The War in the Pacific: From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay

By Harry A. Gailey | Go to book overview

Chapter 16
Unconditional Surrender

DESPITE FRENZIED PREPARATIONS by the Japanese to meet the expected American invasion, there was no adequate defense against the B-29s. The Japanese high command was hoarding the last of its aircraft for kamikaze attacks on the landing force. After being released from interdiction raids against Japanese bases on Formosa, Honshu, and Shikoku, on 17 June LeMay's planes again began bombing Japanese cities.

There were few viable targets left in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe, Osaka, and Nagoya, so the huge bombers were turned loose on Japan's secondary cities. Planes would fly over the targeted areas before a raid and drop leaflets to inform civilians of the projected bombing so that as many as possible could escape. Normally, four cities would be attacked at night simultaneously, with a wing of B-29s assigned to each city. Between the end of June and 14 August there were sixteen such attacks on fifty smaller industrial towns, the bombers dropping fifty-four thousand tons of incendiaries.

Some indication of the effectiveness of these raids can be seen by viewing the destruction in four of these towns. Tsu was 54 percent destroyed, Aomori 64 percent, and Ichinomiya 75 percent. On 1 August Toyama, a city of 125,000 persons, was 99.5 percent destroyed. So successful were the B-29 raids that LeMay concluded

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