Aero-TV: Experiencing A Legend -- The B-25 Doolittle ...

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The Mitchell Bomber Turned The Tide Of A World War Of all the stories that permeate the rich heritage of the aviation world, few are as compelling and as dramatic as that of 16 B-25 bombers who launched off a pitching carrier deck to bomb Japan on April 18th, 1942. They called it the "Doolittle Raid" and it came to be the first, pivotal, air raid to strike the Japanese on their home turf during World War II. It was a huge symbolic victory for the American war effort, proving that Japan could be vulnerable to Allied air attack. It also provided a fitting response to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. The raid was the brainchild of LTC James "Jimmy" Doolittle, who chose the mighty B-25 to launch off the Carrier Hornet, barely half a year after Pearl. Two and a half weeks before the attack, 16 B-25s, modified to fit their unique mission requirements, their five-man crews and support personnel were loaded aboard the Hornet to steal away across the Pacific in search of the Japanese coastline. Each machine carried specially designed 500 pound bombs and had been stripped to the bare essentials, even to the point of losing their conventional bombsights since the mission would be flown at low-level and over easily targeted locations. The bombers carried names like the Whiskey Pete, the Green Hornet, the Ruptured Duck, Bat Out of Hell, and the like. Some 650 miles from Japan, the force launched after its premature sighting by a Japanese picket boat, in small groups, running so low over the waves that some pilots reported spray on the windshields. It took just under an hour to launch all 16 birds off a miniscule carrier deck, but together, they reached Japan, dropped their munitions (except for one that got jumped by Japanese fighters and dropped ordinance early) and headed off for the "safety" of the Chinese coast where they hoped to ditch their aircraft and evade capture by the Japanese. Some crashed, some bailed out, some barely made it to the coast, one went to Russia (where it was ...

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