Doolittle Raid USS Hornet

April 18 1942

What is the doolittle raid?

The Doolittle Raid, also known as the Tokyo Raid, on 18 April 1942, was an air raid by the United States on the Japanese capital Tokyo and other places on Honshu island during World War II, the first air raid to strike the Japanese Home Islands.

What was the Mission?

The sixteen bombers employed on the Doolittle Raid were all B-25B models, third production version of North American Aviation's B-25 "Mitchell" medium bomber design. Delivered in 1941, these aircraft were stripped of some of their defensive guns and given extra fuel tanks to extend their range. Two wooden dowels were placed in each plane's plastic tail cone, simulating extra machine guns that might hopefully persuade enemy fighters to keep their distance. Each B-25 carried four 500-pound bombs on the mission.

The planes were parked on USS Hornet's flight deck in the order they were to leave. There was no room to rearrange them, and their long, non-folding wings made it impossible to send them below. During the two week's outward passage, planes received regular maintenance and engine testing to ensure they would be ready. The leading bomber, piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Doolittle, had but a few hundred feet of deck run to reach flying speed, but every subsequent one had a little more. Each was helped off a Navy launching officer, who timed the start of each B-25's take-off roll to ensure that it reached the forward end of the flight deck as the ship pitched up in the heavy seas, giving extra lift at a critical instant

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Preparing

When planning indicated that the B-25 was the aircraft best meeting all specifications of the mission, two were loaded aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet at Norfolk Virginia , and subsequently flown off the deck without difficulty on 3 February 1942.The raid was immediately approved and the 17th Bomb Group chosen to provide the pool of crews from which volunteers would be recruited. The 17th BG had been the first group to receive B-25s, with all four of its squadrons equipped with the bomber by September 1941. The 17th not only was the first medium bomb group of the Army Air Corps, but in the spring of 1942 also had the most experienced B-25 crews.

The Aftermath

As the raiders landed in China, most were aided by local Chinese forces or civilians. One raider, Corporal Leland D. Faktor, died while bailing out. For aiding the American airmen, the Japanese unleashed the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign which ultimately killed around 250,000 Chinese civilians. The survivors of two crews (8 men) were captured by the Japanese and three were executed after a show trial. A fourth died while a prisoner. The crew that landed in the Soviet Union escaped internment in 1943, when they were able to cross into Iran.

Though the raid inflicted little damage on Japan, it provided a much needed boost to American morale and forced the Japanese to recall fighter units to defend the home islands. The use of land-based bombers also confused the Japanese and when asked by reporters where the attack had originated, Roosevelt replied, "They came from our secret base at Shangri-La." Landing in China, Doolittle believed the raid to have been a dismal failure due to the loss of the aircraft and the minimal damage inflicted. Expecting to be court-martialed upon his return, he was instead awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and directly promoted to brigadier general.

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David Middlecamp's Review

“America was in it’s darkest hour.”

“The Japanese people had been told they were invulnerable. Their leaders had told them Japan could never be invaded…An attack on the Japanese homeland would cause confusion in the minds of the Japanese people and sow doubt about the reliability of their leaders.”

American morale got its first real lift, a blow had been struck upon Japanese home soil, including the capitol city Tokyo. Japanese leaders lost face, the promise that there would be no home consequences to attacking America were proven false. The Japanese carrier group that had been sinking British shipping in the Indian Ocean as far away as Sri Lanka (Ceylon) were recalled.
A Japanese counter strike at the American outpost of Midway would soon be hastily planned.


Read more here: http://sloblogs.thetribunenews.com/slovault/2012/04/jimmy-doolittles-raid-over-japan-world-war-ii-week-by-week/#storylink=cpy