Wednesday, April 18, 2012

30 Seconds Over Tokyo

The catastrophe Imperial Nippon visited upon Great Satan in Hawaii on Infamy Day was catastrophic. Early analysis seemed to indicate PACCOM"s ability to make war was like totally derailed. Might be able to conscript and train to fever pitch infantry in  90 days - yet crafting a warfighting naval force takes eons to bling.

Philippines were conquered double quick time as the American Army suffered a frightening defeat capped with the ungodly Bataan Death March.

Some kinda payback had to be delivered and fast.

32 himself told the JCS Great Satan needed a desperate feel good high hooked up with a strike at the HQ of the Greater Far Eastern Co Prosperity Sphere, and Army Air Corps LtColonel Jimmy Doolittle agreed -  
"The Japanese people had been told they were invulnerable ... An attack on the Japanese homeland would cause confusion in the minds of the Japanese people and sow doubt about the reliability of their leaders. There was a second, and equally important, psychological reason for this attack ... Americans badly needed a morale boost"
The crazy assetted idosity of using B25 Mitchell bombers to fly off a CV were thought up by Navy Captain Francis Low, Assistant Chief of Staff for Anti-U Boat Warfare, and 16 craft and cats were sweetly voltiguer"d into service for the secret mission: Bomb Tokyo and select capital cities of the Empire of the Sun 

Bearing names like Bat Out of Hell, Fickle Finger of Fate, Whirling Dervish, Green Hornet, Ruptured Duck, The Avenger, The Hari Kari - er, TNT and Whiskey Pete - the Mitchells were like sexed up beyond repair: 
  • Installation of de-icers and anti-icers
  • Removal of the lower gun turret
  • Steel blast plates mounted on the fuselage around the upper turret
  • Removal of the liaison radio set (a weight impediment)
  • Installation of three additional fuel tanks and support mounts in the bomb bay, crawlway and lower turret area to increase fuel capacity from 646 to 1,141 gallons
  • Fake gun barrels installed in the tail cone
  • Replacement of their Norden bombsight with a makeshift aiming sight, devised by pilot Capt. C. Ross Greening and called the "Mark Twain" the materials for the bombsight cost only 20 cents.
Loaded up on CV-8 Hornet, the Doolittle Raiders and Task Force 18 launched at 8:20 A.M. on April 18th.  Despite the fact that nodobby, including Doolittle, had ever taken off from a carrier before, all 16 popped the B25 Army Bomber/Navy Carrier's cherry.

Eight primary and five secondary targets were struck. In Tokyo, the targets included an oil tank farm, a steel mill, and several power plants. In Yokosuka, at least one bomb from the B-25 piloted by Lt. Edgar E. McElroy struck the nearly completed IJN aircraft carrier Ryūhō, delaying her launch until November. Six schools and an army hospital were also hit. Japanese officials reported that the two aircraft whose crews were captured had struck their targets.

The plan was to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China—landing a medium bomber on the Hornet was impossible. Didn't exactly work out that way - See, all the aircraft involved in the bombing were lost and 11 crewmen were either killed or captured—with three of the captured men executed by the Japanese Army in China. One of the B-25s landed in the Soviet Union at Vladivostok, where it was confiscated and its crew interned for more than a year. 

Thirteen entire crews, and all but one crewman of a 14th, returned either to Great Satan or to American forces.

Compared with the future devastating fire bombing napalming B-29 Superfortress attacks against Japan, the Doolittle raid was kinda weak, did little material damage, and all of that readily repaired.

The raid also had a strategic impact, though it was not known at the time: It caused the Japanese to recall some fighting IJN units to the Japanese Home Islands for defense. Its main aircraft carrier task force, spearheaded by five large, fast carriers—with its best naval aircraft and aircrews—under the command of Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, had inflicted serious losses on the Royal Navy and merchant shipping during the Indian Ocean Raid, steaming as far west as Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for air raids on British shipping and Royal Air Force airfields there. Following the Doolittle Raid, Nagumo's force was recalled to Japan, removing all pressure from the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean.
The Imperial Japanese Navy also bore a special responsibility for allowing an American aircraft carrier force to approach the Japanese Home Islands in a manner similar to that of the IJN fleet to Hawaii in 1941, and likewise it escaped undamaged. The fact that rather large twin-engine land-based bombers carried out the attack served to confuse the IJN's high command about the source of the attack. This confusion and the conclusion that Japan itself was vulnerable to air attack strengthened Yamamoto's resolve to capture Midway Island, with the attempt to do so resulting in the decisive IJN loss at the Battle of Midway

Pic -  "It was hoped that the damage done would be both material and psychological. Material damage was to be the destruction of specific targets with ensuing confusion and retardation of production. The psychological results, it was hoped, would be the recalling of combat equipment from other theaters for home defense thus effecting relief in those theaters, the development of a fear complex in Japan, improved relationships with our Allies, and a favorable reaction on the American people."


J said...

I...I am so confused.

Aaron Burr said...

All hail the great Doolittle, who despite having an ancestor handicapped by some smart ass at Ellis island, actually accomplished quite a lot.

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