Doolittle Raid Facts
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Facts for kids
Facts - 1: The surprise
attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December
7, 1941 had shocked the American nation. The United
States declared war on Japan and entered WW2 on December
2: By April 1942, the
Philippines, Indochina, and Singapore had fallen and
were under Japanese occupation. President Franklin D.
Roosevelt needed to boost the morale of the American
people following all the bad news.
Facts - 3: FDR knew that if the US were
able to launch a retaliatory bombing raid on Japan, and its capital
Tokyo. the nation would rally. However there was a massive
problem. American short-range bomber aircraft could only reach Tokyo
if an aircraft carrier brought them close enough to Japan.
Facts - 4: Japan was 2,000 miles away.
The type of planes used on
Carriers at that time were short
range and could only hit targets within 300 miles. Nobody wanted to
take the remains of the Pacific Fleet so dangerously close to Japan
as the Imperial Japanese Navy ships in the North Pacific posed a
serious threat to aircraft carriers.
Facts - 5: Jimmy Doolittle had been
assigned to Army Air Forces Headquarters on January 2, 1942 to help
with the planning of the first retaliatory air raid on the Japanese
Facts - 6: Early in 1942 US
military planners including Captain Francis Low, the US
Navy's Assistant Chief of Staff for Anti-submarine
Warfare, conceived a potential solution for striking
Japan. The idea was to replace the aircraft carriers
short range bombers with long-range B-25 bombers that
could attack from further away.
Facts - 7: Jimmy Doolittle
selected the B-25B Mitchell for the mission as it
possessed the range required, as well as a
Facts - 8: Another serious problem to face the
planners was that although the B-25B Mitchell bombers
could take off from an aircraft carrier, they could not
land on the short deck. The tails of the B25's
were too weak to take the shock of a sudden landing and
were too high off the ground for landing hooks to be
attached to them.
9: The only answer was for the B25's to
launch from an aircraft carrier, drop their bombs on
Japan, and then fly further west to land in a part of
China that was still free.
Facts - 10: The B25's were
modified. Additional fuel tanks and de-icing equipment
were installed and the lower gun turrets were removed
and other modifications were made to reduce the weight
of the plane.
11: The early B-25B's
had no guns installed in the tail section. As a
deception tactic black-painted broomstick handles were
installed in the fuselage as dummy guns, called Quaker
Guns, to deceive the enemy.
Facts - 12: The 17th Bombardment Wing,
based at Pendleton Field in Oregon, provided 24 B-25s and their
crews for the raid. The 17the BG's crews were offered the
opportunity to volunteer for an unspecified, "extremely hazardous"
Facts - 13: Jimmy Doolittle selected 80
men as the flight crews for the mission and specialized training
commenced at Eglin Field in Florida on February 17, 1942 in five-man
Facts - 14: The US navy’s newest aircraft
carrier, the Hornet, was chosen for the mission and US Navy
Lieutenant Henry Miller, taught the Doolittle raiders how to take
off from an aircraft carrier in less than 230 meters (750 feet).
Their relentless training program included night flying,
low-altitude flying and bombing practice
Facts - 15: On April 13, 1942 the USS
Hornet rendezvoused with Vice Admiral William F. Halsey's Task
Force, north of Hawaii. The aircraft carriers Hornet and Enterprise,
together with fourteen other U.S. Navy ships, consisting of four
cruisers, eight destroyers, and two oilers, made up the raid task
force and designated Task Force 16.
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Facts - 16: Task Force 16 headed for their
position for the launch which was to be 725 kilometers (450 miles)
east of Tokyo. The Doolittle Raid was planned to take place on April
19, 1942 but was spotted by a Japanese boat on April 18 and radio
communication intercepts indicated that Japan had been alerted to
Facts - 17: Task Force 16 was still 1,050 kilometers (650
miles) from Tokyo but Vice Admiral Halsey could not risk the danger
to the force and ordered the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders to launch their
B25's on April 18, 1942.
Facts - 18: The B25's were loaded with
additional fuel to compensate making the mission even more
hazardous. The airplane commanded by Jimmy Doolittle was the first
to take off and the other 15 B-25s followed over the next hour at 3
-4 minute intervals.
Facts - 19: The 16 B25s headed for Japan
in a staggered line 50 miles wide and 150 miles long. The first 10
planes were to target Tokyo and the other six planes attacked
targets in Osaka, Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagoya and on the Yokosuka
Facts - 20: The "Doolittle Tokyo Raiders"
dropped their bombs on their targets without any real opposition
from the Japanese. Although their anti-aircraft fire was intense it
was also inaccurate and all 16 planes left Japan practically
Facts - 21: The Japanese were shocked,
their homeland had been attacked. American bombers had seemed to
appear out of nowhere and vanished as suddenly as they had appeared.
The Doolittle Raid was a shattering blow to Japanese pride
Facts - 22: The "Doolittle Tokyo Raiders"
headed for China to land their planes and refuel. Chuchow Field, was
supposed to have been their main refueling base, but due to a
communication blunder the Chinese were not informed that the raid
had taken place earlier than expected. An air raid alarm sounded at
the Chinese base and the landing lights were turned out.
Facts - 23: 11 of the crews had no
alternative to bail out into the pitch black of night and sacrifice
their airplanes. Leland Faktor, engineer-gunner of plane 3, was
killed in the fall.
Facts - 24: 4 of the other B-25s
crash-landed, three in the water and one (Doolittle's) in a rice
paddy. William Dieter and Donald Fitzmaurice on plane 6, drowned
just off the China coast. The crew of plane 7 were seriously
Facts - 25: Plane 8, which had been low on
fuel during the entire trip, had been forced to head towards
Vladivostok, Russia, instead of China. The crew members landed
safely, but were interned by the Russians before they escaped into
Iran in May 1943
Facts - 26: Eight of the Doolittle Tokyo
Raiders, the surviving crew members of planes 6 and 16, were
captured by the Japanese. The names of the captured raiders were
Hallmark, Meder, Nielsen, Farrow, Hite, Barr, Spatz, and DeShazer.
Facts - 27: Three of the raiders, Lt. Dean
E. Hallmark, Lt. William G. Farrow and Sgt. Harold A. Spatz were
executed by the Japanese in October 1942.
Facts - 28: One of the raiders, Lt. Robert J. Meder, died of
malnutrition in prison on December 1, 1943.
Facts - 29: The other four prisoners managed to survive in
Japanese prison camps until they were rescued in August 1945.
Facts - 30: Four Japanese officers were
tried and found guilty for their war crimes against the eight
captured Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. Three were sentenced to hard labor
for 5 years and the fourth was given a 9 year sentence.
Facts - 31: On April 21, 1942 President Roosevelt gave a
press conference confirming that U.S. planes had bombed Japan.
Facts - 32: All 80 raiders received the Distinguished Flying
Cross for the Doolittle Raid
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