Tokyo at Dawn #5: The Doolittle Raid Debriefing

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This is the fifth installment of Tokyo at Dawn, an after action report created using GMT’s Enemy Coast Ahead: The Doolittle RaidWhere a word appears in bold, it references a game mechanic or rule. The first four articles of the Tokyo at Dawn series can be found hereherehere, and here. Another of Chris’ fantastic InsideGMT articles, “Walking the Distant Plain” can be found here.


Although most of the crew members made it to relative safety in China, not all were so fortunate. Hilger, Hackney, Gray, and Bower were captured by the Japanese military. In outrage, the Japanese government tried them for war crimes, but they were found not guilty. They will have to wait out the end of the war in Japanese captivity.

Of the remaining 11 crew members, many were wounded as a result of the rough landings. But together they managed to trek to Chungking in southeast China where they celebrated their victory and mourned their fallen and mission.

Crewmember captured by Japanese forces


The Army intensely debated the results of the raid. General ‘Hap’ Arnold was not pleased that the mission resulted in the loss of 16 of the Army’s new B-25 bombers, not to mention the loss of experienced crew. However, he was pleased with the reports about the amount of destruction delivered on Japan, particularly Tokyo. Nevertheless, he could not justify further attacks with teh amount of losses suffered and shelved any future plans for additional air raids on Japan.

The Navy thought the mission was risky for the amount gained. Although the task force suffered no losses, it did not destroy any targets of opportunity either; nor did the fleet penetrate Japan’s defenses far enough to gain any further understanding of the empire’s defensive preparations.

The Joint Chiefs were elated about what the mission accomplished and immediately published promotion orders for Doolittle to brigadier general.

Perspectives of the Army, Navy, Joint Chiefs, White House, and Japan


The mood at home was encouraged, with the raid creating a sense of relief for the American people. Newspapers and newsreels highlighted the heroism of the crews and went to great lengths to promote the idea that America was now fighting back.

Back in the White House, the temperament was more sober. The operation did not give a decisive decision about the war, and so a long, arduous journey remained ahead for the country.


In Tokyooutrage prevailed as the highest members of the Japanese government debated who was to blame for American bombs landing on Tokyo and what to do about it. The Army ordered new offensives in China to root out the American airbases and their local collaborators. Prime Minister Tojo ordered increased air defenses installed around Tokyo and other strategic locations. The high command, to Admiral Yamamoto’s consternation, cancelled Operation MI, the plan to lure American aircraft carriers for a decisive grand battle to force a defeat upon the Americans once and for all.

Doolittle and other crewmembers in China

Dedicated to the memory of James Doolittle, his men, and all those who fought in World War II to make the world safe for democracy.

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