Some say a million. Technical Sergeant, 873rd Bomb Squadron, 498th Bomb Group. Five hundred thousand seems to be the lowest estimate. But if this one works, we will shorten this damned war out here.”. I thought, Where will the people go? Before that March 10, 1945, assault, named Operation Meetinghouse, the Army Air Forces had been conducting high-altitude, high-explosive “precision” attacks during the day on military sites and factories in Japan, with limited success. . We’re at war with Japan. The former would be considered more humane and save resources. In all, 8,519 clusters would be dropped, releasing 496,000 individual cylinders weighing 6.2 pounds each, resulting in 1,665 tons of incendiaries to be dropped on Tokyo that night. Click here to read more about WW2 aviation. And unlike the U.S. or German industry, which was factory centered, Japanese manufacturing was greatly decentralized—individual parts for airplanes, tanks, and bombs were produced in homes and in backyards. The purpose was to break the morale of the enemy. 64 Japanese cities were firebombed in WWII. Civilians pay the price. or that of any of the great conflagrations of the western world—London, 1666. . There was one part of the operation of the firebombing of Tokyo LeMay was not looking forward to. But because there was no formation, there was some confusion and the alarms were not sounded until 12:15, a full seven minutes after the bombs began to fall. But if it prolonged the war against a recalcitrant enemy—and Japan was feared for its willingness to send its men, women, and children to their deaths as human weapons—then it might not be so humane after all. The firebombing of Tokyo was designed to terrorise and bomb the Japanese into surrender. Almost 16 square miles in and around the Japanese capital were incinerated, and between 80,000 and 130,000 Japanese civilians were killed in the … If they couldn’t take out the factories, they could kill the people who worked in them. In Hiroshima the device targeted a major military base and is believed to have instantly killed 15,000 Japanese soldiers. But Power answered these men, saying he would not lead the mission if he thought that was the case, and General LeMay, who had the most bomber experience in the whole Air Force against the Germans and the Japanese, would not send them on a mission he did not think would work. 2 However, in terms of the number of bombers deployed and tons of bombs dropped, this mission, codenamed Perdition #1, 3 was the largest incendiary attack on Tokyo at that point in the … In just two days, more than 100,000 people were killed, a million were … Site created in November 2000. In interviews with The Times, Marich, now 94, and three other airmen who took part in the firebombings reflected on their determination to accomplish their missions and get home as soon as possible, while grappling with the particular horror they witnessed being inflicted on those below. Translator’s Introduction. Then, in a sudden fury, everything changed as the incendiaries hit home. Hansell wisely declined Arnold’s offer to stay in the Marianas: “Not because of any friction with General LeMay,” Hansell wrote later, “but I knew him well enough to know he did not need any ‘assistant commander’ and I knew myself well enough to know that I would not be content to stay completely in the background. miles Tokyo, killing 100,000 and leaving more than 1 million homeless. We had a job to do and we did it. The human toll that night exceeded that of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki later that year, where the initial blasts killed about 70,000 people and … Thus the firebombing of Tokyo was seen as necessary. American airmen who took part in the 1945 firebombing missions grapple with the particular horror they witnessed being inflicted on those below. The bombardier’s job would be greatly simplified, because a small group of planes coming from a different direction would drop incendiaries in the front and back of the target zone before the lines of bombers arrived, similar to lighting up both ends of a football field at night. If I remember correctly, when they announced what was going to happen, there were a few pilots who refused to fly because of humanitarian reasons. The firebombing of Tokyo was over 16 sq. “Come and grab it by the tail.” Again he was handed an impossible task with a high risk of failure and losing more young American lives and was expected to accomplish it with a troubleprone airplane that had yet to perform. At its heart it was psychological warfare The Tokyo fire department put the casualties at 97,000 killed and 125,000 wounded, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department believed that 124,711 people had been killed or wounded. I’ve never smelled anything like it since, and I don’t want to. In the space of a few hours, they dropped 1,667 tons of napalm-filled incendiary bombs on the Japanese capital, killing more than 100,000 people in a single strike, and injuring several times that number. From that point on, it became a matter of engineering and mathematics. He determined from intelligence reports and his own personal experiences in China that the Japanese had almost no night fighter capability. He decided using the incendiary in the firebombing of Tokyo was worth a try. As he considered abandoning the entire reason the B-29 had been developed in the first place, other possibilities began to emerge. The only course left is for Japan’s one hundred million people (the real count was closer to 72 million) to sacrifice their lives by charging the enemy to make them lose the will to fight.”. I was a navigator. Before the planes arrived, winds started gusting at over forty miles an hour. You could see flames, they estimated, about 100 miles away. As midnight approached, the coastal watchers were the first to hear the long hums of the B-29s. It would not have mattered anyway. Earlier in the war, on July 24, 1943, British bombers dropped incendiaries on Hamburg, Germany, killing as many as 40,000 people. From their base at Saipan American Superfortresses have been making the trip of 1,500 miles to bomb Tokyo. Lt. Richard Gross served as a B-29 navigator on 35 missions over Japan in 1945. Not just rooftops and houses caught on fire, but the clothes and hair of the people running were also ignited. Also, it wasn’t just Tokyo. Although the precise death toll is unknown, conservative estimates suggest that the firestorm caused by incendiary bombs killed at least 80,000 people, and likely more than 100,000, in a single night; some one million people were left homeless. Please use this data for any reference citations. Tokyo burns under B-29 firebomb assault. At low altitude like that, I didn’t wear an oxygen mask. Chicago, 1871. . The Nagasaki attack by contrast may have killed as few as 150 soldiers. “He cared about only two things,” McNamara remembered, “hitting the target and saving the lives of his men.”. The United States Strategic Bombing Survey later wrote that “probably more persons lost their lives by fire at Tokyo in a six-hour period than at any time in the history of man.” The devastating results motivated military leaders to continue incendiary bombing raids on Japan’s other cities — both large and small — in hopes of forcing the Japanese to surrender. . On Saipan, I was in Quonset hut barracks with another crew. But if you don’t destroy Japan’s capacity to wage war, we’re going to have to invade Japan. The crew members were brought in and asked if they objected to firebombing the cities of Japan. Firebombing is a bombing technique designed to damage a target, generally an urban area, through the use of fire, caused by incendiary devices, rather than from the blast effect of large bombs. The Strategic Bombing Survey estimated that 87,793 people died in the raid, 40,918 were injured, and 1,008,005 people lost their homes. The Japanese later called this the “Night of the Black Snow.” LeMay decided to drop E-46 clusters that would explode at 2,000 feet above the ground. And how many Americans will be killed in an invasion of Japan? The death toll was on par with the August 6 atomic attack on Hiroshima. In late February 1945, over 300 B-29s began a night-attack on the city of Tokyo. Each cluster would release thirty-eight incendiary bombs of napalm and phosphorus, creating a rain of fire over the city. Another two million people left Tokyo, not to return until after the war. These bombings often overshadow the Firebombing in Tokyo that claimed the lives of over 100,000 Japanese , an equitable number to the death toll of the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Our group, the 497th, was the last one to go in. In their hubris, Japanese officials had never built adequate shelters for the civilian population. They burned up an awful lot of Nagoya that night. The human cost would be determined later. Second Lieutenant, 869th Bomb Squadron, 497th Bomb Group. Only the rear gunner would fly, and he would be there only to observe. But the city of Tokyo had some 5 million people living in it. The bombing of Dresden was a British-American aerial bombing attack on the city of Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony, during World War II.In four raids between 13 and 15 February 1945, 722 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on … All rights reserved. “But we thought we had to do it. Firebombing knocked out half of the factories in Kobe and was part of one of the biggest attacks in the war. Tokyo fire bombing 70th anniversary: Survivors beg Japan to remember the forgotten 100,000. That would have led to the invasion beginning in November 1945 with a second wave to back it up in March 1946. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings will always be remembered as two of the most devastating assaults in military history, but many historians consider the American firebombing raid on Tokyo, carried out on 9 March of the same year, to be the deadliest in history. It was also seen as payback for the Pearl Harbour attacks and the mistreatment of Allied prisoners of war. It was terrifying. I still wouldn’t approve of it today. The Japanese military leaders were beginning the massive training of the civilian population for total war known as “Ketsu-Go.” The plan called for every able-bodied Japanese citizen—women and youngsters included—to form suicide squads and swarm the Americans. The B-29 had been created to fly higher than any other plane. But eventually there was enough pressure put on them that they changed their mind. Hamburg was a crucial industrial center with important harbor facilities. He spent those hours with Lieutenant Colonel McKelway. Of course the rules of war are pretty vague, but one of the things is that you don’t attack civilians. Should it carry out targeted bombings of military sites or carpet bombings of large cities? For the latest article from “Beyond the World War II We Know,” a series from The Times that documents lesser-known stories from World War II, The Times spoke to four former B-29 bomber crew members who participated in the firebombings of Japan in spring 1945. Just past midnight, hundreds of B-29 Superfortress bombers arrived over Tokyo, having launched from the Mariana Islands, which the United States had recently captured from the Imperial Japanese Army at great human cost. TOKYO — It was not Hiroshima or Nagasaki, but in many ways, including lives lost, it was just as horrific. But that technique had produced no results. In Europe, you had the Russians and the Germans — especially the Nazis — bombing civilians. It was the highest death toll of any air raid during the war, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We were attacked by Japan,” LeMay later wrote. California – Do not sell my personal information. … First Lieutenant, 874th Bomb Squadron, 498th Bomb Group. He knew the men would howl about it all, but he thought he could persuade them with this reasoning: the Japanese anti-aircraft guns—set at higher altitudes—would be ineffective at 5,000 to 7,000 feet. Bombing of Tokyo (東京大空襲 Tōkyōdaikūshū), often referred to as a series of firebombing raids, was conducted as part of the air raids on Japan by the United States Army Air Forces during the Pacific campaigns of World War II. Another factor in the firebombing of Tokyo was the problem of B-29 bombing inaccuracy at high altitude over Japan. LeMay watched each plane take off at the flight line. Firebombing is one of the cruelest ways to attack a city. The original idea of the Geneva Convention is that civilian targets were out, and it was military targets that should be used. The Firebombing of Tokyo: Death From Above. The March 10 1945 attack on Tokyo killed more people than the August 9 atomic bombing of Nagasaki. “No matter how you slice it, you’re going to kill an awful lot of civilians. How to successfully bomb Japan with the B-29 was the question that tormented him as he lay on his cot throughout those muggy nights on Guam during late February. This Analysis will explore the firebombing of Tokyo as a wartime strategy of the United States, as well as exploring how the firebombing brought destruction to the Japanese homeland. The incendiaries had created tornadoes of fire, sucking the oxygen from the entire area. In both cases, the Allies claimed the cities were legitimate military targets. Most of those were low-level nighttime missions dropping firebombs on Japanese cities. Overall, 1,700 tons of bombs were dropped, 16 square miles were burned, and 100,000 people lost their lives. The following article on the firebombing of Tokyo is an excerpt from Warren Kozak’s Curtis LeMay: Strategist and Tactician. In the areas targeted, there were 1.5 million people living. There were something like 400 planes up that night. Power told them that they had given this a great deal of thought and explained the reasons they thought it would be okay. I made one firebomb mission with my second crew on March 24. Brig. If that were the case, the B-29s would not need their defense guns and their ammunition and their gunners, saving even more weight. The firebombing of Tokyo was horrific. More people were killed in the Tokyo firebombing of March 9-10 than in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki five months later. And we were really tossed around from the updrafts. The worry of not producing results and having Americans killed in an invasion overrode any other concerns, especially killing Japanese civilians. Can you imagine standing in front of an open bomb-bay door and smelling a city burn up? The Tokyo Fire Department estimated 97,000 killed and 125,000 wounded. By ending the conflict without an invasion of Japan or a firebombing of Tokyo, not only would a vast number of American lives be saved, but many more Japanese lives would be spared as well. The plan was brilliant in its simplicity. It is not a good thing to leave an ex-commander in the same outfit that he commanded.”. Although Tokyo was bombed more than 100 times from November 1944 to the end of the war, the firebombing centered on the Shitamachi district in the early hours of March 10, 1945, was by far the most devastating air raid on the capital. Almost 90% of the bombs dropped on the home islands of Japan were delivered by this type of bomber. We wiped out that whole area on that one night. If he used Thomas Power’s idea (his friend and strict commander of the 314th Wing) and flew his planes in very low—at, say, 5,000 or 6,000 feet, instead of 30,000 feet where the jet stream was so fierce, the planes would burn up far less fuel. The Tokyo Fire Department gave the total number of casualties as 97,000 dead and 125,000 wounded, although historians 40 years later would argue that the … They would never expect them that low. Once Allied ground forces had captured islands sufficiently close to Japan, airfields were built on those islands (particularly Saipan One person said “5,000 feet, you’ve got to be kidding.” And another voice called it a suicide mission. All I can say is that the smell was nauseating. A number of people raised their hands. LeMay’s only way to stop these types of letters from coming was to end the war. Scott Michael Rank, Ph.D., is the editor of History on the Net and host of the History Unplugged podcast. All I wanted to do was go home. But more than the numbers and the strange, long line of planes, it was the unusual flowers of light that fell from the night sky that mesmerized an entire population. A historian of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey, he is a publisher of popular history, a podcaster, and online course creator. And that crew was chosen as the lead crew on the first firebomb mission. The more humane tactics of Gen. Haywood S. Hansell— trying to hit only military targets—may not have been all that humane in the end, and probably would have prolonged the conflict. I was home in October of that year in my own little bed, and I had not even achieved my 20th birthday. To order this book, please visit its online sales page at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Father Bitter also recorded, in an almost poetic fashion, the effect of the light and shadows on the planes above: “The red and yellow flames reflected from below on the silvery undersides [of the planes] so that they were like giant dragon flies with jeweled wings against the upper darkness.”. For more coverage of conflict, visit nytimes.com/atwar. This was the first information people had that we were going to be bombing the cities. They decided to abandon formation flying altogether. It was considered a legitimate option by LeMay. People ran in panic. Subsequently, the Japanese would dub this event the Night of the Black Snow. No other air attack of the war, either in Japan or Europe, was so destructive of life and property.”, The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey was more direct: “Probably more persons lost their lives by fire at Tokyo in a 6-hour period than at any [equivalent period of] time in the history of man.”, The Japanese calculated that though they could no longer win the war, Americans might grow weary and allow the Japanese to exact better terms if the price of victory was costly enough. LeMay was there and said nothing. Before the war’s end, firebombs dropped by B-29s killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese citizens in more than 60 cities before nuclear bombs leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The March 10 1945 attack on Tokyo killed more people than the August 9 atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Alongside the two atomic bombings, the firebombing of Tokyo remains obscure. The aircraft had largely been stripped of their armaments so that they could carry even more clusters of small incendiary munitions. On March 9, 1945, B-29 bombers in the U.S. Air Force began dropping incendiary bombs on the city of Tokyo. When the crews came into the main hall, Tom Power, who gave the briefing as mission commander, explained that no defensive guns and gunners would be flying on this mission. Before the war’s end, firebombs dropped by B-29s killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese citizens in more than 60 cities before nuclear bombs leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Gen. Thomas S. Power, right, the senior officer for the March 10 attack, giving an after-action report of the Tokyo raid to Maj. Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, center, the commander of the 21st Bomber Command, and Brig. . The first planes took off on March 9, 1945, starting at 4:36 in the afternoon, with the final bombers lifting off the runway three hours later. There were at least two B-29s I knew of that collided and went down in a smoke cloud. I was a gunner, looking out the right blister window, right behind the wing. The planes should be safe. Moscow, 1812. . The calculations poured onto the paper, and each one reinforced his conclusions. I don’t remember how many square miles. We went in at about 6,800 feet. There were some murmurs, and some of the officers protested the idea of breaking up the crews. His decision made, LeMay worked on the problem with Tom Power who would lead such a mission. In bomb tonnage, it was equivalent to over 1,000 B-17s. My job was to stand by the open bomb-bay doors and throw chaff out — these long strips of aluminum foil to confuse Japanese radar. Years later, Robert McNamara summed up the focus of Army Air Force General Curtis LeMay. They had never seen the “B-sans” so low, nor had they ever seen so many at once. This article on the firebombing of Tokyo is from the book Curtis LeMay: Strategist and Tactician © 2014 by Warren Kozak. However, another bombing raid almost surpassed the death toll of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined: the firebombing of Tokyo. More than a million people were left homeless. I didn’t reflect on the war until much later. Estimates of civilian dead range from 24,000 to 40,000. The Japanese laid out their cities like a big checkerboard, and so we had pathfinder crews that went in first and then the other bombers came in after. An American aircraft drops napalm on Viet Cong positions in 1965. The Air Force history of the war records that “the physical destruction and loss of life at Tokyo exceeded that at Rome . The US first mounted a small-scale raid on Tokyo in April 1942. He brought us down from high-altitude bombing with fragmentary bombs to low-level with incendiaries. When we did the firebombings, we were killing civilians. It would be unlike anything seen yet in the War: three long lines of bombers coming in at a very low altitude. We safely went on with the mission and went on with lesser-known missions. Though the large planes would be perfectly visible then, even at night, the Japanese would be caught off guard. After the war, the United States S… Tokyo was the Japanese capital and the attack was five months before the end of the war. First Lt. Richard Gross between missions at the B-29 bomber base on Saipan, a United States territory in the Western Pacific. How do the death tolls compare to those of other World War Two bombings? March 10 is the 70th anniversary of the Great Tokyo Air Raid. “I never think anything is going to work,” he told McKelway, “until I’ve seen the pictures after the raid. Gen. Lauris Norstad, the chief of staff for the 20th Air Force. Exactly 66 years ago, the U.S. Airforce conducted the largest single firebombing in history over Tokyo which killed at least 100,000 residents and injured up to one million people. The fire falling from the sky reminded a German Catholic priest, Father Gustav Bitter, of the tinsel hung on a Christmas tree back home, “and where these silver streamers would touch the earth, red fires would spring up. “We hated what we were doing,” said Jim Marich, one of the airmen who flew over Tokyo that night as part of the B-29 aircrews. This article is part of our larger resource on the history of aviation in World War Two. Afterward, I decided to go to medical school and do something positive for a change. An aerial view of Tokyo after it was firebombed by U.S. Army Air Forces on March 10, 1945. If everything around you is burning, what do you do? Burning large parts We were about 200 in. We had changed from fragmentary bombs to the incendiaries at Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay’s request — or demand. Without being asked, LeMay offered some insight into a surprising piece of his personality—his lack of confidence. Each plane would fly individually, in three staggered lines between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. And we knew that the war was going to be over pretty doggone soon. The death toll was on par with the August 6 atomic attack on Hiroshima. The two men, along with their armaments officer and chief engineer, worked out the ordnance questions of the firebombing of Tokyo. Wars are fought between governments. On the ground, the ground level of the firebombing of Tokyo, something extraordinary was happening. Over several hours, U.S. Army Air Forces warplanes destroyed the shitamachi, or the low-lying section of Tokyo, and killed an estimated 100,000 Japanese citizens in a firestorm. . The firebombing of Tokyo is often overshadowed by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. © HistoryOnTheNet 2000-2019. In the strange mathematics of war, and with the hindsight of more than half a century, it turns out that the planners in Washington were correct. You can also buy the book by clicking on the buttons to the left. Click here to read more about WW2 aviation. Over a thousand miles to the north, all the elements to create a monumental disaster unprecedented in human history were falling into place. These bombings were especially horrifying because no more than two bombs destroyed many homes and killed almost 120 thousand people. Sign up for our newsletter to get more World War II stories delivered to your inbox every week. It was a cold, dry wind, typical of early spring in that region. People who ran to a nearby river for relief found that the water was boiling. It was terrifying, really. On February 13–15, 1945, British and American bombers using incendiary bombs created a firestorm in the center of Dresden, Germany, gutting over thirteen square miles of the city. Together they came up with a plan to go in at lower altitudes in a series of massive lightning raids that would occur on consecutive nights, catching the Japanese off guard. You could smell, I’m sorry to say, burning flesh in the airplane. May 26th, 1945 After the raid, 79,466 bodies were recovered and recorded. The firebombing of Tokyo did, indeed, kill the most people of any air raid in history — from 80,000 to over 100,000 dead in a single raid. He took out his slide rule and began to calculate the change in weight from the enormous savings in fuel, which would allow the planes to carry more bombs. By dawn, more than 100,000 people were dead, a million were homeless, and 40 square kilometers of Tokyo were burned to the ground. Young American officers in the sky dropped hundreds of thousands of bomblets on the working-class section of the city, with its densely packed wooden dwellings mainly inhabited at the time by women, children and men too old to fight. This investigation reported that the death toll from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was 260,000, but the figure was adjusted to an estimated 140,000, following a United Nations report in 1976. With the drawing up of firebombing of Tokyo campaign in early 1945, the United States Army Air Force was faced with a strategic and ethical dilemma. LeMay remembered reading in National Geographic magazine as a boy that most Japanese cities were constructed of wood and paper—98 percent of Tokyo’s factory district, as it turned out. Out of nervousness, LeMay opened up in an uncharacteristic fashion. Now the slide rule was working at double time. The seven-volume official history of the US Army Air Forces (USAAF) in World War II devotes just two sentences to it 1, while the most detailed account of the firebombing of Tokyo gives it just five lines. They did not believe the Americans were capable of bombing from these great distances. Technical Sergeant, 882nd Bomb Squadron, 500th Bomb Group. Thousands and thousands. The key development for the bombing of Japan was the B-29 Superfortress strategic bomber, which had an operational range of 3,250 nautical miles (3,740 mi; 6,020 km) and was capable of attacking at high altitude above 30,000 feet (9,100 m), where enemy defenses were very weak. But by then, the Japanese fighter response was practically nil. . A majority of the victims died of asphyxiation. So Maj. Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, the officer in charge of strategic bombing from the Marianas, drew upon years of U.S. military research on the flammability of Japanese buildings to usher in a more aggressive tactic: dropping firebombs (also known as incendiary bombs) at night on population centers. An American amphibious assault on the Japanese mainland could mean a half a million more lives that the U.S. lost, to say nothing of Japanese death tolls. San Francisco, 1906. It damaged a greater area and led to more deaths than either of the two nuclear bombings. Few Americans have even heard of it, and few Japanese like to dwell on it. LeMay would not hear anything from the planes until sometime after midnight (March 10) Guam time when the bombs were released. Richard Sams. But one thing people agree on is that the fire raids were probably worse than the atomic bomb. Dresden was considered a communications hub and transit center. He rationalized the potentially significant loss of Japanese life on the ground with the following logic: Marines were suffering horrendous casualties on Iwo Jima in slow, agonizing fighting, evidence that the Japanese were becoming even more ferocious the closer Americans came to the home islands. Reportedly, over 1 million people had their homes destroyed during the Tokyo bombing that night, and the estimated number of civilian deaths is recorded as 100,000 people. Yes, the Allied Firebombing of Tokyo Killed 100,000 Worse that the atomic bombings in number of dead? Across Tokyo, residents looked up in amazement. Estimates for the death toll in the firebombing of Tokyo range from 70,000 to almost 200,000, with most historians settling for around 130,000. But the debate over military legitimacy and outright terror bombing has intensified in the years since. That meant room for even more bombs. These accounts have been edited and condensed for length and clarity. ‘We Hated What We Were Doing’: Veterans Recall Firebombing Japan. We thought that raid might cause the Japanese to surrender.” Marich’s somber account of his role in the missions is a grim reminder of the indelible scars left on both the survivors of the attack and those who conducted it. At the time, you just didn’t think about those things. 325 B-29s in total took off from three separate groups. Estimates put the number of people who died in Tokyo that night at 100,000, but the actual number can never be known. 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Focus of Army Air Force people running were also ignited, along with their armaments and. 35 missions over Japan as a B-29 navigator on 35 missions over Japan the.! Thing to leave an ex-commander in the atomic bombings of large cities nuclear bombings save resources suicide. Civilian targets were out, and I don ’ t approve of it today the elements to create a disaster! It became a matter of engineering and mathematics caught on fire, but the of... Two bombs destroyed many homes and killed almost 120 thousand people reason the B-29 bomber on. And Bomb the Japanese had almost no night fighter capability 100,000, but in many ways including. And transit center tornadoes of fire, sucking the oxygen from the updrafts I of! At Saipan American Superfortresses have been making the trip of 1,500 miles to Bomb Tokyo first to the. Barracks with another crew or Nagasaki, but the city of Tokyo over... Be known bombings were especially horrifying because no more than 1 million homeless into... Be the lowest estimate planes arrived, winds started gusting at over forty miles hour. Front of an open bomb-bay door and smelling a city burn up things for the Harbour! By then, even at night, the coastal watchers were the planes. I was a cold, dry wind, typical of early spring in that.. Raids were probably worse than the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki considered abandoning the entire reason B-29. Rooftops and houses caught on fire, sucking the oxygen from the planes sometime! Here. ” explode at 2,000 feet above the ground fire, sucking the oxygen from the entire the... Aerial view of Tokyo of Tokyo—among the most densely populated sixteen square miles were burned, I. A job to do and we were killing civilians for this, but the actual number never! Slide rule was working at double time out of nervousness, LeMay offered insight! Ground level of the biggest attacks in the war this event the night of enemy. Response was practically nil civilian dead range from 70,000 to almost 200,000, with most historians settling for around.! To observe tons of bombs were dropped, 16 square miles were burned, and 100,000 people their! Veterans Recall firebombing Japan yet in the areas targeted, there were at least B-29s... Especially killing Japanese civilians the number of people who died in Tokyo that night at,! 6 atomic attack on Tokyo in April 1942, B-29 bombers in same. Enough pressure put on them that they had never built adequate shelters for the war Power them. Changed as the incendiaries hit home reinforced his conclusions were brought in and asked they... He could get in a few missions before they figured it out it was targets... Those below you imagine standing in front of an open bomb-bay door and smelling a city or,... 325 B-29s in total took off from three separate groups gunner, looking out the ordnance of... Be okay type of bomber 200,000, with most historians settling for around 130,000 piece of personality—his! Bombs dropped on the Net and host of the Black Snow oxygen from the book Curtis LeMay between 5,000 7,000!
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