On 1 April 1942, less than four months after the world had been stunned by the attack upon Pearl Harbor, sixteen US aircraft took to the skies to exact retribution. Their objective was not merely to attack Japan, but to bomb its capital. The people of Tokyo, who had been told that their city was invulnerable’ from the air, would be bombed and strafed – and the shock waves from the raid would extend far beyond the explosions of the bombs.
The raid had first been suggested in January 1942 as the US was still reeling from Japan’s pre-emptive strike against the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The Americans were determined to fight back and fight back as quickly as possible. The 17th Bomb Group (Medium) was chosen to provide the volunteers who would crew the sixteen specially-modified North American B-25 bombers.
As it was not possible to reach Tokyo from any US land bases, the bombers would have to fly from aircraft carriers, but it was impossible for such large aircraft to land on a carrier; the men had to volunteer for a one-way ticket.
Led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy’ Doolittle, the seventy-one officers and 130 enlisted men embarked on the USS Hornet which was shielded by a large naval task force. However, the ships were spotted by a Japanese ship. The decision was therefore made to take-off before word of the task force’s approach reached Tokyo, even though the carrier was 170 miles further away from Japan than planned and in the knowledge that the B-25s would not have enough fuel to reach their intended landing places in China.
The raid was successful, and the Japanese were savagely jolted out of their complacency. Fifteen of the aircraft crash-landed in, or their crews baled-out over, China; the sixteenth managed to reach the Soviet Union. Only three men were killed on the raid, with a further eight being taken prisoner by the Japanese, three of whom were executed and one died of disease.
The full story of this remarkable operation, of the men and machines involved, is explored through this fascinating collection of images.
I am delighted today to be able to share with you my review for The Doolittle Raid on what is the 78th anniversary of the bombers taking off in the early hours to target the Japanese mainland, in retribution for the attack on Pearl Harbor the previous December.
I found this book to be a compelling read and whilst I knew what had triggered the raid in the main, it was still an interesting book to read as there are a lot of photos that I had never seen before which really helped bring the event to life.
I loved that the focus was not just on the raid itself, but also the build up to the aircraft carriers sailing on the 1st April 1942, all the training that was completed by the pilots to get the very large and cumbersome B-25 bombers to be able to take off in such a confined space, especially when the other planes were loaded on board the USS Hornet, and it also showed what was happening in World War II at that time.
I have read a few books in this series across both the Images of Aviation and Images of War titles, and this is the best book that I have read in the series so far.
I loved the layout and the features for each of the 16 crews that took part, including Doolittle himself who was the pilot of the first plane to take off the Hornet, what they encountered and where they dropped and what happened to them after they had completed their missions, not all ended with the pilots and crews being returned to the US.
The book is packed with facts and brilliant photos to tell their stories and it is one that I have already recommended. It is 5 stars from me for this one, I thought it was an excellent book – very highly recommended!!