Book Review
The Doolittle Raid
The Doolittle Raid
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


The Doolittle raid to bomb Japans capital was a statement of America’s willingness and ability to strike back at the Japanese as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbour is well covered and most I suspect have seen the films. This book moves away from the silver screen and enables you instead to become familiar with the men and machinery that made this attack possible.

The following portion of the introduction is from Pen and Sword:
On 1 April 1942, less than four months after the world had been stunned by the attack upon Pearl Harbor, sixteen US aircraft took to the skies to exact retribution. Their objective was not merely to attack Japan, but to bomb its capital. The people of Tokyo, who had been told that their city was ‘invulnerable’ from the air, would be bombed and strafed – and the shock waves from the raid would extend far beyond the explosions of the bombs.

The raid had first been suggested in January 1942 as the US was still reeling from Japan’s pre-emptive strike against the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The Americans were determined to fight back, and fight back as quickly as possible. As it was not possible to reach Tokyo from any land base, the sixteen specially-modified North American B-25 bombers would have to fly from an aircraft carrier, but it was impossible for such large aircraft to land on carriers; the men had to volunteer for a one-way ticket.

Led by Lieutenant Colonel ‘Jimmy’ Doolittle, the seventy-one officers and 130 enlisted men embarked on the USS Hornet which was shielded by a large naval task force. However, the ships were spotted by a Japanese ship. The decision was therefore made to take-off before word of the task force’s approach reached Tokyo, even though the carrier was 170 miles further away from Japan than planned and in the knowledge that the B-25s would not have enough fuel to reach their intended landing places in China.

The raid was successful, and the Japanese were savagely jolted out of their complacency. Fifteen of the aircraft crash-landed in, or their crews baled-out over, China; the sixteenth managed to reach the Soviet Union. Only three men were killed on the raid, with a further eight being taken prisoner by the Japanese, three of whom were executed and one died of disease.

The full story of this remarkable operation, of the men and machines involved, is explored through this fascinating collection of images.


This offering from Pen and Sword is an Air World publication as part of the ‘Images at Aviation’ series. This series of books are soft backed offerings having a good card cover with a very good spine to the book that keeps the contents in good order. This book covering ‘The Doolittle Raid’ has been authored by John Grehan and Alexander Nicoll. This title from John Grehan is one of a very large number of titles covering conflict over a very long period of warfare and as such is likely known to many of you. The contents of this title are provided over 176 pages of good quality semi gloss paper.

The contents are presented in the following sections:
Part One
Striking Back
Chapter 1 - Introduction
Chapter 2 - Making it Happen
Chapter 3 – All at Sea

Part Two
Target Japan

Part Three
The Aftermath
Chapter 4 – War Crimes
Chapter 5 – The Post Raid Assessment
Chapter 6 - Recreating History

Reference and Notes

The text in this offering is firstly well written which makes reading it a pleasure rather than a chore. As I have got older font and size has become more important to me as it dictates how long I can happily sit and read for and this release I am pleased to say has both facets within my comfort zone. The text is sometimes on dedicated pages and at others accompanied with photographs, I prefer the text with photographs as it helps break up the text into bite sized chunks and so more likely to be read.

This book is not really one aimed at the modeller specifically as such due to it presenting the full story of the Doolittle raid as best as possible in text and photographs while keeping the text minimal. There are of course a number of images of the B-25's both generally and those used on the actual raid. I like that the aircraft are covered in a number of offerings on the flight deck of the USS Hornet which may prove of great interest to the modeller looking to replicate this historic event.

Something that I enjoyed about this title is that the crews of each of the B-25's that took part in the raid are covered in photographs, I appreciate this as it is often only the man at the top that gets recognition and I feel each member of the crews earned equal nomination for their part. Another aspect here is that the events of the raid for each aircraft are covered in brief and the toll it took upon these aircrews in particular those that ended up in Japanese hands.

The photographs are accompanied with very well written captions that I found particularly helpful and interesting when it came to clarification of what I am looking at. These captions for me are the most valuable aspect of the title as they add detail to what otherwise would be a photograph of some people, or a factory, a bomb crater and so on. It is the reason that I highly praise the authors for the writing of these captions.


The story of the Doolittle raid is reasonably well known to many through the films on these events that were released and that is all good and well. This book not only tells the story of the Doolittle raid, but also puts faces to the names of the men that took part and in some cases died horrific deaths at the hands of the Japanese. The aircraft identification is also covered and so provides valuable information on that aspect. Perhaps the biggest plus to this title is that it brings written and pictorial information together in one place with the pictorial aspect being the most appealing to the modeller.
Darren Baker takes a look at a recent release from Pen and Sword titled and covering 'The Doolittle Raid'.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781526758224
  Suggested Retail: £14.99
  PUBLISHED: May 12, 2020
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Pen & Sword Books!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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