firebombing of japan

The Japanese government implemented harsh penalties against civilians who kept copies of these leaflets. [159] The 30 bombers (out of 38 dispatched) that struck the refinery destroyed or damaged 30 percent of the facility. By 1942, Japan's empire in the Pacific was at its most powerful. While McNamara talks about the firebombing in the movie, there is a very fast sequence of frames in which the bombed Japanese cities are named, with a comparison of the size of the Japanese city to a U.S. equivalent, plus a percentage of the Japanese city destroyed. The cities of Hachiōji, Mito, Nagaoka and Toyama were the main targets of this operation; all four suffered extensive damage and 99.5 percent of buildings in Toyama were destroyed. [104] The Tokyo police force and fire department estimated that 83,793 people were killed during the air raid, another 40,918 were injured and just over a million lost their homes; postwar estimates of deaths in this attack have ranged from 80,000 to 100,000. By August 1944, 330,000 schoolchildren had been evacuated in school groups and another 459,000 had moved to the countryside with their family. In December 2011, the Osaka District Court handed down a similar ruling, adding that the government did not violate its constitution in its treatment of bombing victims. [246] All the American aircraft involved in the operation returned safely. [305], The moral concerns over the attacks have focused on the large number of civilian casualties and property damage they caused. The Americans were intercepted by 125 Japanese fighters but only one B-29 was shot down. The next day, President Truman ordered a halt to the bombing due to the possibility that it would be interpreted as a sign that the peace negotiations had failed. [211] Imperial General Headquarters decided to resume attacks on Allied bombers from late June, but by this time there were too few fighters available for this change of tactics to have any effect. Curtis Le May is the key figure. XXI Bomber Command B-29s flew six practice missions against targets in the Central Pacific during October and November in preparation for their first attack on Japan. While this figure is also occasionally cited, the USSBS' investigators regarded the work of their statistical teams as unsatisfactory, and the researchers were unable to calculate the error rate of this estimate. [11] When the Pacific War began, the Japanese government believed that the best way to prevent American air raids was to capture and hold the areas in China and the Pacific from which such attacks could be launched. LeMay was tasked with finding a way to get results. [206] Fighters stationed to defend Japan's main industrial areas frequently intercepted American air raids between 24 November 1944 and 25 February 1945, and inflicted significant losses for a period. [105][106] Damage to Tokyo's war production was also substantial. [65] USAAF and US Navy engineers subsequently constructed six airfields on the islands to accommodate hundreds of B-29s. [99] The decision to use firebombing tactics represented a move away from the USAAF's previous focus on precision bombing, and was believed by senior officials in the military and US Government to be justified by the need to rapidly bring the war to an end. [52], XX Bomber Command began flying missions against Japan in mid-June 1944. Two-wing operations were conducted against Fukuoka on 19 June and Ōmuta on 26 July, however. 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. [259], Limited air operations continued over Japan in the weeks following the Japanese government's decision to surrender. [72] The IJA also began launching Fu-Go balloon bombs against the United States during November. [103] The raid caused a massive conflagration that overwhelmed Tokyo's civil defenses and destroyed 16 square miles (41 km2) of buildings, representing seven percent of the city's urban area. [156][163], From mid-1944, the US Navy pressed for B-29s to be used to lay naval mines in Japan's home waters to strengthen the blockade of the country. Many of Japan's major harbors, including those of Tokyo, Yokohama and Nagoya, became permanently closed to shipping. Commentary: And what’s sometimes forgotten in this history is that these B-29s were firebombing Japan long before the nuclear bombs were dropped. 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. [100], To maximize the effectiveness of the firebombing attacks, LeMay ordered the B-29s to fly at the low altitude of 5,000 feet (1,500 m) and bomb by night; this represented a significant change from the Command's standard tactics, which focused on high-altitude daylight bombing. On 28 June Moji, Nobeoka, Okayama and Sasebo were attacked. [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. American losses were 91 pilots killed and 157 Mustangs destroyed. Closely read the scenario, the pre-briefing questions, and the problem before starting your work. [107] Following the attack on Tokyo, the Japanese government ordered the evacuation of all schoolchildren in the third to sixth grades from the main cities, and 87 percent of them had departed to the countryside by early April. The fire hadn't reached their district yet. 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. The strategic bombing campaign was greatly expanded from November 1944 when bases in the Mariana Islands became available as a result of the Mariana Islands Campaign. [50], XXI Bomber Command followed up the firebombing of Tokyo with similar raids against other major cities. At first, Nihei was too frightened to go alone to the center in 2002, so she asked a friend to come with her. However, the Japanese anticipated that the Allies might still make small-scale attacks against the home islands using naval aircraft flying from aircraft carriers. To get all this information, I had to advance the DVD frame-by-frame -- otherwise the whole thing shoots by you in a blur. About the Author . [198], Due to the lack of Japanese air opposition to the American bomber raids, VII Fighter Command was solely tasked with ground attack missions from July. [62], In spring 1944, the Soviets asked for assistance in creating a long-range bombing force for Japan, with 300 (lend-lease) B-24s and 240 B-29s. In an attempt to stem the large-scale Japanese air attacks against the Allied ships, part of TF 58 struck at kamikaze aircraft bases on Kyushu and Shikoku on 12 and 13 May. "We were playing outside until dusk. [170] The actual Japanese aircraft losses in this operation are uncertain, however; the Imperial General Headquarters admitted losing 78 aircraft in dogfights and did not provide a figure for those destroyed on the ground. The USAAF's headquarters did not regard these claims as credible, and Chennault's requests for reinforcements were not granted. During these attacks it destroyed six of the nine targets attacked for the loss of four B-29s. [166], LeMay increased the number of mine-laying sorties in June, and the 505th Bombardment Group joined the 313th Bombardment Wing on occasion. The clusters would separate during their descent and small parachutes would carry each bomblet to the ground. [210] The effectiveness of Japanese anti-aircraft batteries also decreased during 1945 as the collapse of the national economy led to severe shortages of ammunition. [223][224] Between six[225] and eight[226] US airmen shot down on 5 May were subjected to vivisection at the Kyushu Imperial University; Professor Fukujirō Ishiyama and other doctors conducted four such sessions throughout May and early June. A force of 409 B-29s attacked Osaka again on 7 June; during this attack 2.21 square miles (5.7 km2) of buildings were burnt out and the Americans did not suffer any losses. United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Medical Division (1947), United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Morale Division (1947), p. 1, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (1995), p. 2, CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (, struck and mostly destroyed by atomic bombs, United States Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific, attacked Japanese warships at Kure and Kobe, Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Hirohito made a radio broadcast announcing his country's intention to surrender, International Military Tribunal for the Far East, "Executive Order 9082 Reorganizing the Army and the War Department", "America Hits Back: The Doolittle Tokyo Raiders", "Formal Surrender of Japan, 2 September 1945 – Aircraft Flyover as the Ceremonies Conclude", "Damages suit over 1945 air raids on Osaka dismissed", "With Hammers and Wicker Baskets : The Construction of U.S. Army Airfields in China During World War II", "Ending the Pacific War 'No alternative to annihilation, "VLR! His answer was so drastic it even shocked the crews who would carry out the raids. [21], USAAF aircraft bombed Japan for the first time in mid-April 1942. "We were huddled inside -- we could hear footsteps overhead fleeing, voices rising, kids screaming 'mom, mom.' [149], XXI Bomber Command began incendiary raids against small cities from 17 June. Kobe was the next target in the firebombing campaign, and was attacked by 331 B-29s on the night of 16/17 March. A further 13 B-24 Liberator heavy bombers were dispatched from the United States to operate from China in May 1942 as the HALPRO force, but were re-tasked to support Allied operations in the Mediterranean. 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. The Minister of Home Affairs, Iwao Yamazaki, concluded after these raids that Japan's civil defense arrangements were "considered to be futile". [212] The number of fighters assigned to the Air General Army peaked at just over 500 during June and July, but most frontline units had relatively few serviceable aircraft. 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. Firebombing is a bombing technique designed to damage a target, generally an urban area, through the use of fire, caused by incendiary devices, rather than from the blast effect of large bombs.. In popular usage, any act in which an incendiary device is used to initiate a fire is often described as a "firebombing". "They reminded me of my best friends, and it made me think they were still having a good time somewhere else. [31], In late 1943, the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff approved a proposal to begin the strategic air campaign against the Japanese home islands and East Asia by basing B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers in India and establishing forward airfields in China. When Nihei was finally pulled out from the pile of. As she drifted in and out of consciousness beneath the crush, she remembers hearing muffled voices above: "We are Japanese. [105] Japanese opposition to this attack was relatively weak; 14 B-29s were destroyed as a result of combat or mechanical faults and a further 42 damaged by anti-aircraft fire. Despite the vulnerability of Japanese cities to firebombing attacks, the firefighting services lacked training and equipment, and few air raid shelters were constructed for civilians. [13] In early 1942, forces allocated to the defense of Japan comprised 100 Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF) and 200 Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) fighter aircraft, many of which were obsolete, as well as 500 Army-manned and 200 IJN anti-aircraft guns. [210] Moreover, as the anti-aircraft guns were mainly stationed near major industrial areas, many of the raids on small cities were almost unopposed. More than 99% of the city, an industrial center of 100,000 people on the western side of the main island of Honshu, burned to the ground that night after a raid by 179 US B-29 bombers dropping napalm. 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. 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-months of labor. On 3 January 1945, 97 B-29s were dispatched to conduct an area bombing raid on Nagoya. The next day they attacked Japanese warships at Kure and Kobe, damaging the battleship Yamato and aircraft carrier Amagi. On the night of 13/14 March, 274 Superfortresses attacked Osaka and destroyed 8.1 square miles (21 km2) of the city for the loss of two aircraft. Firebombing is a bombing technique designed to damage a target, generally an urban area, through the use of fire, caused by incendiary devices, rather than from the blast effect of large bombs.. The strategic attacks by the Twentieth Air Force caused most of the casualties and damage. Over 2,600 American bomber crew members were killed, including POWs who died in captivity, and a further 433 were wounded.[2]. Nevertheless, 2.05 square miles (5.3 km2) of buildings were burnt out and no B-29s were lost to the Japanese defenses. The destruction wrought upon Tokyo on March 10 only emboldened the Americans. These aircraft reached India, but remained there as the Japanese conquest of Burma caused logistics problems and Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek was reluctant to allow them to operate from territory under his control. [83], The first attacks conducted under LeMay's leadership achieved mixed results. [249] At this time a third atomic bomb was expected to be ready by the end of August. [267] Besides transporting occupation troops, the Fifth Air Force conducted armed patrols over Japan and Korea as well and also made many photo reconnaissance and mapping sorties. [298] However, civilian morale did not collapse due to the bombing, and post-war investigations found that most Japanese had remained willing to continue the war if necessary. [186][187] Strikes on the Tokyo area on 17 July were disrupted by bad weather, but the next day aircraft from the fleet attacked Yokosuka naval base where they damaged the battleship Nagato and sank four other warships. American losses were low compared to Japanese casualties; 136 B-29s were downed during the campaign. Firebombing was General LeMay's baby and he bombed the hell out of Japanese cities to the point that McNamara in his Fog of War book said if they had lost they would have tried as war criminals and rightly so. They began to arrive over the city at 2:00 am Guam time on 10 March, and 279 bombers dropped 1,665 tons of bombs. An estimated 100,000 people perished in the firebomb raid on Tokyo in the night of March 9-10, 1945. Closely read the scenario, the pre-briefing questions, and the problem before starting your work. Moreover, the diversion of some supply aircraft flown between India and China to support XX Bomber Command's efforts may have prevented the Fourteenth Air Force from undertaking more effective operations against Japanese positions and shipping. 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". Due to the difficulty of intercepting and downing B-29s, the Japanese fighter pilots increasingly perceived their efforts as being futile. "Babies were burning on the backs of parents. [280] The postwar Japanese government calculated in 1949 that 323,495 people had been killed by air attacks in the home islands. [27] The IJA also began developing fire balloons capable of carrying incendiary and anti-personnel bombs from Japan to the continental United States. 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. [154], XXI Bomber Command also conducted an intensive propaganda campaign alongside its firebombing raids. [73], The next American raids on Japan were not successful. The most important of these was the weather; the American raiders frequently encountered cloudy conditions and high winds over Japan which made accurate bombing extremely difficult. On most nights that raids were conducted, four cities were attacked, each by a wing of bombers. [22] Japanese casualties were 50 killed and over 400 wounded. The resulting firestorm destroyed 7 square miles (18 km2) of the city (equivalent to half its area), killed 8,000 people and rendered 650,000 homeless. Hopes for this were dashed in 2010, when Tokyo's municipal government told Saotome there was no public funding available. Still, the harm inflicted on Japan was massive. [220] Mobs of civilians also killed several Allied airmen before the Japanese military arrived to take the men into custody. Before the war it was believed that Soviet aircraft based in the Russian Far East posed the greatest threat. "I'm fearful of history repeating itself," said Nihei, who only found the strength to face up to her own past when the Tokyo Air Raids Center was founded. [147] Precision bombing raids were also conducted on 22 June, when 382 B-29s attacked six targets at Kure, Kakamigahara, Himeji, Mizushima and Akashi in southern Honshu. [243][244] Official Japanese figures issued in the late 1990s state the total number of people killed as a result of this attack exceeded 100,000. Its rate of effort increased in May, when it conducted missions against harbors and other choke points around Honshu and Kyushu. However, few shelters were built due to shortages of concrete and steel. [23], Although the Doolittle Raid caused little damage, it had important ramifications. The city was attacked again by 61 B-29s on 21 November and by 17 bombers on 19 December. [10], The Japanese government's pre-war plans to protect the country from air attack focused on neutralizing enemy air bases. [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. [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. Many other ships were also destroyed in this area, including 70 out of the 272 small sailing ships which carried coal between the islands. [10] In July 1942, the commander of the American Volunteer Group, Colonel Claire Lee Chennault, sought a force of 100 P-47 Thunderbolt fighters and 30 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers, which he believed would be sufficient to "destroy" the Japanese aircraft industry. [50], From autumn 1943 the Japanese government took further steps to prepare the country's major cities for air attacks. 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. [308] It has also been suggested that anti-Japanese sentiment was a factor motivating the USAAF's emphasis on firebombing during the campaign against Japan while most of its raids on Germany used precision bombing tactics. In return, the P-51 pilots claimed 26 "kills" and 23 "probables" for the loss of three fighters. [50] Little was done to disperse industrial facilities to make them less vulnerable to attack, however, as this was logistically difficult. But the B-29s' early attacks on Japan were considered failures. 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. [240], Following the attack, a statement from President Truman was broadcast to announce that the United States had used an atomic bomb against Hiroshima and that further air attacks would be conducted on Japan's industrial facilities and transportation network. Japanese defenses were much weaker by night, and the three bombers lost in this attack crashed due to mechanical problems. She and her family -- all of whom survived the March 10 raid -- moved from relative to relative, or other temporary accommodation. [146], Five major precision bombing attacks were conducted as part of the Empire Plan. Firebombing knocked out half of the factories in Kobe and was part of one of the biggest attacks in the war. [184] TF 38's battleships and cruisers also began a series of bombardments of industrial targets on 14 July which continued until almost the end of the war. We must live." The European theatre and the Pacific theatre are very different for a number of reasons. 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.

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