Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942
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B25 - North American B-25 Mitchell: an American twin-engined medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation Inc. It was used by many Allied air forces, in every theater of World War II, as well as many other air forces after the war ended, and saw service across four decades.

The B25 was named in honor of General Billy Mitchell, a pioneer of U.S. military aviation. By the end of its production, nearly 10,000 B-25s in numerous models had been built. These included a few limited variations, such as the United States Navy's and Marine Corps' PBJ-1 patrol bomber and the United States Army Air Forces' F-10 photo reconnaissance aircraf
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Doolittle Raid on Japan - WW2 Battles, 18 April 1942

The April 1942 air attack on Japan, launched from the aircraft carrier Hornet and led by Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, was the most daring operation yet undertaken by the United States in the young Pacific War. Though conceived as a diversion that would also boost American and allied morale, the raid generated strategic benefits that far outweighed its limited goals.

The raid had its roots in a chance observation that it was possible to launch Army twin-engined bombers from an aircraft carrier, making feasible an early air attack on Japan. Appraised of the idea in January 1942, U.S. Fleet commander Admiral Ernest J. King and Air Forces leader General Henry H. Arnold greeted it with enthusiasm. Arnold assigned the technically-astute Doolittle to organize and lead a suitable air group. The modern, but relatively well-tested B-25B "Mitchell" medium bomber was selected as the delivery vehicle and tests showed that it could fly off a carrier with a useful bomb load and enough fuel to hit Japan and continue on to airfields in China.

Gathering volunteer air crews for an unspecified, but admittedly dangerous mission, Doolittle embarked on a vigourous program of special training for his men and modifications to their planes. The new carrier Hornet was sent to the Pacific to undertake the Navy's part of the mission. So secret was the operation that her Commanding Officer, Captain Marc A. Mitscher, had no idea of his ship's upcoming employment until shortly before sixteen B-25s were loaded on her flight deck. On 2 April 1942 Hornet put to sea and headed west across the vast Pacific.

Joined in mid-ocean on 13 April by Vice Admiral William F. Halsey's flagship Enterprise, which would provide air cover during the approach, Hornet steamed toward a planned 18 April afternoon launching point some 400 miles from Japan. However, before dawn on 18 April, enemy picket boats were encountered much further east than expected. These were evaded or sunk, but got off radio warnings, forcing the planes to take off around 8 AM, while still more than 600 miles out.

Most of the sixteen B-25s, each with a five-man crew, attacked the Tokyo area, with a few hitting Nagoya. Damage to the intended military targets was modest, and none of the planes reached the Chinese airfields (though all but a few of their crewmen survived). However, the Japanese high command was deeply embarrassed. Three of the eight American airmen they had captured were executed. Spurred by Combined Fleet commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, they also resolved to eliminate the risk of any more such raids by the early destruction of America's aircraft carriers, a decision that led them to disaster at the Battle of Midway a month and a half later

People of the Doolittle Attack

After dropping their bombs, mainly on or near their intended targets, Doolittle's sixteen B-25B bombers left Japanese airspace, essentially unhindered by enemy air interception and anti-aircraft gunfire. One of them, suffering from excessive fuel consumption, had no hope of reaching China and so headed for the closer Soviet Maritime region. After landing north of Vladivostok, this plane and its five crew members were interned by the then-neutral Soviet authorities. The crew ultimately returned to the U.S. by way of Iran.

The other fifteen planes, with their seventy-five men, flew on toward China, where darkness forced four to crash-land or ditch offshore. With fuel running out after some fifteen hours of flying, eleven crews took to their parachutes. Three men were killed at this time. Local residents saved most of the others and heroically spirited them through Japanese-held territory to safety. The vengeful enemy retaliated with a vicious ground offensive, killing tens of thousands of Chinese over the following months. The Japanese also were able to capture eight men from two planes' crews. Three of these prisoners of war, Second Lieutenants Dean E. Hallmark and William G. Farrow and Sergeant Harold A. Spatz, were executed at Shanghai in October 1942. Another, Lieutenant Robert J. Meder, died in prison more than a year later.

The remaining airmen eventually returned to duty with the Army Air Forces, and twelve of these lost their lives later in the war. Their leader, Lieutenant Colonel Doolittle, was quickly promoted to Brigadier General and awarded the Medail of Honor. Twenty-three of his men received Distinguished Flying Crosses. One of the latter, the seriously injured 2nd Lt. Ted W. Lawson, wrote a best-selling memoir of the raid and its aftermath. In 1944, this book, "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo", served as the basis for a Hollywood motion picture of the same name

Ships of the Doolittle Attack Task Force

In addition to the carriers Hornet and Enterprise, fourteen other U.S. Navy ships made up the raid task force, which was led by Vice Admiral William F. Halsey and designated Task Force 16. Three were heavy cruisers, Salt Lake City (CA-25), Northampton (CA-26) and Vincennes (CA-44). USS Nashville (CL-43) was a light cruiser. The eight destroyers were Balch (DD-363), flagship of Captain Richard L. Conolly's Destroyer Squadron Six, Benham (DD-397), Ellet (DD-398), Fanning (DD-385), Grayson (DD-435), Gwin (DD-433), Meredith (DD-434) and Monssen (DD-436). Vital members of the long-range team were the oilers Cimarron (AO-22) and Sabine (AO-25).

After launching the raid's bombers toward Japan, the task force retired to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 25 April. The force was soon urgently dispatched toward the South Pacific, but the 7-8 May Battle of the Coral Sea took place before it could arrive. Recalled to Pearl, both carriers and seven of the other Doolittle raid ships were sent off toward the northwest, where they took part in the Battle of Midway on 4-6 June 1942.

Six of the raid's sixteen ships would be lost in August-December 1942, during the intense fighting of the Guadalcanal Campaign: Hornet, Vincennes, Northampton, Benham, Meredith and Monssen. A seventh, Gwin, was sunk by a Japanese torpedo in July 1943, during the Battle of Kolombangara.

An interesting sidelight of the operation was an early example of airborne shore-to-ship logistics support, when the Navy blimp L-8 flew out over the Pacific to deliver urgently-needed aircraft parts directly to Hornet's flight deck.



In July 1942, Doolittle as a Brigadier General - he had been promoted by two grades on the day after the Tokyo attack, by-passing the rank of full colonel - Doolittle was assigned to the nascent Eighth Air Force and in September became commanding general of the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa. He was promoted to Major General in November 1942, and in March 1943 became commanding general of the Northwest African Strategic Air Forces, a unified command of U.S. Army Air Force and Royal Air Force units.

Maj. Gen. Doolittle took command of the Fifteenth Air Force in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in November 1943. On June 10, he flew as co-pilot with Jack Sims, fellow Tokyo Raider, in a B-26 Marauder of the 320th Bombardment Group, 442nd Bombardment Squadron on a mission to attack gun emplacements at Pantelleria. Doolittle continued to fly, despite the risk of capture, while being privy to the Ultra secret, which was that the German encryption systems had been broken by the British.[3] From January 1944 to September 1945, he held his largest command, the Eighth Air Force (8 AF) in England as a Lieutenant General, his promotion date being March 13, 1944 and the highest rank ever held by a reserve officer in modern times. Doolittle's major influence on the European air war occurred early in the year when he changed the policy requiring escorting fighters to remain with the bombers at all times. With his permission, P-38s, P-47s, and P-51s on escort missions strafed German airfields and transport while returning to base, contributing significantly to the achievement of air supremacy by Allied Air Forces over Europe.

After the end of the European war, the Eighth Air Force was re-equipped with B-29 Superfortress bombers and started to relocate to Okinawa in the Pacific. Two bomb groups had begun to arrive on August 7. However, the 8th was not scheduled to be at full strength until February 1946 and Doolittle declined to rush 8th Air Force units into combat simply to say that "the 8th Air Force had operated against the Japanese in the Pacific".

On May 10, 1946, Doolittle reverted to inactive reserve status at the grade of lieutenant general. He returned to Shell Oil as a vice president, and later as a director. In 1947, Doolittle became the first president of the Air Force Association, an organization which he helped create.

In March 1951, Doolittle was appointed a special assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, serving as a civilian in scientific matters which led to Air Force ballistic missile and space programs. In 1952, following a string of three air crashes in two months at Elizabeth, New Jersey, Harry S. Truman appointed him to lead a presidential commission examining the safety of urban airports. The report "Airports And Their Neighbours" led to zoning requirements for buildings near approaches, early noise control requirements, and initial work on "super airports" with 10,000 ft runways, suited to 150 ton aircraft.

Doolittle retired from Air Force duty on February 28, 1959. He remained active in other capacities, including chairman of the board of TRW Space Technology Laboratories.

In 1972, Doolittle received the Tony Jannus Award for his distinguished contributions to commercial aviation, in recognition of the development of instrument flight.

On April 4, 1985, the U.S. Congress promoted Doolittle to the rank of full General on the Air Force retired list. In a later ceremony, President Ronald Reagan and U.S. Senator and retired Air Force Reserve Major General Barry Goldwater pinned on Doolittle's four-star insignia.

In addition to his Medal of Honor for the Tokyo raid, Doolittle also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, two Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, four Air Medals, and decorations from Great Britain, France, Belgium, Poland, China, and Ecuador. He is the only person to be awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Medal of Freedom, the nation's two highest honors. Doolittle was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 1959.[4] In 1983, he was awarded the United States Military Academy's Sylvanus Thayer Award. He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America as the only member of the air racing category in the inaugural class of 1989, and into the Aerospace Walk of Honor in the inaugural class of 1990. The headquarters of the United States Air Force Academy Association of Graduates (on the grounds of the United States Air Force Academy), Doolittle Hall, is named in his honor.

On May 9, 2007, The new 12th Air Force Combined Air Operations Center, Building 74, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona, was named in his honor as the "General James H. Doolittle Center." Several surviving members of the Doolittle Raid were in attendance during the ribbon cutting ceremony.

 
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Doolittle Raid on Japan -WW2 Naval Battles
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