39th Bomb Group (VH)

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Tokyo Urban Area (Night)


Mission Date:
23 May 1945
25 May 1945

By this time the 39th Bomb Group was definitely back in the burning business and the strikes that followed were for a long period confined to incendiary attacks against the Nip capital, both raids being on the south urban area.

On the first, the 39th put thirty-eight (38) B-29s into the air and thirty-five of these dropped on the target. Opposition from enemy aircraft was not heavy and flak was characterized by the returning crews as moderate and accurate to inaccurate. Some crews estimated that there were as many as seventy-five searchlights at Tokyo that night and about twenty-five more on the way from the initial point to the target.

On the 25 May attack the 39th had thirty-six (36) aircraft airborne of which thirty-three were listed as effectives. Fourteen enemy fighters were encountered and five Bakas were reported seen. Only twelve attacks came from this array of air defenses, however. Flak was heavy and accurate, though, and a third of the bombers from our group sustained battle damage. Likewise, a number of reports were made of a new red ball parachute flare, as well as rockets of various descriptions.

The southern part of the Tokyo hit on these two occasions contained industrial and residential districts, as well as part of the financial, governmental and commercial sections of the capital. It also included Shinagawa Railroad yards, the largest marshalling yards in Japan and warehousing essential for the storage of supplies used in connection with that activity. Many machine tool and electronic factories and scattered industrial plants were in the target area.

As a result of these two missions, damage was inflicted on Tokyo to the extent of 22.1 square miles. Total damage to the city then stood at 56.3 square miles or 50.8 percent of the built up portion. Industrial damage from these strikes amounted to varying degrees of destruction to fifty-seven numbered target within the area.

Per General Order # 13 Section V dated 23 January 1946 issued by Headquaters, 20th Air Force the 39th Bomb Group was awarded their 2nd Distingushed Unit Citation for these mission.

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Source: "History of the 39th Bomb Group" by Robert Laird, (crew 5) and David Smith (crew 31)
This page was created on 19 May 2001
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