B-29s From Saipan

"B-29s Rule Jap Skies,"
Universal Newsreel 17-356 (1944/12/18) from National Archives
"B-29s Rule Jap Skies" (quote from Universal Newsreel Vol. 17-356, Dec. 18, 1944):

"At Saipan, after briefing, the members of the 21st Bombing Command take to Super Fortresses and roar into the sky - destination Tokyo! They shower tons of bombs and incendiaries on the huge sprawling city as they hit factories, steel mills and docks. Mass civilian evacuation of Tokyo was ordered after this raid. Japs Raid Saipan - Saipan is attacked by Jap raiders, 14 of which are shot down, after they had started spectacular fires and caused minor damage.” scenes of Japan fighter planes strafe B-29s on Saipan, but 14 of 15 raiders shot down, and B-29s take off on bomb raid; map of attack on Japan; “with Tokyo aflame the Superforts head for home"

"USAAF Chronology" (quotes from Jack McKillop):

24 August 1944 - The advanced air echelon of Brigadier General Emmett O'Donnell Jr's HQ 73d Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) arrives in the Mariana Islands with B-29s, the first Twentieth AF contingent to arrive; the ground echelon arrives by water on 16 Sep.

12 October1944 - The first B-29, JOLTIN' JOSIE, THE PACIFIC PIONEER, arrives on Saipan Island, piloted by Brigadier General Haywood S Hansell, Jr, Commanding General XXI Bomber Command, for whom temporary HQ are set up on Saipan Island; also the regular air echelon of HQ 73d Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) arrives on Saipan Island on this date, followed during Oct 44 and the first week in Nov 44 by 4 bombardment groups and 4 air service groups; HQ 313th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) will be established in the theater in Dec 44, HQ 314th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) in Jan 45, HQ 58th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) in Mar 45, and HQ 315th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) in Apr 45. In Mar 45 HQ VII Fighter Command will be established on Iwo Jima Island from where some of its units escort B-29 missions.

28 October 1944 - Mariana Island-based XXI Bomber Command flies its first combat mission when 14 B-29s attack submarine pens on Dublon Island, Truk Atoll; 4 others, 1 carrying Brigadier General Haywood S Hansell, Jr, Commanding General XXI Bomber Command, abort; about a third of the bombs fall in the general target area.

24 November 1944 - The XXI Bomber Command flies its first mission against Japan; the objective is Tokyo; the 111 B-29s are led by 73d Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy) Commanding General, Brigadier General Emmett O'Donnell Jr piloting DAUNTLESS DOTTY, copiloted by Major Robert K Morgan, erstwhile pilot of the famed B-17, MEMPHIS BELLE; 35 B-29s bomb the primary target, the Musashino aircraft plant; 50 bomb the secondary target, the urban area and docks; 17 abort enroute; the remainder are unable to bomb due to mechanical difficulties; 1 B-29 crashes off Honshu Island when a fighter rams the bomber, shearing off the elevator and right horizontal stabilizer, becoming the first XXI Bomber Command B-29 lost to Japanese action; 1 other ditches after running out of fuel; B-29 gunners claim 7 aircraft downed. Several 3rd Photo Recon Sq. F-13s support the attack by confusing Japanese radars. One B-29 crashes into the sea off Honshu after being rammed by a Japanese fighter, shearing off it's elevator and right horizontal stabilizer (the first XXI BC B-29 lost to action against the Japanese); and another ditches after running out of fuel; B-29 gunners claim 7 aircraft downed. Also, 8 B-29's are damaged by ground fire and 3 others are damaged by fire from other B-29's. Personnel losses are 1 killed, 11 missing and four wounded.

25 February 1945 - Mission 38: 172 of 229 B-29s bomb the urban area of Tokyo; 29 others hit alternates and targets of opportunity; this is the XXI Bomber Command's largest mission to date and its first 3-wing strike against Japan as the the 73d and 313th Bombardment Wings (Very Heavy) are joined by the 314th; 3 B-29s are lost.

4 March 1945 - Mission 39: A B-29 makes an emergency landing on Iwo Jima Island; this begins a series of over 2,400 such emergency landings on the island during World War II. 192 Mariana Islands-based B-29s are airborne against Musashino (Musashi), Japan but heavy clouds prevent bombing the primary; 159 B-29s bomb the secondary target, the urban areas of Tokyo, and 18 others hit alternate targets; 1 B-29 is lost. This aborted try at Musashino marks the end of XXI Bomber Command's effort to knock out the Japanese aircraft industry by high-altitude, daylight precision bombing. (The indirect effect of causing Japanese industrialists to lose confidence in their supposed immunity from air attacks exceeds the effect of actual bomb damage to the aircraft industry

10 March 1945 - Mission 40: During the predawn hours, 279 B-29s, of 325 airborne, blast the Tokyo urban area with incendiaries, destroying 267,171 buildings, about one-fourth in the city, killing 83,793 and wounding 40,918 people and destroying 15.8 square miles (40.9 square km); this death total is the highest of any single day's action during the war, exceeding the deaths caused by the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima; 20 other B-29s bomb alternates and targets of opportunity; 14 B-29s are lost; the participating B-29s are from the XXI Bomber Command's 73d, 313th, and 314th Bombardment Wings (Very Heavy) based on Guam Island, Tinian Island, and Saipan Island in the Mariana Islands; the raids are flown at levels ranging from 4,900 to 9,200 feet (1,494 to 2,804 m).


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