still retired the first wave, already approaching the second, which arrived in Pearl Harbor at nine twenty. The battleship West Virginia was shaken by a loud explosion, while the Nevada could shake up the pressure and maneuver to the output port. The battleship Pennsylvania and other vessels were in dry dock received a hail of bombs. At least ten fourth withdrew from the last Japanese planes flying south to confuse enemies and not report the location of their aircraft carriers. Behind them they left sunk or severely damaged about twenty of the most powerful ships in the fleet of Admiral Kimmel and an arsenal plunged into utter chaos.
In the attack, the Japanese lost 29 planes, five submarines dwarfs and fifty-five men.