Divers working for a salvage firm descend into the cold waters of Lake Michigan. Soon, they reach the lakebed and locate what a previous sonar scan has identified. It’s the wreck of a World War II fighter plane, instantly recognizable. But how on Earth did this relic of 20th-century global conflict end up at the bottom of the lake?
To fully understand this intriguing tale, we need to go back to the winter of 1941. At this stage, the U.S. was not yet engaged in WWII, although that was soon to change. And what propelled the country into the conflict was of course the surprise attack by Japanese planes on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that took place on December 7, 1941.
The impact of the 90-minute attack was devastating. It put no fewer than 18 ships out of action, destroyed close to 200 planes and damaged another 159 aircraft. The human toll was even more grim: close to 2,500 died, including sailors, airmen, soldiers and civilians, while more than 1,000 were injured.