Pearl Harbor and the Doolittle Raid

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  • Topic: Doolittle Raid, Jimmy Doolittle, B-25 Mitchell
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The Doolittle Raid
"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941-a date which will live in infamy-the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by Naval and Air forces of the Empire of Japan (Roosevelt)." Those were the famous words spoken by Franklin Roosevelt the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed. Roosevelt went on to say that because Japan and Hawaii are such a large distance apart, the attack was deliberately planned many weeks age. He also stated that during that time of planning, the Japanese were deceiving the U.S. by giving "false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace (Roosevelt)." Directly after the bombing, Admiral Harold R. Stark declared war on Japan by issuing the orders to "execute unrestricted air and submarine warfare against Japan (Van Der Vat 151)."

On January, a month after the attack, Admiral King and General Arnold decide to give a "retaliatory blow against the mainland of Japan (Greening)." Their decision was to combine the forces of the Army and the Air force and bomb the main industrial Centers of Japan with Army B-25 Bombers. They were to fly off Navy aircraft carriers within striking distance of Japan. The main questions after this decision was, who is going to lead this attack (Greening)? Lt. Col. James ‘Jimmy' Doolittle was picked to lead. Jimmy was an experienced aviator and a well-decorated war hero (Mason 85). Thesis: Though the mission was developed as a diversion that would boost American and allied morale, the Doolittle Raid also generated strategic benefits that far outweighed its limited goals.

Jimmy Doolittle was born on December 14th, 1896. From a young age, he enjoyed flying and toying around with airplanes. This is why he was chosen to be the leader, he was brave, experienced and knew every part of an airplane (General James).

To make this attack on Japan successful, it would require the utmost secrecy. No one was allowed to know the details of the mission, including the raiders, until two weeks before the attack. That even then, they were confined to radio silence (Greening).

Now that the plans were made to bomb the Japanese, equipment would have to be chosen and set up. The first problem they encountered was choosing which plane was going to be used. There were many bombers to chose from, but the B-25, long range bomber, was the lucky one. It had long range, great power and a 2000-pound bomb carrying capacity (Doolittle Tokyo Raiders B-25). After the B-25 was chosen, "Doolittle needed to prove that bombers weighing in at 30,000 pounds could leave the 500 foot deck" (Doolittle Tokyo Raiders-Hornet) of an aircraft carrier (Doolittle Tokyo Raiders-Hornet).

The second problem came while setting up and modifying the planes for the attack. Many time consuming and unforeseen problems came up (Greening).
Doolittle asked for twenty-four B-25 bombers to be sent and set up for the complicated attack, but only sixteen planes actually went on the mission. These planes were originally set up for land combat, so each bomber had to have required modifications for the mission to be successful (Greening).

The mission required the bombers to fly non-stop for 1900 miles. This caused several problems (Greening). First, the fuel capacity was way to small. Therefore, four extra tanks were mounted. These tanks were designed out of a flexible rubber and placed in over the bomb bay, in the bomb bay and in the bottom turret (Greening). After all of the tanks were installed, the maximum gas capacity was a total of 1141 gallons (Doolittle Raiders). This extra capacity was important because the planes used fuel at a rate of 78 gallons per hour (Greening).

Each of the 16 bombers were given 10 extra five gallon fuel cans to use as the fuel was going down, but before all the fuel was used up. These disposable cans let the flyers puncture holes...
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