Wednesday, April 18, 2012

70 years ago today....

16 B-25 bombers of the Doolittle raid launched from the aircraft carrier Hornet to give the Japanese something to think about.

I found this footage of the raiders taking off on what turned out to be a one-way flight for all sixteen aircraft, a consequence of having to launch early after the task force encountered (and sank) a Japanese picket.

Look at those aircraft barely getting off the deck with full power and full flaps, the ultimate "short field" take-off. B-25's weren't designed to operate off aircraft carriers. But that was ok, because aircraft carriers weren't designed to launch B-25 bombers, either. Thank God that we had visionaries, and brave men willing to try.

It took real men to make those flights. Fortunately America had no shortage of real men back then.

At the time though, it was a great morale booster for every American, and it caused the Japanese to recall some of their fleet to protect the home islands from another strike. This was the first time that the Japanese islands were bombed, and while it didn't cause much damage, it was far from the last time, and subsequent strikes hurt a lot more.

Thanks to drjim at Every Blade of Grass for reminding me, something that our media neglected to do.


  1. Indeed. I have posted about this as well. Heroes all.

  2. Thanks for the cross-link.
    With the 30 knot head wind they had, and the fact that the Hornet could do 30+ knots, they had a 60 knot "headstart" on the required airspeed.
    Still, these were BRAVE men. Every time I see things like this, I'm reminded of the last line in "The Bridges at Toko Ri": Where do we find such men?

  3. As I recall, they had to strip those craft nearly bare to lighten them for launch.

    One of my favorite weeekend 'knock-around' t-shirts is of the CAF's Devil Dog PBJ, based in Georgetown, TX (north of Austin), which makes the airshow circuit.

    I could probably do a year's worth of oil changes on my car from what drips onto the taxiway from those round engines in an hour.

  4. I believe the plan from the very start was to try to make it to safe havens in China, which was a dicey gamble even if the Hornet had made it to the planned take-off location. There is no way those bombers would have ever landed back on the carrier.

  5. Good video, I like old footage like this.

  6. Returning to the carrier was never an option... According to "Sally" Crouch. He told me they had maps of China and Russia with fields marked they'd hoped to make it to. We laughed about the fact we were both on Crew 10, and he talked a bit about the fact they were credited with shooting down 2 Zeros during the raid. He never felt he was a hero, and he said "We were just doing our job!"