B-25 Mitchell and the Doolittle Raid March 09 2016
The Doolittle Raid was America’s retaliation to Pearl Harbor. From Pearl Harbor (Dec 7, 1941) it took the US until April 18, 1942 to put together the air strike and although it was clear that the material damage would not be much, it was needed for psychological reasons; to put doubt in the Japanese and to boost America’s morale.
The plan called for 15 B-25s to take off from a carrier (USS Hornet) to bomb various targets in Tokyo and Yokohama and continue flying to China where they would land. Unfortunately, the USS Hornet was spotted by a Japanese patrol ship 10 hours before the planned launching time and 170 nautical miles farther from Japan; thus forcing the operation to be launch right there and then. Originally only 15 B-25 would do the bombing run while a 16th plane was loaded as reserve, but the early launching made Doolittle decide to use all 16th planes.
Each B-25 had a crew of 5, so in total there were 80 crew members involved in the operation (not counting the service/support people needed for the operation). Each plane would carry 2,000 pounds of bombs.
All airplanes survived the bombing run. Of the 16 planes, 15 crash-landed in China while one landed in Vladivostok, Russia. Three crew members died in the operation and 8 where capture in China by the Japanese and later of those 8, 3 were executed.
It is very revealing on people’s sense of responsibility and accountability of that time that Liutenent Colonel, James Doolittle, who piloted one of the planes, thought that he would be court-martialled because of the lost all of his planes in the mission. He end up receiving the Medal of Honor and promoted to Brigadier General.
The model of the B-25 by Air Force 1 has tail number 02344, which is the Doolittle piloted.