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The Doolittle Raid, 18 April 1942, was the first air raid by the United Statesmarker to strike a Japanese home island (Honshūmarker) during World War II. It demonstrated that Japanmarker itself was vulnerable to Allied air attack and provided an expedient means for U.S. retaliation for Japan's attack on Pearl Harbormarker on 7 December 1941. The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James "Jimmy" Doolittle. Doolittle would later recount in his autobiography that the raid was intended to cause the Japanese to doubt their leadership and to raise American morale:

The Japanese had been told they were invulnerable.
An attack on the Japanese homeland would cause confusion in the minds of the Japanese people and sow doubt about the reliability of their leaders.

There was a second, equally important, psychological reason for this attack...Americans badly needed a morale boost.

Sixteen B-25B Mitchell bombers were launched from the aircraft carrier deep within enemy waters. The plan called for them to hit military targets in Japan, and land in China. All of the aircraft were lost and 11 crewmen were either killed or captured. One of these B-25s landed in Soviet territory where its crew remained interned for more than a year. The entire crews of 13 of the 16 aircraft, and all but one of a 14th, returned to the United States or to Allied control. The raid caused little material damage to Japan, but succeeded in its goal of helping American morale. It also caused Japan to withdraw a carrier group from the Indian Ocean to defend their homeland and contributed to Japan's decision to attack Midwaymarker.


The raid had its start in a desire by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, expressed to Joint Chiefs of Staff in a meeting at the White Housemarker on 21 December, 1941, that Japan be bombed as soon as possible to boost public morale after the disaster at Pearl Harbor.

The concept for the attack came from Navy Captain Francis Low, Assistant Chief of Staff for Anti-submarine Warfare, who reported to Admiral Ernest J. King on 10 January 1942, that he thought that twin-engined Army bombers could be successfully launched from an aircraft carrier after observing several at a naval airfield in Norfolk, Virginiamarker, where the runway was painted with the outline of a carrier deck for landing practice. It was subsequently planned and led by Doolittle, a famous civilian aviator and aeronautical engineer before the war.

Requirements for the aircraft for a cruising range of 2,400 miles (3,900 km) with a 2,000 pound (900 kg) bomb load resulted in the selection of the North American B-25B Mitchell to carry out the mission. The B-26 Marauder, B-18 Bolo, and B-23 Dragon were also considered, but the B-26 had questionable takeoff characteristics from a carrier deck, and the B-23's wingspan was nearly 50% greater than the B-25's, reducing the number that could be taken aboard a carrier and posing risks to the ship's island. The B-18, one of the final two types considered by Doolittle, was rejected for the same reason.

Subsequent tests with B-25s indicated they could fulfill the mission's requirements. Doolittle's first report on the plan suggested that the bombers might land in Vladivostokmarker, shortening the flight by , on the basis of turning over the B-25s as Lend-Lease. However, negotiations with the Soviet Union (which was not at war with Japan) for permission were fruitless.


Col. Doolittle wires a Japanese medal to a bomb, for "return" to its originators.
When planning indicated that the B-25 was the aircraft best meeting all specifications of the mission, two were loaded aboard the aircraft carrier at Norfolk, Virginiamarker, and subsequently flown off the deck without difficulty on 3 February 1942. The raid was immediately approved and the 17th Bomb Group (Medium) chosen to provide the pool of crews from which volunteers would be recruited. The 17th BG had been the first group to receive B-25s, with all four of its squadrons equipped with the bomber by September 1941. The 17th not only was the first medium bomb group of the Army Air Corps, but in the spring of 1942, also 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.

The 17th BG, then flying antisubmarine patrols from Pendleton, Oregonmarker, was immediately moved cross-country to Lexington County Army Air Basemarker, Columbia, South Carolinamarker, ostensibly to fly similar patrols off the east coast of the United States, but in actuality to prepare for the mission against Japan. The group officially transferred to Columbia effective 9 February, where its combat crews were offered the opportunity to volunteer for an "extremely hazardous" but unspecified mission. On 17 February the group was detached from the Eighth Air Force.

Initial planning called for 20 aircraft to fly the mission, and 24 of the group's B-25B Mitchell bombers were diverted to the Mid-Continent Airlines modification center in Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker. Modifications included:
  • Removal of the lower gun turret
  • Installation of de-icers and anti-icers
  • Steel blast plates mounted on the fuselage around the upper turret
  • Removal of the liaison radio set
  • Installation of three additional fuel tanks and support mounts in the bomb bay, crawl way and lower turret area to increase fuel capacity from 646 to 1,141 U.S. gallons (2,445 to 4,319 litres)
  • Mock gun barrels installed in the tail cone, and
  • Replacement of their Norden bombsight with a makeshift aiming sight, devised by pilot Capt. C. Ross Greening and called the "Mark Twain".

Two bombers also had cameras mounted to record the results of bombing.

The 24 crews selected picked up the modified bombers in Minneapolis and flew them to Eglin Fieldmarker, Floridamarker, beginning 1 March 1942. There the crews received intensive training for three weeks in simulated carrier deck takeoffs, low-level and night flying, low-altitude bombing, and over-water navigation. Navy Lt. Henry Miller supervised their takeoff training and accompanied the crews to the launch. For his efforts, Lt. Miller is considered an honorary member of the Raider group. Lt. Col Doolittle stated in his after action report that an operational level of training was reached despite several days when flying was not possible because of rain and fog. One aircraft was heavily damaged in a takeoff accident and another taken off the mission because of a nose wheel shimmy that could not be repaired quickly enough.

On 25 March, the remaining 22 B-25s took off from Eglin for McClellan Fieldmarker, Californiamarker. They arrived on 27 March for final modifications at the Sacramento Air Depot. A total of 16 B-25s were subsequently flown to Alameda, Californiamarker, on 31 March. Fifteen raiders would be the mission force and a 16th aircraft, by last minute agreement with the Navy, would be squeezed onto the deck to be flown off shortly after departure from San Francisco to provide feedback to the Army pilots about takeoff characteristics. (The 16th bomber was made part of the mission force instead.)

B-25 aircraft of the Doolittle Raid

In order of launching, the 16 aircraft were:

AAF serial # Nickname Sqdn Target Pilot Disposition
40-2344 34th BS Tokyo Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle crashed N Chuchowmarker, China
40-2292 37th BS Tokyo Lt. Travis Hoover crashed-landed Ningpomarker, China
40-2270 Whiskey Pete 95th BS Tokyo Lt. Robert M. Gray crashed SE Chuchow, China
40-2282 95th BS Tokyo Lt. Everett W. Holstrom crashed SE Shangjao, China
40-2283 95th BS Tokyo Capt. David M. Jones crashed SW Chuchow, China
40-2298 The Green Hornet 95th BS Tokyo Lt. Dean E. Hallmark ditched at sea Wenchu, China
40-2261 The Ruptured Duck 95th BS Tokyo Lt. Ted W. Lawson ditched at sea Shangchow, China
40-2242 95th BS Tokyo Capt. Edward J. York interned Primorsky Kraimarker, Siberiamarker
40-2303 Whirling Dervish 34th BS Tokyo Lt. Harold F. Watson crashed S Nanchang, China
40-2250 89th RS Tokyo Lt. Richard O. Joyce crashed NE Chuchow, China
40-2249 Hari Kari-er 89th RS Yokohama Capt. C. Ross Greening crashed NE Chuchow, China
40-2278 Fickle Finger of Fate 37th BS Yokohama Lt. William M. Bower crashed NE Chuchow, China
40-2247 The Avenger 37th BS Yokosuka Lt. Edgar E. McElroy crashed N Nanchang, China
40-2297 89th RS Nagoya Maj. John A. Hilger crashed SE Shangjao, China
40-2267 TNT 89th RS Kobe Lt. Donald G. Smith ditched at sea Shangchow, China
40-2268 Bat Out of Hell 34th BS Nagoya Lt. William G. Farrow crashed S Ningpo, China

The Raid

B-25Bs on USS Hornet en route to Japan

On 1 April, the 16 modified bombers, their five-man crews and Army maintenance personnel, totaling 71 officers and 130 enlisted men, were loaded onto at Alameda. Each aircraft carried four specially-constructed 500-pound (225 kg) bombs. Three of these were high-explosive munitions, and one was a bundle of incendiaries. The incendiaries were long tubes, wrapped together in order to be carried in the bomb bay, but designed to separate and scatter over a wide area after release. Five of these bombs had Japanese "friendship" medals wired to them—medals awarded by the Japanese government to U.S. servicemen before the war. To decrease weight (and thus increase range), the bombers' armament was reduced. Each bomber launched with two .50-caliber machine gun in an upper turret and a .30-caliber machine gun in the nose. Two wooden, simulated gun barrels mounted in the tail cones were intended to discourage Japanese air attacks from that direction, and were cited afterward by Doolittle as being particularly effective. The aircraft were clustered closely and tied down on the Hornet's flight deck in the order of their expected launch.
The Hornet and Task Force 18 left the port of Alameda at 10:00 on 2 April and a few days later rendezvoused with Task Force 16, commanded by Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.: the carrier and her escort of cruisers and destroyers in the mid-Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii. The Enterprise's fighters and scout planes would provide protection for the entire task force in the event of a Japanese air attack, since the ''Hornet'''s fighters were stowed below decks to allow the B-25s to use the flight deck. The combined force, two carriers, three heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, eight destroyers, and two fleet oilers, then proceeded in radio silence. On the afternoon of 17 April, the slow oilers refueled the task force, then withdrew with the destroyers to the east, while the carriers and cruisers dashed west at 20 knots towards their intended launch point in enemy-controlled waters east of Japan.

At 07:38 on the morning of 18 April, while the task force was still about 650 miles (1,050 km) from Japan, it was sighted by Japanese picket boat No. 23 Nitto Maru which radioed an attack warning to Japan. Although the boat was fatally damaged by gunfire from the cruiser , Doolittle and Hornet skipper Captain Marc Mitscher decided to launch the B-25s immediately—10 hours early and farther from Japan than planned. After respotting to allow for engine start and run-ups, Doolittle's aircraft had 467 ft (142 metres) 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 the mission was compromised, Doolittle made a command decision to utilize the reserve aircraft.) 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.

The B-25s then flew towards Japan, most in groups of two to four aircraft before changing to single-file at wavetop level to avoid detection. The aircraft began arriving over Japan about noon (Tokyo time; six hours after launch) and bombed 10 military and industrial targets in Tokyo, two in Yokohama, and one each in Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka. Although some B-25s encountered light anti-aircraft fire and a few enemy fighters over Japan, no bomber was shot down. Only the B-25 of Lt. Richard O. Joyce received any battle damage, minor hits from anti-aircraft fire. Plane 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 Seamarker towards eastern China, where several fields in Chekiang (now Zhejiangmarker) Province were supposed to be ready to guide them in using homing beacons, then recover and refuel them for continuing on to Chungking. The primary base was at Chuchow, toward which all the aircraft navigated, but Halsey never sent the planned signal to alert them, apparently because of possible threat to the task force. One B-25, extremely low on fuel, headed instead for the closer land mass of Russia.

The raiders faced several unforeseen challenges during their flight to China: night was approaching, the aircraft were running low on fuel, and the weather was rapidly deteriorating. None would have reached China at all except for a fortuitous tail wind as they came off the target that increased their ground speed by 25 knots for seven hours. As a result of these problems, the crews realized they would probably not be able to reach their intended bases in China, leaving them the option of either bailing out over eastern China or crash landing along the Chinese coast. Fifteen aircraft reached the Chinese coast after 13 hours of flight and crash landed or bailed out; the crew who flew to Russia landed 40 miles (65 km) beyond Vladivostokmarker, where their B-25 was confiscated and the crew interned until they managed to escape through Iranmarker in 1943. It was the longest combat mission ever flown by the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber, averaging approximately 2,250 miles (3,600 km).

Doolittle and his crew, after safely parachuting into China, received assistance from Chinese soldiers and civilians as well as John Birch, an American missionary in China. As did the others who participated in the mission, Doolittle had to bail out but fortunately landed in a heap of dung (saving a previously injured ankle from breaking) in a rice paddy in China near Chuchow (Quzhoumarker). Doolittle thought that the raid had been a terrible failure because the aircraft were lost, and that he would be court-martialed upon his return. Doolittle subsequently recommended Birch for intelligence work with General Chennault's Flying Tigers.


Fate of the missing crewmen

Following the Doolittle Raid, most of the B-25 crews that came down in China eventually made it to safety with the help of Chinese civilians and soldiers. The Chinese people who helped them, however, paid dearly for sheltering the Americans. The Japanese military began the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign to intimidate the Chinese from helping downed American airmen. The Japanese killed an estimated 250,000 civilians while searching for Doolittle's men. The crews of two aircraft (10 men in total) were unaccounted for: Hallmark's crew (sixth off) and Farrow's crew (last off). On 15 August 1942, the United States learned from the Swissmarker Consulate General in Shanghai that eight of the missing crew members were prisoners of the Japanese at Police Headquarters in that city (two crewmen had died in the crash landing of their aircraft). On 19 October 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. Japanese propaganda ridiculed the raid, calling it the "Do-nothing Raid", and boasted that several B-25s had been shot down. In fact, none had been lost to hostile action.

After the war, the complete story of the two missing crews was uncovered in a war crimes trial held in Shanghai. The trial opened in February 1946 to try four Japanese officers for mistreatment of the eight captured crewmen. Two of the missing crewmen, Sgt. William J. Dieter and Cpl. Donald E. Fitzmaurice, had died when their B-25 crashed off the coast of China. The other eight, Lieutenants Dean E. Hallmark, Robert J. Meder, Chase Nielsen, William G. Farrow, Robert L. Hite, and George Barr; and Corporals Harold A. Spatz and Jacob DeShazer were captured. In addition to being tortured and starved, these men contracted dysentery and beriberi as a result of the poor conditions under which they were confined. On 28 August 1942, pilot Hallmark, pilot Farrow and gunner Spatz were given a mock trial by the Japanese, although the airmen were never told the charges against them. On 14 October 1942, these three crewmen were advised that they were to be executed the next day. At 16:30 on 15 October 1942, the three were taken by truck to Public Cemetery Number 1 outside of Shanghai and executed by a firing squad.

The other five captured airmen remained in military confinement on a starvation diet, their health rapidly deteriorating. In April 1943, they were moved to Nankingmarker where, on 1 December 1943, Meder died. The remaining four men (Nielsen, Hite, Barr and DeShazer) eventually began receiving slightly better treatment from their captors and were even given a copy of the Bible and a few other books. They survived until they were freed by American troops in August 1945. The four Japanese officers who were tried for war crimes against the eight Doolittle Raiders were all found guilty. Three of them were sentenced to hard labor for five years and the fourth to a nine-year sentence. DeShazer eventually became a missionary and returned to Japan in 1948, where he served in that capacity for over 30 years.

Of the group, only Hite is alive. Barr died of heart failure in 1967, Nielsen in 2007 and Jacob DeShazer died 15 March 2008.

One other Doolittle Raid crewman was lost on the mission. Corporal Leland D. Faktor (flight engineer/gunner with Gray) was killed during his bailout attempt over China, the only man on his crew to be lost.

Service of the returning crewmen

Immediately following the raid, Doolittle told his crew that he believed the loss of all 16 aircraft, coupled with the relatively minor damage the aircraft had inflicted on their targets, had rendered the attack a failure, and that he expected a court martial upon his return to the United States. Instead, the raid bolstered American morale to such an extent that Doolittle was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Roosevelt, and was promoted two grades to Brigadier General, skipping the rank of colonel. He went on to command the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa, the Fifteenth Air Force in the Mediterranean, and the Eighth Air Force in England during the next three years.

In addition to Doolittle's award of the Medal of Honor, Corporal David J. Thatcher (a flight engineer/gunner on Lawson's crew) and 1st Lt. Thomas R. White (flight surgeon/gunner with Smith) each received the Silver Star for their efforts in helping the wounded crew members of Lt. Lawson's crew evade Japanese troops in China. All 80 Raiders received the Distinguished Flying Cross and those who were killed, wounded or injured as a result of the raid also received the Purple Heart. In addition, every Doolittle Raider received a decoration from the Chinese government.

Twenty-eight of the crewmen remained in the China Burma India theater flying missions, most for more than a year. Five were killed in action. Nineteen crew members flew combat missions from North Africa after returning to the United States, with four killed in action and four becoming prisoners of war. Nine crew members served in the European Theater of Operations, one killed in action. Altogether 12 of the survivors died in air crashes within 15 months of the raid. Two survivors were separated from the USAAF in 1944 due to the severity of their injuries.

The 17th Bomb Group, from which the Doolittle Raiders had been recruited, received replacement crews and transferred to Barksdale Army Air Fieldmarker in June 1942, where it converted to B-26 Marauder medium bombers. In November 1942 it deployed overseas to North Africa, where it operated in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations with the Twelfth Air Force for the remainder of the war.

The Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign

Because the majority of the B-25s from the Doolittle Raid landed along the eastern coast of China, and the American fliers had received crucial aid from the local Chinese villagers to make their escape, the subsequent Japanese response against the Chinese was particularly extreme. All airfields in an area of some twenty thousand square miles in the areas where the Raiders landed were torn up, germ warfare was utilized against the civilian population, and an estimated quarter of a million of the local Chinese villagers were killed. The massive Japanese retaliation against the local Chinese in this area became known as the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign; it is generally overlooked in most American and Japanese discussions of the after effects of the Doolittle Raid.


Compared to the devastating B-29 Superfortress attacks against Japan later in the war, the Doolittle raid did little material damage. Eight primary and five secondary targets were struck, and the Japanese reported that the two planes whose crews were captured had also struck their targets. At least one bomb from the plane of Lt. Edgar E. McElroy struck the Japanese aircraft carrier Ryūhō. Nevertheless, when the news of the raid was released, American morale soared. Stinging from the attack on Pearl Harbor and Japan's subsequent territorial gains, it was important for the American public to know that a successful military response had been undertaken.

The raid also had a strategic impact, though it was not understood at the time, in that it caused the Japanese to recall some fighting units back to the home islands for defense. The Fast Carrier Task Force, consisting of six carriers under Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, had inflicted serious losses on the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean Raid; after the Doolittle Raid, Nagumo's task force was recalled to Japan, relieving the pressure on the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean. The Japanese Navy also bore a special responsibility for the fact that an American carrier task force had approached the Japanese Home Islands in a manner similar to that on Pearl Harbor, and then escaped unpunished. The fact that land-based bombers carried out the attack served to confuse Japanese war planners about the source of the attack. This confusion and an assumption that Japan was vulnerable to air attack strengthened Admiral Yamamoto's resolve to seize Midway Island, resulting in the decisive Battle of Midwaymarker.

"It was hoped that the damage done would be both material and psychological.
Material damage was to be the destruction of specific targets with ensuing confusion and retardation of production.
The psychological results, it was hoped, would be the recalling of combat equipment from other theaters for home defense thus effecting relief in those theaters, the development of a fear complex in Japan, improved relationships with our Allies, and a favorable reaction on the American people."
- Gen.
James H.
Doolittle, 9 July 1942


The Doolittle Raiders have held an annual reunion almost every year since the late 1940s. The high point of each reunion is a solemn, private ceremony in which the surviving Raiders perform a roll call, then toast their fellow Raiders who passed away during the previous year. Specially-engraved silver goblets, one for each of the 80 Raiders, are used for this toast. The goblets of those who have died are inverted. When only two Raiders remain alive, they will drink a final toast using the vintage 1896 bottle of Hennessy cognacmarker which has accompanied the goblets to each Raider reunion since 1960. The vintage was chosen because it was the year of Jimmy Doolittle's birth. The bottle of cognac and the goblets had been maintained by the United States Air Force Academy on display in Arnold Hall, the cadet social center. On 19 April 2006, the memorabilia were transferred to the National Museum of the United States Air Forcemarker.

As of 2009, only nine Raiders are still alive. Only eight were able to attend the 64th anniversary reunion held in Dayton, Ohiomarker, in April 2006. Seven attended the 65th anniversary in 2007 in San Antoniomarker, Texasmarker, six attended the 66th anniversary in 2008 in Dallas, Texasmarker, and four attended the 67th anniversary in 2009 in Columbia, South Carolinamarker.

There are also seven men, such as Lt. Miller, who are considered honorary Raiders for their respective efforts for the mission.

Surviving Members

  • Colonel William M. Bower, pilot of aircraft #12
  • Colonel Richard E. Cole, copilot of aircraft #1
  • Major Thomas C. Griffin, navigator of aircraft #9
  • Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Hite, copilot of aircraft #16
  • Lieutenant Colonel Frank Albert Kappeler, navigator of aircraft #11
  • Colonel James Herbert Macia Jr., bombardier-navigator of aircraft #14
  • Captain Charles John Ozuk, navigator of aircraft #3
  • Major Edward Joseph Saylor, engineer of aircraft #15
  • Staff Sergeant David J. Thatcher, gunner of aircraft #7


The United States Navy named one of its aircraft carriers after the fictional location, , as an obvious reference to the Doolittle Raid. President Roosevelt had answered a reporter's question by saying that the raid had come from "Shangri-La", which was the name of the mysterious place of perpetual youth in the Himalayasmarker in the popular book and movie of the time, Lost Horizon.

Doolittle Raiders exhibit

The most extensive display of Doolittle Raid memorabilia can be seen at the National Museum of the United States Air Forcemarker (on Wright-Patterson Air Force Basemarker) in Dayton, Ohiomarker. The centerpiece is a like-new B-25, which is painted and marked as Doolittle's aircraft (although built as an F-10D photo reconnaissance version of the B-25D). The bomber, which North American Aviation presented to the Raiders in 1958, rests on a reproduction of the USS Hornet's flight deck. The scene is made even more realistic through the use of several authentically-dressed mannequins surrounding the aircraft; these include representations of Doolittle, USS Hornet skipper Captain Marc Mitscher, and groups of Army and Navy personnel loading the aircraft's bombs and ammunition. Other highlights of the exhibit are the silver goblets used by the Raiders at each of their annual reunions; pieces of flight clothing and personal equipment; a parachute used by one of the Raiders in his bailout over China; and group photographs of all 16 crews. Many other interesting items are also included in this unique collection.
Raiders' goblets
A fragment of the wreckage of one of the aircraft as well as the medals awarded to Doolittle are on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museummarker in Washington, D.C.marker

The recently-opened Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Islandmarker, Oahumarker, Hawaii also features a 1942 exhibit in which the centerpiece is a restored B-25 in the markings of "The Ruptured Duck" used on the Doolittle Raid.

The San Marcos, Texas chapter of the Commemorative Air Force has the actual armor plate from the pilot seat of the B-25 Colonel Doolittle flew in the raid in their museum.

Doolittle Raiders re-creation

The restored World War II B-25 Mitchell bomber aircraft "Heavenly Body" takes off from the deck of Ranger.
On 21 April 1992, in harmony with other World War II 50th Anniversary festivities, participated in the commemorative re-enactment of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, Japan.

Two World War II-era B-25 bombers were craned on board and over 1,500 guests (including national, local and military media) were embarked to witness the two vintage warbirds thunder down Ranger's flight deck and take off.

Popular culture

The Doolittle Raid was the subject of the 1944 feature film, Thirty Seconds over Tokyo. This was based on a book of the same title by Doolittle Raider pilot Captain Ted W. Lawson, who lost a leg and had other serious injuries as a result of a crash landing off the coast of China. Spencer Tracy played Doolittle and Van Johnson portrayed Lawson. The movie is considered to be a reasonably accurate and unsensationalized depiction of the mission. The movie has the general approval of the Raiders (footage from the film was later used for the opening scenes of Midway).

The raid also inspired two other films. One was the 1943 RKO film Bombardier starring Randolph Scott and Pat O'Brien. The climax of this movie is an attack on Japan by a group of B-17s. The other film, The Purple Heart, made in 1944, starring Dana Andrews, was a fictional depiction based on a Japanese court martial of captured American airmen, from the Doolittle Raid.

The 2001 film Pearl Harbor (with Alec Baldwin playing Doolittle) presented a heavily fictionalized version of the raid. The film's attack destroys an entire industrial area against withering anti-aircraft fire and is in general conducted as less of an air raid and more as the "righteous fist of vengeance of a wounded nation."

A highly fictionalized film in 1943, Destination Tokyo starring Cary Grant, tangentially involved the raid, concentrating on the fictional submarine USS Copperfin. The submarine's mission is to enter Tokyo Baymarker undetected and place a landing party ashore to obtain weather information vital to the upcoming Doolittle raid. The film suggests the raid did not launch until up-to-the-minute data was received. However, all the after-action reports indicated the raid launched without time for weather briefings because of the encounter with the picket ships.

Many books were written about the Doolittle Raid after the war. Doolittle's Tokyo Raiders, by C.V. Glines, tells the complete story of the raid, including the unique experiences of each B-25 crew. Guests of the Kremlin, written by copilot Bob Emmens, describes his crew's adventures as internees in Russia after their landing in that country following the raid. Four Came Home, also by C.V. Glines, tells the story of Nielsen, Hite, Barr, and DeShazer, the Raiders who were held in POW camps for over three years. The First Heroes by Craig Nelson, goes into great detail of the events leading up to the raid and the aftermath for all the pilots and their families.

A related VHS video with contemporary footage of Doolittle and the flight preparations, along with the B-25s launching, is DeShazer, the story of missionary Sergeant Jake DeShazer of B-25 #16 (the last to launch from the Hornet). The video is based on "The Amazing Story of Sergeant Jacob De Shazer: The Doolittle Raider Who Turned Missionary by C. Hoyt Watson. At the end of both the video and the book, DeShazer after the war meets Mitsuo Fuchida, the commander and lead pilot of the Pearl Harbor attack.

The proto-punk, avant-garage musical group Pere Ubu recorded the song "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" in September 1975. It was first released in the form of a single on Hearpen Records, backed with "Heart of Darkness." The song has subsequently been re-released in a number of forms, including the "Data Panic in the Year Zero" EP and boxed set. David Thomas, leader of Pere Ubu, acknowledges that the song was inspired by Jimmy Doolittle's raid.


  1. Doolittle and Glines 1991, pp. 1–2.
  2. Glines 1998, pp. 166–168.
  3. Glines 1998, p. 10.
  4. Glines 1998, p. 13.
  5. Glines 1998, p. 19.
  6. Glines 1998, pp. 19–20.
  7. Glines 1998, p. 27, reproducing the report.
  8. Glines 1998, p. 22.
  9. Craven and Cate 1948, p. 439.
  10. Craven and Cate 1948, p. 440.
  11. Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, Memorial site of Richard O. Joyce
  12. Doolittle Raiders Memorial site of R. O. Joyce
  13. Coletta 1993, pp. 73–86.
  14. General Doolittle's report on raid, 9 July 1942, Hyper War. Retrieved: 19 June 2007.
  15. The escort ships were: , , , , , , , , , , , , and
  16. Glines 1998, p. 63.
  17. Chun, 2006, p. 45.
  18. According to Glines 1998, p. 70, the order to Nashville did not go out until 07:52. Heavy seas made hitting the picket boat difficult, even with rapid fire, and it was not sunk until 08:21.
  19. Craven and Cate 1948, p. 442.
  20. Watson 1950, p. 17.
  21. Watson 1950, p. 20.
  22. Glines 1998, p. 94.
  23. Glines 1998, pp. 81, 91.
  24. Doolittle's after action report stated that some B-25s were heard overflying the bases, but because the Chinese had not been alerted to the attack, they assumed it was a Japanese air raid.
  25. Glines 1998, pp. 166–168.
  26. Doolittle and Glines 1991, p. 12.
  27. PBS Perilous Flight
  28. Nelson 2002, pp. 226–228.
  29. Eighty Brave Men Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, Memorial site of Richard O. Joyce. Retrieved: 17 February 2008.
  30. Chang 1997, p. 189
  31. Glines 1998, p. 219.
  32. Glines 1998, pp. 60–62, who states that the Japanese, through intercepted radio traffic between Halsey and Mitscher, were aware that a carrier task force was at large and could possibly attack Japan.
  33. Glines 1998, p. 218.
  34. Prange et al. 1982, pp. 22–26.
  35. Glines 1998, pp. 215–216.
  36. News article
  37. Surviving Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Retrieved: 28 November 2008.
  38. Joyce, Todd. "80 Brave Men: The Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Roster." The Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, 10 December 2008. Retrieved: 12 May 2009.
  39. Shangri-La
  40. "He Flew From 'Shangri-La' to Bomb Tokyo." The War Illustrated, 6 August 1943.
  41. Pacific Aviation Museum

  • Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking. New York: Basic Books, 1997. ISBN 0-46506-835-9.
  • Chun, Clayton K.S. The Doolittle Raid 1942: America's First Strike Back at Japan (Campaign: 16). Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey, 2006. ISBN 1084176-918-5.
  • Coletta, Paolo. "Launching the Doolittle Raid on Japan, April 18, 1942". The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 63, No. 1, February 1993.
  • Craven, Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Frank and Major James Lea Cate, series editors. "Drawing the Battle Line in the Pacific", Army Air Forces in World War II, Vol. I: Plans and Early Operations, January 1939 to August 1942. Chicago: University f Chicago Press, 1948.
  • Doolittle, James H. and Carroll V. Glines. I Could Never Be So Lucky Again: An Autobiography. New York: Bantam Books, 1991. ISBN 0-553-58464-2.
  • Emmens, Robert G. Guests of the Kremlin. San Rafael, CA: Ishi Press International, 2007. ISBN 0-923891-81-1.
  • Glines, Carroll V. The Doolittle Raid: America's Daring First Strike Against Japan. New York: Orion Books, 1988. ISBN 0-88740-347-6
  • ———— Doolittle's Tokyo Raiders. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1968, 1981.
  • ———— Four Came Home. New York: Van Nostrad Reinhold, 1966, 1981.
  • Glover, Charles E. "Jimmy Doolittle's One Moment in Time." The Palm Beach Post, 18 April 1992.

  • Hayostek, Cindy. "Exploits of a Doolittle Raider"., 21 July 1998. Retrieved: 10 March 2008.
  • Lawson, Ted W. and Robert Considine, ed.Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. New York: Random House, Inc., 1943.
  • Nelson, Craig. The First Heroes: The Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raid - America's First World War II Victory. London: Penguin Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0142003411.
  • Oxford, Edward. "Against All Odds: B-25 Bombers Strike Japan in 1942." American History Illustrated, March-April 1992.
  • Prange, Gordon W., Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon. Miracle at Midway. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1982. ISBN 0-07-050672-8.
  • Watson, Charles Hoyt. DeShazer: The Doolittle Raider Who Turned Missionary. Winona Lake, Indiana: The Light and Life Press, 1950.

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