Bombing of Tokyo

The Japanese capital of Tokyo was in World War II during the Pacific War s between 1942 and 1945 target of numerous Allied air attacks. The attack of 9 March (in Japan: March 10) 1945 applies with more than 100,000 dead in a few hours than most conventional bombing victims of human history, the number of victims exceeded that of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Tokyo Metropolitan government declared the 10th March 1990 by a decree Tōkyō-to heiwa no hi (“Peace of Tokyo Prefecture”).

The attacks

First phase: Doolittle Raid

For Japan, surprisingly, it was on 18 April 1942 with the “Doolittle Raid” performed the first U.S. air raid on Tokyo. He should be in response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor demonstrate its own people, that the U.S. was also able to carry out such attacks. As the Allies at this time had no points that were close enough to Japan, the attack of 16 B-25B bombers light was flown that started from an aircraft carrier. In the attack on military and industrial facilities in Tokyo and Yokohama little damage was caused. On the Japanese side, there were 50 deaths. This was the first attack on the Japanese home island, the Japanese air defense was therefore completely unprepared and did little resistance.

Second phase: attacks from China

Serious attacks on Japanese cities in 1944 were possible with the development of the four-engined bomber’s B-29 Superfortress. The aircraft had a range of about 5,000 kilometers and was first used by airports in western China. The aircraft were flown in from British India on The Hump Airlift. Later B-29 took off from during Operation Matterhorn also conquered Pacific Islands to Japan.

The first B-29 flown by the U.S. Army Air Force attack on Japan was held on 15 Held in June 1944. The aircraft took off in the hard to reach for the American troops Chinese city of Chengdu. Of the 68 machines started the XX th Bomber Command reached only 47 the target area, the steel mills in Yawata on Kyushu Island. Due to the long distance to the site could not be kept full bomb load, because the installation of additional fuel tanks was required. Due to bad weather and goal oriented faults which dropped 221 tons of high explosive bomb on n no serious damage.

Third phase: attacks of Pacific Islands

On 24 November 1944 began the Tokyo considerably more massive attacks from the east. The conquest of the islands of Tinian, Saipan and Guam allowed the Americans attack in a direct line across the Pacific, without the previous detour through India and China. On that date launched 111 B-29s of the XX th Bomber Command. Only 59 aircraft reached the target area, the Musashino aircraft plants in Tokyo. The bombs were dropped from a height of approximately 10,000 meters with radar target search. Of the dropped 399 tons of bombs only hit 16 bombs the aircraft plants.

The series of devastating destruction attacks on Tokyo began in early 1945. The event began on 3 February, the attack on Kobe, after 25 February 174 B-29 bombers with napalm Tokyo itself – n bombed while about 28,000 buildings destroyed cluster bombs in densely populated urban area. To reduce the inaccuracy hit by air turbulence, certain of Curtis LeMay discharge height it was only 2,500 instead of 10,000 meters. Added to this was the idea that in the light wooden construction of Japanese houses, the effect of incendiary bombs would be far greater than that of high-explosive bombs.

It was followed by numerous other attacks on Tokyo. The capture of Okinawa allowed the transfer of the VIII th Bomber Command from Europe to the Pacific theater, and thus a significant increase of the air raids on Japan. The bombs dropped on Japan increased from 12,500 tons in March, up to 38,700 in July 1945.

On the night of 9 10th March took the XXI th Bomber Command another air attack on Tokyo. 279 B-29s dropped 1,665 tons of bombs on the Japanese capital. Used napalm and phosphorus bombs were n The incendiary bombs destroyed 41 km ² urban area completely. After first Japanese information 267 171 houses were destroyed by fire and 1,008,000 people homeless. The first casualties were officially estimated at 83 793 dead and 40,918 injured, but later studies corrected the death toll to over 100,000, making it even exceeded that of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki four months later.

Most important bomber missions against Tokyo

•24th November 1944: 111 B-29 s throw 399 tons of high explosive bomb on the Musashino aircraft plants.

•27th November 1944: 25 B-29 throwing 79 tons of bombs on the industrial district of Tokyo.

•29-30. November 1944: B-29 bomb with napalm bomb the industrial area of Tokyo.

•3 December 1944: 73 B-29 take 165 tons of bombs on the harbor, the Musashino aircraft plants and residential areas.

•27th December 1944: 52 B-29s bomb the Nakajima and Musashino aircraft plants.

•27th January 1945: 56 B-29 take 152 tons of bombs on the Nakajima and Musashino aircraft plants as well as residential areas.

•10th February 1945: 84 B-29s bomb the Nakajima aircraft factory and the port and residential areas.

•19th February 1945: 119 B-29 take 370 tons of bombs on the port and residential areas. 2 km ² metropolitan area are destroyed.

•23, February 1945: 229 B-29 throw 1,040 tons of bombs on the industrial district.

•25th February 1945: 174 B-29 take 454 tons of napalm and bombs on residential areas. 3 km ² metropolitan area are destroyed.

•4 March 1945: 159 B-29s bomb the harbor, the Musashino aircraft plants and residential areas.

•9-10. March 1945: 279 B-29 throw 1,665 tons of napalm and phosphorus bombs n down to the city center. 41 km ² urban area will be destroyed.

•1/2 April 1945: 115 B-29 throw 1,013 tons of bombs on the Nakajima aircraft factory.

•3 April 1945: 61 B-29s bomb the Koizumi aircraft factory and residential areas with phosphorus bombs.

•7 April 1945: 101 B-29s bomb the Nakajima aircraft plants and residential areas.

•12th April 1945: 105 B-29 take 547 tons of phosphorus bombs on the Nakajima aircraft plants and residential areas.

•13-14. April 1945: 327 B-29 throw 2,120 tons of high explosive and white phosphorous bombs on Arsenal s in the Greater Tokyo. 28 km ² urban area are destroyed.

•15th April 1945: 109 B-29 take 731 tons of phosphorus and Thermite on residential areas. 16 km ² urban area are destroyed.

•5 May 1945: 86 B-29 1123 Seemine s throw from the Tokyo Bay.

•23-24. May 1945: 520 B-29 throw 3,646 tons of napalm, phosphorus and Thermite on industrial and residential areas south of the Imperial Palace. 14 km ² urban area are destroyed.

•24-25. May 1945: 464 B-29 throw 3,262 tons of napalm, phosphorus and Thermite on industrial and residential areas south of the Imperial Palace. 44 km ² urban area will be destroyed.

•July 10, 1945: Aircraft carrier Task Force 38 s bomb the airfields of Tokyo.

•17/18. July 1945: Aircraft carrier bombard the port facilities and airfields in Tokyo.

•20th July 1945: 1 B-29 raises a so-called Pumpkin Bomb from. This bomb is identical to the Fat Man atomic bomb, but instead possesses the nuclear warhead conventional explosives. This attack is used as target practice for the later missions of the atomic bomb n The goal of the Imperial Palace will be missed.

•30th July 1945: carrier aircraft bomb the docks and the railway stations of Tokyo.

•8/9 August 1945: 60 B-29 take 296 tons of bombs on the Nakajima aircraft plants and arsenals in the metropolitan area of ​​Tokyo.

•10th August 1945: 70 B-29 take 320 tons of bombs on the Nakajima aircraft plants and arsenals in the metropolitan area of ​​Tokyo.

•13th August 1945 carrier aircraft bomb the airfield and the Stations of Tokyo.

•15th August 1945 carrier aircraft bomb the airfield and the Stations of Tokyo.

Objectives

One aim of the air strikes was the weakening of the Japanese defense industry, so – as with the German Empire – the Imperial Japanese army to stop them to get new armaments. Explosive bombs were used against heavy industrial equipment. These attacks were mainly directed against aircraft works, works for navy and infantry weapons and other factories. However, initially only a few bombs hit their target. At the same time the bombings took place mostly standing in the residential areas light and medium industries. In February 1945, incendiary bombs were used for the first time. As a result, about half of the light and medium industry was destroyed, which had served as an integral part of Japanese industry for the production of small machine parts.

The bombings of 10 March 1945 in which 100,000 Japanese died, also had the goal of destroying the Japanese nuclear power plant shortly before its start, and so to prevent Japan from building nuclear bombs. Japan went through the destruction of its nuclear reactor in Tokyo also lost a lot of nuclear material and other items that were necessary for the production of nuclear weapons and that it could not readily replace.

As in Germany, the air strikes had also aim to break the fighting spirit of the people. Emperor Hirohito found himself on a tour through Tokyo in March, the bomb damage. As a result, he should have come to believe that he still could not win the war. This is said to have influenced his decision to surrender five months later was critical.

Ethical and legal aspects

The air raids on Tokyo had, similar to the German cities, the goal is to break the will of the people of war. The deliberate massive use of incendiary bombs against flammable with wooden residential construction is widely seen in Japan as a war crime. Even then charge U.S. military operations have brought the concept of a war crime in context. So said the commander of the XXI. Air Force, Curtis E. LeMay, after the war, he would probably have been indicted for war crimes if the U.S. had lost the war:

He felt his bets, however, justified as they had shortened his view of the war:

In the Japanese population, he was “inhuman LeMay” (kichiku Rumei) called.

Even Robert McNamara, who later became Secretary of Defense and then staff officer of LeMay, expressed similar LeMay. In one of the interviews for the documentary The Fog of War, he expressed that the fire bombing of the cities in a different outcome of the war (ie not total defeat of Japan) would most likely today rated as a war crime.

Literature

•E. Bartlett Kerr: Flames Over Tokyo: The U.S. Army Air Forces’ Incendiary Campaign Against Japan, 1944-1945, Donald I. Fine, 1991, ISBN 1-55611-301-3

•Robert F. Dorr: B-29 Superfortress Units of the World War 2, Osprey Publishing Limited, 2002, ISBN 1-84176-285-7

•Ron Greer: Fire from the Sky: A Diary Over Japan, Greer Publishing, 2005, ISBN 0-9768712-0-3

Air war operation in World War II

Districts of Tokyo

Military History (Pacific War)

1945

Conflagration

Japan in World War II

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