70 years are marked this day since the Doolittle Raid.
[..] was the first air raid by the United States to strike the Japanese Home Islands (specifically Honshu) during World War II. By demonstrating that Japan itself was vulnerable to American air attack, it provided a vital morale boost and opportunity for U.S. retaliation after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.
Sixteen U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched from the U.S. Navy's aircraft carrier USS Hornet deep in the Western Pacific Ocean. The plan called for them to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China—landing a medium bomber on the Hornet was impossible. All the aircraft involved in the bombing were lost and 11 crewmen were either killed or captured—with three of the captured men executed by the Japanese Army in China. One of the B-25s landed in the Soviet Union at Vladivostok, where it was confiscated and its crew interned for more than a year. Thirteen entire crews, and all but one crewman of a 14th, returned either to the United States or to American forces.
At 07:38 on the morning of 18 April, while the task force was still about 650 nautical miles (1,200 km) from Japan, it was sighted by the Japanese picket boat No.23 Nittō Maru, a 70-ton patrol craft, which radioed an attack warning to Japan. The boat was sunk by gunfire from USS Nashville;[N 2] the chief petty officer who captained the boat committed suicide rather than be captured, but five of the eleven crew survived when they were picked up by Nashville. Doolittle and Hornet skipper Captain Marc Mitscher decided to launch the B-25s immediately—10 hours earlier and 170 nautical miles (310 km) farther from Japan than planned.[N 3] After respotting to allow for engine start and runups, Doolittle's aircraft had 467 feet (142 m) of takeoff distance. Despite the fact that none of the B-25 pilots, including Doolittle, had ever taken off from a carrier before, all 16 aircraft launched safely between 08:20 and 09:19. (The 16th B-25 had been included only as a reserve, intended to fly along as an observation and photographic platform, but when surprise was compromised, Doolittle decided to use all 16 aircraft in the attack.) This was the only time that United States Army Air Forces bombers were launched from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier on a combat mission.
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