NEVER REPORTED TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC, A PHOTO-RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHT OVER TOKYO TOOK PLACE JUST THREE MONTHS AFTER THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR.
In February, 1942 three hand-picked bomber crews were trained in photo-reconnaissance. These men were to fly modified B-17 aircraft far beyond design safety factors and well over maximum wartime weight limits. The photos of Japanese targets were an absolute necessity for the famous Doolittle Bombing Raid weeks later.
Fictional themes woven into the plot include: a young woman pilot hoping to become a WASP – Women Air Service Pilot, enlists the help of Eleanor Roosevelt; a young Nisei woman, born in California, tries to escape incarceration in the Manzanar Detention Camp; an actual double agent in the White House, eventually exposed by Allen Dulles.
In March 1942 the three B-17s took off from Wright Field, Ohio. Two of the planes were eliminated en route and, after long, exhausting hours in the air, the third crew photographed Tokyo, then flew another 2700 miles to land at an uncompleted Navy field at Dutch Harbor. A month later, April 18, 1942, sixteen B-25 bombers were launched from the USS HORNET. The ‘DOOLITTLE RAID’ was on its way to bomb Japan.
The eye-witness, an Army Air Corps Captain in 1941, retired from government service 40 years later. His last job was Director of the famous Lockheed ‘Skunk Works’ (builder of the U2 spy plane).
The author, an ex Navy Test Pilot, holds two official transcontinental speed records and was a contender in the first astronaut program, Project Mercury. Find out more about this story here.