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Doolittle air raid on Tokyo

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The bitter taste of war was returned to Japan. We fashioned a daring scheme. To have the Hornet launch a force of bombers and strike at Tokyo from the sea. All the volunteers for this secret and hazardous job had been specially trained by Colonel Jimmy Doolittle. While under destroyer escort the 80 Tokyo raiders held a deck ceremony with Japanese medals. Doolittle fastened one of these to a 500 pound bomb. The medals were going to be returned with interest. Lashed to the flight deck the 16 B-25's had a rough voyage. Hoping to reach a take-off point 450 miles from Japan, but ready to start in event of discovery, the crews kept fit. They were discovered. After avoiding two enemy patrol vessels, the task force realized they were sighted by a Japanese picket boat. The Hornet's escort promptly sank it. Since secrecy had been compromised and fearing an alarm all over Japan, Doolittle, forced into the decision, ordered the planes to be launched. This was 800 instead of 450 miles from Tokyo and ten hours earlier than planned. In spite of a last second change, preparations went according to rehearsal. Only 467 feet of clear deck faced Doolittle's lead ship. The rest barely had room in which to rev up. And the last plane hung precariously out over the stern of the Hornet. After the wind-up by the flight officer, Doolittle made his run down the plunging deck. In a hundred feet to spare, he led the parade. Tension eased a little once the colonel was in the air. Crewman cheered as one plane after another screamed down the swaying runway. In the excitement this pilot started without lowering his flaps. His plane ran off the deck, dropped sharply, but expert piloting saved him. Launching fully-loaded medium bombers had never been done before. When the decks of the flagship were cleared, Admiral Halsey signaled, "To Colonel Doolittle and his gallant command, good luck and god bless you." Tokyo, oddly enough, had just completed an air raid drill. Their patrol boat had warned the city, but the attack was expected the next day. Therefore, the Jap war machine rolled on, unmindful of the approaching Eagles. Target factories were churning out munitions tagged for Corregidor, Midway, and Dutch Harbor. Secure behind their Pacific fortress, and confident of an early victory, they discounted America's ability to fight back. Thus the bombers were virtually unopposed as they the flew on the deck. They swept in over the coast on their way to Tokyo. Elements separated and some climbed to 1500 feet with the bombing. At 12:15 the attack was opened by Doolittle who dove in before he unloaded his incendiaries upon the Japanese capital. One after another, they checked off their targets. Tank factories, shipyards, docks, railroad yards, steel plants, gun powder factories. As the raiders left Tokyo with the broad trail of flame and smoke in their wake, Japan tasted war.

Video Details

Duration: 4 minutes and 22 seconds
Year: 1949
Country: United States
Language: English
Views: 254
Posted by: japanairraids on Sep 8, 2010

Segment on the Apr. 18, 1942 Doolittle air raid on Tokyo. From The Air Force Story, Chapter VIII, Drawing the Battle Lines, Dec. 8, 1941-Apr. 18, 1942. Produced by the United States Air Forces, 1949.

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