Wednesday, August 01, 2007

On the road to atomic bombing of Hiroshima (1)

The same day, Hansell received a directive on targeting that marked an important point in his tenure. In light of the success of the previous day's precision attack, he was shocked that the new directive specified a full-scale incendiary attack on Nagoya. He reflected later,
We were beginning to show some improvement in bombing accuracy, both visual and rad er. Now we were directed to reverse our painfully achieved progress in accuracy and turn area bombing It was no good trying to achieve real accuracy with incendiaries. Their imprecise ballistic characteristics precludes any accuracy in delivery even if sighting performance should be perfect. (1944 December 19 ) page 54 Downfall Richard B .Frank

The airmen hoped that "air power, as never before, [would ] be given its chance to achieve a decisive effect on the enemy's ability to continue the war"
Using the 1940 census, staff office created a list of the 180 largest Japanese cities by proportion .....
This left 137 cities, each of which was evaluated on the basis of three factors. Of greatest importance was the projected "congestion/inflammability" of each target. The success of the program hinged on the relative ease with which the cities could be torched and industries thus destroyed or damaged. Second came the incidence of war industries, both in or near the flammable are . The incidence of transportation facilities aimed to expand upon the devastating impact of the mining campaign and the prior disruption of transportation system caused by incendiary attack.
page 150 Downfall

I told him I was busy considering our conduct of the war, against Japan and I told him how I was trying to hold the Air Force down to to precision bombing but that with the Japanese method of scattering its manufacture it was rather difficult to prevent the area bombing. I told him I was anxious about this feature of the war for two reason ;first , I didn't want to have the Untited States get the reputation in outdoing Hitler in atrocities. Second, I was little fearful we could get ready the airforce might have Japan so thoroughly bombed out that a new weapon would not have a fair background to show its strength . He laughed and said he understood. Memorandum of Conference with the President, June 6, 1945, Top Secret
Source: Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, Henry Lewis Stimson Papers (microfilm at Library of Congress)

We scorched and boiled and baked to death more people in Tokyo on that night of march 9-10 than went up in vapour in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.

Killing Japanese didn't bother me very much at the time......I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal....every soldier thinks something of the moral aspect of what he is doing. But all war is immoral and if you let bother that you, you're not a good soldier.

Genreral Curis LeMay [page 171 Among the Dead Cities notes ;Curtis LeMay, Mission with LeMay:My story, New York 1965, p. 387] 

When the American bombing campaign against Japan began in late 1944, the initial goal was to use high-explosive bombs to help destroy Japan's economy, which was being wrecked by the U.S. navy's blockade. It quickly became apparent, however , that his air power strategy would not seriously damage Japan's industrial base. Therefore, in March 1945, the United States decided to try instead to punish Japan's civilian population by firebombing cities. This deadly aerial campaign, which lasted until the war ended five months later, destroyed more than 40 percent of japan's 64 largest cities, killed approximately 785,000 civilians, and forced about 8,5 million people to evacuate their homes. page 103 The tragedy of Great Power Politics John J. Mearsheimer

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