In April 1942, sixteen twin-engine B-25 Mitchell bombers, launched from the aircraft carrier Hornet, attacked Japan. The daring raid, led by Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, designed to boost American morale after the Pearl Harbor attack, also demonstrated the feasibility of launching bombers from an aircraft carrier.
Despite the enthusiastic report in this video, the raid actually caused little material damage, with strikes only to non-military targets or complete misses. It was, however, a propaganda victory and cast doubt in the mind’s of Japanese citizens regarding the ability of their military to defend their home islands. After the attack, Japan also withdrew its aircraft carriers from the Indian Ocean to protect the homeland.
Fifteen of the B-25s reached China; one landed in the Soviet Union. All but three of the crew survived. Eight were captured by the Japanese Army in China and three were executed. The crew of the B-25 that landed at Vladivostok was interned for more than a year in the Soviet Union. Fourteen crews, except for one crewman, returned either to the United States or to American forces.