Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gen James Harold "Jimmy" Doolittle 1896-1993

James Harold Doolittle was born in Alameda, California, in 1896. James "Jimmy" Doolittle was educated in Nome, Alaska, Los Angeles Junior College, and spent a year at the University of California School of Mines. He enlisted as a flying cadet in the Signal Corps Reserve in October 1917 and trained at the School of Military Aeronautics, University of California and Rockwell Field Calif. He was  commissioned a second lieutenant in the Signal Corps' Aviation Section March 11, 1918, and served successively at Camp Dick, Texas; Wright Field, Ohio; Gerstner Field, Louisiana; and went back to Rockwell Field, chiefly as a flight leader and gunnery instructor. He then went to Kelly Field, Texas, for duty first with the 104th Aero Squadron, and next with the 90th Squadron on border patrol duty at Eagle Pass, Texas.

On July 1, 1920 Doolittle got his regular commission and promotion to first  lieutenant. He then took the Air Service Mechanical School and Aeronautical Engineering courses at Kelly Field and McCook Field, Ohio, respectively. In September 1922 he made the first of many pioneering flights which earned him most of the major air trophies and international fame.

He flew a DH-4, equipped with crude navigational instruments, in the first cross-country flight, from Pablo Beach, Fla., to San Diego, Calif., in 21 hours and 19 minutes. He made only one refueling stop at Kelly Field. The military gave him the Distinguished Flying Cross for this historic feat. In the same year he received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of California.

In July 1923 he entered Massachusetts Institute of Technology for special engineering courses and graduated the following year with a master of science degree, getting his doctor of science degree in Aeronautics a year later, and being one of the first men in the country to earn this degree.

In March 1924 he served at McCook Field conducting aircraft acceleration tests. In June 1925 Doolittle went to the Naval Air Station in Washington, D.C., for special training in flying high-speed seaplanes. During this period he served for a while with the Naval Test Board at Mitchel, N.Y., and was a familiar figure in airspeed record attempts in the New York area. He won the Schneider Cup Race - the World's Series of seaplane racing - in 1925, with an average speed of 232 miles per hour in a Curtiss Navy racer equipped with pontoons. This was the fastest a seaplane had ever flown, and Doolittle next year received the Mackay Trophy for this feat.

In April 1926 he got a leave of absence to go to South America on airplane demonstration flights. In Chile he broke both ankles but put his Curtiss P-1 through stirring aerial maneuvers with his ankles in casts. He returned to the United States and was in Walter Reed Hospital for these injuries until April 1927 when he was assigned to McCook Field for experimental work and additional duty as instructor with Organized Reserves of the Fifth Corps Area's 385th Bomb Squadron.

Returning to Mitchel Field in September 1928, he assisted in the development of fog flying equipment. He helped develop the now almost universally used artificial horizontal and directional gyroscopes and made the first flight completely by instruments. He attracted wide newspaper attention with this feat of "blind" flying and later received the Harmon Trophy for conducting the experiments.

In January 1930 he was adviser for the Army on the building of the Floyd Bennett Airport in New York City. Doolittle resigned his regular commission Feb. 15, 1930 and was commissioned a major in the Specialist Reserve Corps a month later, being named manager of the Aviation Department of the Shell Oil Company, in which capacity he conducted numerous aviation tests. He also went on active duty with the Army frequently to conduct tests, and in 1932 set the world's high speed record for land planes. He won the Bendix Trophy Race from Burbank Calif., to Cleveland in a Laird Biplane, and took the Thompson Trophy Race at Cleveland in a Gee Bee racer with a speed averaging 252 miles per hour.

In April 1934 Doolittle became a member of the Army Board to study Air Corps organization and a year later was transferred to the Air Corps Reserve. In 1940 he became president of the Institute of Aeronautical Science. He went back on active duty July 1, 1940 as a major and assistant district supervisor of the Central Air Corps Procurement District at Indianapolis, Ind., and Detroit, Mich., where he worked with large auto manufacturers on the conversion of their plants for production of planes. The following August he went to England as a member of a special mission and brought back information about other countries' air forces and military buildups.

He was promoted to lieutenant colonel Jan 2, 1942 and went to Headquarters Army Air Force to plan the first aerial raid on the Japanese homeland. He volunteered and received Gen. H.H. Arnold's approval to lead the attack of 16 B-25 medium bombers from the aircraft carrier Hornet, with targets in Tokyo, Kobe, Osaka, and Nagoya. The daring one-way mission April 18, 1942 electrified the world and gave America's war hopes a terrific lift. As did the others who participated in the mission, Doolittle had to bail out, but fortunately landed in a rice paddy in China near Chu Chow. Some of the other flyers lost their lives on the mission.

Doolittle received the Medal of Honor, presented to him by President Roosevelt at the White House, for planning and leading this successful operation. His citation reads: "For conspicuous leadership above and beyond the call of duty, involving personal valor and intrepidity at an extreme hazard to life. With the apparent certainty of being forced to land in enemy territory or to perish at sea, Lt. Col. Doolittle personally led a squadron of Army bombers, manned by volunteer crews, in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland."

Bockscar Crew B-29 Nagasaki Mission

The crew of the Bockscar.
Front row: Buckley, Kuharek, Gallagher, Dehart, Spitzer.
 Back row: Beahan, Van Pelt, Jr., Albury, Olivi, Sweeney.

On Thursday, August 9 1945 a second atomic bomb, this one nicknamed “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki. The B-29 that delivered this, the final blow to the Japanese, was known as Bockscar.

Bockscar was part of the same squadron as the Enola Gay, the 393d Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, of the 509th Composite Group (USAAF). It was named after its commander Captain Frederick C. Bock who, along with his crew C-13, participated in several bombing runs on Japan prior to the events that occurred in early August, 1945.Originally, The Great Artiste commanded by Major Charles W. Sweeney was the plane scheduled to drop the second atomic bomb. Sweeney and his crew C-15 had previously flown The Great Artiste with the Enola Gay on her flight to Hiroshima on August 6, carrying instrumentation to record and support the mission. Upon their return Sweeney and his crew began to prepare for their turn. The next mission was planned for August 11 but due to a poor weather forecast, the commanders decided to move the attack up by two days, setting a new date of August 9. Sweeney and his crew had been doing training runs in Captain Bock’s plane Bockscar while The Great Artiste was to have its instruments removed and installed in another plane. However, when the mission date moved forward, it did not give the ground crews enough time to do the transfer, so it was decided that Sweeney and Bock would switch planes. Hence, Bock and his crew flew The Great Artiste in a support role on the mission and Sweeney and his crew, aboard Bockscar, became the primary unit to drop the second atomic bomb on Japan.
The primary target for the August 9 bombing mission was the industrial city of Kokura. However, when the Bockscar arrived over the city with Fat Man ready to be deployed, the crew found that visibility over the city was obscured by clouds and smog. Sweeney’s orders were specific in that the atomic bomb had to be dropped visually on the target. Failing to spot their target after passing over Kokura three times, Sweeney decided to proceed to the secondary target of Nagasaki. At 11:02am, Fat Man, the atomic bomb with 14.1 lbs of plutonium-239, was dropped. The bomb detonated about 43 seconds later at an altitude of about 1,540 feet above the ground. Approximately 40% of Nagasaki was destroyed.

Crew C-15 of the Bockscar

Major Charles Sweeney, Commander
Captain Charles Donald Albury, Co-Pilot
2nd Lieutenant Fred Olivi, Third Pilot
Captain James Van Pelt, Jr., Navigator
Captain Raymond “Kermit” Beahan, Bombardier
Master Sergeant John Kuharek, Flight Engineer
Sergeant Raymond Gallagher, Assistant Flight Engineer
Staff Sergeant Ed Buckley, Radar Operator
Sergeant Abe Spitzer, Radio Operator
Staff Sergeant Albert Dehart, Tail Gunner

Additional Mission Crew on board August 9, 1945
Cmdr. Frederick L. Ashworth (USN), Weaponeer
Lt. Philip Barnes (USN), Assistant Weaponeer
2nd Lt. Jacob Beser, Radar Countermeasures

Mitsuo Fuchida 1902-1976

Mitsuo Fuchida was born on December 3,1902, in Japan and enrolled in the Naval Academy in 1921 at the age of eighteen. Graduating three years later, he joined the Japanese Naval Air Force and gained valuable combat experience during Japan's expansion into China during the 1930s. Over a period of fifteen years, Fuchida logged over 10,000 hours of flight time most of which was as an aircraft carrier pilot. As relations between Japan and the United States worsened, Japanese military leaders began planning an attack on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor and Fuchida was selected to lead the air attack because of his experience. On December 7, 1941, four days after his 39th birthday, Commander Fuchida was among the first wave of aircraft launched at 6:00 a.m. and began the attack on the United States naval fleet before 8:00. At 07:53, Fuchida ordered Mizuki to send back to the carrier Akagi, the flagship of 1st Air Fleet, the code words "Tora! Tora! Tora!" The three-word message meant that complete surprise had been achieved in the attack.Due to favorable atmospheric conditions, the transmission of the "Tora! Tora! Tora!" code words from the moderately powered transmitter were heard over the ship's radio in Japan by Admiral Yamamoto and his staff, who were sitting up through the night awaiting word on the attack.For three hours, he directed fifty level bombers on their assignments and, later, climbed to a higher altitude to assess the damage done and inform his commanders. His role in the successful attack made him a national hero in Japan and he even had an audience with Emperor Hirohito. In February, 1942, Fuchida led the first of two waves of aerial attacks on Darwin, Australia and in April he led several attacks against British military forces on the island of Ceylon. An emergency appendectomy kept Fuchida out of action during the Battle of Midway, on June 6, 1942. Afterward, he served as a staff officer and by the end of the war was the Imperial Navy's Air Operations Officer. In early August 1945, he was in Hiroshima for a week-long meeting with the Army but was called away on August 5, the day before the atomic bomb destroyed the city. Once the war ended, Mitsuo Fuchida returned to his home village near Osaka and became a farmer. In From Pearl Harbor to Calvary, he wrote that he was very discouraged and had become "more and more unhappy, especially when the war crime trials opened in Tokyo." He was summoned by General Douglas McArthur to testify at the trials on several occasions.