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The Doolittle Raid

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    The Doolittle Raid of April 18, 1942 was the first US attack on the Japanese mainland during WW II. 

    The raid is named after its planner and lead pilot, then Lieutenant Colonel James Harold Doolittle. The need was to create some kind of propaganda victory and grew out of the technical observation by Captain Francis Low that twin-engined bombers could be launched from an aircraft carrier. Subsequent tests appeared to prove that a B-25 Mitchell could be launched with a reasonable bomb load, hit targets in Japan and then fly on to land in China. 

    Sixteen North American Aviation B-25Bs were loaded onto the USS Hornet, with 500 lb of bombs and extra fuel tanks but with reduced guns, they were arranged on the flight deck in the order of launch and secured. The Hornet which left port on April 2, meeting up with the USS Enterprise mid-ocean and both proceeding together with the fourteen vessel escort towards the launch point 400 miles from Japan. Launched prematurely at 600 miles due to the presence of enemy shipping, the sixteen bombers were successfully airborne and completed their bombing with little resistance, only three encountering flak or enemy fighters. The targets were dockyards or factories around Tokyo, Yokohama and Nagoya. 

    None of the attacking aircraft reached the airfields in China, the aircraft either crash landing or ditching with the crews bailing out, although one landed in Russia, three crewmen died during these crashes. Eight airmen were captured by the Japanese in China and three were subsequently executed - William Farrow, Dean Hallmark, and Harold Spatz. One other of the captured men died during his captivity.

    James Harold Doolittle (December 14, 1896 - September 27, 1993) was a United States Army General who fought in World War I and World War II, and was the commander of the famous Doolittle Raid. He was born in Alameda, California. 

    Doolittle was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for accomplishing this mission which is viewed by historians as a major public relations victory for the United States even though the amount of damage done to Japanese war industry was minor and quickly fixed. President Franklin D. Roosevelt presented the medal to Doolittle. 

    Doolittle was also a famous pylon-racing pilot. He died in California and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. 


    This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, which means that you can copy and modify it as long as the entire work (including additions) remains under this license. See for details. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Doolittle_Raid

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