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firebombing of tokyo deaths

[165] Concerns initially raised regarding these two raids in the years after World War II have over time evolved into widely-held doubts over the morality and effectiveness of the campaigns. [21], Damage to Tokyo's heavy industry was slight until firebombing destroyed much of the light industry that was used as an integral source for small machine parts and time-intensive processes. [150][152] As of 2015, this center was the main repository of information in Japan about the firebombing raids. Major General Curtis LeMay, the commander of XX Bomber Command, replaced him. The raid was retaliation against the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 1 decade ago. [90][110] Thousands of people injured in the raid died over the following days. [17] The first B-29s to arrive dropped bombs in a large X pattern centered in Tokyo's densely populated working class district near the docks in both Koto and Chūō city wards on the water; later aircraft simply aimed near this flaming X. As the 314th Bombardment Wing's B-29s would have to fly a greater distance, they each carried 5 short tons (4.5 t) of bombs. [7][8], The key development for the bombing of Japan was the B-29 Superfortress strategic bomber, which had an operational range of 3,250 nautical miles (3,740 mi; 6,020 km) and was capable of attacking at high altitude above 30,000 feet (9,100 m), where enemy defenses were very weak. [13] The first target directive issued to the XXI Bomber Command by its parent unit, the Twentieth Air Force, on 11 November, 1944 specified that the main target was Japanese aircraft and aviation engine factories. There has been a long-running debate over the morality of the 10 March firebombing of Tokyo. The Tokyo police force and fire department estimated that 83,793 people were killed during the air raid, another 40,918 were injured and just over a million lost their homes; postwar estimates of deaths in this attack have ranged from 80,000 to 100,000. [90] American casualties were 96 airmen killed or missing, and 6 wounded or injured. [84] However, these bodies of water provided safety to thousands of others. The individual fires caused by the bombs joined to create a general conflagration, which would have been classified as a firestorm but for prevailing winds gusting at 17 to 28 mph (27 to 45 km/h). [151] The citizens who had been most active in campaigning for the Tokyo Peace Museum established the privately funded Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage, which opened in 2002. Almost 90% of the bombs dropped on the home islands of Japan were delivered by this type of bomber. Their suit charged that the Japanese government invited the raid by failing to end the war earlier, and then failed to help the civilian victims of the raids while providing considerable support to former military personnel and their families. The Japanese air and civil defenses proved largely inadequate; 14 American aircraft and 96 airmen were lost. These altitudes were calculated to be too high for the light Japanese antiaircraft guns to reach, and below the effective range of the heavy antiaircraft guns. [112][115] The large population movements out of and into Tokyo in the period before the raid, deaths of entire communities and destruction of records mean that it is not possible to know exactly how many died. [56], The attack force began departing its bases at 5:35 pm local time on 9 March. [95] The fire finally burned itself out during mid-morning on 10 March, and came to a stop when it reached large open areas or the Nakagawa Canal. [33] Civilian casualties during these operations had been relatively low; for instance, all the raids against Tokyo prior to 10 March caused 1,292 deaths in the city. The bombing of Guernica in which 1,600 people were killed by German forces during the Spanish Civil War in 1937 is well documented. [95] An hour into the raid the fire department abandoned its efforts to stop the conflagration. In the first two hours of the raid, 226 of the attacking aircraft unloaded their bombs to overwhelm the city's fire defenses. [1] Bombs dropped from 279 Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers burned out much of eastern Tokyo. Almost 90% of the bombs dropped on the home islands of Japan were delivered by this type of bomber. [131] The attacks on Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe during March burned out over 31 square miles (80 km2) of the cities. [133] However, rumors of the devastation rapidly spread across the country. The raid is often cited as a key example in criticism of the Allies' strategic bombing campaigns, with many historians and commentators arguing that it was not acceptable for the USAAF to deliberately target civilians, and other historians stating that the USAAF had no choice but to change to area bombing tactics given that the precision bombing campaign had failed. After the bomb struck the ground, a fuse ignited a charge which first sprayed napalm from the weapon, and then ignited it. [164], Like the bombing of Dresden, the bombing of Tokyo on 10 March 1945 is used as an example by historians and commentators who criticize the ethics and practices of the Allied strategic bombing campaigns. [103] Escape frequently proved impossible, as smoke reduced visibility to just a few feet and roads were rapidly cut by the fires. This area was divided by the Sumida River, and included most of Asakusa, Honjo and Fukagawa Wards. An estimated 1.5 million people lived in the burned out areas. Three crewmen from these groups were later executed. The Bombing of Tokyo (東京大空襲, Tōkyōdaikūshū) was a series of firebombing air raids by the United States Army Air Forces during the Pacific campaigns of World War II. Parts of another 14 wards suffered damage. In 1943 the USAAF tested the effectiveness of incendiary bombs on adjoining German and Japanese-style domestic building complexes at the Dugway Proving Ground. [34] Due to the extent of the damage and the exodus from Tokyo, no attempt was made to restore services to large sections of the city. May 26th, 1945 [100], Civilians who stayed at their homes or attempted to fight the fire had virtually no chance of survival. These bombers were manned by the 73d and 313th Bombardment Wings' best crews. Many of those who attempted to evacuate to the large parks which had been created as refuges against fires following the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake were killed when the conflagration moved across these open spaces. [43] USAAF intelligence had determined that the Japanese had only two night fighter units, and these were believed to pose little threat. [17][18] The plans for the strategic bombing offensive against Japan developed in 1943 specified that it would transition from a focus on the precision bombing of industrial targets to area bombing from around halfway in the campaign, which was forecast to be in March 1945. [53][Note 2] The 1st Antiaircraft Division controlled the antiaircraft guns stationed in the central region of Honshu, including Tokyo. [159] Kenneth P. Werrell noted that the firebombing of Japanese cities and the atomic bomb attacks "have come to epitomize the strategic bombing campaign against Japan. [61], Tokyo's civil defenses were also lacking. [147] 10 March was designated Tokyo Peace Day by the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in 1990. [11], Between May and September 1943, bombing trials were conducted on the Japanese Village set-piece target, located at the Dugway Proving Grounds. The heat from the fires also resulted in the final waves of aircraft experiencing heavy turbulence. [9] XXI Bomber Command's subsequent raids on Tokyo and other cities mainly used precision bombing tactics and high explosive bombs, and were largely unsuccessful due to adverse weather conditions and a range of mechanical problems which affected the B-29s. [42] This led to a decision to direct the aircraft to attack individually rather than in formations as it was not possible for the B-29s to keep station at night. Firebombing also killed or made homeless many workers who had taken part in the war industry. Flying individually would also lead to reductions in fuel consumption as the pilots would not need to constantly adjust their engines to remain in formation. The atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have dominated the retelling of WWII history, but as a single attack the bombing of Tokyo was more destructive. 18 August 1945: The last U.S. air combat casualty of World War II occurred during mission 230 A-8, when two, This page was last edited on 19 November 2020, at 23:00. Further heavy bomber raids against Tokyo were judged to not be worthwhile, and it was removed from XXI Bomber Command's target list. [96] Over 125 firemen and 500 civil guards who had been assigned to help them were killed, and 96 fire engines destroyed. The success in countering the raid led the Japanese authorities to become over-confident about their ability to protect cities against incendiary attacks. An aerial armada of 334 B-29 bombers took off from newly established bases in the Mariana Islands, bound for Tokyo. [101] The foxholes which had been dug near most homes offered no protection against the firestorm, and civilians who sheltered in them were burned to death or died from suffocation. [94], The surviving B-29s arrived back at their bases in the Mariana Islands between 6:10 and 11:27 am local time on 10 March. [55] American military intelligence estimated that 331 heavy and 307 light antiaircraft guns were allocated to Tokyo's defenses at the time of the raid. Strategic bombings were a primary cause. [3] The British Bomber Command focused on destroying German cities from early 1942 until the end of the war, and incendiaries represented 21 percent of the tonnage of bombs its aircraft dropped. [27], The Operation Meetinghouse firebombing of Tokyo on the night of 9 March 1945 was the single deadliest air raid of World War II,[28] greater than Dresden,[29] Hamburg, Hiroshima, or Nagasaki as single events. These Superfortresses arrived over the city shortly before midnight on 9 March. 27 November 1944: 81 B-29s hit the dock and urban area and 13. A lesser number of M-47 incendiaries were also dropped: the M-47 was a 100-pound (45 kg) jelled-gasoline and white phosphorus bomb which ignited upon impact. [3] Their M47 bombs rapidly started fires in an X shape, which was used to direct the attacks for the remainder of the force. [169] Werrell has written that while racism may have influenced this, "many other factors were involved, which, I would submit, were more significant". Tokyo was beyond the range of Superfortresses operating from China, and was not attacked. [80], The attack on Tokyo commenced at 12:08 am local time on 10 March. Early American strategic bombing attacks on Germany used precision tactics, with the bomber crews seeking to visually identify their targets. As part of the case, it was argued that the raid had been a war crime and the Japanese Government had acted wrongly by agreeing to elements of the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco which waived the right to seek compensation for such actions from the US Government.

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