By Wyatt Earp | November 24, 2010
November 24, 1944 – B-29′s Raid Tokyo
On this day in 1944, 111 U.S. B-29 Superfortress bombers raid Tokyo for the first time since Capt. Jimmy Doolittle’s raid in 1942. Their target: the Nakajima aircraft engine works.
Fall 1944 saw the sustained strategic bombing of Japan. It began with a reconnaissance flight over Tokyo by Tokyo Rose, a Superfortress B-29 bomber piloted by Capt. Ralph D. Steakley, who grabbed over 700 photographs of the bomb sites in 35 minutes. Next, starting the first week of November, came a string of B-29 raids, dropping hundreds of tons of high explosives on Iwo Jima, in order to keep the Japanese fighters stationed there on the ground and useless for a counteroffensive. Then came Tokyo.
Unfortunately, even with the use of radar, overcast skies and bad weather proved an insurmountable obstacle at 30,000 feet: Despite the barrage of bombs that were dropped, fewer than 50 hit the main target, the Nakajima Aircraft Works, doing little damage.
The raids also eliminated the feeling that Japan was safe from U.S. attack.