Halsey-Doolittle Raid: Bombing of Tokyo

Report from Adm. Nimitz (CinCPac) to Adm. King (Cominch)

Cincpac File No.
From: Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Fleet.
To: Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet.
Subject: Report of Action in connection with the bombing of Tokyo on April 18, 1942.
Enclosures: (A) Comcarpac Secret 1st endorsement A16-3 Serial 0019 of April 24, 1942 on CO USS ENTERPRISE Serial 088 of April 23, 1942 (with Basic letter and enclosures thereto).

(B) Comcarpac Secret 1st endorsement A16-3 Serial 0024 of April 29, 1942 on CO USS HORNET Serial 0015 of April 28, 1942.

(C) Comcarpac Secret 2nd endorsement A16-3 Serial 0023 of April 29, 1942 on CO USS NASHVILLE Serial 0045 of April 21, 1942 (with 1st endorsement and basic letter).

  1. Forwarded herewith as enclosures are reports of ships of Task Force SIXTEEN which participated in the subject operations.

  2. It is a satisfaction to know by actual experience that sixteen B-25 planes can be flown from the deck of a Hornet class carrier, and further that these planes can be carried in addition to 65 of the regular allowance of 72 planes.

  3. The presence of so many small craft in a relatively small area of operations considerably distant from shore must be borne in mind in planning future operations against important enemy objectives. In addition to the radar contact with two craft at 0310, actual contacts show one submarine, fourteen PYs and three AKs concentrated in an area about one hundred and thirty miles by one hundred and eighty miles. A similar concentration was reported by a submarine just returned from patrol in the East China Sea which stated that sixty five sampans had been sighted on the 18-day patrol in an area just about the same size as that mentioned above. These are indications of the degree to which the Japanese are using these small craft for patrols and screens around their vital areas. There is no indication that these sampans are equipped with radar. They do, however, carry radio and in spite of their vulnerability, can be considered as useful distant screens which fact must be weighed carefully in considering any future operations in that area.

  4. The employment of small patrol craft in the Hawaiian area to give earlier and more certain warning against the approach of enemy units, particularly aircraft, has been recommended. It was the subject of the Chief of Naval Operations' despatch 102209 of December 1941 to all Sea Frontier Commanders and of Commander-in-Chief, U.S. pacific Fleet. In reply to the latter, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet in his 022357 of January 1942 recommended that eight patrol vessels of sufficient size, equipped with radar, be provided for this employment in the Hawaiian Sea Frontier. Due to retarded delivery of suitable patrol types and of radar sets, none are yet in service in this Frontier. It now appears that eight patrol vessels will be inadequate.

  5. The suggestion in paragraph 6 of the basic letter, enclosure (A), regarding radio deception is receiving consideration.

  6. Regarding sub-paragraph 2(g) in the first endorsement, enclosure (A), the Commander Hawaiian Sea Frontier is at present conducting surface craft searches of the islands of the Hawaiian group. Within the last week one DM has conducted a landing party search and Kure and Pearl and Hermes Reef.

  7. Particular attention is invited to the following paragraphs in the first endorsement, enclosure (A):

    1. Sub-paragraph 2(i) calls attention to the serious defect of the F-4-F type carrier VF plane due to its limited range and endurance. The COmmander-in-Chief has made repeated recommendations in this matter and it is assumed that appropriate and expeditious action will be taken.

    2. Sub-paragraph 2(j)(4) expresses the need for ultra-high frequency equipment for fighter direction in the operation of carriers in wartime. The Commander-in-Chief concurs in this recommendation.

    3. Attention is invited to the necessity for training as indicated in sub-paragraph 2(d), in that more time must be available for the training of air groups at shore bases in order to inflict more damage on enemy patrol vessels by aircraft; also to sub-paragraph 1(i) of the basic letter to enclosure (B), relative to the take-off of the B-25's from a carrier's deck, which, with only one exception, were dangerously and improperly executed.

  8. The excessive expenditure of ammunition by the Nashville to sink two patrol craft has been taken up direct with the Commanding Officer of that ship.

  9. The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, commends the Commander Task Force Sixteen, (Vice Admiral W.F. Halsey, U.S. Navy), the Commander Army Group (Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle, U.S. Army), and the participating officers and men of the Army and Navy on the successful accomplishment of this mission.

/signed/ C.W. NIMITZ.

Copy to:


On 18 April, the Hornet, escorted by Enterprise and screen, launched 16 Army B-25's about 650 miles east of HONSHU for a raid on the Tokyo area. (T.F. 16 commanded by Vice Admiral Halsey).

CV - Enterprise, Hornet Shore batteries and aircraft.
CA - Northampton, Salt Lake City, Vincennes  
CL - Nashville  
DD - 8  
AO - 2  
3 carrier planes and 5 B-25's (with crews) Three patrol vessels sunk.
Numerous fires and bomb damage reported by returning pilots.


  1. On April 1, the Hornet loaded about 16 Army B-25 planes, with crews, at Alameda Air Station and departed for a rendezvous with Task Force 16 at 30 latitude, 180 Longitude, from there to go to a point within 500 miles of Tokyo. At this point the B-25's, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Doolittle, were to be launched for a bombing raid on the Tokyo Area.

  2. On April 17, while about 100 miles from Tokyo, the Task Forces were refueled, and the DD's and AO's left behind for reasons of greater speed and fuel conservation.

  3. From 800 miles east of Honshu to the launching point, numerous contacts were made with Japanese patrol vessels, mostly of the Sa type. These vessels presumably radioed the approach of the carrier force.

  4. The presence of these vessels, with the coincident threat of retaliatory air attack resulted in the decision to launch the B-25's at 650 miles instead of 500 miles as planned.

  5. The 16 Army B-25's were launched without incident.

  6. The Nashville and planes from the Enterprise destroyed 3 of the enemy patrol vessels, 18 April.

  7. The carrier force turned east, picking up the DD's 19 April and the AO's 21 April. The force arrived at Pearl Harbor 25 April.

  8. Subsequent reports indicate one B-25 was forced down in Russian Asiatic Territory, and the crew interned, and about 5 were forced down in Japanese controlled Chinese Territory and the crews captured.

  9. The raid was well planned and executed, carrying with it a certain element of surprise. It undoubtedly had a strong effect on Japanese morale.

Transcribed and formatted by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation