The long road to Tokyo: Japanese aggression in China, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific, with special attention to books about the Rape of Nanking, Japanese fighter planes and pilots, the Burma campaign, and the Hiroshima bomb

Flying Tigers


JAPAN AT WAR, 1931-1945

Seventy-three years ago -- on April 18, 1942 -- sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers took off from the carrier Hornet to bomb Tokyo and other Japanese cities. The raid was a debacle, with little damage to Japan, all the American bombers lost, and eight crewmen suffering execution or horrific imprisonment. But what a glorious debacle! To those of us reading the newspapers at home, the Doolittle Raider were a morale boost matched only by Claire Chennault's Flying Tigers.

James M. Scott has written, and Norten has published, a hefty, pricey, and evidently significant history of the Doolittle Raid, available now at and other retailers in print and digital editions. (I'm seeing a price of about $25 for the hardcover and $16.50 for the digital edition on Amazon, as opposed to a retail price of $35 for the print edition.)

Mr. Scott's title repeats one used earlier by the late, great historian Gordon Prange, and the subject matter similarly echoes the work of Carroll V. Glines. But the new book evidently goes deeper into the archives than Mr. Glines and other writers did, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

The Doolittle Raid had horrendous consequences. Understanding for the first time that their homeland was vulnerable to aerial attack, the Japanese decided to extend their defensive perimeter. On the Chinese mainland, they set out to capture and destroy the airfields that had been built to receive the American bombers, and which of course could be used for future attacks on the Japanese home islands. The result was an astonishing butchery of the civilians unfortunate enough to be in the path of the Japanese army.

Nor was that all. The Japanese also invaded and occupied Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian islands, setting off the Thousand Mile War that lasted for fifteen months and cost the lives of 4,340 Japanese and 1,480 Americans ... and not incidentally prompted the construction of the Alaskan Highway, without which the postwar development of Alaska would have been very different.

Even more important, the Japanese set out to capture Midway Island. This led, in June 1942, to the pivotal battle in which the Japanese navy lost the four aircraft carriers committed to the invasion, along with 248 aircraft and scores of highly trained, battle-trained, and irreplaceable fighter pilots. After Midway, there was no other possible outcome for the Pacific War than an American victory. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Flying Tigers

Japan's long war:

Nomonhan (Japan v. Russia, 1939)
Russian aircraft losses at Nomonhan
Elusive target: Bombing Japan from China (Richard Dunn)
Did U.S. leaders know that war was coming?
A guest of the Japanese in the Dutch Indies (Arie Biemond)
"New Guinea was my introduction to war" (anonymous)
Ketsu-go (waiting for the Americans, summer 1945)
Olympic vs. Ketsu-go (the invasion that didn't happen)
Japan's Longest Day: how Japan surrendered
The U.S. Navy arrives in Tokyo Bay, August 1945
Did Japanese soldiers fight for the Vietminh?

The Hiroshima files:

Why Truman dropped the bomb (Richard Frank)
Why Truman dropped the bomb II (Wilson Miscamble)
Little Boy vs Operation Olympic (an internet debate)
How many died at Hiroshima?--counting the uncountable
What was the yield of the Hiroshima bomb?
Was there a third bomb? What was its target?
Been down that lonely road: NASM confronts Enola Gay
Hiroshima and the end of the war--a reading list

The Japanese Army Air Force files:

Notes on the Japanese Army Air Force
The decision to move south (Japan v. the West, 1941)
Mr. Suzuki recalls the Flying Tigers (December 1941)
Lucky Sevens? life and death of the 77th Sentai (Richard Dunn)
JAAF deployments against Rangoon, December-March (maps)
Japanese army aircraft met by the AVG
Joe Baugher's Hayabusa files
Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa ("Oscar") armament (Richard Dunn)
About those Nakajima Ki-43 machineguns
Regimental song of the 64th Sentai (video)
Japanese army aces and their victory claims
JAAF fighter pilots lost in China-Burma area, 1941-42
Ki-45 Toryu (Dragon Slayer, aka Nick)

Flying Tigers

Why's a Zero?

Why's a Zero? and a primer on the Japanese calendar
Japanese warplane names and designations (Osamu Tagaya)
Allied code-names in perspective (Richard Dunn)
Sussing out the 'Chengdu Zero'
Zeros over China, 1941-1942 (Ben Schapiro)
Unraveling the Zero's performance data (Richard Dunn)
'Never dog fight the Zero' (the San Diego evaluations)
A conversation with Saburo Sakai and a scrap of his scarf
'Winged Samurai': rethinking the Sakai myths
An interview with another Zero pilot

Kamikaze, cannibals, & other mysteries:

Bushido: the Japanese Field Service Code, 1941
'Be as one already dead' (Ruth Benedict)
The soldier who cut up living prisoners (London Times)
The butchered bodies of New Guinea (graphic photos)
The Rape of Nanking: Japan in denial
Meet Colonel Tsuji, genius and cannibal
Outram Road Prison, Singapore
Done to death: the prisoners of Rabaul
The man who didn't shoot down Pappy Boyington
Why the kamikaze volunteered (Yasuho Izawa)
A Japanese army pilot trains to die
'Crashing bodily into a target is not easy' (the how-to manual)
'I will be waiting for you at Yasukuni Shrine'
'Annihilate them all' (the order to murder PWs)

Books & stuff:

Japan at War--book reviews on this site
The webmaster's picks: 10 books worth reading
Books about Japanese aircraft and aces

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Poland's Daughter

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Posted May 2015. Websites ©1997-2015 Daniel Ford. All rights reserved.