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The Firebombing of Tokyo – Part 2

As fighting on Saipan continued, other units of the Allied forces were busy elsewhere. Mustang Koji’s posts offer an insight from both sides.

Masako and Spam Musubi

Fifi 1 Fifi – the last flying B-29 Superfortress in the world. Taken by me flying over my house on November 13, 2010. Copyright Koji D. Kanemoto

Superfortress.

Or the “Superfort”.

That’s what we called them here in the States; nicknames for the Boeing B-29 bomber.

My aunt called them “地獄からのトンボ” or dragonfly from hell.

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Development

The development of the B-29 actually started before WWII began for the US – in 1939.  Perhaps there were some shenanigans back then but Boeing had engineered a pressurized cockpit for their B-17 Flying Fortress (from whence the nickname Superfortress hailed from) for the USAAF.  Conveniently, the USAAF put together in 1939 a call for a new bomber capable of 400 mph while carrying a 20,000 pound payload.  The B-29 was born.

frye Destroyed Frye Packing Plant. Boeing archives.

Her development was not smooth.  Indeed, it was the most advanced aircraft design of its time with…

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April 1942 (2)

USS Tenedos

USS Tenedos

1-6 April – off the coast of Ceylon ( now known as Sri Lanka), the Japanese sank the USS Tenedos in Columbo Harbour during an air attack.  As the Japanese Blitz raged on, enemy troops made amphibious landings on Bougainville in the Solomons and in the Admiralty Islands.  On the coast of India, the enemy attacked Vizagapatam and Cocanada.

5-9 April – as Bataan fell, the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean, also was facing humiliation.  Five WWI battleships led by HMS Warspite and 3 carriers had been sent to protect the shipping to Burma.  As church bells rang out over the bay for Easter in Ceylon, Japanese aircraft bombed the installations at Columbo Harbour.  Six Zeros were shot down at the cost of 20 RAF planes

Thirty-one hits on HMS Dorsetshire lifted her out of the water and she sank.  HMS Cornwall received 8 hits, rolled over and sank as well.  About 1,100 men were rescued by destroyers, but the first objective of the enemy’s Operation C was a success, stage 2 would follow 3 days later.

HMS Hermes & HMAS Vampire

HMS Hermes & HMAS Vampire

The second phase began as a raid on Trincomalee, Ceylon.  Adm. Nagumo’s aircraft destroyed cranes, workshops, ammunition dumps and fuel tanks.  Eight Allied planes and 15 enemy aircraft were downed during aerial combat.  HMS Hernes and HMAS Vampire were discovered trying to escape.  The Hermes and the Vampire were both sunk, but remarkably, most of the crew-members were rescued by the hospital ship, Vita.

Across the Bay of Bengal, Admiral Ozawa’s cruisers sank 23 merchant ships.  Shipping between Burma and India came to a screeching halt and the Allies had lost 100,000 tons of matérial.

10 April – the US Pacific Fleet started being organized according to type: battleships, cruisers, destroyers, carriers, Service Force, Amphibious Force, Submarine Force and Patrol Wings.  /  On Burma, the “BurCorps” were continually pushed north by the enemy, but they destroyed the oil facilities as they retreated.

Britain/India negotiations

Britain/India negotiations

11 April – Britain denied India’s independence demands from President Nehru, but the Indian leader pledged continual support for the Allies despite their political differences.

18 April – the Doolittle Raid off the USS Hornet was launched 150 miles further from Japan than originally planned to avoid detection from the Japanese.

Taking off from the USS Hornet

Taking off from the USS Hornet

Once the shock of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor subsided, US military planners turned to retaliation.  Lt.Colonel James H. Doolittle presented his daring and unorthodox plan:  B-25 bombers, normally land-based, to be transported by carrier.  The top-secret training program began immediately and B-25 aircraft were modified for the operation.  The naval fleet used were nicknamed, Task Force Mike, for the operation and the bombers chalked messages on their cargo such as: “I don’t want to set the world on fire, just Tokyo.”

one of the bombers that crashed in China

one of the bombers that crashed in China

Further information and Eye Witness Story to follow……….

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –  [ what the Sarge didn’t tell you ]

What the manual doesn't tell you is........

What the manual doesn’t tell you is……..

CPR exhibited by one who knows.....

CPR exhibited by one who knows…..

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Farewell Salutes – 

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Donald Barnes – Arlington, VA; US Army, WWII

Elmo Copeland – Greenville, FL; US Army, Vietnam

Dominick D’Anna – Tucson, AZ; US Air Force, Lt. Col. (Ret.), Vietnam, Cuban Missile Crisis, Bronze Star

Lewis Giers – Holly, MI; US Army, WWIIpatriotic1

John Joplin – Ft. Smith, AR; US Army, Korea, 3rd Infantry Division

Walter Malec – LaPorte, IN; US Army, WWII, Sgt. PTO

Philip Pelkey – Hampden, ME; US Navy, SeaBee

Ian Seaman – Henderson, NZ; RNZ Air Force # F77538

Malcolm Youker Jr. – Eugene, OR; US Army, WWII, Capt., Counter Intelligence Corps, PTO, Bronze Star

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