Pen & Sword's The Doolittle Raid

Author/Artists: John Graham and Alexander Nicoll


Pen & Sword


$22.95 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 176 pages, softcover, 7.5 x 9.5 inches
ISBN: 978-1-52-675822-9

Pen & Sword have chosen an interesting title for one of their latest books. This one is on the Doolittle raid of April 1942. The mission is well known to most who have an interest in history and you'd think that there would be nothing else to say on the subject. However, not everyone in the world is all that knowledgeable on the subject as some of us may be and it is nice to have everything under one cover.

Early 1942 was a dark time for the Allies in WWII. The Japanese were busy running amok in the Pacific against little effective defense and the Germans were close to moving in on Cairo in North Africa. America's European partners were doubting the USA's ability to properly do anything right as it had been one defeat after another. Not that the Europeans were doing any better. It was felt that something had to be done to relieve the pressure on the British and Dutch in the SWPA and boost morale at home. It was thought that a raid on Japan would cause the Japanese to pull units from the front lines to defend the homeland.

The plan was fraught with problems from the start and the short amount of time provided did not help. It was decided to fly B-25 bombers from an aircraft carrier to to the bombing and have them land in Vladivostok. However, Stalin wasn't having any of that as the USSR and Japan were not at war with each other. The only choice was China, but that meant increasing the range of the planes and launching them quite close to Japan.

This meant stripping the B-25s of unnecessary weight and adding fuel cells to increase the range. Well, the metal cells had to be built inside the plane and leaked. Rubber cells were tried and these worked better but had to be perfectly installed as any crease in the rubber would eventually leak fuel. Add to this was the need to get the Air Corps pilots up to speed on how to take off from a carrier. Eventually both issues were overcome and in a very short period of time, the planes and crews headed for NAS Alameda where the planes were loaded onto the Hornet. The rest as they say is history. The raid did exactly what was expected, but Hap Arnold, the Air Corps boss, considered it a failure as all the planes were lost. Naturally medals flew like confetti in a parade.  There is more to the story than what I'm telling and you'll need to get the book to find out more. Also watch the movie '30 Seconds over Tokyo' as it is very much provides the mood of the mission.

The authors of this volume have included hundreds of photos of the various stages of the raid and probably have more images than I've ever seen in one place before. The mission was well documented and photographed, which is a real plus. We also have a section that provides info and photos of each of the crews that participated as well as the results of their specific flights. The aftermath of the raid is also covered in some detail. Fun fact;  Jimmy Doolittle was the highest ranking US reserve officer to serve in WWII.

In all, it makes for an excellent book on the subject. I saw photos I'd never seen before and learned a few things I did not know. Well worth picking up and highly recommended to fans.

May 2020

Copyright All rights reserved.

Review book courtesy of  Casemate Publishing, where you can order your copy at this link

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.