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The WW2 event that started Japan's defeat...

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by robycop3, Oct 12, 2019.

  1. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    Many people cite the Battle of Midway as the event that sealed Japan's defeat, but the actual gamebreaker occurred 2 months before that - THE DOOLITTLE RAID.

    Late in 1941, FDR expressed he'd like to see Japan bombed ASAP in retaliation for Pearl harbor. America badly needed a morale boost after the string of Japanese victories in early 1942 & a carrier raid was seen as the only possibility for delivering a bomb attack upon Japan at that time. However, no one wanted to risk our few carriers by sending any of them that close to Japan.

    Capt. Francis S. Lowe told Admiral King he believed medium bombers could be launched from a carrier. The B-25 was selected due to its proven short takeoff ability & for being small enough to place a small squadron on a carrier. two B-25s were loaded onto the carrier Hornet at Norfolk, Va. where they took off from its deck without difficulty. The mission was immediately approved.

    The brass selected Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, a top test pilot & planner, to design & carry out the mission. Doolittle queried the 17th BG for volunteers for an "extremely hazardous" mission without revealing the target. He received no lack of volunteers!

    The crews began training for short takeoffs from a runway painted to resemble the Hornet's flight deck. USN flight instructor Henry L. Miller performed their training.(Thus, he is considered an honorary member of the group.)It was found that only 16 B-25s could be loaded onto the ship. But they had to be modified to increase their fuel capacity from 646 to 1141 gallons.

    The mission force was sighted by a Japanese picket, Nitto Maru, while still about 750 miles from Japan. As that ship had radioed an attack warning to Japan, Doolittle & Hornet's skipper, Marc Mitscher, decided to launch the planes at once, some 170 miles short of their planned launch point. All aircraft launched safely, & flew in singly at wavetop level to avoid detection.

    It took them 6 hours to arrive over Tokyo, about noon, their time. They hit targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuke, Nagoya, Kobe, & Osaka.

    !5 of the bombers headed for China, where all crash-landed. The 16th landed at Vladivostok, USSR. of the 80 crewmwn on the mission, 77 survived the crash-landings, 8 were later captured by the Japanese & 3 were executed, & the 16th crew was interned by the Russians for over a year & treated well; they were allowed to "escape" after the USSR & Germany were at war.

    Doolittle received the Medal of Honor & was steadily & quickly promoted, to Lt. general, cimmanding the 12th Air Force over North Africa. He was promoted to 4-star general after the war & his retirement.

    His raid did little material damage to Japan, so why did it start japan on the road to defeat? First, it gave a huge fillip to the American public which was itching for revenge on Japan. More importantly, it caused a vast loss of face to the top military brass of Japan, stunning them into hasty, poorly-planned actions. None were more-affected than Adm. Yamamoto, who was deeply ashamed that he, in his mind, had prtmitted enemy bombs to fall near the Emperor's residence. Thus, he rushed the Midway operation into being without the usual careful planning he usually did on large missions. In his anger & haste, he assumed Adm. Nimitz would react as Y guessed he would. This proved entirely-wrong, of course, as Nimitz didn't follow Yamamoto's script !

    After Midway, Yamamoto launched a series of attacks against UNS units here & there, still trying to entice the main fleet into a showdown. These actions destroyed a number of US ships, but also whittled down Japan's pool of highly trained, experienced aircrews, so before too long, Japan's remaining carriers were largely ineffective due to inesperienced aircrews With the IJN becoming much less-potent, Japan couldn't send reinforcements to threatened island bastions, resulting in their falls. (Yamamoto himself was killed Apr. 1943. See the thread about the mission that got him.)

    Yes, the Doolittle raid helped vastly in softening up Japan for defeat. It was the event that "got the ball rolling" against Japan.
     
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  2. Roy

    Roy <img src=/0710.gif>
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    Brave men, those Doolittle raiders. It could almost be considered a suicide mission.
     
  3. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson Administrator
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    I once read of something a WW2 German Army officer said.
    If you fight the Russians, French, or British, you know what they are going to do. They follow their plans. If you fight the Americans, you don't because they won't.​
     
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  4. RighteousnessTemperance&

    RighteousnessTemperance& Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the interesting post. Are you certain the “escape” from Russia was delayed simply as implied? Didn’t Hitler initiate war with the Soviet Union in June 1941, almost a year before the Doolittle Raid? Perhaps it had more to do with their non-aggression treaty with Japan?
     
  5. just-want-peace

    just-want-peace Well-Known Member
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    Along this line of thought, I once heard that one of the reasons the USA was so successful in battles against the Germans was one of simple COMMAND!
    Specifically, when some response was required from a German unit, the Capt., Lt., or whatever of that unit would make no move, other than DEFENSE, without getting the approval of his superior first. But the US equivalent could immediately start offensive or other operations, based on the situation at the moment, w/out advance approval.
     
  6. Adonia

    Adonia Well-Known Member
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    I would say that it was actually the attack at Pearl Harbor that started the ball rolling concerning Japan's eventual defeat. Firstly, they failed to destroy the American carriers that were based there because as luck would have it for us they were at sea.

    Secondly, they failed to destroy all the oil and fuel supplies that were there because at that point were irreplaceable commodities for the Pacific Fleet.

    Thirdly, the sneak attack aroused the American people to action, which galvanized the whole nation onto a war footing.

    The Doolittle raid was a pinprick, the Midway action was far more serious as it caused the Japanese to lose 4 major fleet carriers and over 300 naval fighter pilots - a loss that the Japanese could ill afford even then.
     
  7. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
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    Yamamoto's Naval strategy had been pretty sound before the Doolittle raid, but that raid humiliated & angered him so that he hastily made his Midway plans, without considering what to do if Nimitz didn't follow his script. Thus, he sent old subbies to shadow Pearl Harbow, which were late arriving at their stations because of having to undergo repairs first. And the carrier strike force had no idea where the US carriers were. Neither Nagumo nor Yamamoto expected the US forces to meet their attack hard. And, having no contingency plan, Yamamoto simoly called off the whole operation when his Main Body couldn't find the US forces after his carriers were sunk. Had he pressed forward, he could at least have driven the US navy back to Pearl, & still taken Midway.

    Had Yamamoto not been so upset, he would've made his plan carefully, as he'd done his operations in the preceeding 6 months.
     
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