On April 18th, 1942, 16 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers would take off from the deck of the U.S.S. Hornet. They launched from 650 miles outside of Japan. Their mission and the aftermath would become one of legend. Making them heroes in the eyes of Americans who sorely needed a victory in the dark days after Pearl Harbor.
The Doolittle Raid seventy-five years ago was more than one of history’s most momentous air attacks. It was also one of the most economical. The Allies dropped 2.7 million tons of bombs on Germany, and the United States dropped seven million tons on Vietnam. And still the Nazis and the Communists continued to fight. Yet sixteen B-25 bombers carrying perhaps sixteen tons of bombs managed to change the course of history.
It was a stunning reversal. In war, momentum is everything, and Japan was the one that had it in the early spring of 1942. Within four months, they had decimated the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, conquered Southeast Asia, the oil-rich Dutch East Indies and the islands of the Central Pacific, and were about to compel the last battered U.S. defenders in the Philippines to surrender.
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