Halsey-Doolittle Raid, April 1942

The following has been transcribed from a hand-written memo submitted to Commanding General Army Air Forces (Gen. H. Arnold, USAAF). The memo was microfilmed for the National Archives, then, at my request, printed from microfilm, and a photocopy supplied for this effort--the quality of the following transcription has no doubt suffered somewhat from the condition of the copy I have to work with.

Patrick Clancey
HyperWar Foundation

Subject: B25B Special Project
To: Commanding General Army Air Forces

The purpose of this special project is to bomb and fire the industrial centers of Japan.

It is anticipated that this will not only cause confusion and impeded production but will undoubtedly facilitate operations against Japan in other theatres due to their probably withdrawal of troops for the purpose of defending the home country.

An action of this kind is most desirable now due to the psychological effect on the American public, our allies and our enemies.

The method contemplated is to bring carrier borne bombers to within 400 or 500 miles (all distances mentioned will be in statue miles) of the coast of Japan, preferably to the south-southeast.

They will then take off from the carrier deck and proceed directly to selected objectives. These objectives will be military and industrial targets in the Tokyo-Yokahama, Nagoya and Osaka-Kobi areas.

Simultaneous bombings of these areas is contemplated with the bombers coming in up waterways from the southeast and, after dropping their bombs, returning in the same direction. After clearing the Japanese outside coastline a sufficient distance a general westerly course will be set for one or more of the following airports in China: C...chow, Chuchow (Lishui), Yushan and or Chien. C ...chow is about seventy miles inland and two hundred twenty miles to the south south west of Shanghai.

After refueling the airplanes will proceed to the strong Chinese air base at Chungking, about 800 miles distant, and from there to such [...] as may, at that time, be indicated!

The greatest nonstop distance that any airplane will have to fly is 2000 miles.

Eighteen B25B (North American Medium Bomber) airplanes will be employed in this raid. Each will carry about 1100 gallons of gasoline which assures a range of 2400 miles at 5000 feet altitude in still air.

Each bomber will carry two 500# demolition bombs and as near as possible to 1000# of incendiaries. The demolition bombs will be dropped first and then the incendiaries.

The extra gasoline will be carried in a 275 gallon auxiliary leak proof tank in the top of the bomb bay and a 175 gallon flexible rubber tank in the passageway above the bomb bay. It is anticipated that the gasoline from this top tank will be used up and the tank flattened out or rolled up and removed prior to entering the combat zone. This assures that the airplane will be fully operational and minimizes the fire and explosion hazard characteristic of a near empty tank.

In all other respects the airplanes are conventional.

The work of installing the required additional tankage is being done by Mid-Continent Airlines at Minneapolis. All production and installation work is progressing according to schedule and the 24 airplanes (6 spares) should be completely converted by March 15th.

Extensive range and performance tests will be conducted on #1 article while the others are being converted. A short period will be required to assemble and give special training to the crews. The training will include teamwork in bombing, gunnery, navigation, flying, short take off and at least one carrier take off for each pilot.

if the crews are selected promptly from men familiar with their jobs and the B-25-B airplane the complete unit should be ready for loading on the carrier by April 1st.

General operational instructions in the use of his particular equipment will be supplied to each crew member for study and practice. Final operational instructions will be issued just before take off from the carrier.

Due to the greater accuracy of daylite bombing a daylite raid is contemplated. The present concept of the project calls for a nite take off from the carrier and arrival over objectives at dawn. Rapid fueling at the landing points will permit arrival at Chungking before dark.

A njite raid will be made if due to last minute information received from our intelligence section or other source a daylite raid is definitely inadvisable. The nite raid should be made on a clear nite, moonlite if Japan is blacked out, moonless if it is not.

All available pertinent information regarding targets and defenses will be obtained from A-2, G-2 and other existent sources.

The Navy has already supervised take off tests made at Norfolk Va. using three B25B bombers carrying loads of 23,000#, 26,000# and 29,000#. These test indicate that no difficulty need be anticipated in taking off from the carrier deck with a gross load of around 31,000#.

The Navy will be charged with providing a carrier, (probably the Hornet), loading and storing the airplanes and with delivering them to the take off position.

The Chemical Warfare Service is designing and preparing special incendiary bomb clusters in order to assure that the maximum amount that limited space permits, up to 1000# per airplane, may be carried. 48 of these clusters will be ready for a shipment from Edgewood Arsenal by March 15th.

About 20,000 U.S. gallons of 100 octane aviation gasoline and 600 gallons of lubricating oil will be laid down at Chuchow and associated fields. All other supplies and necessary emergency repair equipment will be carried on the airplanes.

1st Lt. Harry W. H...e, now with the Air Service Command and formerly with the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, will be charged with making arrangements for the fuel caches in China. he will work through A-2 and A-4 and with Col. Clare Chenault, a former Air Corps officer and now aviation advisor to the Chinese government. Col. Chenault should assign a responsible American or a Chinese who speaks English. to physically check and assure that the supplies are in place. This man should also be available to assist the crews in servicing the airs. That the supplies are in place can be indicated by suitable radio code signal. Work on placing supplies must start at once.

Shortly before the airplanes arrive the proper Chinese agencies should be advised that the airplanes are coming soon, but the inference will be that they are flying up from the south in order to stage a raid on Japan from which they plan to return to the same bases. Radio signals from the bombing planes immediately they drop their bombs may be used to indicate arrival at gassing points some six or seven hours later.

Care must be exercised to see that the Chinese are advised just in time as any information given to the Chinese may be expected to fall into Japanese hands and a premature notification would be fatal to the project.

An initial study of meteorological conditions indicates that the sooner the raid is made the better will be the prevailing weather conditions. The weather will become increasingly unfavorable after the end of April. Weather was considered largely from the point of view of avoiding morning fog over Tokyo and other targets, low overcast over Chuchow and Chungking, icing and strong westerly winds.

if possible, daily weather predictions on anticipated weather conditions at Chungking and the coast should be sent, at a specific time, in suitable code, in order to assist the meteorologist on the carrier in making his forecasts.

Lt. Col. J.H. Doolittle, Air Corps, will be in charge of the preparations for and will be in personal command of the pro other flight personnel will, due to the considerable hazard incident to such a mission, be volunteers.

Each airplane will carry its normal compliment of five crew members; pilot, co-pilot, bombardier-navigator, radio operator and gunner-mechanic.

one crew member will be a competent meteorologist and one an experienced navigator. All navigators will be trained in celestial navigation.

Two ground liaison officers will be assigned. One will remain on the mainland and the other on the carrier.

At least three crew members will speak Chinese one in each of the target units.

Should the Russians be willing to accept delivery of 18 B-25-B airplanes, on lease lend, at Vladivostok our problems would be greatly simplified and conflict with the Halverson project avoided.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation