Briefly described and illustrated in this War Journal are the origin, training and combat performance of the Veteran 9th Bombardment Group as a B-29 Unit of the Army Air Forces in the war against the Japanese Empire. These pictures and statistics are not adequate, though tangible, descriptions of the activities and achievements of this organization. Behind them, inexpressible, indescribable, are the strong bodies, brave hearts, keen minds of some 2500 individual Americans, who were forged in the crucible of war into a brilliantly smooth-working team and whose accomplishments will forever be indelibly inscribed in the war annals of the United States as glowing tribute to themselves and to their country.
9 Feb 45 - Truk. Our maiden attack against any defended target, From 26,000, with 29 aircraft, we bombed the Seaplane Base on Moan Is. in the Truk Atoll. We met no enemy aircraft, but encountered our first anti - aircraft fire.
12 Feb 45 - Iwo Jima. With 21 aircraft we attacked the gun emplacement area from high altitude with over 300 high explosive bombs. Strike photographs showed a high percentage of hits within the target area. Exactly one week later the United States Marines made their landings on Iwo.
14 Feb 45 - Eleven of our crews, each accompanied by an experienced naval observer, to identify sightings and send in contact reports, participated in a picket search Southeast of the main Home Island of Honshu. By nightfall the Navy had sunk every Jap vessel sighted. The Group was commended by the Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas and later received a message from the House of Representatives for its contribution to the smashing success of the first carrier attack on Tokyo.
18 Feb 45 - Back to Truk for another shakedown mission. With only 17 aircraft this time we did better bombing. 60% of the bomb bursts showed in the target area. Again we encountered flak, but no enemy aircraft. Having proven our worth, and with increased confidence in ourselves and our airplanes, we were now ready for the big leagues.
19 Feb 45 - Today, for the first time in the History of the Group, four of our crews dropped their bombs on Japan. Capt Scheaffer, Lt Nash, Lt Ashland and Lt Fleming, flying with the 504th. Bombardment Group, led their crews in an attack on Nakajima-Musashino Aircraft Factory in Tokyo.
Col. Henry C. Huglin
25 Feb 45 - This was our first Group attack on the main islands of the Japanese Empire. Our formations were led by Col. Eisenhart, Lt. Col. Hall and Major Casey, flying with Capt. McClintock, Capt. Curry and Capt. Fling. Enemy Aircraft were encountered for the first time, but no attacks were made. Three of our planes sustained flak damage. We received congratulations from General Arnold for our part in the greatest B-29 raid so far made. In its initial effort, the 314th. Wing joined with the veteran 73rd and 313th. Wings in the first three wing strike by the XXI Bomber Command. 201 Superforts dropped 524 tons of bombs on the Port and Urban Area of Tokyo.
4 Mar 45 - Bad weather forced us to abandon our primary target and again attack the Urban Area of Tokyo from high altitude thru solid undercast.
reaction was confined to meager anti-aircraft fire. Lt. Malo made history
on this mission by landing the first B-29 on Iwo Jima, thereby setting
a precedent hundreds would follow. Bitter fighting was still in progress
on the island at this time.
These primary missions had seasoned us, but they were inconclusive. It was discouraging to fly the long, lonely miles over forbidding waters only to be turned aside from our primary objective by the unpredictable Empire weather. On the eve of the most destructive aerial offensive of all time, we were veteran, but dissatisfied. Damage inflicted on the enemy seemed disproportionate to our great efforts
.At this time, on 6 Mar 45, Col. Eisenhart left to become Chief of Staff to General Davies, Commanding General of the 313th. Wing. Lt. Col. Huglin assumed command of the Group with Lt. Col. Hall succeeding him as Deputy Group CO.
Bombs over Tokyo
9-10 Mar 45 This began the historic "Blitz" Missions. With a daring departure from the tactics previously used, we attacked the Urban area of Tokyo with incendiary bombs, at night, from medium altitude. To our great surprise, enemy air opposition was meager and anti-aircraft fire was no worse than that encountered at high altitudes. However, Capt. Keene and Lt. Hardgrave were forced to ditch their aircraft 300 miles short of Home Base with the loss of three lives, our first in combat. Major Conly, whose loss was deeply felt by all of us, was awarded the Silver Star for great heroism that cost his life in helping save the crew. Nevertheless - the attack attack was a spectacular success, resulting in the total destruction of fifteen square miles of the heart of Tokyo, hub of the Jap Empire. All units were commended by General Arnold. 298 B-29s of the XXI Bomber Command had dropped 1,783 tons of incendiaries with a loss of 14 aircraft.
13-14 Mar 45 Osaka, Second City of Japan, with a population of 3,250,000, ranked with Tokyo in its importance to Japan's industrial economy. It was next on the schedule. The concentrated attack gutted 8.1 square miles, 13.2% of Osaka's vitals. Fighter opposition stiffened, with 10 attacks on our formations, but anti-aircraft fire was not as intense as that at Nagoya. This was our third successive maximum effort in 96 hours. Personnel were worn out, but knowledge of the terrible toll we were at last exacting from the enemy kept every man at his peak
Raids on Kobe
The below TWX from the Commanding General, 313th. Wing tells our story:
"33 AIRCRAFT SCHEDULED X 33 AIRBORNE X 33 OVER JAPAN X 33 LANDED BASE X PROOF OF GOOD MAINTENANCE, GOOD CREWS, GOOD LEADERSHIP X CONGRATULATIONS. DAVIES"
16-17 mar 45 - Before the enemy could catch his breath we struck Kobe, transportation center of Japan. Again we attacked at night, with individual aircraft, from medium altitude. Searchlights and anti-aircraft defenses were ineffectual. Enemy fighters however, offered the most determined resistance we had yet penetrated. 65 were sighted and 11 pressed attacks. Lt. Christie and his crew, including Capt. Roth, 99th Squadron Navigator, were lost.
This raid was flown in honor of Brig. General LaVerne Saunders, B-29 pioneer, then recuperating, in Walter Reed Hospital, from injuries received in an aircraft accident. In its first 300 plus raid, largest to date, 306 B-29s of the XXI BG poured 2,328 tons of incendiaries on Kobe in 2 HOURS and 10 MINUTES, destroying one fifth of the city.
On conclusion of the "Blitz" the following message from General Arnold was relayed to all Groups:
"THE SERIES OF FIVE
MAJOR STRIKES YOU HAVE PERFORMED IN LESS THAN TEN DAYS CONSTITUTES AN
IMPRESSIVE ACHIEVEMENT REFLECTING THE GREATEST CREDIT NOT ONLY ON THE
MORALE AND FIGHTING SPIRIT OF YOUR CREWS BUT EQUALLY ON THE DETERMINATION
AND THE DEVOTION OF YOUR GROUND PERSONNEL. EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR COMMAND
IS TO BE COMMENDED FOR HIS VITAL SHARE IN THIS SUPERIOR ACCOMPLISHMENT.
THIS IS A SIGNIFICANT SAMPLE OF WHAT THE JAP CAN EXPECT IN THE FUTURE.
GOOD LUCK AND GOOD BOMBING."
11-12 Mar 45 - Continuing the hitherto unprecedented, almost unbelievable low-level use of the B-29, Nagoya, 3rd largest city in Japan was the next victim. Unfortunately, results proved disappointing after the spectacular Tokyo raid with 2.05 square miles being destroyed. Undaunted, we played a return engagement 18-19 Mar, and after the smoke had cleared away, a gratifying total of 5 square miles lay in ruin. We dropped a total of 370 Tons of incendiaries in the 2 raids, enemy opposition slight on both occasions.
No attempt has been made here to tell about these raids in exact order. Some are not mentioned. Some are grouped for ease of illustration, or for contrast, etc. A complete chronology does appear in the back of this journal.
24-25 Mar 45 - After a short break in which to recover from the enormous wear of the Blitz on men and planes we resumed the high altitude, precision bombing tactics, for which we had been trained, but with the important modification that we returned, by individual aircraft, under the protection of darkness. Enemy night fighters had indicated their scarcity and impotence. Illuminating our target with photo flash bombs, we hit the Mitsubishi Aircraft Factory at Nagoya. As expected, enemy fighter reaction was weak. However, Flak was intense. Not only was it the most accurate that our crews had experienced, it was the best coordinated with the greatest number of Searchlights. Nagoya became "Flak Alley". Lt. Hardgrave and his crew, survivors of an earlier ditching, became our second crew lost.
-28 and 30-31 Mar 45 - On these nights we flew our first mining missions, participating in the maiden attempt to establish mine fields in the home waters of Japan. This new assault was in direct tactical support of the imminent Okinawa invasion, though it had a broader, strategic significance. Submarines and surface units of the U.S. Fleet operating south and east of the main islands, had sunk or driven her shipping and most of her remaining fleet, into ,the false safety of her harbors and the shallow Inland Sea transportation artery for all of central Japan. Already, the bulk of her imports and exports had to funnel through the vulnerable bottleneck of the Shimoneseki Straits, but beyond the broad strategy of slow strangulation, was the immediate necessity of barring her fleet from interference with the campaign at hand.
placed our mines in the Shimonoseki Straits and in the approaches to
the Kure Naval Base, Japan's greatest. In all, we had 51 effective aircraft.
Very little enemy opposition was encountered. We approached at low altitude
mined by instrument, and disappeared into the night before the Jap could
effectively intercept. At this time we had the advantage of surprise.
The enemy had not yet arranged his defenses to meet this new threat.
Admiral Nimitz congratulated all units taking part, on their achievements.
Ours was not without cost. Capt. White and ten members of his crew were
killed when they crashed after being forced by mechanical difficulty
to make an early return to base.
Typical Kyushu airfield strike
1-2 April 45 - Anticipating formidable defenses in the Kure Area, we mined from high altitude for the only time. However flak was nil and only one enemy fighter was seen. Ground crews readied the planes and briefings were prepared, the Tenth Army was going ashore on Okinawa. 3-4 April 45 - Our second and last attempted to do night precision bombing. With 22 aircraft we attacked the Nakajima Koizumi Plant at Ota, through solid undercast. Later reconnaissance showed that we destroyed 10% of the target.
12 April 45 - Candidly, we should have stayed "in the sack". While five of our aircraft re-mined the Shimonoseki approaches, our main force in good bombing weather, dropped their bombs over 2,000 feet short of the target at Ota. Enemy resistance was practically nonexistent.
13-14 April 45 - With today's effort we resumed our incendiary attacks against Japan's major cities. Our target was the Tokyo Arsenal Area. Vie had another perfect score, with 28 aircraft scheduled, 28 airborne, 28 striking the primary and 28 returning safely to base. Sixteen fighter aircraft fire was moderate to intense. This mission was one of our most successful and resulted in the destruction of approximately 11 sq. miles, slightly over 10% of the city.
15-16 April 45 - Swiftly we followed up our second big raid on Tokyo, with a maximum blow the next night, at the adjoining city of Kawasaki. This was our toughest as well as our costliest mission. Over 50 enemy aircraft were encountered. Anti-aircraft fire was both accurate and intense. We were in it longer too. "Thermals", one of the serious perils on these fire raids, were unusually severe. Approximately a dozen "Balls of Fire" were sighted by our crews. With over 300 aircraft going over the target, the danger of midair collision was ever present. In short this mission had everything. There were 13 aircraft lost in the Bomber Command Four of them were ours: Lt. Carver, Lt. Jones, Lt. Sullivan and Lt. Malo. There was some satisfaction in knowing that 9.6 square miles were burned out of the center of the city; a crippling blow.
1 June 45 - We started June with a daylight incendiary attack on Osaka. With 31 aircraft, we joined in a maximum Bomber Command effort that put 458 aircraft out of 4 wings over the target, dropping 2,788 tons of incendiaries. By the time we arrived, Osaka was burning so heavily that we were forced to bomb slightly to the left of our briefed aiming point. We met 9 enemy aircraft and destroyed one of them. 11 of our aircraft suffered damage from flak, the damage done had been added to that of the "Blitz", the total was over 11 square miles destroyed.
5 June 45 - Our daylight incendiary raid on Kobe marked the high point of enemy air opposition. Despite 75 attacks at least 15 of which were coordinated attacks by 2 or more aircraft, our formations, led by Lt. Col. Huglin, and Lt. Col. Luschen riding with Capt. McClintock and Lt. Bearden, with Capt. Rogan leading the 3rd. air squadron and Capt. Bertagnoli leading the 4th. air squadron, put 225 tons of fire bombs on the target. We destroyed 16 enemy aircraft, probably destroyed 6 more and damaged 7. When the smoke had cleared away we learned that the area of damage within this city of one million people, now stood at 56%.
15 June 45 - Returning to the Osaka Area we dropped 255 tons of incendiaries on Amagasaki, midway between Kobe and Osaka. The stricken city put up no opposition. This was our greatest load so far. 2.5 sq. miles were destroyed.
7 April 45- Mitsubishi's Aircraft Engine Works, Nagoya was two thirds ruined today, bringing total destruction to 94%. Anti-aircraft fire was intense and accurate, enemy fighter defense vicious. We claimed our first fighter kill and probably destroyed one more and damaged five.
9 June 45 - The Aichi Atsuta Aircraft Plant in Nagoya was our main target one of the multiple attacks on various Empire targets. Dropping 184 Tons of high explosive bombs, the target was practically wiped out. 95% of the aircraft works and over 50% of the engine works were destroyed. We met slight fighter opposition while anti-aircraft fire was generally meager.
The following message from General LeMay was passed on to the CO 9th Bombardment Group on 11 June by the Commanding General 313th Bombardment Wing:
"CONGRATULATIONS FOR CROSSING TARGETS 198 AND 2010 OFF OUR LIST OF ENGINE PRIORITY TARGETS. IN SPITE OF SHORT NOTICE AFFORDED YOUR CREWS THE RESULTS OF THIS MISSION SHOW CAREFUL PLANNING AND COMPETENT EXECUTION."