The Doolittle Air Raid on Japan
April 18, 1942
  Friday, December 12, 1941  
  James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle was recalled to active service by Lt. General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces, to serve on Arnold’s staff as a trouble shooter.  
  Sunday, December 21, 1941  
  U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt expressed to Joint Chiefs of Staff in a meeting at the White House that Japan be bombed as soon as possible to boost public morale after the disaster at Pearl Harbor.  
  Wednesday, December 24, 1941  
  Lt. General Arnold met with Britain’s Air Chief Marshall Sir Charles Portal. Portal asked Arnold what the U.S. plans for bombing Japan were. Arnold alluded to plans to use airbases in eastern China once enough bombers could be produced and transported there. Portal suggested that a surprise attack could be undertaken by U.S. Navy aircraft carriers.  
  Friday, January 2, 1942  
  Doolittle was promoted to Lt. Colonel. Doolittle was given the job of saving the Martin B-26 Marauder, a fast twin-engine bomber, from being cancelled.  
  Sunday, January 4, 1942  
  In a meeting at the White House by the Combined Chief of Staffs, U.S. Navy CNO Admiral Ernest J. King suggested that aircraft carriers be used to transport U.S. Army fighters and bombers during the invasion of North Africa. After the meeting Lt. General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces, noted that the Army bombers would have to be flown off the carriers. This idea would be one of the seeds for the Halsey-Doolittle Raid.  
  Saturday, January 10, 1942  
  Captain Francis S. Low, Assistant Chief of Staff for Anti-submarine Warfare to Admiral King, reported to KIng that he thought that twin-engine Army bombers could be successfully launched from an aircraft carrier after observing several at a naval airfield in Norfolk, Virginia, where the runway was painted with the outline of a carrier deck for landing practice. King was receptive to the idea and directed Low to discuss the idea with Captain Donald B. Duncan, King’s Air Operations Officer. The raid on Tokyo was subsequently planned and led by Lt. Colonel James "Jimmy" Doolittle, a famous civilian aviator and aeronautical engineer before the war.  
  Sunday, January 11, 1942  
  Captain Low discussed his idea of using Army bombers taking off from an aircraft carrier to bomb Japan with Captain Duncan. Duncan was receptive to the idea and would perform the feasibility study that would outline all the key concepts for the operation.  
  Friday, January 16, 1942  
  Captain Duncan briefed Admiral King and Captain Low of his plan for a bombing raid on Japan. Duncan was instructed to proceed with the plan by contacting Lt. General Arnold. The plan called for the use of  B-25 Mitchells flying from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) which would, after bombing Japan, would fly onto China where they would be utilized by Colonel Claire Chennault’s air command.  
  Saturday, January 17, 1942  
  Doolittle was given the assignment of coordinating the efforts for a bombing raid on Japan by Lt. General Arnold.  
  Sunday, January 18, 1942  
  Doolittle advised Arnold that the B-25 Mitchell was the only Army bomber capable of flying off an aircraft carrier. Arnold then proceeded to inform Doolittle of Captain Duncan's plan to bomb Japan using bombers flying from an aircraft carrier. Doolittle was assigned the task of preparing the planes and training the crews.  
  Thursday, January 22, 1942  
  Doolittle began the process of modifying the B-25 Mitchells to be used in the planned bombing raid on Japan. Modifications included adding extra fuel tanks, designing new bomb release mechanisms, and adding armament to the planes.  
  Wednesday, January 28, 1942  
  At a meeting at the White House with top military leaders, Roosevelt asked if any definite plans to bomb Japan were being made. Both King and Arnold chose not to divulge the plans being implemented by Doolittle. King and Arnold wanted to keep those in the know to a minimum for security reasons. Roosevelt was annoyed and stressed the need for a raid on Japan a psychological boost for the American public.  
  Saturday, January 31, 1942  
  Brigadier General Carl Spaatz, intelligence officer for Arnold, gave Doolittle a list of ten cities in Japan that were candidates for the planned bombing raid. The cities included Tokyo, Kobe, Nagoya, and Yokohama and the list included military objectives in each such as airplane factories, navy bases, oil refineries, and other essential war industries.  
  Tuesday, February 3, 1942  
  Two B-25 Mitchells were loaded aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV 8) at Norfolk, Virginia, and subsequently flown off the deck without difficulty. This test was made because planning indicated that the B-25 was the aircraft best meeting all specifications of the mission.  
  Monday, February 9, 1942  
  The 17th Bomb Group (Medium), officially transferred to Columbia Army Air Field in South Carolina, where its combat crews where it practiced short take-offs and landings . The 17th Bomb Group had been based in Pendleton, Oregon where it was flying antisubmarine patrols. The 17th was the first medium bomb group of the Army Air Corps and had the most experienced B-25 crews. Its first assignment following the entry of the United States into the war was to the U.S. Eighth Air Force.  
  Wednesday, February 11, 1942  
  Lt. General Joseph W. “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell left Washington for China. Stilwell had been selected to be the Chief of Staff to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, to serve as the commander of the China Burma India Theater, and be responsible for all Lend-Lease supplies going to China. Stilwell had been instructed by Arnold that American bombers would arrive in eastern China on April 20 and to arrange airfields to have aviation fuel and oil on hand. U.S. Navy planners failed to account for the International Date Line and the Doolittle’s planes would arrive a day early.  
  Tuesday, February 17, 1942  
  The 17th Bomb Group was detached from the Eighth Air Force.  
  Sunday, March 1, 1942  
  140 men of the 17th Bomb Group including pilots, copilots, navigators, bombardiers, and engineer-gunners assembled at the operations office at Eglin Field at Pensacola, Florida and were met by Doolittle who informed them that they their mission would be the most dangerous one of their lives and that they could drop out if they wished. None of the crew did. The crews were not informed of the nature of the mission, only that it was top secret in nature. The crews began receiving intensive training for next three weeks in simulated carrier deck takeoffs, low-level and night flying, low-altitude bombing and over-water navigation, primarily out of Wagner Field, Auxiliary Field 1.  
  Sunday, March 15, 1942  
  Arnold informed King that training for Doolittle’s B-25 Mitchell crews for the proposed bombing raid on Japan was proceeding satisfactorily. King decided that it was time to inform Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet and Vice Admiral William F.”Bull” Halsey, who would lead the task force of the mission. Captain Duncan said he would review the mission with Doolittle and then leave for Pearl Harbor to brief Nimitz and Halsey personally.  
  Monday, March 16, 1942  
  Arnold cabled Stilwell in China concerning preparations for the airfields for the arrival of the Doolittle’s planes: TO STILWELL. WHAT PROGRESS IS BEING MADE ON LAYING DOWN GASOLINE SUPPLIES . . . ON AIRPORTS IN EASTERN CHINA? WHAT PROGRESS ON AIRPORTS? ARNOLD DESIRES REPORT. Stillwell had not been told of the nature of the mission because there was serious concern that the Chinese would leak information to the Japanese.  
  Tuesday, March 17, 1942  
  Captain Duncan met with Doolittle to review the progress of the proposed bombing raid on Japan before departing for Pearl Harbor to brief Nimitz, and Halsey, who would lead the task force of the mission. After the meeting Doolittle managed to convince Arnold, commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces, that he be allowed to lead the raid.  
  Thursday, March 19, 1942  
  Captain Duncan arrived in Pearl Harbor and briefed Nimitz and Halsey about the planned bombing raid on Japan. Duncan made it clear that this was not a proposal but a mission to be carried out as soon as possible. Duncan also briefed King’s operation officer, Captain Miles Browning, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV 6). Duncan then this dispatched a prearranged message to Captain Low: TELL JIMMY TO GET ON HIS HORSE.  
  Monday, March 23, 1942  
  Doolittle announced to the men of the 17th Bomb Group that it was time to leave Eglin Field at Pensacola, Florida. The men would fly in small groups. The men spent the first night in San Antonia, Texas and the second night at March Field, outside Los Angeles, California.  
  Wednesday, March 25, 1942  
  Doolittle and the B-25 Mitchells of the 17th Bomb Group at McLellan Field landed outside of Sacramento, California to make final modifications on the planes for the planned bombing raid on Japan.  
  Arnold cabled Stilwell in China concerning preparations for the airfields for the arrival of the Doolittle’s planes: THE SUCCESS OF A VITAL PROJECT I DISCUSSED WITH YOU PRIOR TO YOUR DEPARTURE DEPENDS UPON THIS MOVEMENT [of getting a shipment of aviation fuel from Calcutta, India to Chiona] BEING ACCOMPLISHED BY AIR WITHOUT DELAY AND IN USING EVERY POSSIBLE PRECAUTION TO PRESERVE ITS SECRECY.  
  Saturday, March 28, 1942  
  In San Diego, the commanding officer of the USS Hornet (CV 8), Captain Marc Mitscher, received orders personally delivered by Captain Duncan about the planned bombing raid on Japan.  
  Stilwell cabled Arnold that Chiang Kai-Shek had granted permission for the American planes to land in China. Stilwell and Brigadier General Clayton Bissell, his air officer, recommended that Chinese aviation fuel and oil be used as the desired supplies were still in Calcutta and would not be able to arrive in time.  
  Tuesday, March 31, 1942  
  The USS Hornet tied up at Alameda Naval Air Station. On this same day, the U.S. Army B-25 Mitchells of the 17th Bomb Group were flown to Alameda from Sacramento. The USS Hornet’s normal aircraft were stored below in the hangar deck since the B-25s would not fit in there. Within 24 hours, 16 of the Army bombers were loaded onto Hornet’s flight deck and tied down in the order of their expected launch position.  
  Doolittle conferred with Halsey and Browning at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco about the planned bombing raid on Japan. Halsey would command U.S. Navy Task Force 16 which would launch Doolittle’s bombers. At the meeting Halsey made it clear that if the task force came into danger before the bombers were launched then the bombers would be dumped overboard. The aircraft carriers of the task force were to valuable to lose.  
  Wednesday, April 1, 1942  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: "On 1 April, 1942, while Hornet was moored at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Alameda pier, sixteen Army B-25 bombers were hoisted to the flight deck and there parked. Under the command of Lieut. Colonel James H. Doolittle, U.S. Army, the B-25 Detachment consisted of seventy officers and one hundred thirty enlisted men. Lieutenant H.L. Miller, U.S. Navy, attached to the detachment as carrier take-off instructor also reported aboard for temporary duty, intending to return to Alameda after a demonstration take-off for the benefit of doubting Army pilots. The idea was abandoned when all planes were spotted for take-off and it was found that sixteen bombers could be comfortably accommodated, leaving a take-off run of 467 feet for the first plane. The advantage of having an extra plane for attack outweighed the desirability of demonstrating a proper take-off."  
  San Franciscans who saw the departure of the USS Hornet thought the 16 B-25s on the deck were being shipped to Hawaii because the aircraft were too big to launch from the carrier.  
  After the USS Hornet cleared the California coast Captain Marc Mitscher announced to his crew that “This ship will carry the army bombers to the coast of Japan for the bombing of Tokyo.” The announcement was followed by cheers from the crew.  
  Thursday, April 2, 1942  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: “At 1000, April 2, 1942, Task Force Eighteen, consisting of Hornet, Nashville, Vincennes, Cimarron and Desdiv 22, stood out of San Francisco in a fog which reduced visibility to about 1000 yards. Once clear of the swept channel a northwesterly course was set. Air coverage was provided by Commander Western Sea Frontier until late afternoon. Navy blimp L-6 delivered two boxes of navigator's domes for the B-25s. Vessels of the Task Force were notified of the mission by semaphore message late in the afternoon, and the crew of this vessel were informed by loudspeaker. Cheers from every section of the ship greeted the announcement and morale reached a new high, there to remain until after the attack was launched and the ship well clear of combat areas.”  
  San Franciscans who saw the departure of the USS Hornet thought the 16 B-25s on the deck were being shipped to Hawaii because the aircraft were too big to launch from the carrier.  
  Monday, April 6, 1942  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: "On 6 April a strange type of numeral code was heard on 3095 kcs, strong signal (type of code: 69457 R 73296 R 47261 R). Japanese broadcast stations were continually monitored in order to establish program continuity. Any departure from their usual arrangement while Hornet was in the combat zone could have been construed as a warning of danger.".  
  Halsey and Browning returned to Pearl Harbor to prepare U.S. Navy Task Force 16 to participate in the planned bombing raid on Japan.  
Wednesday, April 8, 1942
  U.S. Navy Task Force 16, under command of Halsey, set sail from Pearl Harbor to rendezvous with U.S. Navy Task Force 18 which was centered on the USS Hornet (CV 8) carrying the planes that were to carry out the bombing raid on Japan. TF 16 consisted of the USS Enterprise (CV 6), two cruisers, four destroyers, and one oiler.  
  Since his return from San Francisco on April 6 Halsey had been meeting with Nimitz and his staff on drafting Operation Plan 20-42 which detailed the U.S. Navy’s role in the raid. Halsey arranged for two submarines to patrol south and east of Japan to report on an Japanese naval movements. All other naval units were ordered to stay south of the equator.  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: “Weather conditions were generally bad throughout the voyage. Heavy seas and high winds, coupled with rain and squalls, reduced the danger of being sighted but prevented cruiser aircraft from conducting flight operations. At times speed of the force was reduced to prevent structural damage to the Cimarron. Destroyers fueled on 8 April.”  
  Thursday, April 9, 1942  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: “On April 9 instructions were received to delay rendezvous with Task Force 16 until 13 April. Reversed course and slowed to comply. Attempted to fuel Hornet from Cimarron but had to defer the operation because of heavy seas. Cimarron lost two men overboard in the attempt; one was recovered by life ring and heaving line, the other by Meredith. A man previously lost overboard from Vincennes was also recovered by Meredith in a prompt and efficient manner.”  
  Friday, April 10, 1942  
  A Japanese Navy radio intelligence unit located outside of Tokyo intercepted radio transmissions between Halsey's TF 16 centered on the USS Enterprise and Mitscher's TF 18 centered on the USS Hornet that was carrying Doolittle's bombers. The Japanese deduced the location of TF 18 and concluded that a force containing two, and possibly three aircraft carriers was headed for Japan. The Japanese made plans for long-range army bombers to attack the American force as soon as it been detected by a ring of picket boats stationed in an arc six hundred miles east of Japan.  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: “On 10 April Cimarron fueled both cruisers.”  
  Saturday, April 11, 1942  
  In a radioed report, Brigadier General Clayton L. Bissell, air advisor to top American military commander in China Lt. General Stilwell, informed Arnold of Nationalist Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek’s request that the bombers due on April 20 be delayed until the end of May so that the Chinese army would have time to strengthen defenses around the airfields requested to be used as landings. Chiang had not been informed that the bombers that were to be arriving would be Lt. Colonel James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle’s group that was planning on bombing Japan. Because the request involved the leader of an ally, Arnold passed the Chinese leader’s request to U.S. General of the Army George C. Marshall. Chiang was unaware of Doolittle’s mission.  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: “On 11 April set course 255° true for rendezvous with Task Force 16.”  
  Sunday, April 12, 1942  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: “On 12 April fueled Hornet and topped off cruisers and destroyers. Cimarron efficiently fueled two destroyers simultaneously under adverse weather conditions. At 1630 LCT 12 April, radar transmissions were detected from 230°, distant 130 miles.”  
  Monday, April 13, 1942  
  Arnold radioed Stilwell that the airfields in eastern China needed to be ready on the scheduled date. Chiang Kai-Shek had requested a delay in the arrival of the bombers, which were to be led by Doolittle and was unaware of the nature of their mission to bomb Japan.  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: “Contact was made with Task Force 16 at daylight 13 April. From 2 April until junction with Task Force 16 no contacts of any kind were made. - From April 13 to April 16, little of note occurred; weather continued to be heavy and squally, with generally poor visibility, which of course contributed to the success of the mission. Enterprise maintained air patrol. Steaming on westerly courses.”  
  Halsey announced to the crew of the USS Enterprise that the American force was bound for Tokyo.  
  Tuesday, April 14, 1942  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: “From April 13 to April 16, little of note occurred; weather continued to be heavy and squally, with generally poor visibility, which of course contributed to the success of the mission. Enterprise maintained air patrol. Steaming on westerly courses.”  
  This action report reflects the error made by U.S. Navy planners. Because the American force crossed the International Dateline there was technically no April 14 and this report should be dated April 15. Consequently Doolittle’s bombers would arrive in China one day earlier than planned. When Doolittle was informed of this error he professed not to be alarmed and assumed that personnel in China would here about the bombing raid on Tokyo over the radio and make appropriate preparations.  
  Wednesday, April 15, 1942  
  After two days of meetings between Bissell and Chiang Kai-Shek, Chiang unwillingly agreed to the use of all but one of the airfields in eastern China for the bombers due on April 20. Bissell radioed a report of these results to Arnold in Washington. Chiang was unaware that the bombers, which were to be led by Doolittle,  were on a mission to bomb Japan.  
  Thursday, April 16, 1942  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: “Various minor difficulties were experienced with the B-25s from departure until launching. Generator failures, spark plug changes, leaky gas tanks, brake trouble, and engine trouble culminated in the removal of one engine to the Hornet shops where it was repaired, then reinstalled. Planes could not be spotted for take-off until after final fueling because their wings overhung the ship's side. The high winds encountered caused vibrations in all control surfaces. Constant surveillance and rigid inspections were required to make certain the planes were properly secured to the flight deck. - B-25s were spotted for take-off on 16 April. The last plane hung far out over the stern ramp in a precarious position. The lead plane had 467 feet of clear deck for take-off. - From April 13 to April 16, little of note occurred; weather continued to be heavy and squally, with generally poor visibility, which of course contributed to the success of the mission. Enterprise maintained air patrol. Steaming on westerly courses.”  
  Doolittle, the Army Air Force personnel, and U.S. Navy personnel gathered aboard the USS Hornet and in a special ceremony attached Japanese medals to a five-hundred-pound bomb destined to be dropped on Tokyo.  
  Radio Tokyo broadcast that the “Reuters, British news agency, has announced that three American bombers have dropped bombs on Tokyo. This is a most laughable stpry. They know it is absolutely impossible for enemy bombers to get within five hundred miles of Tokyo. Instead of worrying about such foolish things, the Japanese people are enjoying the fine spring sunshine and fragrance of cherry blossoms.” Vice Admiral William F.”Bull” Halsey, commander of U.S. Navy Task Force 16 carrying Doolittle’s bombers, was alarmed that the Japanese would be on alert for a follow up raid. Doolittle discounted the report. No explanation has ever surfaced to explain the report.  
  Japanese military leaders were worried about the absence of additional radio reports from U.S. ships whose locations had been plotted on April 10. The only thing they were certain about was that the American ships had not ventured past the line of picket ships stationed east of Japan. The American task force was observing radio silence.  
  Friday, April 17, 1942  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: “On April 17 all heavy ships were topped off and oilers and destroyers were detached. After fueling, cruisers and carriers continued their westerly advance at various high speeds (20-25 knots). 20000 position April 17: Lat:38°-33'N; Long. 157°-54'E. At 0310 April 18 made radar contact on unknown object, distance 3100 yards abeam. At 0313 course was changed by TBS to 350° T. At 0411 the ship was called to General Quarters and course was again changed to west. At 0507 course was changed into wind for launching of Enterprise planes. At 0522 changed course to 270° T. At 0633 changed course to 220° T. At 0738 sighted enemy patrol craft of about 150 tons bearing 220°, distance 20,000 yards. At 0748 changed course to 270° T. At 0755 Nashville opened fire on patrol vessel which was also bombed and strafed by Enterprise planes. The vessel was still afloat when out of sight astern; Nashville remained behind to destroy it.”  
  Japanese civilian police called on the American and British embassies in Tokyo and informed them that an air raid drill would be held the next morning.  
  Saturday, April 18, 1942  
  At 3:10 a.m. a radar operator aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV 6) detected two ships 21,000 yards of the port bow. A storm probably prevented the Japanese ships from spotting the American task force but Vice Admiral William F.”Bull” Halsey had all ships go to General Quarters and ordered a change in course away from the two ships. At 3:41 radar operators reported that the Japanese ships were no longer within radar range. The change in course put the task force two hours and forty miles behind.  
  At 5:08 a.m. Halsey ordered three Dauntless scout planes out on patrol. At 7:15 a.m. one of the patrol planes dropped a message that it had spotted a Japanese ship and had probably been spotted in turn. At 7:44 lookouts on the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV 8) sighted a fishing boat at 10,000 yards. Minutes later a Japanese radio message was intercepted. The message said “Three enemy carriers sighted at position 650 nautical miles east of Inubo Saki at 0630 [Tokyo time].” The message was from the No. 3 Nitto Maru which was part of the Japanese early warning system. The No. 3 Nitto Maru was sunk by the light cruiser USS Nashville (CL 43) on Halsey’s orders.  
  The radio transmission by the Nitto Maru was received at the Hashirajima naval base near Hiroshima. Rear Admiral Ugaki Matome, Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku’s chief of staff, issued Order No.3 which was a contingency plan to repel an American force off the Japanese coast. Ugaki directed his forces to points 300 miles off the coast as this would be the launching point for U.S. Navy aircraft. The Japanese had not planned for longer range U.S. Army bombers to be used.  
  At 8:00 a.m. Halsey issued the orders to launch the planes of Lt. Colonel James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle and the 17th Bomb Group (Medium) early. Flashed by blinker to the USS Hornet was the message: “LAUNCH PLANES, TO DOOLITTLE AND GALLANT COMMAND: DOOD LUCK AND GOD BLESS YOU, HALSEY.”  
  From 8:00 a.m. to 9:19 am the 16 modified B-25 Mitchells led by Doolittle lifted off from the USS Hornet and headed for Japan.  
  At 9:45 am, a long-range Japanese navy patrol plane reported two twin-engine planes heading for Japan. Japanese Navy headquarters discounted the report as it was known that the U.S. Navy ac carriers had no twin-engine aircraft.  
  At 10:30 am, Japanese patrol planes were ordered to scout the waters east of Japan as far as 600 miles out. A strike force of 32 medium-bombers, escorted by 12 Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters were also sent out east. Bad weather caused limited visibility and caused these planes to turn back to Japan.  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: “On 18 April at 0800 orders were received to launch aircraft. Army crews, who had expected to take-off late in the afternoon, had to be rounded up and last minute instructions noted. Engines were warmed up, Hornet turned into the wind and at 0825 the first plane, Lieut. Colonel Doolittle, USA, pilot, left the deck. - With only one exception, take -offs were dangerous and improperly executed. Apparently, full back stabilizer was used by the first few pilots. As each plane neared the bow, with more than required speed, the pilot would pull up and climb in a dangerous near-stall, struggle wildly to nose down, then fight the controls for several miles trying to gain real flying speed and more than a hundred feet altitude. Lieutenant Miller, USN, held up a blackboard of final instructions for the pilots, but few obeyed. That the take-off could be made easily when properly executed was shown when a B-25 made a straight run down the deck, lifted gently in an easy climb and gained altitude with no trouble.  - Plane handling on the flight deck was expeditious and well done. One plane handler lost an arm by backing to a B-25 propeller. A high wind of over forty knots and heavy swells caused Hornet t pitch violently, occasionally taking green seas over the bow and wetting the flight deck. The over-all time for launching sixteen bombers was 59 minutes. Average interval, 3.9 minutes. - 0800 Position, April 18: Lat. 35°-26' N.; Long. 153°-27; E. At 0800 received orders from Comtaskfor 16 to launch bombers. At 0803 changed course into wind and prepared to launch; steaming at 22 knots, course 310° T. Crews manning planes and numerous lashings being removed from planes consumed several minutes. At 0825 launched first B-25 (Lieut. Colonel Doolittle pilot). Second plane launched 7 minutes later. Launchings have been previously discussed. Last bomber launched at 0920, after which Hornet reversed course to 090° T. and joined disposition. At 1100 word was received that enemy aircraft contact had been made by Japanese at 0830 (-10 time) in our approximate position at that time. At 1107 Nashville rejoined. Hornet aircraft being made ready for launching. At 1115 launched 8 VF. At 1410 small enemy craft sighted 15,000 yards on port beam. Nashville proceeded and destroyed this vessel. At 1425 an Enterprise VSB crashed dead ahead of this ship while flight operations were being conducted. Nashville recovered plane personnel. At 1445 Japanese language and English language broadcast announced the raid on Japan. No enemy aircraft sighted at any time. General Quarters stations were manned through the day. - The radar contact at 0310, April 18, distance 3100 yard abeam, mentioned in paragraph 1(1) of the basic report, is at considerable variance with presumably the same contact as reported by Enterprise radar. At the time the Enterprise was one mile astern of the Hornet, course 265 true. At 0310 the Enterprise radar reported contact on two surface vessels bearing 255 true distance 21,000 yards. The contact was plotted to a minimum range of 16,000 yards, and disappeared from the screen at 27,000 yards, bearing 201 true.”  
  The aircraft began arriving over Japan about noon Tokyo time and bombed 10 military and industrial targets in Tokyo, two in Yokohama and one each in Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka. Some B-25s encountered light antiaircraft fire and a few enemy fighters over Japan but no bomber was shot down. Only the B-25 of Lt. Richard O. Joyce received any battle damage, minor hits from antiaircraft fire. B-25 No. 4, piloted by Lt. Everett W. Holstrom, jettisoned its bombs before reaching its target when it came under attack by fighters after its gun turret malfunctioned. 15 of the 16 aircraft then proceeded southwest along the southern coast of Japan and across the East China Sea towards eastern China, where several fields in Zhejiang province were supposed to be ready to guide them in using homing beacons, then recover and refuel them for continuing on to Chongqing, the wartime Kuomintang capital. The primary base was at Zhuzhou, toward which all the aircraft navigated, but Halsey never sent the planned signal to alert them, apparently because of a possible threat to the task force. One B-25, extremely low on fuel, headed instead for the closer land mass of the Soviet Union.  
  At 1:45 p.m. a radio broadcast from Tokyo was heard aboard the USS Enterprise (CV 6).The broadcast said “A large fleet of enemy bombers appeared over Tokyo this afternoon and much danger to nonmilitary objectives and some damage to nonmilitary objectives and some damage to factories. The known death toll is between three thousand and four thousand so far. No planes were reported shot down over Tokyo. Osaka was also bombed. Tokyo reports several large fire burning." This exaggerated report somehow got past Japanese censors and was the first indication that the bombing raid was a success.  
  At 2:10 pm lookouts from the American task force spotted two Japanese picket boats. Planes from the USS Enterprise attacked the boats, sinking one and damaging the other. The cruiser USS Nashville was ordered to sink the damaged boat. After the USS Nashville began firing the five survivors of the Japanese boat surrendered. A captured Japanese sailor related that when the captain of his boat was informed that ships had been spotted he examined them through his binoculars and said “Indeed they are beautiful, but they are not ours.” The captain hen returned to his cabin and shot himself in the head.  
  Later in the afternoon JOAK, Japan’s propaganda radio station, broadcast that “The cowardly raiders purposefully avoided industrial centers and the important military establishments, and blindly dumped their incendiaries in a few suburban districts, especially on schools and hospitals.”  
  The official survey of the damage done by the raid concluded that 50 people died, 252 people were wounded, and ninety buildings were gutted by fire and explosions.  
  Americans learned of the bombing raid through newspaper reports (Morning of April 18 in the U.S. and April 19 in the western Pacific). The New York Times reported “JAPAN REPORTS TOKYO, YOKOHAMA BOMBED BY”ENEMT PLANES” IN DAYLIGHT; CLAIMS 9.” Officially Americans were informed that American planes could have been involved but a press spokesman for the military told reporters that “such an attack could have been made without direct orders from Washington.” American military leaders, having heard no word on the fate of the flyers, were reluctant to confirm American involvement if more than half of the attacking force had been lost on a mission that did minimal damage.  
  Sunday, April 19, 1942  
  The crew of the B-25 Mitchell bomber “Bat out of Hell” was captured by the Japanese and taken to Shanghai. The crew consisted of Lt. Bill Farrow, pilot, Lt. Robert L. Hite, copilot, Lt. George Barr, navigator, Cpl. Harold Spatz, engineer-gunner, and Cpl. Jacob DeShazer, bombardier.  
  James Landis, Director of the Office of Civil Defense, told an audience of 21,000 civil defense air wardens in Chicago to prepare their communities for possible revenge attacks from the Japanese due to the Doolittle bombing raid. Apprehension about a Japanese reprisal on the West Coast would continue until after the Battle of Midway. Any fighters, bombers, anti-aircraft guns, and barrage balloons that could be spared were rushed to the area.  
  Monday, April 20, 1942  
  Dean Hallmark, Chase Nielsen, and Bob Meder of the B-25 Mitchell bomber "Green Hornet" that participated in the Doolittle bombing raid on Japan were captured in Wenchow, China while trying to reach Chinese held territory.  
  The captured crew of the B-25 Mitchell bomber “Bat out of Hell” was taken to Tokyo and placed under the supervision of the Kempei Tai.  
  Emperor Hirohito instructed General Okamura Yasuji, senior Army commander in China, to prepare a punitive expedition against the people of Chekiang province where the Doolittle’s crews had found refuge. The area would be enlarged to include adjoining provinces. The Japanese punitive expedition began on May 15 and would last approximately three months during which approximately 250,000 Chinese were killed.  
Tuesday, April 21, 1942
  U.S. General of the Army George C. Marshall and Commanding General of the Army Air Forces General Henry “Hap” Arnold Lt. General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold received word through the Chinese from Lt. Colonel James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle. “MISSION TO BOMB TOKYO HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED. ON ENTERING CHINA WE RAN INTO BAD WEATHER AND IT IS FEARED THAT ALL PLANES CRASHED. UP TO THE PRESENT ALREADY FIVE FLIERS SAFE.” The message sent by Doolittle said five crews were safe, but mistranslations had changed to message to five fliers.  
  Arnold wrote a memorandum to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the memo he said that the attack had a considerable amount of success over Japan, that many of the mission’s members were still missing, that the attack was a success from the standpoint of Allied morale and the demoralization of Japan, but that any mission losing more than 10 percent of its force was a failure.  
  During a press conference U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt made the following allusion to the James Hilton's popular novel with regards to the Halsey-Doolittle raid on Japan: “Mr. President, couldn't you tell us about that bombing? Where did those planes start from and go to? And I said, "Yes. I think the time has now come to tell you. They came from our new secret base at Shangri-La!"  
  Wednesday, April 22, 1942  
  War department officials received a secret cablegram from Admiral William H. Standley, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, reporting that a B-25 Mitchell had landed near Vladisvostok and that the crew was alive and in good health but had been interred. Standley passed along a request from the Soviets that this information be kept secret. The Soviets would release this information to the press two days later.  
  Friday, April 24, 1942  
  The Soviet Union announced that a U. S. bomber which raided Japan on April 18, 1942 and then lost its way had been interned with its crew in the Eastern Maritime Province of Sikhote-Alin on the Sea of Japan. It appeared that the incident would be a test of the year-old Japanese-Soviet neutrality pact. U. S. embassy officials in Moscow said Ambassador Standley had asked Washington for instructions.  
  Dean Hallmark, Chase Nielsen, and Bob Meder of the B-25 Mitchell bomber "Green Hornet" were taken to Shanghai and placed under the supervision of the Kempei Tai.  
  Saturday, April 25, 1942  
  From the U.S. Navy Halsey-Doolittle Raid After Action Report: “The remainder of return trip (from launch on April 18) was uneventful except for the loss of one VSB -- both occupants were seen to sink - one with the plane and one unconscious alongside the plane. Entered Pearl Harbor morning April 25.”  
  A section of the B-25 Mitchell “Bat Out of Hell” that participated in the Doolittle bombing raid on Japan was brought to Tokyo and along with an American parachute were put on display to reassure the Japanese public that it didn’t have to worry about American air raids. Some two million people would visit the exhibit.  
  Dean Hallmark, Chase Nielsen, and Bob Meder of the B-25 Mitchell bomber "Green Hornet" were taken to Tokyo.  
  Tuesday, April 28, 1942  
  Japanese Premier Tojo Hideki called a conference in Tokyo to discuss what should be done to the captured flyers who participated in the Doolittle Raid on April 18. General Sugiyama Hajime, chief of the Imperial General Staff, expressing the wishes of Emperor Hirohito, argued that the flyers should be executed as a deterrent. Tojo argued that executions would endanger interred Japanese abroad. Sugiyama would win the debate.  
  Sunday, May 3, 1942  
  Doolittle and his crew reached Chungking. Upon his arrival Doolittle was informed he had been promoted to the rank of Major General. Doolittle had been travelling through improvised means since his plane crash landed in eastern China on April 18 following the bombing raid on Japan.  
  Tuesday, May 12, 1942  
  Marshall instructed Arnold to begin the process for awarding the Medal of Honor for Doolittle for leading the bombing raid on Japan on April 18. Marshall wanted all details taken care of, including press releases, for Doolittle’s eventual return to the United States.  
  Friday, May 15, 1942  
  The Japanese broke an informal truce in eastern China by beginning a punitive expedition against people of Chekiang province and adjoining provinces for adding the crews of the Doolittle raid. The expedition would last approximately three months during which approximately 250,000 Chinese were killed.  
  Tuesday, May 19, 1942  
  At a ceremony at the White House Roosevelt awarded Doolittle the Congressional Medal of Honor for his role in the bombing raid on Japan on April 18. The accompanying citations read: "For conspicuous leadership above and beyond the call of duty, involving personal valor and intrepidity at an extreme hazard to life. With the apparent certainty of being forced to land in enemy territory or to perish at sea, Lt. Col. Doolittle personally led a squadron of Army bombers, manned by volunteer crews, in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland."  
  Friday, May 22, 1942  
  The eight captured crew members of the Doolittle Raid were ordered to sign confessions of war crimes against the Japanese people. Any member that refused to sign was told that they would be executed. Weak from torture and hunger, each man signed the documents.  
  Saturday, June 27, 1942  
  At Bolling Field in Washington, D.C., 23 of the crew of the planes that participated in the Doolittle Raid on April 18 were presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross. At a smaller ceremony a week later, three others were awarded the medal at Walter Reed Army Hospital.  
  Thursday, August 13, 1942  
  The Japanese government approved “regulations for punishment of enemy air crews.” The regulations were applied retroactively in order to include the captured flyers who participated in the Doolittle Raid on April 18. By the terms of the act the bombing and strafing of civilians was punishable by death or a prison sentence depending on the severity of the act.  
  Saturday, August 15, 1942  
  The United States learned from the Swiss Consulate General in Shanghai that eight Doolittle Raid crew members were prisoners of the Japanese at Police Headquarters in that city. Captured were 1st Lt. William Farrow, Lt. Robert L. Hite, Lt. George Barr, Sgt. Harold Spatz,, and Cpl. Jacob Daniel DeShazer of Bomber 16 and 1st Lt. Dean Hallmark, 1st Lt. Robert J. Meder, Lt. Chase J. Nielsen of Bomber 6. Sgt. William J. Dieter and Cpl. Donald E. Fitzmaurice of Bomber 6 died in the crash landing.  
  Friday, August 28, 1942  
  The eight captured Doolittle raiders were tried by a board of five Japanese officers chaired by Major General Ito Shoji in Shanghai. The proceedings were conducted in Japanese and the only portion translated was Itos’ request that the flyers give the court of a brief history of their life. They were never informed of the charges against them. The outcome of the trial was never in doubt. General Sugiyama Hajime, chief of the Imperial General Staff, had sent an emissary to Shanghai with orders to carry out the trial in a strict manner with the punishments to be very strict and that Sugiyama was expecting the death sentence to be imposed.  
  Saturday, October 3, 1942  
  Japanese Prime Minister Tojo Hideki spoke with Kido Koichi, the Lord Privy Seal, and argued for leniency for the captured flyers who participated in the Doolittle Raid on April 18. Tojo argues that at most only some of the flyers should be executed. Kido explained Tojo’s position to Emperor Hirohito and Hirohito agreed that only those found guilty of killing school children would be executed. General Sugiyama Hajime, chief of the Imperial General Staff, having heard of Tojo’s actions tried to get an audience with the Emperor to argue against any clemency but was too late.  
  Saturday, October 10, 1942  
  General Sugiyama Hajime, chief of the Imperial General Staff, cabled the decision of Emperor Hirohito to grant clemency from the death penalty to those flyers who participated in the Doolittle Raid on April 18 who had not been convicted of killing school children to General Hata Shunroku, supreme commander of Japanese forces in China. Sugiyama also notified Hata that as war criminals the surviving flyers should not be accorded the treatment of prisoners of war.  
  Wednesday, October 14, 1942  
  Farrow, Hallmark, and Spatz, were advised they were to be executed.  
  Thursday, October 15, 1942  
  The Japanese brought Farrow, Hallmark, and Spatz to Public Cemetery No. 1 outside Shanghai. In accordance with proper ceremonial procedures of the Japanese military, they were then shot.  
  Friday, October 16, 1942  
  The five surviving captured members of the flyers who participated in the Doolittle Raid on April 18 were told that their death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. These men were Hite, Barr, DeShazer, Meder, and Nielsen. All except for Meder would survive captivity. Meder died on December 1, 1943.  
  Monday, October 19, 1942  
  The Japanese announced that they had tried the eight men and sentenced them to death, but that several of them had received commutation of their sentences to life imprisonment. No names or details were included in the broadcast.  
  Wednesday, December 1, 1943  
  1st Lt. Robert J. Meder died in captivity in a prison on Nanking, China.  
  Monday, August 20, 1945  
  The four surviving captured members of the air crews who participated in the Doolittle Raid on April 18, 1942 were freed.  

The objective of is to provide a day by day account of the events that lead up to and were part of the greatest conflict known to mankind. There are accounts for the activities of each particular day and timelines for subjects and personalities. It is the of this website intent to provide an unbiased account of the war. Analysis, effects caused by an event, or prior or subsequent pertinent events are presented separately and indicated as text that is italicized.

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