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The Last Bomb, part2

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From the turn at initial point the tight bomber waves move steadily on. And get ready for business. Flak and fighters fall off. But those clouds are beginning to close in and it looks worse ahead. Then just east of Hachioji, the Tokyo area breaks clear. The bombardiers begin to draw a beat on 5-7-4. Their planes sit tight for the bombing run. Here's where we pay off. Two Jap aircraft plants and an airdrome 12,000 feet below are about to receive 4,000 tons of destruction. The first waves of B-29s have already found their objective. Succeeding bomber groups add their devastation to the smoking targets. Tactical plan 5-7-4 is now an accomplished fact. The bombers turn and go downwind, across the burnt acres of Tokyo. Close-up cameras show the scars of those spectacular fire strikes last March. 51 square miles of LeMay treatment. Across the bay, and a tailwind speeds them south, down the Chiba peninsula. This is fighter country. With the first call on the intercom, our Mustangs peel off and go to work again. With the big bombers homeward bound, our P-51’s drop down for strafing runs, concentrating on definite objectives from here to the enemy coast. Skimming along at maximum speed, the fighters pair off and go to work cutting vital Jap lifelines. Blasting away at communications, radio installations, power lines. Swooping down an enemy transportation, railroads, marshaling yards, small suburban factories. And airfields. Then on the shipping targets: freighters, fishermen, trawlers, harbor and coastal craft. Destroyer or lugger, it's the same enemy. After strafing our fighters climb back to rally point and the waiting B-29 navigator planes. With the first site of Iwo, fuel gauges are down close to empty, but fighter spirits begin to rise. They wind up and finish with a kick, coming pass Suribachi at whiplash speed and zoom in to their victory rolls, once over for each Jap kill. After the last fighter groups are in, all hands sweat in those first limping B-29s. That runway is a beautiful sight as they let down with engines out, low on gas or beat up by flak and fighters. In three months nearly 2000 crippled or gas shy B-29s havened at Iwo. You can understand why those four fan boys bless those Marines and even name their planes after them. The lucky ones are fueled and depart for home bases in an hour. But Iwo still has its hazards. Weather can turn this station into a hopeless "daymare". Fog and quick overcast often blacks out the airstrip during these crucial periods. That means orders to bail out. Or with luck a B-29 might drop in for a copybook ditching. From here you can see how the cloud cover up there smothers the runway and realize what one pilot went through. Sometimes a battle-scarred bomber staggers back to Iwo only to flatten out at the last heartbreaking second. By some miracle the whole crew got away from their stations to safety before 2000 gallons of flaming gas enveloped them. Firefighters risked their lives to save the ship. This too takes courage beyond the line of duty. Far to the south, most of the wings are nearing their bases. Exhausted crews wait out the last endless hour. When time seems to stop. Their position is radioed in. And the controller gets word of the approaching flight. At last the familiar Marianas appear on the horizon. Bombers fly across Guam and turn into the landing pattern. 15 hours ago they left the other end of that runway. It's a pleasure to be back. A pleasure to roll on solid, familiar blacktop. It's good to feel the sudden humid heat. To be among the living. Swapping details with the ground crew. Flak. Fighters. The close call. The one that got away. But some of those B-29 crews won't be able to talk it over today. 11 men and a bomber that didn't quite make it. The rescue squads tear away the hot metal. Somehow in that burning wreckage a man has lived to feel those eager, gallant hands. One life saved and ten lost. That's part of today's toll. And there were many other days and nights that took their toll of young American lives in the service of our relentless, expanding airpower. By the end of July our B-29s had all but obliterated the enemy's ability to make war. 1000 plane missions were going to hit Japan twice with the monthly tonnage that ever fell on Germany. The question was, how much longer would a beaten Japan holdout? In August we made a test that never was applied to Germany. While great land, sea and air forces gathered for the last invasion our B-29s dropped two atomic bombs, which hastened the surrender of Japan and saved untold thousands of American lives. So the mission of our air forces, which began nearly 4 years ago, was accomplished. THE END.

Video Details

Duration: 16 minutes and 53 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 548
Posted by: japanairraids on Sep 19, 2010

1945 U.S. Army Air Forces propaganda film- filmed in color and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary - about B-29 bases in the Marianas Islands and air raids on Tokyo, Japan. Source: The National Archives, College Park, Maryland. For more information on the subject: japanairraids.org

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