Raid of Doolittle
The raid of Doolittle is the first bombardment of the Japan by the Armed forces of the United States during the Campagnes of the Pacific
MotivationsThe Japanese believe themselves in the shelter of the American bombers, which do not have a sufficient operating range to carry out a raid. Indeed, the Pacific Ocean is very vast, and the Americans do not have enough any base close to the Japan to carry out a mission of bombardment.
However, the Americans wish to mark the spirits and to justify the effort of war. Since the Attack on Pearl Harbor, the bad news accumulates and moral Americans is with lowest. The soldiers wish to carry out for these reasons a bombardment symbolic system of the Japan. The lieutenant-colonel (and future general) James H. Doolittle is charged to assemble this exceptional operation which must contradict the assertions of the Japanese high command which said that the archipelago would remain invulnerable.
The idea was to make take off bombers of the aircraft carrier WORN Hornet so that they bombard the Japan and are posed in China. The choice of the targets was delicate, it was necessary to avoid repeating the error of the Germans who had attacked Buckingham Palace and had reinforced the determination of the British. So it was decided to save the imperial palace and to concentrate on military or industrial targets.
PreparationsDoolittle was charged to find planes able to take off on a short distance and to carry a ton of bombs. He will learn quickly that the bombers were to start from an aircraft carrier. Doolittle had the choice between several models of apparatuses but none was really adapted. He turned to that which seemed most suitable for this mission: the average bomber B-25. The distance necessary to takeoff was normally of 700 meters and it did not have anything an embarked plane. Doolittle and its team is reflected with work and sought solutions to reduce the apparatuses and to take off at a distance as short as that of a deck of aircraft carrier (150 meters).
It was decided to eliminate a maximum of useless armaments. The planes were to fly to hedgehopping and the turret under the apparatus was not used for large thing. The machine-guns postpones were replaced by handles with brush in the hope which a Japanese plane does not remain in the wake of the bomber in the event of attack. After many tests on the dry land with Norfolk in Virginia, and after having added additional tanks, the operation seemed possible.
Hornet left its port on April 2nd, not without to have drawn the attention of the public present to the quays. The aircraft carriers normally transported hunters and not of the heavy apparatuses like B-25. The most insane rumors fed the mystery around this mission and to cross short, it was decided to launch a false history stipulating that the bombers were to be deployed with Hawaii (although B-25 was able to rejoin Hawaii by its own means).
After an appointment at sea with the Enterprise (in charge of the safety of Hornet thanks to its embarked fighter plans), the two aircraft carriers went, with an escort of fourteen ships, at the point chosen for takeoff. The squadron was to approach the Japanese coasts as much as possible.
Departure of the mission
The mission was to leave when the ship would be at a distance of 700 kilometers. In the morning of April 18th, 1942, the squadron was located by some Japanese trawlers little armed but equipped with powerful antennas. The instruction was of launching the mission if a meeting, even alleviating, with the enemy were to take place. The trawlers were run and the order was given to start the emergency mission. The aircraft carrier was still at a half-day of the point normally envisaged. During more than 60 minutes, the 16 bombers took off one by one of WORN Hornet, the plane of Doolittle itself was the first to be sprung. It was joined shortly after takeoff by the second apparatus. To compensate for the 300 additional kilometers to traverse, the crews had embarked a hundred liters of fuel to be poured in the tanks during the voyage. The planes did not have problems to take off of the ship.
The bombers met a low resistance put besides some hunters enemy which were quickly sown. Doolittle will say thereafter that the Japanese population on the ground made signs: they confused American star (white star with a red center) with the imperial flag and did not think that enemy planes could fly over their territory.
BombardmentEach plane embarked with him blowing bombs or flamers according to the target. B-25 operated solitairement and were not to deal with the other apparatuses of the raid. The plane of Doolittle arrived the first on Tokyo and it larga its 1000 kg of bombs on military objectives. It essuya some shootings of DCA which according to Doolittle " were very little impressive compared to the shootings of the DCA German during the operations in Europe". Doolittle moved away from the coasts to avoid being located (one was unaware of at the time if Japan had radars) and its plane took the direction of China. The other apparatuses made in the same way except for B-25 which moved towards the Soviet Union.
Contrary to the legend, the raid did not last 30 seconds with the top of Tokyo. At the time, Tokyo extended at a distance of more than 33 kilometers. B-25 traversed it at the speed of 350 km/h is approximately 6 minutes of vol.
In direction of ChinaThe plane starting to be with fuel court, the last reserves were versed in the tanks. The Chinese coast approached but the apparatuses were to circumvent all the part occupied by the Japanese. They were normally to land in a narrow valley supervised by the Chinese army. An apparatus which sent a radio signal was normally to indicate the position of the track but, the participants of the raid were to learn it only later, the plane which transported this material had been crushed before the mission. The pilots had thus to locate visu a place favorable for the landing. With the night which fell, an execrable time and an undulating ground, Doolittle ordered with its crew to jump of the apparatus. B-25 was crushed a little further against a hill.
At this time, Doolittle was convinced that the mission was a fiasco with the loss of all the apparatuses, that all the men had died or captured and that the bombs had not had any effect. After being itself gathered, the crew of Doolittle rejoined a Chinese guardroom and regained the United States thereafter.
All the pilots did not have the same chance. A plane was mistaken in course and moved towards the Soviet Union close to Vladivostok. The crew was interned for 13 month. A bomber did not manage to reach the free zone in China and its crew was captured: on the eight men, three were carried out six months later, another will moura of malnutrition and the four others were prisoners until the end of the war. Another plane was crushed at sea close to the coast and the survivors drowned or were killed on the beach.
ConsequencesThis first American raid on the archipelago did very little damage but it had struck a symbol, Tōkyō. The attack had been a surprise following the example Pearl Harbor.
As reprisals and for strategic reasons, the Japanese attacked themselves in the weeks which followed to the American aircraft carriers in priority. They as massively occupied China to avoid as this country serf of fold to the bombers, massacring at the summer 1942 approximately 250.000 civilians of the provinces of the Zhejiang and the Jiangxi.
N the other hand, the operation was a success for American propaganda and the effort of war. It showed that Japan was not any more with the shelter of the bombs. Another consequence was the assignment of part of the Japanese hunters to the defense of the territory what made it possible to limit the number of planes on the face of the Pacific. The belligerents were found then in face to face decisive at the time of the Bataille of Midway with a more reduced Japanese aviation.
Doolittle was never entirely satisfied with this mission which he regarded as a half-success, even if it had had a decisive impact on the continuation of the war.
- the film Pearl Harbor tackles this subject, but in a very Hollywood style, without any concern of historical reality.
- the film Thirty Second Over Tokyo of Mervyn LeRoy
- Operation Doolittle
- Photographs of the raid
- Doolittle Tokyo Raiders
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