Towards a Place in History. - Air Power History

Towards a Place in History.

By Air Power History

  • Release Date: 2003-09-22
  • Genre: Engineering


April 18th was an important day in aviation history, for on that day in 1942, seventy-nine courageous young men followed Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle into the prospect of either a place in the annals of military aviation history or oblivion. Without knowing which of those two options would be the outcome of their folly, all seventy-nine volunteered to follow one of America's greatest pioneering aviators into a mission that would not only guarantee them as near immortality as an aviator can get, but literally turn the tide of war in the Pacific theater of operations and start the road to victory in World War II. How did they achieve this place in history? By taking sixteen North American B-25B twin-engined bombers off the flight deck of an aircraft carrier for the first time in history. The carrier was the 1941-commissioned USS Hornet, a Yorktown Class vessel of 20,000 tons displacement. A number of strategic targets in five cities of Japan: Kobe, Nagoya, Tokyo, Yokohama and Yokosuka were bombed. The Doolittle Raid was, in its own way, every bit as audacious as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which provoked it less than four months earlier. Of particular significance to this event is the effect it had on British military morale and the fact that, for the British as well as for the Americans, victory really did "start here." April 18, 2003 was another important day in history, for that was the day upon which the sixty-first anniversary of that courageous raid on Japan took place. Why should a sixty-first anniversary have any particular significance when the milestone sixty was just a year ago? Well, this one has a great significance because it heralds a major step forward in the development of the new Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum at Travis Air Force Base, California, as well as marking the Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid. The Travis Air Museum is already the largest military aviation museum in California and has the distinction of being located in the late General Doolittle's own "back yard", for he was born in Alameda, not fifty miles from Travis. What's more, the successor to CV-8 USS Hornet (CV-8 was sunk in the Battle of Santa Cruz in October 1942), CV-12 USS Hornet, which was launched in 1943 in honor of CV-8, is today moored at Pier 3 at Alameda Point.