Doolittle Raiders Part 2

By: Drew Steele Email
By: Drew Steele Email

When President Franklin Roosevelt wanted a response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, his inner-circle of military commanders suggested bombing Japan. But that was easier said than done. It meant getting the right men and the right aircraft.

The Army considered four bombers in the U.S. arsenal to use in the raid on Japan.

"The aircraft's a B-25 Mitchell bomber. It's the same type of aircraft the Doolittle Raiders flew off the carrier Hornet when they bombed Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor" said Pilot Tim Black.

Commanders decided the B-25 Mitchell was the best suited to store and take-off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. The medium bomber is a stable aircraft in the air and easy to control. But on the ground it's a different story.

"The hardest part is taxiing it because we don't have a steerable nose wheel. So we have to use breaks and A -symmetric power to steer it" said Pilot Grant Lannon.

The B-25 aircraft has a radial engine which means it makes a lot of noise. But once you're in the aircraft and up in the air none of it compares to the experience.

"This particular airplane, The Yellow Rose was built in 1943. So it's almost seventy years old. It was used mainly as a trainer toward the end of World War two" said Black.

"I tell people the good thing is if something goes wrong and you work on the airplane you know what it is. The bad thing is if something goes wrong you know what it is" said Lannon.

Yellow Rose pilots Grant Lannon and Tim Black say they've heard numerous stories about the raiders and what it was like to fly on that historic mission.

"I can't imagine the courage it took to go off that aircraft carrier. And they had been told that chances are they would not make it through the mission" said Lannon.

"When you think about what these gentleman did in World War two with that raid over japan in particular and realize the historic significance. That probably changed the outcome of the war or at least the battles at that time because japan had to then realize they could be attacked so they changed their strategy" said Black.

As we landed I was reminded not only is this the last reunion of the Doolittle Raiders but it may be the last time all of these aircrafts are gathered together.


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