Another Year has past since the Doolittle Raid

It kind of amazes me that another year has past and here I am again writing about the Doolittle Raid that happened seventy six years ago. We recognize today in honor of those brave men of the crews of the sixteen B-25 Mitchell Bombers that took off on a bombing run for Tokyo, Japan and there inability due to a lack of fuel to make a safe landing in China. Many made it home some were not so lucky. It was a mission of high risk and high reward if it were successful. It was.

I was fortunate many years ago to attend the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle Reunion when there was twenty B-25’s present and more importantly four of the original Raiders still with us. Today only one, Dick Cole, is left to carry-on the memory of the others. Thankfully with the help of many volunteers and passionate aviation enthusiasts, these planes, these veterans, these stories will always have a home and be recognized.

Five More Years Have Gone By

While the post is early, this weekend at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio along with Grimes Field, Urbana, Ohio will be honoring the men of the famous Doolittle Raid which celebrates its 75th anniversary on Tuesday the 18th.

Seventy five years ago a daring and bold plan was conceived that would have a profound affect for the rest of WWII. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 President Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan. After he had he then asked his advisers to come up with a plan to attack Japan to show that they are vulnerable and that the Pacific was not just theirs. Navy Captain Francis Low, Assistant Chief of Staff for anti-submarine warfare, who reported to Admiral Ernest King, came up with the idea to use US Navy carriers and US Army Air Corps Bombers to attack Tokyo and other industrial capitols on the Japanese home island of Honshu. The mission was approved and Lieutenant Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle was selected to train and lead the men of the raid. On April 18th, 1942 sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers took off of the USS Hornet towards Tokyo. The mission was later called the Doolittle Raid.

After the disaster at Pearl Harbor, America needed a serious morale boost and the idea of bombing Tokyo was believed to achieve that need. Not only would it help the American public but it would also put doubt into the minds of the Japanese who were told by their leaders that they were invulnerable. The Doolittle Raid or Tokyo Raid achieved both of these goals and helped to force Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s, commander-in-chief of the combined fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy, to attack Midway later that year in order to gain a strategic stepping stone towards America’s west coast as well as a stronger defense for their home islands which were now proven to be vulnerable. Many variables helped to turn the Battle of Midway in America’s favor including the breaking of the Japanese naval code. Midway turned into a dismal defeat for the Imperial Navy and brought much needed time for the US Navy to build up its strength.

In preparation for the mission many issues had to be solved. The first was deciding which medium bomber would be used. Many planes including the Martin B-26 Marauder, Douglas B-18 Bolo, Douglas B-23 Dragon, and the North American B-25B Mitchell were consider under the qualifications that it had a range of 2,400 nautical miles and a bomb load of 2,000lbs. The B-26 had takeoff characteristics not suitable for a carrier and the B-18 and B-23 had a much longer wingspan raising concerns about damaging the ships main island. Also the greater wingspan meant less planes available for the raid. The B-25B Mitchell Bomber was selected with a crew of five. The mission called for the planes to land in friendly territories after making their bomb runs, no return to the carrier or fighter protection was available for the bombers. Originally the plan called for landings in Vladivostok but Russia had a neutrality pack with Japan and thus was not an option. However, Capt. Edward York and his crew (eighth off—AC #40-2242) had to land in Russia after engine problems and low fuel levels. The crew was interned for fifteen months and eventually escaped into Persia where they returned home in May of 1943.

On February 3rd, 1943 a test of 2 B-25’s flew off of the USS Hornet in Norfolk Virginia and was approved for the mission. The 17th Bomb Group was chosen with the most experience with B-25’s and a call went out for volunteers for the mission. Even up to the very last minute of the operation, every crew member was given the option to drop out. Doolittle wanted this to be entirely optional not knowing if any would make it back at all. 24 crews flew to Eglin Field in Florida and trained for three weeks in March. At the same time the 24 planes were being adjusted for the weight restrictions and fuel needed for the long trip at Mid-Continent Airlines modification center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On March 25, 1942 twenty two B-25’s flew to McClellan Air Field in California where sixteen were then flown to NAS Alameda, California for loading on March 31st.

The USS Hornet and Task Force 18 left port on April 2nd and rendezvoused with Task Force 16. Task Force 16 consisted of the USS Lexington which housed the only available fighter cover as the Hornet’s fighters were below deck to make room for the B-25s. Up to the point of launch the crews of both Task Forces were at total readiness. An order was placed that if at any point they came under attack of enemy fighters the B-25’s would be pushed overboard, this included at the point of launch if there was any trouble or delay, the plane would be removed. With a combined strength of only two carriers, three heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, eight destroyers and two fleet oilers, no extra chances could be taken. The entire mission was held under secrecy all the way until they were out at sea.

On the morning of April 18th, still 650 nautical miles away from Japan, the Task Force was discovered by the Japanese picket boat No. 23 Nittō Maru, a 70-ton patrol craft, which radioed their position back to Japanese headquarters. The Nittō Maru was sunk minutes later by the USS Nashville. Doolittle and Hornet skipper Captain Marc Mitscher decided to launch 10 hours early and 170 miles further away then planned. As a last minute decision due to the surprise of being spotted, Doolittle included the sixteenth aircraft even though it was never meant to be part of the bomb run. All sixteen aircraft managed to get off of the flight deck in the 467ft available with Doolittle in the lead plane. Each crew had targets throughout the island of Honshu, not all bound for Tokyo. Strict orders were given to not bomb civilians or the Imperial Palace. The targets were to remain industrial complexes only. Due to the nature of precision bombing, even at low altitude, civilians would be killed no matter what.

All sixteen bombers had successful bombs runs and flew onto their intended landing zones. Due to bad weather and darkness fast approaching, the crews had a hard time finding their intended landing areas in the Zhejiang province. The plan had been to land, refuel and head to Chongqing, where the planes would then be used in land based operations. Fifteen of the Sixteen aircraft either crashed or bailed out over China. York’s plane, low on fuel, landed in Russia where the plane and crew were interned. The rest of the crews had a perilous journey ahead of them.

Of the 80 men who took part of the raid, sixty nine were able to escape capture or death. Three men were killed in action, KIA, due to the crashing of the plane except for Corporal Leland D. Faktor, flight engineer/gunner, who died during bailout over China. Eight men were captured by the Japanese and whose fates were unknown until 1946. During the war crime trials held in Shanghai, four Japanese officers were charged with the mistreatment of the eight men. On 28 August 1942, pilot Hallmark, pilot Farrow, and gunner Spatz were charged with war crimes of strafing civilians and were executed. In April of 1943 the five remaining men were moved to Nanking, Lieutenant Robert J. Meder died in December of that year, and the rest remained there until they were freed in August of 1945 by American troops. The sixty nine crew members that did survive capture fought there way to freedom with the help from the Chinese people who ended up paying severely for helping the Americans. After the raid the Japanese started the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign where they took over all eastern coastal provinces in order for no more raids to be carried out against their home islands. As result many Chinese people were killed during this campaign.

The last thing that Doolittle said to his men before departing the Hornet was that he would throw a party in Chongqing when everyone was back together. It took several years before he could hold true on that promise as many would not return until after the war. However, a celebration was had once the sixty nine made it back to the states and ever since that inaugural party one has been held in honor of the raiders. That reunion has been going on for over seventy years when in November of 1943, with only four members remaining they held their final celebration. They opened the bottle of brandy that had been left for the last man and toasted their fellow comrades in their memorial silver goblets, one for each crewmen. Today only one man, Colonel Richard E Cole, is left of the original eighty raiders. He lives on, as will the memories of his companions as a monument to the bravery of their mission. This Tuesday marks the 75th anniversary of the raid and their contribution to changing the outcome of WWII.

Images in this post came from the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle Reunion held in Dayton, Ohio in 2012.

74 years Later

April 18th marked the 74th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid. It was the first raid conducted against Japan by USAAF B-25 bombers launched from the carrier USS Hornet. This one act has gone down in history not only for the bravery of the men but also the determination of the mission. Today there are only a couple members left of that historic mission.

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In 2012 at the seventieth anniversary of the Doolittle raid reunion, 20 B-25 bombers took part in an historic flyover out of Grimes Field Urbana over Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH. I’ve been to many events since then but this one is still one of my favorites. There’s nothing quite like seeing 20 B-25’s come taxiing towards you. The Texas Flying Legends Museum’s B-25 Bomber Betty’s Dream was the second plane off in the sequence that morning.

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While the coordination in the sky wasn’t quite perfect it still was unbelievable to see that many planes fly overhead.

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Then of course there were the veterans. Sadly in the four short years since this photo was taken many of these great men have already passed away. For me this is a constant reminder of not only the events in the past but also what we must do in the present so that these people are always remembered.

The Hard Lessons

Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way in order for them to stick. It’s part of being human that no one can escape. Eventually we all end up learning something through that same process. What’s important is that we learn not to do it again. Being a photographer every second counts. We don’t always get a second shot when we are out in the field. Thankfully this time it was an easy fix.

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Last week I met another pilot that I had previously worked with and didn’t even know it. Not only did he fly at the Reno Air Races for years but he also flew this beautiful B-25J “Old Glory” at the 2012 Doolittle Reunion. After talking a little bit I knew I had to send images but low and behold I hadn’t even finished those ones yet. This is one of the greatest crutch’s when it comes to Aviation Photography, the time it takes to finish all those images. It really is important because you never know when you have to send some out. Luckily I knew exactly where the images were and with the help of ACR they were done in no time. Now if this had been a potential image sale for an editor I might have lost out on it because I wasn’t quick enough. You just never know. That’s why it pays to plan ahead and have it all done.

A Day to Remember and Give Thanks

Today we honor those that participated in the Doolittle Raid. 73 years ago eighty men, flying sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers took off of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet and bombed major industrial cities, including Tokyo, on Honshu Island in the heart of Japan. After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941, which launched America into WWII, the country was in need of a morale boost. The mission was a success in creating that boost while demoralizing our enemy.

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Today a memorial, one of many, stands at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio in honor of the Doolittle Raid. In 2012 I was at the 70th reunion of the raiders and had the privilege of meeting some of them. What they did at a time when the mission was conceived as being impossible, is truly remarkable.

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These sterling silver gauntlets were given to the Raiders by the people of Tuscon, AZ. Each one has the name of a crew member engraved both upside down and right side up. When one passes away, the goblet is turned upside down but the name is still legible. In 2013 three of the four remaining raiders opened the bottle of brandy kept with the goblets in a toast to their comrades. As I am writing this only two members of the original eighty are still with us. Today we honor those that survived and those that didn’t.

The Doolittle Raid

Seventy three years ago a daring and bold plan was conceived that would have a profound affect for the rest of WWII. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 President Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan. After he had he then asked his advisers to come up with a plan to attack Japan to show that they are vulnerable and that the Pacific was not just theirs. Navy Captain Francis Low, Assistant Chief of Staff for anti-submarine warfare, who reported to Admiral Ernest King, came up with the idea to use US Navy carriers and US Army Air Corps Bombers to attack Tokyo and other industrial capitols on the Japanese home island of Honshu. The mission was approved and Lieutenant Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle was selected to train and lead the men of the raid. On April 18th, 1942 sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers took off of the USS Hornet towards Tokyo. The mission was later called the Doolittle Raid.

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After the disaster at Pearl Harbor, America needed a serious morale boost and the idea of bombing Tokyo was believed to achieve that need. Not only would it help the American public but it would also put doubt into the minds of the Japanese who were told by their leaders that they were invulnerable. The Doolittle Raid or Tokyo Raid achieved both of these goals and helped to force Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s, commander-in-chief of the combined fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy, to attack Midway later that year in order to gain a strategic stepping stone towards America’s west coast as well as a stronger defense for their home islands which were now proven to be vulnerable. Many variables helped to turn the Battle of Midway in America’s favor including the breaking of the Japanese naval code. Midway turned into a dismal defeat for the Imperial Navy and brought much needed time for the US Navy to build up its strength.

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In preparation for the mission many issues had to be solved. The first was deciding which medium bomber would be used. Many planes including the Martin B-26 Marauder, Douglas B-18 Bolo, Douglas B-23 Dragon, and the North American B-25B Mitchell were consider under the qualifications that it had a range of 2,400 nautical miles and a bomb load of 2,000lbs. The B-26 had takeoff characteristics not suitable for a carrier and the B-18 and B-23 had a much longer wingspan raising concerns about damaging the ships main island. Also the greater wingspan meant less planes available for the raid. The B-25B Mitchell Bomber was selected with a crew of five. The mission called for the planes to land in friendly territories after making their bomb runs, no return to the carrier or fighter protection was available for the bombers. Originally the plan called for landings in Vladivostok but Russia had a neutrality pack with Japan and thus was not an option. However, Capt. Edward York and his crew (eighth off—AC #40-2242) had to land in Russia after engine problems and low fuel levels. The crew was interned for fifteen months and eventually escaped into Persia where they returned home in May of 1943.

On February 3rd, 1943 a test of 2 B-25’s flew off of the USS Hornet in Norfolk Virginia and was approved for the mission. The 17th Bomb Group was chosen with the most experience with B-25’s and a call went out for volunteers for the mission. Even up to the very last minute of the operation, every crew member was given the option to drop out. Doolittle wanted this to be entirely optional not knowing if any would make it back at all. 24 crews flew to Eglin Field in Florida and trained for three weeks in March. At the same time the 24 planes were being adjusted for the weight restrictions and fuel needed for the long trip at Mid-Continent Airlines modification center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On March 25, 1942 twenty two B-25’s flew to McClellan Air Field in California where sixteen were then flown to NAS Alameda, California for loading on March 31st.

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The USS Hornet and Task Force 18 left port on April 2nd and rendezvoused with Task Force 16. Task Force 16 consisted of the USS Lexington which housed the only available fighter cover as the Hornet’s fighters were below deck to make room for the B-25s. Up to the point of launch the crews of both Task Forces were at total readiness. An order was placed that if at any point they came under attack of enemy fighters the B-25’s would be pushed overboard, this included at the point of launch if there was any trouble or delay, the plane would be removed. With a combined strength of only two carriers, three heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, eight destroyers and two fleet oilers, no extra chances could be taken. The entire mission was held under secrecy all the way until they were out at sea.

On the morning of April 18th, still 650 nautical miles away from Japan, the Task Force was discovered by the Japanese picket boat No. 23 Nittō Maru, a 70-ton patrol craft, which radioed their position back to Japanese headquarters. The Nittō Maru was sunk minutes later by the USS Nashville. Doolittle and Hornet skipper Captain Marc Mitscher decided to launch 10 hours early and 170 miles further away then planned. As a last minute decision due to the surprise of being spotted, Doolittle included the sixteenth aircraft even though it was never meant to be part of the bomb run. All sixteen aircraft managed to get off of the flight deck in the 467ft available with Doolittle in the lead plane. Each crew had targets throughout the island of Honshu, not all bound for Tokyo. Strict orders were given to not bomb civilians or the Imperial Palace. The targets were to remain industrial complexes only. Due to the nature of precision bombing, even at low altitude, civilians would be killed no matter what.

All sixteen bombers had successful bombs runs and flew onto their intended landing zones. Due to bad weather and darkness fast approaching, the crews had a hard time finding their intended landing areas in the Zhejiang province. The plan had been to land, refuel and head to Chongqing, where the planes would then be used in land based operations. Fifteen of the Sixteen aircraft either crashed or bailed out over China. York’s plane, low on fuel, landed in Russia where the plane and crew were interned. The rest of the crews had a perilous journey ahead of them.

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Of the 80 men who took part of the raid, sixty nine were able to escape capture or death. Three men were killed in action, KIA, due to the crashing of the plane except for Corporal Leland D. Faktor, flight engineer/gunner, who died during bailout over China. Eight men were captured by the Japanese and whose fates were unknown until 1946. During the war crime trials held in Shanghai, four Japanese officers were charged with the mistreatment of the eight men. On 28 August 1942, pilot Hallmark, pilot Farrow, and gunner Spatz were charged with war crimes of strafing civilians and were executed. In April of 1943 the five remaining men were moved to Nanking, Lieutenant Robert J. Meder died in December of that year, and the rest remained there until they were freed in August of 1945 by American troops. The sixty nine crew members that did survive capture fought there way to freedom with the help from the Chinese people who ended up paying severely for helping the Americans. After the raid the Japanese started the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign where they took over all eastern coastal provinces in order for no more raids to be carried out against their home islands. As result many Chinese people were killed during this campaign.

The last thing that Doolittle said to his men before departing the Hornet was that he would throw a party in Chongqing when everyone was back together. It took several years before he could hold true on that promise as many would not return until after the war. However, a celebration was had once the sixty nine made it back to the states and ever since that inaugural party one has been held in honor of the raiders. That reunion has been going on for over seventy years when in November of 1943, with only four members remaining they held their final celebration. They opened the bottle of brandy that had been left for the last man and toasted their fellow comrades in their memorial silver goblets, one for each crewmen. Today only two men are left of the original eighty raiders. They live on, as will the memories of their companions as a monument to the bravery of their mission. This Saturday marks the 73rd anniversary of the raid and their contribution to changing the outcome of WWII.

Images in this post came from the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle Reunion held in Dayton, Ohio in 2012.

The Passing of a Hero

On Tuesday, February 26th another of our great WWII veterans sadly passed away. His name was Thomas Griffin. He was part of the Tokyo Raid led by General Jimmy Doolittle, April 18th 1942. Today there are only four members left from that courageous event. If you don’t know what this flight was about or how it affected our country, then I just looking it up. Clear skies and safe flying west Tom.

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In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 200-400 VR, 70-200 VRII, Lexar UDMA Digital Film

A Good Way to End the Week

A Good Way to End the Week

This has been one heck of a week. I’m sure most people would agree with that. For me it’s been a rather goofy week between working on different projects and preparing for future ones. I’m sure as not complaining because I’m not fighting any fires and my home is safe at the moment. To me the best way to end the week seemed to try and end it with a smile. Here’s a couple images from a couple months back, they were taken at the Doolittle Reunion and always reminded me of a good time.

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This movie requires Flash Player 9

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 200-400 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Little or Big it all adds up in the end

Little or Big it all adds up in the end

A question that i seem to get a lot is whether I go for just the big sales or do i go for the little ones too? With that i want to tie in whether or not it’s wise to give away free images because I think the premise can go with both. MY answer is always if I get something out of the deal than it’s worth while. Photographers tend to overlook the little guys and they need the images just as badly as big magazine names. What most people don’t understand is those little ones because they get looked over, it’s an easier sell. While it does take more magazines to make a big payday out of little sells, it still adds up.

As far as selling images for free. Well I’ve heard way too many people that say “Never!” Think about that though. You have images on a hard drive that aren’t selling because you are waiting for a big pay day. That means that all those mathematical equations, that’s what a digital image is, that you spent money on are doing nothing. How will you get people to see them? To me it doesn’t make sense. If you work with a magazine that doesn’t pay but has a large distribution, than people are going to see your images and more work will come from it. It’s chance, no argument, but it’s better than just sitting on a hard drive.

The screen capture above is a perfect example. This is a capture from AirShow Stuff Magazine. A free online publications that’s only benefit to photographers is media credentials, which given the venue is actually pretty darn nice, but that’s for a another blog post. If you click on “view issue online” and scroll through you will see my images. While this magazine used a lot of images for free, the amount of feedback already more than makes up for it. Especially combined with the two other magazines I submitted to for the same event. Different photos of course. The bottom line comes down to if you are willing to work, which in the field of photography you better be or else you won’t last, all those little pay days and no pay days do add up. You never know who will see your image, where editors will be in ten years maybe somewhere else and they remember you, and you never know who you impress. Work with wherever you can and work towards the big ones. It all adds up.

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