The Strategic Bombing of Japan October 1944 - August 1945

On June 15, 1944, the first B-29 raid flew from China to strike at a factory in Japan. This was the precision target bombing that the United State Army Air Forces (USAAF) had practiced for years. This policy would be abandoned shortly for area bombing of civilian targets. It would represent a major shift from the doctrine practiced in Europe and the policy that had cost so many American lives over German cities.

The B-29 was arguably the finest bomber of the war. It could carry 20,000 pounds of bombs for 2,000 miles round-trip, and had remotely controlled turrets for defense. It incorporated many of the lessons of the air war in Europe, including pressurized cabins and heavy defensive armament.

The B-29s were being massed in daylight raids on precision targets, like their counterparts in Europe had done. The British had abandoned daylight bombing as too costly, preferring area bombing at night. The around the clock bombing raids had amounted to a second front, with thousands of men and machines held in Germany and away from battlefronts in Russia, Africa, Italy and France.

But that had come at a heavy price. Thousands of aircrew were killed when the B-17s and B-24s were sent over Germany without fighter cover. However, they did lay waste to huge areas of Germany.