05 December, 2021

05 December, 1941

The Kido Butai  is approaching Pearl Harbor!

The Kido Butai has been making it’s way toward it’s December 7th destination: Pearl Harbor.

So far it has been quietly making its way across the Pacific. The U.S. is apparently unaware of the fleet.

That all became at risk on this day in 1941.

Why? Because a Russian trawler got in the way and almost screwed up everything.

A fleet of this size is nearly impossible to hide, but Nagumo somehow managed…until December 5, 1941, when they ran smack-dab into the Russian transport trawler Uritsky.  Instantly, the intrigue began to build.  Russia was at war with Japan’s ally, Germany, but Russia was not in open conflict with Japan, thanks in part to the Tripartite Pact, which allowed Japan to maintain its non-aggression pact with Russia.  Furthermore, Japan wasn’t really interested in open war with the Soviets…they were on there way to Hawai’i to try and stifle an open war with the United States.

There’s more.  Some have said (though I’m not sure it’s been proven) that the Uritsky notified Russian officials of the Kido Butai (roughly translated as “Mobile Force”), who then quickly told the Japanese that allowing a certain transport to continue floating would insure that nobody, particularly the United States, was informed of a certain carrier force moving east.

But it wasn’t just about protecting a transport carrying a few tanks.  Joseph Stalin had good reason to keep quiet about the fleet, too.  He was in a desperate situation with the Germans (as we saw just yesterday), and military moves he was making (which we’ll discuss shortly) meant he really didn’t want a war with Japan, which would tie up troops in the Far East.  What’s more, while Stalin was a pretty good guesser, it didn’t take a scientist to see that the Kido Butai heading east pretty much meant one thing:  Pearl Harbor.  So Stalin bet that an attack was coming…an attack that would bring America into the war, which he really did want.

So Nagumo allowed the Uritsky to continue unmolested to its destination:  Vladivostok.  And the Russians apparently kept quiet, too, as the Kido Butai closed in on sleepy Sunday morning Oahu.

TL;DR – Rumor: The Russians knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor and did nothing. Two days later, the U.S. Navy would suffer for the Russian silence.

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