Doolittle Raid

WWII: The Greater East Asia War

East Asia 1942.0418

Doolittle Raid

World War II, Pacific War, Second Sino-Japanese War (18 April 1942)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

In April, with the Japanese on the advance everywhere, the United States launched their reprisal for the Pearl Harbor attack. This, the Doolittle Raid, consisted of bombers launched from an aircraft carrier with the intention of striking Japan and crash-landing in China. It achieved little militarily, but demonstrated to the world that Japan was still vulnerable.

Main Events

Invasion of Salamaua–Lae

Japanese forces - supported by 4 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 8 destroyers - landed at Lae and Salamaua, in the Australian Territory of New Guinea. A small detachment of New Guinea Volunteer Rifles and radio staff at Salamaua did not contest the invasion, opting to withdraw into the hills towards Mubo.

Royal Netherlands East Indies Army surrenders to Japanese in Java

Indian Ocean Raid

In Operation C, a Japanese fast carrier strike force under Chuichi Nagumo advances into the Indian Ocean. Between 5 and 9 April they attack the Royal Navy bases at Colombo and Tincomalee in Ceylon, sinking two cruisers, two destroyers, and the light aircraft carrier Hermes, while a Japanese cruiser force raids merchant shipping in the Bay of Bengal. However the British have been alerted, and manage to withdraw most of their fleet to the Maldives and the Persian Gulf.

US forces in Bataan surrender to Japanese

Doolittle Raid

Sixteen US Army Air Force B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched beyond fighter escort range from the US Navy's aircraft carrier USS Hornet in the western Pacific Ocean, flying on to bomb the Japanese capital Tokyo and other places on the island of Honshu. Fifteen of the bombers carried on to land in China - landing a medium bomber on an aircraft carrier being impossible - with the 16th landing in Vladivostok, Soviet Union. The success of the mission demonstrated the vulnerability of Japan and was a major morale boost for the US.

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