Timeline From Jan 10- April 18


Most of the information of this timeline was taken from Lowell Thomas’s  biography of Jimmy Doolittle.


Dec. 24, 1941- Doolittle assigned to Henry H. “Hap” Arnold’s staff as Director of Operational Requirements, and given the rank of Leutenienent Colonel.


Jan 10, 1942-Raid is born aboard the Yacht, Vixen, fleet Commander Admiral Ernest J. King’s “quarters.” It came about from the meetings of the day before on how to avenge Pearl Harbor. Attending the meeting aboard the yacht were General Marshall, Hap Arnold and King.


Approx. Jan. 13-15. Francis S Low, a submarine specialist, noticed a couple of bombers taking off at the airfield in Norfolk, Virginia where he was coming in for a landing. Coincidentally, and quite by accident, a shadow of the bombers ran over an outline of a carrier which was drawn on the ground. The light went off in Low’s head. Even though it had not been done in the short history of aircraft carriers it gave him the idea that it might be possible, under certain conditions, to launch a long range bomber from its deck. That night he called Admiral king.



January16- Admiral King makes the necessary computations, writes a thirty-page paper concluding that it could be done.


January 17—King sent Low and his air operations manager Donald B. Duncan to see Arnold with the plan.


January 22—King makes Duncan in charge of the Navy’s contribution to the mission and Arnold assigned Doolittle to over see the army’s. Doolittle is informed of the objective.


January 23—Doolittle requests one B-25. Meets with various military  and civilian experts to plan modifications necessary for Mitchells to prepare for mission.


January 28—At a whitehouse meeting Arnold makes the intentionally misleading statement ,  “at present a man is working on this proposition of bombing from China or Russia…” Even within the whitehouse the cloak of secrecy was copiously followed.


January 31—General Carl A. Spaatz, provided a list of potential targets in ten Japanese cities.


February 2—Two empty B-25s in an experiment took off from the Hornet safely. From this test Duncan became convinced that a battle-ready B-25 could take off from a carrier.


February 3—B-25s (do not know how many) flew from Pendleton to Columbia Air Base, South Carolina. The first call for volunteers for the mission goes out. Men are not told what the mission is, only that is very hazardous.


Sometime during the first part of the month Doolittle set down to Arnold his ideas for the mission. It was basically, “to bomb and fire the industrial center of Japan.” He correctly judged the impact that such a mission would have “…due to the psychological on the American public, our allies, and our enemies” (161). Doolittle sketeched to Arnold the details including the refueling in China, or landing in Russia, if “ the Russians be willing to accept 18 B-25 airplanes on lease lend…” He estimated he could have the crews and the planes ready to board a carrier (not specifically the Hornet) by April 1.


Mar. 3—aircraft had been modified and flown to Eglin Field. First time Doolittle addressed the volunteer crews. Started out by saying “My name’s Doolittle” and proceeded to tell the men about the need for secrecy and warned of the potential dangers of the mission. Doolittle was not known for histrionics so the seriousness of his tone was sobering.


Mar. 15—Doolittle asks Arnold if he could lead up the mission.


Mar.22—Twenty-two B-25s head out from Eglin field with their destination McClellan Field near Sacramento.


Mar. 26—Bombers arrive at McClellan.


Mar. 30—Doolittle met with Halsey in a restaurant in San Francisco to coordinate  the details of the mission. Hornet to leave April 2, Halsey to leave with Enterprise and seven escorts on April 7 from Pearl, April 12 Rendevous at sea, become Task Force 16 under Halsey’s unified command.


April 2—10:18 A.M. Group leaves San Francisco headed for Japan.


April 7—Halsey departs Hawaii with the Enterprise and seven other escort ships.


April 10—Japanese intellgence was aware of the presence of enemy carriers in the pacific. Tomomi’s Japanese source


April 11—Chaing Kai-shek requested Washington postpone the mission until sometime in May. He wanted time to secure the position from Japanese reprisal after the attack.


April 13—Rendevous with Halsey one day late because of bad weather trying to get out of San Francisco back to Hawaii. Because of Chaing’s reticence at this date no concrete arrangements had been made yet for landing in China after the raid.


April 13-15—lost one day because they crossed international dateline. They were scheduled to raid Japan on April 19.


April 17—Search planes once again spotted no Japanese


300 hours April 18—Two enemy surface craft reported from the Enterprise on radar


558 hours—confirmed enemy ship


738 hours—another Japanese patrol boat spotted by Hornet at 20,000 yds. Thomas reports that  the ship was the Nitto Maru, The sent a message that there were three enemy ships in the area. However, knowing that they are out there does not mean that they knew what they were doing there. There message clearly stated the position of the Task Force 16 but there was no mention of bombers on the deck of the Hornet, or anything about bombing Japan.


820 hours—First airplane in the at 650 miles from Japan. Doolittle was flying it.










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