firebombing of japan

The planners estimated that incendiary bomb attacks on Japan's six largest cities could cause physical damage to almost 40 percent of industrial facilities and result in the loss of 7.6 million man-mo… [74] The aircraft plant attacked on 27 November and 3 December was only lightly damaged as high winds and clouds prevented accurate bombing. [294] Compounding the effects of the air attacks, Japan's rice crop of 1945 failed. To get all this information, I had to advance the DVD frame-by-frame -- otherwise the whole thing shoots by you in a blur. The fighter pilots claimed to have destroyed or damaged 1,062 aircraft and 254 ships along with large numbers of buildings and railway rolling stock. CONRAD CRANE: It would not have happened without Curtis Le May. These attacks initially attempted to target industrial facilities using high-altitude daylight "precision" bombing, which was also largely ineffective. Tens of thousands more people were killed, and fire bombs followed on the major cities of Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe. [12], Few air units or anti-aircraft batteries were stationed in the home islands during the early months of the Pacific War. Between 1:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. the main force of American B-29s unleashed 500,000 M-69 bombs, each one clustered in groups of 38 and weighing six pounds. [87], Several factors explain the poor results of XXI Bomber Command's precision bombing campaign. "We had created an inferno beyond the wildest imaginings of Dante," he wrote. [197] In operations conducted between 26 April and 22 June the American fighter pilots claimed the destruction of 64 Japanese aircraft and damage to another 180 on the ground, as well as a further ten shot down in flight; these claims were lower than the American planners had expected, however, and the raids were considered unsuccessful. [303] The financial cost of the campaign to the United States was $4 billion; this expenditure was much lower than the $30 billion spent on bomber operations in Europe, and a small proportion of the $330 billion the US Government spent on the war. In 2007, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo took responsibility for Japan’s refusal to surrender when defeat was inevitable, thus placing the blame for the firebombing on Japan itself. It was also estimated that these attacks would kill over 500,000 people, render about 7.75 million homeless and force almost 3.5 million to be evacuated. Only 24 of the 111 B-29s dispatched attacked the primary target, and the others bombed port facilities as well as industrial and urban areas. On March 9, 1945, B-29 bombers in the U.S. Air Force began dropping incendiary bombs on the city of Tokyo. Japanese intelligence detected the construction of B-29 bases in India and China, and the military began to develop plans to counter air raids originating from China. The March 1945 firebombing of Tokyo and the immorality of war A residential section of Tokyo is seen destroyed following Operation Meetinghouse, the … At one point, the B-29s' base at North Field, on the tiny island of Tinian. [268] Royal Australian Air Force, British Royal Air Force, Indian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, US Navy and United States Marine Corps air units were also deployed to Japan for occupation duties. The Kurils were attacked again on 18 July by six B-24 Liberator heavy bombers, and the unopposed liberation of Kiska (Operation Cottage) took place on 15 August. Foreign Histories Division, Headquarters, United States Army Japan (1980). Japan's main industrial facilities were vulnerable to such attacks as they were concentrated in several large cities and a high proportion of production took place in homes and small factories in urban areas. In response to repeated requests from the Navy, Arnold decided in November 1944 to begin mine-laying operations once sufficient aircraft were available. [178] Halsey sought to coordinate his fleet's attacks during the last months of the war with those of the USAAF's land-based aircraft, but the two forces often operated separately. [93] During early 1945 the USAAF conducted raids against cities in Formosa to trial tactics which could be later used against Japanese urban areas. [43] Arnold relieved XX Bomber Command's commander, Brigadier General Kenneth Wolfe, shortly after the raid on Yawata when he was unable to make follow-up attacks on Japan due to insufficient fuel stockpiles at the bases in China. Fanned by a strong … On 15 April 303 Superfortresses attacked the Tokyo region and destroyed 6 square miles (16 km2) of Tokyo, 3.6 square miles (9.3 km2) of Kawasaki and 1.5 square miles (3.9 km2) of Yokohama for the loss of 12 bombers. [20], The Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) conducted a single attack on the Japanese home islands during the Second Sino-Japanese War. [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. Moreover, the bomber forces often had to pass through severe weather fronts between the Mariana Islands and Japan, which broke up formations and caused navigation problems. [98] LeMay did not seek Arnold's specific approval before launching his firebombing campaign, however, to protect the USAAF commander from criticism if the attacks were unsuccessful. I hereby firmly determine with the rest of the 100,000,000 people of this nation to smash the arrogant enemy, whose acts are unpardonable in the eyes of Heaven and men, and thereby to set the Imperial Mind at ease," then-Prime Minister Suzuki Kantaro said, according to. Nagoya was attacked again on the night of 18/19 March, and the B-29s destroyed 2.95 square miles (7.6 km2) of buildings. [90][91] In 1943 the USAAF tested the effectiveness of incendiary bombs on Japanese-style buildings at Eglin Field and the "Japanese village" at Dugway Proving Ground. The Allied bombing campaign was one of the main factors which influenced the Japanese government's decision to surrender in mid-August 1945. Heavy clouds over the region meant that many bombers attacked targets of opportunity individually or in small groups, and little damage was done to the raid's intended targets. "[144], In mid-June Arnold visited LeMay's headquarters at Saipan. Arnold had grown to trust a young field commander, Major General Curtis … 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. 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. And they would go in single file, rather than in the large multi-layered formations the US had used in the daylight bombing of German forces in Europe; Smoke and fire rise from Tokyo during the US firebomb raid. This judgement stated that there had not been "unreasonable disparity" in how civilians, soldiers, and atomic bomb survivors were treated, and that the government had showed "no gross deviation from its discretionary right in not legislating for redress measures". In 1994, an opinion poll found that 55 percent of Americans supported the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. [53][54] The Japanese military began expanding the fighter force in the home islands after the attack on Yawata, and by October, 375 aircraft were assigned to the three air defense air divisions. "The streams of tracer antiaircraft fire crisscrossed the sky as if sprayed from garden hoses," Bigelow wrote. [251], The Japanese government began negotiations with the Allies about the terms of surrender on 10 August. [28], Following the Doolittle Raid, the next air attacks on Japan were made against the Kuril Islands in mid-1943. On 19 May 1938 two ROCAF Martin B-10 bombers dropped propaganda leaflets on Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Kurume, Saga, and other locations on Kyushu. [116] Mine-laying operations were disrupted in April as the wing was assigned to support operations in Okinawa and participate in conventional bombing raids. She and her family -- all of whom survived the March 10 raid -- moved from relative to relative, or other temporary accommodation. Targeting Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe, as well as smaller Japanese cities, Major General Curtis LeMay (1906-1990) and his squadrons of B-29 bombers - flying low and carrying nothing but incendiary explosives - unleashed an almost nightly bombing campaign througout the spring and summer of 1945 that reduced the residential and commercial centers of the nation to rubble and charcoal. His answer was so drastic it even shocked the crews who would carry out the raids. This raid marked the end of the first firebombing campaign as XXI Bomber Command had exhausted its supplies of incendiary bombs. Tokyo residents who lost their homes as a result of the US bombing air raid "Operation Meetinghouse" conducted on March 10, 1945. The FEAF staged its last attacks against Japan on 12 August; aircraft were dispatched on 14 August but recalled while en route to their targets. Twelve of the sixty-one Superfortresses that reached the target area were shot down, including one which was destroyed in a suicide ramming attack. Among the dead Japanese on March 10 were six of Nihei's close friends. "We hardly noticed the shrapnel which rattled and tinkled as it rained down on the wings," he wrote. The number of fighters available declined from late January, however. [258] These were the last attacks conducted against Japan by heavy bombers, as at noon on 15 August Hirohito made a radio broadcast announcing his country's intention to surrender. Japan's main industrial facilities were vulnerable to such attacks as they were concentrated in several large cities and a high proportion of production took place in homes and small factories in urban areas. Tokyo (CNN)Everywhere she turned, 8-year-old Haruyo Nihei saw flames. [154], XXI Bomber Command also conducted an intensive propaganda campaign alongside its firebombing raids. The American naval aviators claimed 341 "kills" against Japanese aircraft and the destruction of a further 160 on the ground for the loss of 60 aircraft in combat and 28 in accidents. Others, however, had no qualms about the U.S. firebombing Japanese cities, citing Japan’s own acts of horror, from the Pearl Harbor sneak attack and American prisoner beheadings, to Japan’s own thousands of civilian bombings in China – of Shanghai, Wuhan, Chongqing, Nanjing, and Canton – between 1937 and 1943. On 28 June Moji, Nobeoka, Okayama and Sasebo were attacked. Statistics compiled by the USSBS show a correlation between the number of B-29 sorties directed at different industries and the amount by which their production declined, but air attacks were not the only reason for these differences. The clusters would separate during their descent and small parachutes would carry each bomblet to the ground. Three nights later, the B-29s targeted Ichinomiya, Tsuruga, Utsunomiya and Uwajima. 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. [58], Overall, Operation Matterhorn was not successful. [275] In many cities rebuilding was accompanied by a process of land readjustment which sought to improve the urban layout, though the success of both such readjustment and rebuilding programs varied between locations. 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. [121][125] On 24 April the Tachikawa aircraft engine factory at Yamato near Tokyo was destroyed by 131 B-29s. On 6 July, attacks were conducted against Akashi, Chiba, Kōfu and Shimizu. The Japanese mounted a strong defense that downed two Superfortresses and damaged another 64; another eight B-29s were lost to other causes. [252] During this period B-29 attacks on Japan were limited to a raid by the 315th Bombardment Wing against an oil target on the night of 9/10 August and a daytime precision bombing attack on a factory in Tokyo on 10 August. 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. Japanese government photo shows buildings aflame after World War II firebomb raid. On 15 April the IJAAF and IJN air defense units were belatedly placed under a single command when the Air General Army was formed under the command of General Masakazu Kawabe, but by this time the fighter force's effectiveness had been greatly reduced due to high rates of casualties in training accidents and combat. [78] XXI Bomber Command raided the Musashino aircraft plant in Tokyo again on 27 December, but did not damage the facility. As both the cities and industrial facilities targeted were relatively small, the B-29 force would be sent against multiple locations on days in which attacks were conducted. Seventh Air Force B-24 Liberators also bombed the railway terminals in the port of Nagasaki on 31 July and 1 August. While these raids were focused on tactical targets, the Okinawa-based aircraft made several strategic attacks against industrial facilities; these included an unsuccessful raid on a coal liquefaction plant at Ōmuta on 7 August. The planes dropped their explosive loads from the high altitudes -- around 30,000 feet -- they were designed to operate at, but as few as 20% hit their targets. As the B-29 flew more than 150 miles away from Tokyo over the Pacific, Bigelow's tail gunner radioed the pilot that the glow of the fires was still visible. They had little success in permanently clearing minefields or downing the B-29s, however. Almost 90% of the bombs dropped on the home islands of Japan were delivered by this type of bomber. In response to this offensive, the Japanese greatly expanded their mine-sweeping force by 349 ships and 20,000 men and deployed additional anti-aircraft guns around the Shimonoseki Strait. Another precision raid was made against the Hiro Naval Aircraft Factory at Kure on 5 May when 148 B-29s inflicted heavy damage on the facility. A single group of Superfortresses also attempted to bomb a Kawasaki Aircraft Industries factory at Akashi but accidentally struck a nearby village instead. Three months later Chennault told United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt that a force of 105 modern fighters and 40 bombers (including twelve heavy bombers) would be able to "accomplish the downfall of Japan" within six to twelve months. [3] The urban area attacks reduced the morale of the Japanese population, and postwar surveys conducted by the USSBS found that air attacks were the most important factor in convincing the Japanese that the war had been lost. [295] In financial terms, the Allied air campaign and attacks on merchant ships destroyed between one third and a quarter of Japan's wealth. [119] Small forces of B-29s also struck Tokyo and nearby Kawasaki on 4 April. [201] From 17 May, P-47 Thunderbolt fighters flying from the Ryukyus made frequent day and night patrols over Kyushu to disrupt the Japanese air units there. "The flames consumed them, turning them into balls of fire," says Nihei, now 83. [69], XXI Bomber Command's initial attacks against Japan were focused on the country's aircraft industry. [228] The "Trinity" test of the first nuclear bomb was successfully conducted on 16 July. Estimates of the total number of fatalities range as high as 230,000. [52], XX Bomber Command began flying missions against Japan in mid-June 1944. As she drifted in and out of consciousness beneath the crush, she remembers hearing muffled voices above: "We are Japanese. It was decided to press for this at Yalta. The number of fighter aircraft and anti-aircraft guns assigned to defensive duties in the home islands was inadequate, and most of these aircraft and guns had difficulty reaching the high altitudes at which B-29s often operated. [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. The American ships sailed south, and attacked Okinawa from 1 March. Until silence. The Eleventh Air Force resumed its offensive in February 1944 after it had been reinforced with two squadrons of P-38 Lightning escort fighters, and it continued to attack targets in the Kurils until June 1945. By the end of the war 614,000 housing units had been destroyed to clear firebreaks; these accounted for a fifth of all housing losses in Japan during the war and displaced 3.5 million people. [132] The second attack involved 502 B-29s and destroyed 16.8 square miles (44 km2) of the city's central area, including the headquarters of several key government ministries and much of the Tokyo Imperial Palace; the bomber crews had been briefed to not target the palace as the US Government did not want to risk killing Emperor Hirohito. More than 2,700 people were killed and 8,000 injured. Anti-Abomb folks generally of the western extraction ie North America and Europe are often appallingly ignorant of the firebombing campaign that led up to Hiroshima and … The rider refused to leave his mount. This targeting policy, which was labeled the "Empire Plan", remained in force until the last days of the war. On March 10, 1945, 300 American bombers continue to drop almost 2,000 tons of incendiaries on Tokyo, Japan, in a mission that launched the previous day. From January 1944 to August 1945, the U.S. dropped 157,000 tons of bombs on Japanese cities, according to the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey. [292] It is not possible to determine the exact damage bombing caused to Japan's economy, however, as the Allied naval blockade also contributed to general breakdown which occurred from late 1944. [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. [57] XX Bomber Command's performance improved after LeMay instituted a training program and improved the organization of the B-29 maintenance units during August and September. The area firebombing campaign waged against the cities of Japan in the waning months of the Second World War represented a stunning departure from early-war American bombing strategy. On the 1st of the month, 836 B-29s staged the largest single raid of World War II, dropping 6,145 tons of bombs and mines. [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. By late June the air defense units in the home islands were assigned 260 fighters, and could draw on approximately 500 additional aircraft during emergencies. [246] All the American aircraft involved in the operation returned safely. [145] LeMay's plan called for precision attacks on important industrial targets on days when the weather over Japan was clear and incendiary attacks guided by radar on overcast days. Early in the morning of March 10, as the Japanese slept in their low-rise, wooden homes, the first bombers over Tokyo started five sets of marking fires, smaller strikes for the rest of the bomber force to aim it, according to B-29 pilot Robert Bigelow, who recounted the raid. 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