I’m trying to figure something out, and I was wondering if anyone would like to help me.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor at 0755 local time on December 7, 1941, one of their primary targets, the aircraft carrier Enterprise was so close to Oahu, returning to base after ferrying the ill-fated VMF-211 squadron to Wake Island, that it actually picked its way into the burning harbor that evening, reprovisioned, and snuck out before dawn on December 8. At least one American flyer from the Enterprise was killed that evening by jumpy American anti-aircraft gunners.
According to this site, Task Force Eight, Enterprise’s formation at 0700 on December 7 was at “Latitude 21-11, Longitude 161-00, about 200 miles to westward of Oahu.” An hour later, TF8 should have been about 20-25 miles closer.
This map shows the deployment of the Japanese air assets in the attack. As you can see, the first wave of Japanese high-altitude bombers made a “right hook” or a wide loop to the west before making their attack run. (Note-the “high-altitude bombers” were simply single-engine Kate torpedo bombers fitted with a large bomb and a fairly simple sight.)
I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen, but I’m wondering if it was possible for the Japanese high level bombers to spot Task Force Eight on its approach to Oahu just before the bombers’ attack. Here’s what I still need to figure out:
Is that first citation using statute miles or nautical miles?
What was the approximate surface distance separating TF8 from the high-level Kates at their closest approach?
At what altitude were the Kates flying? (My first guess is probably close to 12,000 feet–I don’t think Kates had oxygen for flying much higher than that.)
How do I calculate the horizon for a given altitude? (I should know this one, but it’s been a long time since I took trigonometry.)
We know that during the Battle of the Coral Sea, it was possible for flyers to briefly see the opposing fleets on opposite horizons at the same time. I’m wondering if something similar were possible for TF8 and the Japanese during Pearl Harbor. Thanks in advance for your help.