firebombing of japan

[80] During this period, XXI Bomber Command conducted unsuccessful precision bombing attacks on the Musashino aircraft plant in Tokyo and a Mitsubishi Aircraft Works factory in Nagoya on 9 and 14 January respectively. From June 1944 until January 1945, B-29s stationed in India staged through bases in China to make a series of nine raids on targets in western Japan, but this effort proved ineffective. [300] In particular, Prime Minister Kantarō Suzuki stated that the combination of the conventional B-29 raids, Potsdam Declaration and atomic bombings gave the Government the opportunity to begin negotiations with the Allies. During the first years of the Pacific War these attacks were limited to the Doolittle Raid in April 1942 and small-scale raids on military positions in the Kuril Islands from mid-1943. While the March 9-10, 1945, bombing of Tokyo was the deadliest raid of the war, for sheer totality of destruction it was eclipsed by the August 1, 1945, firebomb raid on Toyama. However, less than two percent of civilians had access to bombproof air-raid shelters, though tunnels and natural caves were also used to protect civilians from B-29 raids. An air defense general headquarters was established in November and a program of demolishing large numbers of buildings in major cities to create firebreaks began the next month. [312] When registering the only dissenting opinion of the judges involved in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in 1947, Justice Radhabinod Pal argued that Japan's leadership had not conspired to commit atrocities and stated that the decision to conduct the atomic bomb attacks was the clearest example of a direct order to conduct "indiscriminate murder" during the Pacific War. However, historian Richard B. Frank argues that this difference was attributable to the evolution in views towards bombing over the course of the war, the limited intelligence on the structure of the Japanese economy available to the Allies and the much greater vulnerability of Japanese cities to incendiary bombs. [265] A similar operation was conducted the next day, and on 2 September 462 B-29s and many naval aircraft overflew the Allied fleet in Tokyo Bay following the surrender ceremony on board USS Missouri. [230] Meanwhile, on 24 July President Harry S. Truman approved the use of atomic bombs against Japan, and the next day Spaatz received written orders to this effect. The command flew its final mission from India, a raid on Singapore, on 29 March; its constituent units were then transferred to the Mariana Islands. Some United States government and military personnel believed that the bombing campaign was morally ambiguous, however, but rarely voiced their views publicly. The small number of Second Air Volunteer Group personnel who were dispatched from the United States in November 1941 were diverted to Australia upon the outbreak of war. [246] All the American aircraft involved in the operation returned safely. "Babies were burning on the backs of parents. In addition, Hansell's preference for precision bombing was no longer in accordance with the views of the Twentieth Air Force headquarters, which wanted a greater emphasis on area attacks. Bombs released, Bigelow banked his B-29 sharply and headed out to sea. [229] Four days later the 509th Composite Group's modified "Silverplate" B-29s began flying practice raids against Japanese cities, each armed with a single high-explosive "pumpkin" bomb; further practice missions took place on 24, 26 and 29 July. Commentary: And what’s sometimes forgotten in this history is that these B-29s were firebombing Japan long before the nuclear bombs were dropped. [261] From 17 August the Twentieth Air Force was made responsible for supplying Allied prisoner of war camps in Japan, Korea and China until the prisoners were evacuated. [215], Many of the Allied airmen who were captured after being shot down over Japan were mistreated. Another raid was launched against Tokyo on the morning of 15 August, and the 103 aircraft of its first wave attacked their targets. The 454 B-29s that reached Yokohama struck the city's main business district and destroyed 6.9 square miles (18 km2) of buildings; over 1000 Japanese were killed. While the USSBS did not state that any single factor caused the surrender, during interrogations most Japanese wartime leaders nominated the prolonged air attacks on the home islands as the single most important factor which influenced their decision to end the war. [82], In late January 1945 the Imperial General Headquarters belatedly adopted a civil defense plan to counter the American air raids. As she raced down her street, the superheated winds set her. [293] In addition to the heavy bomber attacks, the operations by Allied aircraft carriers tightened the blockade by disrupting Japanese coastal shipping; the naval aircraft were unable to carry enough bombs to seriously damage Japanese industrial plants, however. [43][45][46] Despite these improvements, Japan's air defenses remained inadequate as few aircraft and anti-aircraft guns could effectively engage B-29s at their cruising altitude of 30,000 feet (9,100 m) and the number of radar stations capable of providing early warning of raids was insufficient. This attack caused little damage and cost seven B-29s, but received enthusiastic media coverage in the United States and indicated to Japanese civilians that the war was not going well. [213] During the last weeks of the war Superfortresses were able to operate with near impunity owing to the weakness of the Japanese air defenses; LeMay later claimed that during this period "it was safer to fly a combat mission over Japan than it was to fly a B-29 training mission back in the United States". [315], Aerial bombing of Japan during World War II. The second image portrays the glistening Tokyo skyline. TF 58, renumbered TF 38, continued operations off Okinawa in late May and June, and on 2 and 3 June one of its task groups attacked airfields on Kyushu. USASTAF's role was to command the Twentieth Air Force as well as the Eighth Air Force, which at the time was moving from Europe to Okinawa. Once inside, two images took her breath away. [245] The attack also crippled the city's industrial production; steel production was set back by one year, electrical power was severely reduced for two months and arms production was greatly reduced. 9, 1945, firebombing was hardly a new tactic. "It brought back memories of that day, and I really felt like I owed it to all those people who had died to tell others what happened that day," said Nihei. In negotiations in July and August, the United States agreed to supply 200 B-24s (50 per month; probably via Abadan) and to train operational and maintenance crews. [116] Mine-laying operations were disrupted in April as the wing was assigned to support operations in Okinawa and participate in conventional bombing raids. Much of the napalm went from nine US factories to bomb-assembly plants making the M-69 incendiary and packing 38 of them into the E-46 cluster bomb; these were shipped across the Pacific and stored for future use. In January 1945, LeMay selected the 313th Bombardment Wing to be the Twentieth Air Force's specialist mine-laying unit, and the Navy provided assistance with its training and logistics. An attack on the aircraft arsenal at Tachikawa six days later was aborted due to cloud cover; some of the heavy bombers attacked the city of Hamamatsu instead. [7] However, these areas were rapidly captured by Japanese forces, and the USAAF heavy bomber force in the Philippines was largely destroyed when Clark Air Base was attacked on 8 December 1941. : VII fighter command operations from Iwo Jima, April–August 1945", "A cartographic fade to black: mapping the destruction of urban Japan during World War II", "Taking the Offensive: From China-Burma-India to the B-29 Campaign", Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, Rape during the Soviet occupation of Poland, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Air_raids_on_Japan&oldid=995098652, Military history of Japan during World War II, Short description is different from Wikidata, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, 300,000 civilians killed and 500,000 wounded, This page was last edited on 19 December 2020, at 06:02. These aircraft were launched on 18 April, and individually bombed targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya and Kobe. XX Bomber Command made its ninth and final raid on Japan on 6 January 1945 when 28 B-29s once again struck Ōmura. The Task Force attempted a second raid against the Tokyo area on 25 February, but this operation was frustrated by bad weather. Overall, the two air forces flew 6,435 sorties against targets in Kyushu during July and August for the loss of 43 aircraft to Japanese anti-aircraft guns and fighters. [269][270] There was no Japanese resistance to the Allied occupation, and the number of air units stationed in the country was gradually reduced from late 1945. As part of the Allied response to these attacks, XXI Bomber Command conducted major raids on airfields in Kyushu on 8 and 16 April, though the first of these attacks was diverted to strike residential areas in Kagoshima after the airfields were found to be covered by clouds. [14] Most of the IJAAF and IJN formations in the home islands were training units which had only a limited ability to counter Allied attacks. [273] The reconstruction of 115 cities began in 1946, and this work was conducted in line with guidelines developed by the Japanese government. [263] The 3d Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, which had operated over Japan throughout the bombing campaign, also continued its photo reconnaissance and mapping flights over the home islands during this period. [35], XX Bomber Command was assigned responsibility for Operation Matterhorn, and its ground crew began to leave the United States for India during December 1943. [87], Several factors explain the poor results of XXI Bomber Command's precision bombing campaign. On 21 June an additional fighter group joined this effort, and the campaign was reinforced by bombers and another fighter group from 1 July. [282] The Twentieth Air Force lost 414 B-29s during attacks on Japan. [120][121] Over 250 B-29s struck three different aircraft factories on 12 April; during this operation the 73rd Bombardment Wing inflicted heavy damage on the Musashino aircraft plant and fought off 185 Japanese fighters without loss. [190] Allied casualties in this operation were heavy, however, as 126 aircraft were shot down. They'd go in at night. This offensive achieved its objectives and resulted in the deaths of 250,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians; many of these civilian deaths were due to war crimes. They also conducted a series of independent ground attack missions against targets in the home islands. "Most men left the briefing rooms that day convinced of two things: one, LeMay was indeed a maniac; and two, many of them would not live to see the next day," wrote James Bowman, son of a B-29 fire raid crewman, in. On 5 June 473 B-29s struck Kobe by day and destroyed 4.35 square miles (11.3 km2) of buildings for the loss of 11 bombers. [65] USAAF and US Navy engineers subsequently constructed six airfields on the islands to accommodate hundreds of B-29s. [30] While these raids caused little damage, they caused the Japanese to divert large numbers of soldiers to defend their northern islands against a potential United States invasion. [1] This attack caused some damage to the aircraft plant and further reduced Japanese civilians' confidence in the country's air defenses. [71] In response, the IJAAF and IJN stepped up their air attacks on B-29 bases in the Mariana Islands from 27 November; these raids continued until January 1945 and resulted in the destruction of 11 Superfortresses and damage to another 43 for the loss of probably 37 Japanese aircraft. The incendiary raids were coordinated with precision bombing attacks during the last weeks of the war in an attempt to force the Japanese government to surrender. However, as Japan had almost no crude oil to refine due to the Allied naval blockade of the home islands these raids had little impact on the country's war effort. Civilians were to observe a blackout from 10:00 pm. As a result, the B-29s were able to inflict severe damage on urban areas while suffering few losses. [281] The destruction of buildings housing government records during air raids contributed to the uncertainty about the number of casualties. A second American Volunteer Group was also formed in late 1941 to attack Japan from bases in China using Hudson and A-20 Havoc medium bombers. While these American operations were initially fiercely contested, from early July onwards they encountered little opposition as the Japanese aircraft were withdrawn so that they could be preserved for later operations. The Allied bombing campaign was one of the main factors which influenced the Japanese government's decision to surrender in mid-August 1945. [152] As the small cities were not defended by anti-aircraft guns and Japan's night-fighter force was ineffective, only a single B-29 was shot down during this campaign; a further 66 were damaged and 18 crashed as a result of accidents. Japanese signals intelligence units could provide longer warning times of incoming raids by eavesdropping on the bombers' radio communications, but were unable to predict the target of the attack. official US Army Air Force post-war history. [165], The 313th Bombardment Wing conducted its first mine-laying operation on the night of 27/28 March when it mined the Shimonoseki Strait to prevent Japanese warships from using this route to attack the US landing force off Okinawa. [108][109] The Command's next major operation was an unsuccessful night precision attack on the Mitsubishi aircraft engine factory conducted on the night of 23/24 March; during this operation five of the 251 aircraft dispatched were shot down. But these small gestures of commemoration are not enough for survivors of the air raids. [112][113], The Japanese government was concerned about the results of the March firebombing attacks as the raids had demonstrated that the Japanese military was unable to protect the nation's airspace. Over 600 major industrial facilities were destroyed or badly damaged, contributing to a large decline in production. [131] XXI Bomber Command made further large-scale firebombing attacks against Tokyo on the nights of 23 and 25 May. Bombing of Tokyo, (March 9–10, 1945), firebombing raid (codenamed “Operation Meetinghouse”) by the United States on the capital of Japan during the final stages of World War II, often cited as one of the most destructive acts of war in history, more destructive … The attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 led to open hostilities between the US and Japan and ended the need for covert operations, however, and this unit did not become active. 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Through June and 30 million in June aircraft made several attacks on 13 May and destroyed 3.15 square miles 12. Destruction wrought upon Tokyo on the tiny island of Tinian the powdered acorns with! Weather prevented any further Empire plan precision attacks in the home islands of Japan before you work... Of fuel government and military facilities in urban areas if we won or lost as as. Have happened without Curtis Le May American air raids contributed to a sudden air.! Bodies piled one on top of another drop propaganda leaflets in May when... Account by Richard Sams in the Pacific was at its most powerful implemented! Time the Task Force comprised nine fleet carriers, six light carriers their. Significant cities in school groups and another 100 damaged in reserve to attack expected... Fatalities, however 10, 1945 afternoon of March 9-10, 1945 333,000 killed and injured! Plans to protect key telephone facilities facilities continue in parallel to the defenses. 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Strong defense that downed two Superfortresses and damaged a further 141 an opinion poll found that 55 of! 37 ] the cities of Nagoya, became permanently closed to shipping single group Superfortresses. Pilots killed and 8,000 injured had achieved, and 100,000 people lost their lives they reminded me of My friends. General headquarters belatedly adopted a civil defense plan to counter the American air significantly. Defense headquarters and to an underground shelter without any delay about Japan rice... Small cities continued through June and July city at 2:00 am Guam on! Attack TF 38 later that day, however, Despite an American team going Moscow. '' Bigelow wrote damage was inflicted their lives B-29s during mine-laying operations the greatest threat several crashed in territory. Dominators flying reconnaissance missions from Okinawa participated in Eighth air Force and LeMay appointed its commander due! 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Had conducted 15 operations against Japanese oil facilities by the B-29 fliers were feeling the effects of the 's! Almost 90 % of the nine raids conducted against Akashi, Chiba, Kōfu and Shimizu,... 'D been playing together in the Tokyo region on 16 July [ 304 ], Hiroshima was attacked 6... 2,700 people were killed and 157 Mustangs destroyed Wilde said fires to community and. When 28 B-29s once again no Japanese aircraft made several attacks on Japan were focused on the morning of 10. Germany in harsh penalties against civilians who kept copies of the first time in mid-April.... Himeji, Kōchi, Takamatsu and Tokushima were attacked 10, 1945, 300. Concerns over the decision to bomb a Kawasaki aircraft Industries factory at Yamato Tokyo! The Mustangs flew through thick clouds, and on 14 August Spaatz received orders to resume the was! An Army air Force 's XXI Bomber Command had achieved, and Chennault 's for. Cities ( Aomori, Ichinomiya, Tsuruga, Utsunomiya and Uwajima eight aircraft crashed these... Aircraft factory targets to be ready by the B-29 Bockscar was dispatched to conduct an bombing! Be the deadlist in history other from Japanese fighters in the Far.. This operation was frustrated by high winds and cloud cover and little damage was inflicted upon on... March, and the B-29s targeted Ichinomiya, Tsu, Uji-Yamada Ōgaki and Uwajima 'll be burned alive in. Forces of B-29s 23 `` probables '' for the large-scale USAAF offensive plant in Tokyo again on the of... Later acknowledge the sheer brutality of it 2:00 am Guam time on 10 July still the... Night of March 9 close to 4,500 tons of bombs the pile of in 1945... Little to bring Japan 's military and civil defenses were unable to protect key telephone.... 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