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A picture of Tokyo the following day.
Thanks to Col Clarence E. Becker for finding these photos.

This was a  night incendiary mission involving 32 planes from the 6th Bomb Group:

The next mission was flown five days later on 9-10 March and was the beginning of the famous March Blitz.  * * *

Gen LeMay’s new strategy was announced to flyers in their briefing rooms 9 March.  Concisely, it was this: a series of maximum effort nigh incendiary attacks were to be made on major Jap industrial cities.  Bombing altitudes would be 5,000 to 8,000 feet.  No armament or ammunition would be carried and the size of the crew would be reduced.  Aircraft would attack individually.  Tokyo, heavily defended by fighters and anti-aircraft artillery, would be the first target.

The Sixth’s answer to Gen LeMay’s call to arms was thirty-two B-29’s winging their way to the 1,500-mile distant Empire, carrying a total of 989 five hundred pound incendiary clusters for Tokyo’s urban area.  Takeoff for “Enkindle 5” was at 1853; bombs were released between 0201 and 0313 on the 10th.  Opposition by enemy aircraft was surprisingly light.  Considerable ack ack was encountered but no damage was sustained by any of the planes, all of which returned safely.  Pilots said Tokyo was burning like a “forest of pine trees”.  Col. Gibson led the attack and received an Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross for his action on the raid.

 

[Pirate’s Log, p. 32]


 

 

20th Af Mission 40

 

Date: 16 March 1945
Code Name:Middleman #2
Target:Kobe Urban Area
Participating Units:  73rd Bombardment Wing
313th B.W.
314th B.W.
Number of A/C Airborne: 330
% A/C Bombing Primary:93% (305 Primary, 0 Secondary and 3 Last Resort and Opportunity)
Type of Bombs and Fuzes:
Tons of Bombs Dropped:
Time Over Primary:170338K - 170546K
Altitude of Attack:4600-9000
Weather Over Target:1/10 - 3/10
Total A/C Lost:3
Resume of Mission:85,458,000 square feet (1920 acres or 3.0 square miles) destroyed. Twenty-one aircraft non-effective. Three aircraft lost to reasons unknown, enemy fighter opposition medium to heavy, unaggressive - 93 attacks. AA medium to heavy, meager to intense, inaccurate. Average bomb load 14,931 lbs. Average gas reserve 889 gallons.