The Doolittle Raid...

 

...The First Air Attack Against Japan April 1942, an 'Images of Aviation' title from Pen & Sword

 

Title: The Doolittle Raid

Author: John Grehan & Alexander Nicoll

Publisher: Air World, an imprint of Pen & Sword

ISBN: 978-1-52675-822-4

 

While most people with an interest in the history of WW2 will have heard of the famous Doolittle Raid, when 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers were launched from the US aircraft carrier USS Hornet to bomb Tokyo, this one describes it in detail. It was a raid to bring shock to the Japanese mainland just months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
The book opens with the background, and the planning that went into undertaking an operation to make a point to the Japanese, just months after their famous raid on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, the 'day that will live in infamy'. There was no way that bombers of those days could reach the home islands of Japan by flying from mainland USA. This details the efforts that went into being able to launch the 16 Mitchells from a carrier. The next and most significant part of the book then goes through the attackers plane by plane (and crew). It explains the detail of what happened to each individual aircraft and what happened to the members of each crew. I can't remember seeing anything before which explained what happened to each crew once they had launched from the carrier. With no way they could land back on the carrier, they would have to fly on to China, with only 1 managing to get as far as landing safely in the Soviet Union. As you would expect with this series of books, each element is an element of text plus a series of well captioned photos. The book round things off with section on a War Crimes trial for those Japanese involved with the executions of 3 of the downed aircrew and mistreatment of others, as well as a Post-Raid Assessment. It also covers an anniversary event in 1992, when two Mitchells were flown off the USS Ranger, in front of invited guests, to commemorate the raid.
The level of detail about the individual aircraft and crews involved in the raid, coupled to a marvellous collection of archive images, this is the most detailed account I have seen to date. The commander, James H. Doolittle went on to command the US 8th Air Force in the UK in 1944, and long after, in 1985, he was finally honoured with promotion to full Genera of the US Air Force. This is an excellent account of this famous raid and offers excellent value for money for the aviation historian. Compared to what was to come later in the war, this was a very small operation but its' importance in terms of public relations for the American people after their surprise at Pearl Harbour, this was a significant marker to demonstrate their intentions.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin