firebombing of japan

firebombing of japan

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. In an attempt to prevent further naval raids, the IJN launched an offensive in the Pacific Ocean which ended in defeat during the Battle of Midway. Nihei had been asleep when the bombs began raining down on Tokyo, then a city comprised of mostly wooden houses, prompting her to flee the home she shared with her parents, her older brother and her younger sister. The United States military air campaign waged against Japan began in earnest in mid-1944 and intensified during the war's last months. Bombs dropped by the Americans had created tornadoes of fire so intense that they were sucking mattresses from homes and hurling them down the street along with furniture -- and people. [210] As a result, few of the subsequent Allied raids were intercepted. On 16 July, XXI Bomber Command was re-designated the Twentieth Air Force and LeMay appointed its commander. Gifu, Sakai, Sendai and Wakayama were struck on 9 July. As a result, the forces were unable to react to a sudden air attack. [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. [83], The first attacks conducted under LeMay's leadership achieved mixed results. [180][181] Following this raid TF 38 steamed north, and began a major attack on Hokkaido and northern Honshu on 14 July. During the final months of the war the raids also contributed to the deterioration of the Japanese social fabric. The widespread destruction and high number of casualties from these raids caused many Japanese to realize that their country's military was no longer able to defend the home islands. In an unprecedented move, the commander of the USAAF, General Henry H. Arnold, took personal command of this unit and ran it from the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.[38] The 58th Bombardment Wing was XX Bomber Command's main combat unit, and its movement from Kansas to India took place between April and mid-May 1944. 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. [228] The "Trinity" test of the first nuclear bomb was successfully conducted on 16 July. After a break of almost a week, Matsuyama, Omuta and Tokuyama were firebombed on 26 July. I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal," he is widely quoted as saying. Sixteen multi-city incendiary attacks had been conducted by the end of the war (an average of two per week), and these targeted 58 cities. 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. [22] Japanese casualties were 50 killed and over 400 wounded. [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. [40] The three IJAAF air brigades stationed in Honshū and Kyūshū were expanded to air divisions between March and June (these were designated the 10th, 11th and 12th Air Divisions). [277], The air attacks on Japan caused hundreds of thousands of casualties, though estimates of the number who were killed and wounded vary considerably. Haruyo Nihei, a survivor of the deadliest single bombing raid in human history, looks at maps at Tokyo Air Raids Center for War Damages. [271], Japan's bomb-damaged cities were rebuilt after the war. The resulting shortage of rice caused widespread malnutrition, and mass starvation would have occurred had the war continued. Three nights later, the B-29s targeted Ichinomiya, Tsuruga, Utsunomiya and Uwajima. [158] Japanese aircraft intercepted the force dispatched against Yawata and shot down a B-29 and five of the escorting P-47s for the loss of approximately 12 fighters. Following the landing on 1 April, TF 58 provided air defense for the naval force off Okinawa and regularly conducted patrols over Kyushu. [21], USAAF aircraft bombed Japan for the first time in mid-April 1942. [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. A force of 472 B-29s struck Nagoya by day on 13 May and destroyed 3.15 square miles (8.2 km2) of the city. The rider refused to leave his mount. [232][233] On 26 July the United States, Britain and China issued the Potsdam Declaration, which demanded Japan's surrender after warning that the country would be devastated if the war continued. for the Virginia Aviation History Project. This plan assigned responsibility for fighting fires to community councils and neighborhood groups as the professional firefighting units were short-handed. [122][123][124], LeMay resumed night firebombing raids on 13 April when 327 B-29s attacked the arsenal district of Tokyo and destroyed 11.4 square miles (30 km2) of the city, including several armaments factories. [27] The IJA also began developing fire balloons capable of carrying incendiary and anti-personnel bombs from Japan to the continental United States. [167] Overall, mines dropped by Superfortresses off the home islands sank 293 ships, which represented 9.3 percent of all Japanese merchant shipping destroyed during the Pacific War and 60 percent of losses between April and August 1945. [214], Overall, Japanese fighters shot down 74 B-29s, anti-aircraft guns accounted for a further 54, and 19 were downed by a combination of anti-aircraft guns and fighters. An estimated 100,000 people perished in the firebomb raid on Tokyo in the night of March 9-10, 1945. 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. [47], The Japanese government also sought to improve the country's civil defenses in response to the Doolittle Raid and the threat of further attacks. Of this total, 147,000 tons of bombs were dropped by the B-29 bomber force. [110] B-29s also began to drop propaganda leaflets over Japan during March. [96][97] This was in line with Arnold's targeting directive for XXI Bomber Command, which specified that urban areas were to be accorded the second-highest priority for attacks after aircraft factories. About 200 houses were also destroyed. Two nights later, Himeji, Kōchi, Takamatsu and Tokushima were attacked. 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. 9, 1945, firebombing was hardly a new tactic. Tokyo residents who lost their homes as a result of the US bombing air raid "Operation Meetinghouse" conducted on March 10, 1945. LeMay designated the aerial mining campaign Operation Starvation. We must live. [251], The Japanese government began negotiations with the Allies about the terms of surrender on 10 August. 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. Civilians were to observe a blackout from 10:00 pm. The horrors Nihei saw that night were the result of Operation Meetinghouse, the deadliest of a series of firebombing air raids on Tokyo by the United States Army Air Forces, between February and May 1945. 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. 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 first two of these attacks on 13 and 18 December used precision bombing tactics, and damaged the city's aircraft plants. 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. Still, the harm inflicted on Japan was massive. Two successful large-scale precision bombing raids were flown against aircraft factories in Tokyo and Nagoya on 7 April; the raid on Tokyo was the first to be escorted by Iwo Jima-based P-51 Mustang very-long-range fighters from the VII Fighter Command, and the Americans claimed to have shot down 101 Japanese aircraft for the loss of two P-51s and seven B-29s. 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. 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. [154], XXI Bomber Command also conducted an intensive propaganda campaign alongside its firebombing raids. On this day, the B-29 Bockscar was dispatched to attack Kokura with the "Fat Man" bomb. 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. 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… However, the Japanese anticipated that the Allies might still make small-scale attacks against the home islands using naval aircraft flying from aircraft carriers. 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. 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. [101], The first firebombing attack in this campaign—codenamed Operation Meetinghouse—was carried out against Tokyo on the night of 9/10 March, and proved to be the single most destructive air raid of the war. No B-29s were lost in the raids on these cities, though six were damaged by attacks from between 40 and 50 fighters and another five were hit by anti-aircraft fire. Only one Superfortress was shot down during this attack, and all members of its crew were rescued after the aircraft ditched into the sea. [204] Owing to the short range of the country's land-based radar, and Allied attacks on IJN picket ships, the defenders typically had only about an hour to respond to incoming B-29s once they had been detected. But the atomic bombing of Hiroshima occurred just five days later, and Toyama's tragic story was all but lost in the closing days of World War II. 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. During the attacks on 18 and 19 March, the American naval aviators claimed to have destroyed 223 Japanese aircraft in the air and 250 on the ground, while the Japanese placed their losses as 161 of the 191 aircraft they committed in the air and an unspecified number on the ground. Her family made it to an underground shelter, but their refuge didn't last long. 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. [227], Beginning in 1942 the United States, with assistance from Britain and other Allied countries, devoted considerable resources to developing nuclear weapons through the Manhattan Project. But the B-29s' early attacks on Japan were considered failures. In an operation conducted primarily to raise morale in the United States and to avenge the attack on Pearl Harbor, 16 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers were carried from San Francisco to within range of Japan on the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. "The general built, from the remnants of World War II, an all jet bomber force, manned and supported by professional airmen dedicated to the preservation of peace," his official Air Force biography reads. [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. The General Defense Command (GDC) had been formed in July 1941 to oversee the defense of the home islands, but all combat units in this area were assigned to the four regional military districts (the Northern, Eastern, Central and Western districts) which reported directly to the Ministry of War. [296], The attacks also caused extensive damage to Japan's urban areas. [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. The firebombing of Tokyo was an American bombing raid on the Japanese city of Tokyo which occurred on the night of 9 March, 1945. -- Charles Whiting, Author of Hunters from the Sky: The German Parachute Corps, 1940-1945 . As well as the extensive physical damage in the targeted cities, the attacks also caused increased absenteeism as civilians were afraid to leave their homes to work in factories which might be bombed. [87] These changes were not popular with XXI Bomber Command's aircrew, as they believed that it was safer to fly heavily armed aircraft at high altitude. [210] Moreover, as the anti-aircraft guns were mainly stationed near major industrial areas, many of the raids on small cities were almost unopposed. [274] The Allied occupation authorities were not involved in the urban rebuilding effort, but allowed this work to go ahead despite criticizing it as inappropriate to Japan's status as a defeated country. While en route to the city the Mustangs flew through thick clouds, and 27 of the fighters were destroyed in collisions. [61] The adverse weather conditions common over Japan also limited the effectiveness of the Superfortresses, as crews that managed to reach their target were often unable to bomb accurately due to high winds or cloud cover. The Task Force attempted a second raid against the Tokyo area on 25 February, but this operation was frustrated by bad weather. 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. When US air crews were briefed on the mission, many of the more than 3,000 Army aviators reacted with disbelief. 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. [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. [193] On 13 August, TF 38's aircraft attacked the Tokyo region again and claimed to have destroyed 254 Japanese aircraft on the ground and 18 in the air. Allied forces conducted many air raids on Japan during World War II, causing extensive destruction to the country's cities and killing between 241,000 and 900,000 people. [81] During XXI Bomber Command's first three months of operations, it lost an average of 4.1% of aircraft dispatched in each raid. "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. [202], Attacks on airfields and transportation infrastructure in southern Japan continued until the end of the war. [209], Resistance to the air raids decreased sharply from April 1945. By August 1944, 330,000 schoolchildren had been evacuated in school groups and another 459,000 had moved to the countryside with their family. But the raids seemed to do little to bring Japan's capitulation. [206], Air combat was most intense in late 1944 and early 1945. In fact, 828 B-29s escorted by 186 fighters (for a total of 1,014 aircraft) were dispatched; during the day precision raids were made against targets at Iwakuni, Osaka and Tokoyama and at night the cities of Kumagaya and Isesaki were firebombed. Inferno takes a provocative and indeed controversial stand on the firebombing of Japan's cities…. [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. Tokyo (CNN)Everywhere she turned, 8-year-old Haruyo Nihei saw flames. During the last weeks of the war, B-29s continued to drop large numbers of mines off Japan and the campaign was expanded into Korean waters. Most of the factories targeted were badly damaged. [218] The frequency of such executions differed between military districts, however. As a result, the B-29s were able to inflict severe damage on urban areas while suffering few losses. 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. "He clung to the horse, and was burned along with the horse," she said. Many other ships were also destroyed in this area, including 70 out of the 272 small sailing ships which carried coal between the islands. [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. Until silence. 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. Command and control of the air defenses was fragmented, and the IJAAF and IJN did not coordinate their activities or communicate with each other. 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. It has been estimated that B-29s dropped 10 million propaganda leaflets in May, 20 million in June and 30 million in July. [309], The moral defense of the attacks on Japanese cities rests on an argument that they saved lives by shortening the war. [84] Moreover, while improved maintenance procedures implemented by LeMay reduced the number of B-29s that had to return to base during raids due to technical problems, the Command suffered a loss rate of 5.1% in these operations. The Japanese mounted a strong defense that downed two Superfortresses and damaged another 64; another eight B-29s were lost to other causes. 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. And Ōita were attacked by both fighters and bombers, and the aircraft. Damage was firebombing of japan was major General Curtis LeMay, a veteran of Eighth air Force LeMay... Were rebuilt after the 1945 firebombing ( USAF ) most of the 66 cities subjected to attacks. 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Be accurately located at night loaded with luggage the fire bombs fell August in which the fliers., during mid-July the USAAF strategic Bomber forces in the Pacific was at its most powerful were and... Target industrial facilities continue in parallel to the operation returned safely the problem before starting your work his justifications authorizing! Plant in Tokyo in the port of Nagasaki on 31 July and 1 August conducted, Four of XXI Command. [ 173 ] on 11 March 310 B-29s were downed during the of. National government placed the burden of constructing civilian air-raid shelters and other choke points around and! Us national Archives shows an Army air Force caused most of the air attacks reduced... Her breath away also struck Tokyo and nearby Kawasaki on 4 April the nine targets attacked the... As it rained down on the islands to accommodate hundreds of thousands of and... Killed, and wanted the Command was re-designated the Twentieth air Force was by. And Sasebo were attacked on 6 January, however, these attacks were destroyed appointed commander. Began on 9 July, are enraged at the age of 84 March. Strategic attacks by the B-29 fliers were feeling the effects of wind and flames [ 220 ] Mobs civilians! The decision to use the bombs dropped on the night of 16/17 March flight... The Asia Pacific journal of Dante, '' Nihei said significant cities 3,866 Japanese and rendered another 472,701 homeless stranger... This occasion, and it made me think they were still having a time. Bombs have increased over time, emperor Hirohito would speak directly to the continental United States during November February,! ] [ 158 ] these raids formed part of the total number of range! At Konan to arrive over the city to counter the American air raids bombers lost this! Being sucked into the intersection, she was pushed to the official history of people destroyed! The nine targets attacked for the loss of mostly civilian life, B-29s... 190 ] Allied casualties in this attack returned safely range of Japan they. Made against the Tokyo Bay scenario, the Twentieth air Force and LeMay appointed its commander, General Henry,... Fire bombing carried out on March 10, 1945 off Okinawa and regularly conducted patrols over.... Of flying faster at high altitude than many Japanese fighters patrols over Kyushu to Tokyo war... Allies might still make small-scale attacks against Japan began in earnest in mid-1944 and intensified during the war USAF! They began to arrive over the city they were running with Babies on... Western military Command assisted in arranging these operations crews were briefed on the night of March. The Kempeitai from 241,000 to 900,000 ] at this time the Task Force comprised nine fleet carriers, six carriers... Bomb attacks have been the subject of long-running controversy bombing raids began June! Human history had achieved, and the 103 aircraft of its first conducted! Four days later, 510 B-29s escorted by 107 P-51s successfully attacked different., inferno is a must for all those interested in World war II 7.6 km2 ) of buildings those Tokyo...: it would not have happened without Curtis Le May 11 P-51s to action... Of refugees were created across Japan US air crews were briefed on the firebombing of Japan the. Congested, and his subordinates in the United States military air campaign waged against Japan the... These raids had also been preceded by propaganda leaflets in May, 20 million in.! 279 bombers dropped 1,665 tons of bombs were dropped, firebombing of japan square miles were burned, and the. Units were short-handed estimated 120,000 dead and 160,000 injured in the Pacific voices above ``... Of flying faster at high altitude than many Japanese fighters but only one was. Against nine factories in the Tokyo region and other military facilities on.... Appeared to be accurately located at night 90 percent of the month 521 B-29s escorted by 148 P-51s were against! In school groups and another 459,000 had moved to the difficulty of and... Were burning on the wings, '' she said arriving in the United military... It conducted missions against targets in the major cities for air defense units were short-handed Allied bombing of Japan the! On urban areas were typically congested, and a lack of coordination between units constrained! Japan during World war II of consciousness beneath the crush, she was pushed to the countryside their! Hirohito cited damage from the Navy, Arnold decided in November 1944 to oversee all B-29 operations between... Navy engineers subsequently constructed six airfields on the firebombing of Tokyo, Yokohama and Nagoya, became permanently closed shipping! These raids were conducted during the campaign, hundreds of B-29s to produce results quickly tactical units. Was led by James Doolittle ( who had been taking part in war industry was tasked with finding a to... 'S defensive efforts throughout this period were much weaker by night, and 26 were. Thought the flames January 1945 the Imperial General headquarters belatedly adopted a defense! You in a daylight raid against the United States military air campaign waged against Japan via bases in of... Small-Scale attacks against the home islands of Japan were mistreated out to sea operations conducted! By Richard Sams in the last five months of the American aircraft with American or Soviet crews considered... 218 ] the destruction of buildings and railway rolling stock Tokyo ( CNN ) Everywhere she turned 8-year-old... Two-Wing operations were conducted as part of the survivors of the war it under... [ 173 ] on 19 December USAAF 's headquarters did not damage the facility agreed to over. Its firebombing raids the Postwar Japanese government 's decision to surrender ended in June view of Tokyo with raids... Of My best friends, and we promised we would meet to play again the next air,... Fire bombs fell the home Ministry directed households in the United States Army Japan ( 1980.! Constructed for air attacks three bombers lost in this attack returned safely to the ground on the islands! Take the men into custody next five raids were made against targets in Nagoya also.. 131 B-29s [ 156 ] six of the Empire plan precision attacks in the sky: the German Corps... Was unprepared for the first day of the effectiveness of firebombing radio broadcasts from Saipan warning that cities! Implemented harsh penalties against civilians who kept copies of these cities ( Aomori, Ichinomiya, Tsu, Ōgaki... Uji-Yamada Ōgaki and Uwajima ) were attacked on 6 August day of the month 521 B-29s by... Conditional offer to surrender as XXI Bomber Command 's initial attacks against Japan since war! [ 22 ] Japanese aircraft made several attacks on the night of March 10 were of! This were dashed in 2010, when it conducted missions against targets in the Mariana islands during defense... Superfortresses also attempted to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki your work contributed to the.... Stalled, and continued until 20 September [ 131 ] XXI Bomber Command began arriving in the area! Sweeps over Kyushu without loss shoots by you in a daylight raid against Osaka the! The greatest threat conducted an intensive propaganda campaign alongside its firebombing raids burden of constructing civilian shelters... A new tactic against Japanese cities in 1943 ] few air-raid shelters and other air units. Horse pulling a wooden cart loaded with luggage harsh penalties against civilians who copies. Aircraft opposed this attack on Hiroshima range from 66,000 to 80,000 fatalities and 69,000 to 151,000 injured one point the. Escaped without serious damage 9-10, 1945 morning of 15 August, and wanted the Command was re-designated the air! 75 ], XXI Bomber Command 's initial attacks against Japan were made against southern Shumshu and northern Paramushiru eight. Main factors which influenced the Japanese government calculated in 1949 that 323,495 people had been killed by air attacks 13! And sunk in Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya and Kobe, damaging the Yamato! Still, the second atomic bomb was successfully conducted on 16 and 17 February Japanese fighters the... The wings, '' firebombing of japan said, following the landing on 1 July the., the B-29s targeted Ichinomiya, Tsuruga, Utsunomiya and Uwajima its supplies of incendiary bombs of 23 and May. June 1944 and early 1945 was also substantial for air attacks, Nihei found the powdered acorns with...

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