At 8:20am on April 18, 1942, just four
months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a small
force of B-25 Mitchell bombers under the command of Colonel
Jimmy Doolittle, took off from the heaving deck of the aircraft
carrier Hornet. Unlike any other mission before or since,
the crews departed on their dangerous journey with the full
knowledge that each was on a one-way ticket.
The mission assignment was to make a strike
at the heart of Imperial Japan, panic the high command into
diverting men and machines from offensive to defensive duties,
and to give an America still reeling from Pearl Harbor, a
massive boost in morale. They achieved all of these, and in
so doing effected what became one of the most remarkable air
raids of World War II.
The sixteen-ship mission's orders
were precise: At low-level, fly some 800 miles over water
into hostile territory, without escort fend off attacks from
air and ground fire over the target then, with insufficient
fuel to make the return journey, fly the B-25s on towards
China until the gas ran out. Then bail out, ditch, or crash-land,
avoid capture, and somehow find a way home.
Every man was a volunteer. Each knew
the dangers. Some paid with their lives.
In Robert Taylor's fine painting we look
into the tense faces of the crew of a B-25 as it leaves the
target area, its pilot bringing the ship right down onto the
landscape, next stop China! Smoke plumes high in the air as
following aircraft dodge the flak. Below, peasants and river
folk, oblivious to what is happening, wave to the crews as
the thunder overhead. With possibly the worst to come, the
Doolittle Raiders head out into the unknown.
Soon, with tanks empty, and in gathering
darkness, eleven crews will bail out, three will ditch in
coastal waters, and two will crash-land. Two crews will be
taken prisoner; seven will never return.
This valuable commemorative edition
is perhaps a last opportunity for aviation art collectors
to acquire prints by Robert Taylor, each individually signed
by so many legendary Doolittle Raiders.
Colonel RICHARD E. COLE
Co-pilot of General Jimmy Doolittle's
B-25 plane #1, attacked the city of Tokyo and bailed out over
China. Remained in China flying bombing and transport missions
over the Hump.
Staff Sergeant JACOB
Bombardier on William Farrow's plane
#16. Captured by the Japanese in China, spent 40 months as
prisoner of war, only four captured Raiders returned at the
end of the war.
Navigator on Doc Watson's plane #9,
attacked a factory on Tokyo Bay in Kawasaki. Arrived back
in US in June, 1942. Flew combat in North Africa, shot down
and captured in July 1943. POW.
Navigator and bombardier on B-25
Plane #8. The crew landed in Russia and were interned, escaping
in 1943 and returned to the United States.
Brigadier General EVERETT
Having already sunk the first Japanese
submarine off the West Coast, December 24, 1941. he was captain
and pilot of plane #4. Remained in CBI theater after the raid.
Spent 20 years after the war with Strategic Air Command.
Major General DAVID
Captain and pilot of B-25 plane #5,
attacked the waterfront of Tokyo. After the raid he flew Martin
B-26s in North Africa before being shot down and taken prisoner
in Germany for the duration.
Colonel FRANK A KAPPELAR
Entered the US Navy in 1936 before
transferring to the Air Corps as navigator in 1941. Navigator
on B-25 plane #11. Remained in CBI theater until August 1942.
Reassigned to Europe for the remainder of the war.
Lieutenant Colonel JAMES
Navigator/bombardier on plane #14.
After the Tokyo raid, transferred to Europe for the rest of
Lieutenant Colonel HARRY
Navigator in Brick Holstrom's plane
#4, meeting stiff resistance from Japanese fighter opposition.
Remained in DBI theater until September 1942 then assigned
Lieutenant Colonel CHASE
Navigator on plane #6. Captured by
Japanese forces and spent 40 months as a prisoner of war.
Navigator on General Doolittle's
plane #1. they bombed the industrial area of Tokyo. He landed
in China and transferred back to the US after the raid. Later
flew a combat tour of North Africa in B-26s.
Navigator and bombardier on Don Smith's
plane #15, attacked targets in Kobe, then ditched in the sea
off China. Later flew all through Mediterranean and Europe,
a total of 103 missions, all in b-25s.
Co-pilot of B-25 plane #10 detailed
to attack a chemical plant on the Hencola River. After the
raid he served with the 10th Air Force in India until 1943
when he returned to the US.
Staff Sergeant DAVID
Flight engineer and gunner on Harold
Watson's B-25 plane #9. After the raid transferred to North
Africa and England.