Doolittle’s Raiders

By Tally One Assistant Editor P. Wilhelm

Copyright Robert Taylor

Tally One obtained special permission to display this beautiful work or art, by artist Robert Taylor*.  Born in 1946, Robert Taylor has lived and worked in the Roman city of Bath, England all his life. He was trained at the Bath School of Art after which he joined a local gallery as an apprentice picture framer, graduating after some years into the restoration department. Robert Taylor spent five years as a picture restorer working on many ‘Old Masters’ and became recognized as one of the best restorers in the west of England. During fifteen years working at the same art gallery, Robert Taylor spent all his spare time painting and drawing, many of his works being sold in the gallery.

At the age of 32, when offered an opportunity to paint for local publishing group, The Military Gallery, Robert Taylor took the plunge and became a professional painter. It was at this time that he began concentrating on marine and aviation subjects, and during the past decades Robert Taylor has established himself as one of the foremost artists painting today. To learn more about this beautiful aviation art, go to: or

To fully appreciate Mr. Taylor’s painting, one must understand its background.

The time is very early in World War II.  The United States has suffered the surprise attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor.  American forces were reeling from defeats in the Philippines, Wake Island and throughout the Pacific.  Americans were looking for some kind of pay back and none was forthcoming until 18 April 1942, when sixteen U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched from the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carrier, USS Hornet, deep in the Western Pacific Ocean.  Each aircraft carried a crew of five men – all led by aviation legend Jimmy Doolittle.

The plan called for them to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China.  Fifteen of the aircraft made it to China and the other one made it to the Soviet Union. All but three of the crew survived, although all the aircraft were lost.

The crews of the Doolittle raid did little strategic damage to Tokyo, but they lifted the spirits of everyone in the United States and destroyed the myth that Japan couldn’t be attacked by an outside army.

Sixty-two raiders survived the war, and in 1959 the city of Tucson, Arizona, presented the surviving raiders with 80 engraved goblets and a bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special cognac (1896 was the year of Doolittle’s birth). Like a plot from a Hollywood movie, the understanding was that each year, the surviving raiders would meet and turn over the goblets of those who had passed away the previous year. When only two remained, they would toast each other, and their comrades, from the bottle.

This year (2013), Dick Cole (Doolittle’s copilot), Robert Hite, Edward Saylor and David Thatcher turned over the goblet with Tom Griffin’s name on it.  All in their 90s, the four also decided that they would not wait until only two remained. Sometime, somewhere later this year, they plan to meet in private and raise their goblets in honor of their mission, their leader, and in memory of those 76 heroes who have gone before them.

Some of the major highlights about the raid are:

  • During the planning for the mission, it was initially planned that the B-25s would land in the USSR.  The Soviet Union was not at war with Japan so that option was not used.  However, one B-25 that force landed in the USSR at Vladivostok was confiscated and its crew interned for more than a year.
  • The task force was spotted by a Japanese long range patrol boat the Nitto Maru on the morning of 18 April at 07:38. This seriously compromised the mission because that meant a launch that was 170 miles short of intended targets.  The escort ship USS Nashville expended over 900 rounds of its 6 inch battery before the vessel was sunk.
  • None of the Raiders were shot down or lost during the mission over Japan by anti-aircraft fire. One ditched at the Chinese coast before it was able to reach the mainland and another flew to the USSR. The remaining aircraft made it to the mainland of China.
  • Captain Lawson piloted the Ruptured Duck which ditched off the Chinese coast after the raid. His book became a movie during the war. “Thirty Seconds over Tokyo”
  • Japanese propaganda termed the raid the ‘Do-nothing Raid’. The Japanese military had other ideas about the raid.
  • Lt Col. Doolittle believed the raid to be a failure. With the loss of all the aircraft (by ditching) in the raid and so little damage inflicted, he actually thought he would be facing a court martial when he returned to the States. In fact, the mission was a complete success in the eyes of the nation. It was a minor victory and a small down payment for Pearl Harbor.
  • The Doolittle Raid caused a loss of face for the Imperial Navy. Convinced that the Home Islands could be bombed by the US Fleet, they sought a decisive engagement with the US Navy. That battle was Midway; the battle that was the beginning of the end of Japan’s dream of a vast Pacific empire.
  • There have been no less than three major motion pictures, over twenty books, and one mini-series about the raid, with “Thirty Seconds over Tokyo’ being the most accurate portrayal.
  • The B-25 had its first historical date with a building when on Saturday, 28 July 1945 a USAAF B-25D crashed in thick fog into the north side of the Empire State Building on the 79th and 80th floors. Fourteen people died, 11 in the building and the three occupants of the aircraft including the pilot.  As a partial result of this incident, Towers 1 and 2 of the World Trade Center were designed to withstand an aircraft impact of a, then new, Boeing 707, and not that of a larger, faster, and fully fueled Boeing 767 that struck on 11 September, 2001.

The B-25, and her men, went on to serve the United States throughout the world during WWII.  A total of 9,984 B-25s were built with 32 variants serving in all theaters of operation.

The majority of B-25s in American service were used in the Pacific. It fought on Papua New Guinea, in Burma and in the island hopping campaign in the central Pacific. It was in the Pacific that the aircraft’s potential as a ground attack aircraft was discovered and developed.  The ever-increasing amount of forward firing guns was a response to this operational environment, making the B-25 a formidable strafing aircraft.  In Burma, the B-25 was often used to attack Japanese communication links, especially bridges in central Burma.  The B-25 proved itself to be a very capable anti-shipping weapon, sinking many ships.  It was also used against Japanese-occupied islands that had been bypassed by the main campaign, as happened in the Marshall Islands.

In the Middle East, the first B-25s arrived in Egypt just in time to take part in the Battle of El Alamein. From there the aircraft took part in the rest of the campaign in North Africa, the invasion of Sicily and the advance up Italy. In Italy the B-25 was used in the ground attack role, concentrating on attacks against road and rail links in Italy, Austria and the Balkans.

In Europe, the RAF received nearly 900 Mitchells, using them to replace Douglas Bostons, Lockheed Venturas and Vickers Wellington bombers. The Mitchell entered active RAF service on 22 January 1943. At first it was used to bomb strategic targets in occupied Europe. After the D-Day invasion the RAF used its Mitchells to support the armies in Europe, moving several squadrons to forward airbases in France and Belgium.

General characteristics

  • Crew: six (one pilot, one co-pilot, navigator/bombardier, turret gunner/engineer, radio operator/waist gunner, tail gunner)
  • Length: 52 ft 11 in
  • Wingspan: 67 ft 7 in
  • Height: 16 ft 4 in
  • Wing area: 610 sq ft
  • Empty weight: 19,480 lb
  • Max. takeoff weight: 35,000 lb
  • Powerplant: 2 × Wright R-2600-92 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 1,700 hp (1,267 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 272 mph at 13,000 ft
  • Cruise speed: 230 mph (200 knots)
  • Range: 1,350 mi (1,174 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 24,200 ft


  • Guns: 12–18 × .50 in  machine guns
  • Hardpoints: 2,000 lb  ventral shackles to hold one external Mark 13 torpedo
  • Rockets: racks for eight 5 in high velocity aircraft rockets (HVAR)
  • Bombs: 3,000 lb bombs

* Tally One does not receive, nor does it ask for, any compensation from artists or art galleries.  We do, however, ask for permission to use their copyright protected material before publishing their work.