For anyone born after World War 2.......as you probably already know from history books, The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on 12-7-1941; The United States was now officially at war with Japan; I can tell you from memory that the U.S. was very ill-prepared to fight a war on two fronts at the time; The next few months looked very bad; In about January of 1942, some one came up with an idea; they reasoned that morale was everything, and morale at the time was very low. I don't recall any more who's idea it was, but the "War Department" ( there was NO Dept of Defense at the time), decided that we should carry out a bombing raid on Tokyo, and that would raise the morale of the American people, and it would "surprise the hell out of the Japanese". The big problem was, we had no bases near enough to Japan to mount such an attack, and we lacked bombers capable of reaching Japan and back from anyplace where we did have bases. At this point, Japan was in control of all of the islands in the whole South Pacific.
There has probably never been a better known officer in the U.S. Army Air Force, ( way before the "AAF" became the USAF) than "then" Lt.Col. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle. I'm not absolutely sure if this was Doolittle's idea or not, but I think it was; Anyway, Jimmy Doolittle was a B-25 pilot; the B-25 is/was a medium bomber, with not all that much range; the B-25 required about half a mile of runway to be able to take off with a full bomb load; the "plan" was load 16 B-25's on an aircraft carrier, ( the U.S.S. Hornet, CV-8), steam the Hornet as close as possible to the Japanese mainland, and launch the planes from the Hornet; (which was about half as long as modern aircraft carriers are today). A few of you may have seen the film made about this; "30 Seconds Over Tokyo"; In the film, they showed how they were able actually launch fully loaded two engine medium bombers from an aircraft carrier; (which at the time, was impossible) They flew all the planes to a secret air base in the south-western desert someplace, and trained VERY hard for maybe a month. Remember.......B-25's were never designed to take of in such a short distance, and there was NO way to "catapult" them into the air; this was all about flying skill, those big radial engines, and a lot of luck!
The Hornet was able to get pretty close to Japan; ( Radar has not been invented yet, fortunately) The B-25's all took off, flew straight to Tokyo, broad daylight, no fighter planes in the air, no air defense at all, and every plane dropped their bombs smack, dab in downtown Tokyo ! and kept right on going, heading towards China! They "landed:....where ever they ran out of gas. Some of the B-25 crew members were captured and some of the captured were later executed by the Japanese. Lt.Col. Doolittle was awarded the Medal Of Honor for leading the raid.
As far as damage done to Tokyo, I'm sure there were a lot of buildings blown up, fires started, but as far as what it did to the Japanese war effort, the raid was a drop in the bucket; at the same time, it achieved all of it's goals, which was mainly just to give the country something to cheer about; in that sense, the daring daylight raid on Tokyo was a smashing success, and Lt.Col. Jimmy Doolittle became a household name, went on tom become a General, and will always be remember as one of the most famous military officers in U.S. history.
I have there different links; the first one is a video (which I haven't seen); the middle one has all the pictures of the planes and the attendees; There are now only 5 men left; one was unable to make the trip because of failing health; they had originally said that this was to be the last reunion, but I think I noticed on another website where they are already planning no. 71 The four veterans of the historic raid on Tokyo, on April 18, 1942 in attendance are;
Lt.Col. Richard E. Cole, Co Pilot No.1 A/C
Major Tom C. Griffin, Navigator, No. 9 A/C
Lt.Col. Edward J. Saylor, Engineer-Gunner, No. 5 A/C
Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, Engineer-Gunner, No. 7 A/C
And unable to attend this year, Lt.Col. Robert L. Hite, Co Pilot No. 16 A/C
Also in attendance was a former Chief Petty Officer who served on the U.S.S. Hornet from the time it was launched, until it was sunk in a battle with the Japanese Navy.
P.S. I'm so far unable to get the link to the email with all the photos taken by a Dayton photographer to work, which is a shame, as the pictures are outstanding; but I found yet another website with even more pictures, and it should become "hyper" when I post this. (fingers crossed!)