Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942
Raiding Force B-25s on board USS Hornet

The sixteen bombers employed on the Doolittle Raid were all B-25B models, third production version of North American Aviation's B-25 "Mitchell" medium bomber design. Delivered in 1941, these aircraft were stripped of some of their defensive guns and given extra fuel tanks to extend their range. Two wooden dowels were placed in each plane's plastic tail cone, simulating extra machine guns that might hopefully persuade enemy fighters to keep their distance. Each B-25 carried four 500-pound bombs on the mission. One bomb was decorated with Japanese medals, donated by Navy Lieutenant Stephen Jurika, who had received them during pre-war naval attaché service and now wished to pointedly return them to a hostile government.

The planes were parked on USS Hornet's flight deck in the order they were to leave. There was no room to rearrange them, and their long, non-folding wings made it impossible to send them below. During the two week's outward passage, planes received regular maintenance and engine testing to ensure they would be ready. The leading bomber, piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Doolittle, had but a few hundred feet of deck run to reach flying speed, but every subsequent one had a little more. Each was helped off a Navy launching officer, who timed the start of each B-25's take-off roll to ensure that it reached the forward end of the flight deck as the ship pitched up in the heavy seas, thus giving extra lift at a critical instant.

This page features pictures of Army B-25 bombers on board USS Hornet, prior to their 18 April 1942 takeoff to attack Japan.

Other views related to the Doolittle Raid

Click photograph for larger image.

Photo #: NH 53425

Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942


USAAF B-25B bombers tied down on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), while the carrier was en route to the mission's launching point.
The plane in the center (second from the camera) is tail # 40-2283. It was mission plane # 5, piloted by Captain David M. Jones, which attacked targets in the Tokyo area.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph
Online Image: 105KB; 740 x 605 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 53296

Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942


Army Air Forces B-25B bombers parked on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), while en route to the mission's launching point.
The plane in the upper right is tail # 40-2242, mission plane # 8, piloted by Captain Edward J. York. Note use of the flight deck tie-down strips to secure the aircraft. Location is near the forward edge of the midships aircraft elevator.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph
Online Image: 136KB; 740 x 610 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 53290

Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942


Two of the operation's sixteen USAAF B-25B bombers, parked on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), while en route to the mission launching point.
The plane at right has tail # 40-2282. It is mission plane # 4, piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Everett W. Holstrom, Jr. during the raid, in which it attacked targets in Tokyo. Note protective cover over its gun turret, and wooden dummy guns mounted in its tail cone.
The plane at left is warming up its engines, as was done periodically during the voyage.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph
Online Image: 133KB; 600 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 53293

Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942


View looking aft and to port from the island of USS Hornet (CV-8), while en route to the mission's launching point. USS Vincennes (CA-44) is in the distance.
Several of the mission's sixteen B-25B bombers are visible. That in the foreground is tail # 40-2261, which was mission plane # 7, piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Ted W. Lawson. The next plane is tail # 40-2242, mission plane # 8, piloted by Captain Edward J. York. Both aircraft attacked targets in the Tokyo area. Lt. Lawson later wrote the book " Thirty Seconds over Tokyo".
Note searchlight at left.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph
Online Image: 106KB; 740 x 600 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 53421

Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942


View looking aft from the island of USS Hornet (CV-8), while en route to the mission's launching point. USS Nashville (CL-43) is in the distance.
Eight of the mission's sixteen B-25B bombers are visible on the carrier's flight deck. Aircraft at right is tail # 40-2250, which was mission plane # 10, piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Richard O. Joyce, which attacked targets in the Tokyo area.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph
Online Image: 125KB; 740 x 610 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 53426

Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942


USAAF B-25B bombers tied down on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), while the carrier was en route to the mission's launching point. View looks aft from the rear of Hornet's island.
The plane in the foreground is tail # 40-2203 (mission plane # 9). Partially visible at far right is tail # 40-2250 (mission plane # 10). Piloted respectively by Second Lieutenants Harold F. Watson and Richard O. Joyce, these B-25s attacked targets in the Tokyo area.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph
Online Image: 103KB; 740 x 610 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 53287

Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942


Nose of one of the raiding force's B-25B bombers, which is tied down on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8) while en route to the takeoff point.
This aircraft is mission plane # 11 (USAAF serial # 40-2249), nicknamed "Hari Carrier" and decorated accordingly. The plane's pilot was Capt. C. Ross Greening. It attacked targets in Yokohama.
Note slippage mark on the nosewheel and tire, and inscription on the wheel cover: "Inflating instructions inside -- check tire pressure daily".

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph
Online Image: 89KB; 600 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 97501

Doolittle Raid on Japan, April 1942


Nose art on B-25B "Hari Carrier" (USAAF serial # 40-2249), photographed while the plane was parked on board USS Hornet (CV-8), en route to the raid launching point.
This aircraft was mission plane # 11, piloted by Captain C. Ross Greening. It attacked targets in the Yokohama area on 18 April 1942.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

Online Image: 104KB; 740 x 595 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 53291

Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942


Crewmen work on a USAAF B-25B parked at the rear of USS Hornet's (CV-8) flight deck, while en route to the mission's launching point.
USS Gwin (DD-433) is in the center, approaching the carrier from astern.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph
Online Image: 86KB; 740 x 605 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 53295

Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942


Some of the mission's B-25B bombers parked on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), while en route to the raid's takeoff point.
Note use of the flight deck tie-down strips to secure the aircraft.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph
Online Image: 95KB; 740 x 610 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 53422

Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942


USAAF B-25B bombers and Navy F4F-3 fighters on the flight deck of USS Hornet (CV-8), while she was en route to the mission's launching point.
Note wooden dummy machine guns in the tail cone of the B-25 at left.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph
Online Image: 90KB; 740 x 610 pixels

 


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