Page 1 of 11 12345678910 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 157

Thread: Firebombing of japanese cities WW2

  1. #1

    Default Firebombing of japanese cities WW2

    Hi-


    I was wondering how many of you agree or support the airforce's decision to firebomb almost all Japanese cities in 1945. The March 1945 raid over Tokyo resulted in 100,000 Japanese civilians dead and left 1,000,000 homeless.

    According to one account "the M-69 (napalm firebombs) realeased 100-foot streams of fire upon detonating, and sent flames rampaging through densely packed wooden homes. Superheated air created a wind that sucked victims into the flames and fed the twisting infernos. Asphalt boiled in the 1,800 degree heat. With much of the fighting age male population at the war front, women, children, and the elderly struggled in vain to battle the flames or flee" One of General McArthur aides called it "one of the most ruthless and barbaric killings of noncombatants in all of history." Even General Le May, the instigator of the bombings quoted "there are no inocent civilians, so it doesn't bother me so much to be killing innocent bystanders". He also commented on the fact that had the US lost the war, he fully expected to be tried as a war criminal.

    Tokyo wasn't the only city to suffer such fate. Kobe, Yokohama, Osaka and many more were subjected to the same punishment as Tokyo, with casulaty rates.

    As far as attitudes about the Japanese were concerned, look at propaganda photos of the era portraying Tojo or the typical Japanese soldier. Wikipedia encyclodedia states " Japanese were viewed as subhuman or evolutionarily inferior" This is not much different than Nazi-Germany's view of Jewish, Slavic, and Roma people as "untermensch" which translates to under-human (or subhuman semantically). Perhaps, racism had some part in the bombings??

    Typical counterarguments include, Japanese atrocities against the Chinese, Koreans and Filipinos, and of course the brutal mistreatment of US POW's of the Japanese during the war. The Japanese are certain responsible for these attrocities, however it's interesting to note that while 37% of US soldiers interned died in captivity, only 11% of US civilians captured perished. While 11% is still high, there's not sufficient evidence that this was directly due to mistreatment. Japanese troops were often short of medical supplies and had trouble feeding their own troops. But, in the case of military POW, Japanese held to the Bushido code which held that surrender was disgraceful and that prisoners lost the right to be treated humanely. Was Pearl Harbor (a suprise attack on a military target) or the internment of US MILITARY justified in seeking revenge against Japanese women, children, and the elderly in possibly the most brutal fashion?

    Briefly before finishing, it should be noted that American submarines waged unrestricted warfare against Japanese merchant vessels which had been outlawed by the 1930 treaty of London (the US signed). This is not meant to support or discredit either the US or Japan, but merely to expose the truth of World War 2, which is often irresponsibly shrouded in bias. I appreciate anyone who wishes to debate the issue, but please do not use Japan's war against China, the Philipines etc...as an argument. This is regarding America at War with Japan.

    America has also done some not so nice things in other Asian nations....read up on the Philippine-American War 1899-1913 which is a real eye opener. Also mention of Unit 731 vivisection of captured B-29 pilots will be countered by the Tuskegee syphilis study on African-Americans beginning in 1932.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Ruhr Area, Germany
    Posts
    216

    Default

    Hi.

    To me every type of bombardment of civil targets is a war crime.

    Yours

    tom!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Paramilitary wing of CAMRA
    Posts
    4,030

    Default

    Simple. Bombardment of defended targets is permitted by the Hague convention (and the Japanese cities were clearly defended). Furthermore, because of the extremely highly decentralised nature of Japanese industry (it was far from unusual for people to keep machine tools in their own homes, running a small business from home) coupled with the way in which society was militarised - for example the legions of civilians who were trained to launch Banzai charges against invaders armed only with bamboo spears it is easy to argue that there was no such thing as a civilian target in Japan in 1944 or 45.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Scotland
    Posts
    3,855

    Default

    I can see all points of view here. Was there a reason for switching from high altitude precision bombing to low altitude fire bombing?

    Qwertty, welcome aboard the Forum. A top tip for the future though is to break your post up into paragraphs. It makes it easier for old eyes like mine to read. I have taken the liberty of doing this for you this time.

    Cracking first post though and this Forum can certainly do with another thoughtful poster.

    Cheers

    F-F

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Buffalo, New York
    Posts
    6,897

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Firefly View Post
    I can see all points of view here. Was there a reason for switching from high altitude precision bombing to low altitude fire bombing?

    Qwertty, welcome aboard the Forum. A top tip for the future though is to break your post up into paragraphs. It makes it easier for old eyes like mine to read. I have taken the liberty of doing this for you this time.

    Cracking first post though and this Forum can certainly do with another thoughtful poster.

    Cheers

    F-F

    And I might add that he break up separate points into separate thread topics. Indeed, there was much US propaganda with racist overtones towards the Japanese. But of course, the US propaganda against Germany also used the same fundamental tenets of racism such as stereotyping and highlighting negative cultural perceptions. So, I highly doubt one can attribute the ruthless bombing campaigns to simple racist dehumanization. The US also savagely bombed German cities of blond haired, blue eyed peoples. And BTW, that racism went both-ways, as the Japanese told their civilians that US Marines/soldiers were cannibalistic barbarians, often leading to mass suicides on Saipan and Okinawa..

    And to answer your question Firefly, I believe the US bombing strategy changed because the B-29 squadrons had difficulty with the high altitude winds over Japan, which not only hindered their bombing success, but made it possible for the weakened Japanese Air force to mount a defense. I believe (and this is all from memory, so I could be wrong) that US bombers had to fight savage high altitude cross winds that slowed their air-speeds significantly...



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    U.S.A.
    Posts
    70

    Default

    Yes, the winds.

    The high altitude winds were a type of jet stream that blew out of Siberia at 250 mph. Hit from the side, the bombers would skid sideways, As a tail wind, the planes flew too fast for the Norden bombsights to work. As a headwind, the plane slowed and became a sitting duck for AA.

    The first B-29 raid from China on June 15th, 1944, was made against steel mills in Kyushu. Sixty planes flying at 30,000 feet reached the target, but only one bomb hit the plant. More bombs landed on rice paddies than on steel furnaces, and many planes were lost.

    It was at this point that Gen. Hap Arnold dispatched Gen. Curtis Lemay to the Pacific. With the capture of Saipan, Curtis moved the B-29 operation to the Marianas. His first attempt, employing Air Force doctrine of high altitude bombing, failed.

    Lemay decided to turn doctrine on its head, and go in low at night. In the darkness, there would be no precision and he would bomb indiscriminately.
    He also guessed that the Japanese had little anti-aircraft coverage between three and ten thousand feet. He also figured that Japanese fighters would not rise to meet him in the dark, so he stripped the Superforts of guns, ammo., and gunners, enabling each plane to carry 2,700 pounds of extra napalm.

    To test his theories, he sent his bombers to Tokyo on March 9th, 1945. Everyone thought he was crazy and that he had issued his crews a death sentence. From three islands in the Marianas - Guam, Saipan, and Tinian - 334 B-29s formed parallel streams 400 miles long.

    Sixteen square miles of Tokyo burned to the ground that night, killing some 100,000 people. Lemay had been right.

    Most of this information is from James Bradley's Flyboys.


    JT
    Last edited by jacobtowne; 10-31-2006 at 09:11 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Back in Indiana
    Posts
    3,044

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pdf27 View Post
    Simple. Bombardment of defended targets is permitted by the Hague convention (and the Japanese cities were clearly defended). Furthermore, because of the extremely highly decentralised nature of Japanese industry (it was far from unusual for people to keep machine tools in their own homes, running a small business from home) coupled with the way in which society was militarised - for example the legions of civilians who were trained to launch Banzai charges against invaders armed only with bamboo spears it is easy to argue that there was no such thing as a civilian target in Japan in 1944 or 45.
    Have to agree with pdf27 on this one. However the losses suffered is sad. Then again if you dont like getting bombed stop starting wars.


    101st Airborne

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Paramilitary wing of CAMRA
    Posts
    4,030

    Default

    The jetstream was the major reason for the initial switch to low altitudes. Part of the reason for staying down low was simply that the B-29 was a very high performance aircraft and the Japanese had a hard enough time intercepting it by day. That pretty much rendered the protection offered by extra altitude irrelevant by night.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Blighty (Gloucestershire, England, UK)
    Posts
    146

    Default

    Total war means total war.

    If a civilian area is specifically excluded from bombing then it won't take long for that area to be used as barracks or for light industry etc using the civilians as cover.

    Civilians were an integral part of the war machine releasing men to fight and keeping industry working.

    There can't be a military target any where that doesn't have a cluster of civilians working near by or in it so every bomb dropped is a war crime if you state armchair philosophy like "To me every type of bombardment of civil targets is a war crime."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Paramilitary wing of CAMRA
    Posts
    4,030

    Default

    That chain of thought leads logically and irrevocably to the conclusion that all war is a crime. While that may have some merit, unfortunately the only people willing to accept law as a constraint on their actions are the very people least likely to cause trouble in the first place. The net result is that the lunatics prosper while the rest of the world gets screwed.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Buffalo, New York
    Posts
    6,897

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jacobtowne View Post
    Yes, the winds.

    The high altitude winds were a type of jet stream that blew out of Siberia at 250 mph. Hit from the side, the bombers would skid sideways, As a tail wind, the planes flew too fast for the Norden bombsights to work. As a headwind, the plane slowed and became a sitting duck for AA.

    The first B-29 raid from China on June 15th, 1944, was made against steel mills in Kyushu. Sixty planes flying at 30,000 feet reached the target, but only one bomb hit the plant. More bombs landed on rice paddies than on steel furnaces, and many planes were lost.

    It was at this point that Gen. Hap Arnold dispatched Gen. Curtis Lemay to the Pacific. With the capture of Saipan, Curtis moved the B-29 operation to the Marianas. His first attempt, employing Air Force doctrine of high altitude bombing, failed.

    Lemay decided to turn doctrine on its head, and go in low at night. In the darkness, there would be no precision and he would bomb indiscriminately.
    He also guessed that the Japanese had little anti-aircraft coverage between three and ten thousand feet. He also figured that Japanese fighters would not rise to meet him in the dark, so he stripped the Superforts of guns, ammo., and gunners, enabling each plane to carry 2,700 pounds of extra napalm.

    To test his theories, he sent his bombers to Tokyo on March 9th, 1945. Everyone thought he was crazy and that he had issued his crews a death sentence. From three islands in the Marianas - Guam, Saipan, and Tinian - 334 B-29s formed parallel streams 400 miles long.

    Sixteen square miles of Tokyo burned to the ground that night, killing some 100,000 people. Lemay had been right.

    Most of this information is from James Bradley's Flyboys.


    JT
    Bradley's book has all sorts of disturbing and graphic information. I can't access in now since I'm on the road, but Bradley also indicates that part of the reason for the firestorm was the tinderbox that was Japanese housing, which often used light wood and paper. Many elements came together to make it the "perfect firestorm," and it was indeed hell on earth for those unfortunate Japanese civilians. And this is no doubt deeply saddening and regretful. But had the shoe been on the other proverbial foot, I've no doubt the Japanese Imperial high command would have hesitated one second to reduce LA or San Francisco...



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    NSW Australia
    Posts
    544

    Default

    Yes, for the Tokyo raid and subsequent raids it was figured a higher mix of incendaries would be more effective. While it is easy to criticize the conduct of the war today, remember it was truly a battle of survival. Make no mistake, the Japanese did target civilians and to preclude China in this thread is wrong, because it was the 'China Incident' which indirectly led to the fire bombing of Tokyo.

    Regards to all,
    Digger.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Southern Russia , Krasnodar
    Posts
    3,913

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by qwertty View Post
    Hi-


    I was wondering how many of you agree or support the airforce's decision to firebomb almost all Japanese cities in 1945. The March 1945 raid over Tokyo resulted in 100,000 Japanese civilians dead and left 1,000,000 homeless.

    According to one account "the M-69 (napalm firebombs) realeased 100-foot streams of fire upon detonating, and sent flames rampaging through densely packed wooden homes. Superheated air created a wind that sucked victims into the flames and fed the twisting infernos. Asphalt boiled in the 1,800 degree heat. With much of the fighting age male population at the war front, women, children, and the elderly struggled in vain to battle the flames or flee" One of General McArthur aides called it "one of the most ruthless and barbaric killings of noncombatants in all of history." Even General Le May, the instigator of the bombings quoted "there are no inocent civilians, so it doesn't bother me so much to be killing innocent bystanders". He also commented on the fact that had the US lost the war, he fully expected to be tried as a war criminal.

    Tokyo wasn't the only city to suffer such fate. Kobe, Yokohama, Osaka and many more were subjected to the same punishment as Tokyo, with casulaty rates.

    As far as attitudes about the Japanese were concerned, look at propaganda photos of the era portraying Tojo or the typical Japanese soldier. Wikipedia encyclodedia states " Japanese were viewed as subhuman or evolutionarily inferior" This is not much different than Nazi-Germany's view of Jewish, Slavic, and Roma people as "untermensch" which translates to under-human (or subhuman semantically). Perhaps, racism had some part in the bombings??

    Typical counterarguments include, Japanese atrocities against the Chinese, Koreans and Filipinos, and of course the brutal mistreatment of US POW's of the Japanese during the war. The Japanese are certain responsible for these attrocities, however it's interesting to note that while 37% of US soldiers interned died in captivity, only 11% of US civilians captured perished. While 11% is still high, there's not sufficient evidence that this was directly due to mistreatment. Japanese troops were often short of medical supplies and had trouble feeding their own troops. But, in the case of military POW, Japanese held to the Bushido code which held that surrender was disgraceful and that prisoners lost the right to be treated humanely. Was Pearl Harbor (a suprise attack on a military target) or the internment of US MILITARY justified in seeking revenge against Japanese women, children, and the elderly in possibly the most brutal fashion?

    Briefly before finishing, it should be noted that American submarines waged unrestricted warfare against Japanese merchant vessels which had been outlawed by the 1930 treaty of London (the US signed). This is not meant to support or discredit either the US or Japan, but merely to expose the truth of World War 2, which is often irresponsibly shrouded in bias. I appreciate anyone who wishes to debate the issue, but please do not use Japan's war against China, the Philipines etc...as an argument. This is regarding America at War with Japan.

    America has also done some not so nice things in other Asian nations....read up on the Philippine-American War 1899-1913 which is a real eye opener. Also mention of Unit 731 vivisection of captured B-29 pilots will be countered by the Tuskegee syphilis study on African-Americans beginning in 1932.
    Thanks qwertty, very interesting post
    And welcome to the our hot company.
    I 'm fully agree with you and strongly sure that the Allies firestorm tactic in Japane and Germany was the "cruel prelude" for the more worst action - Atomic bombing of Japane.(As you know the total number of victims of a-bombing is about 500 000 today(!!!)
    Certainly Japanes atrocities in South Asia were the unhuman, but this is not the argument to kill the civilians using the worst method then even nazi did.

    Cheers comrades

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    NSW Australia
    Posts
    544

    Default

    Chevan, I am really glad the Allies won the war so you can live in your revisionist paradise. To further gladden your heart, the bombing of German cities helped prevent the eradication of the Soviet Union, the genocide and enslavement of it's people.

    Regards to all,
    Digger.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Southern Russia , Krasnodar
    Posts
    3,913

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by arhob1 View Post
    Total war means total war.

    If a civilian area is specifically excluded from bombing then it won't take long for that area to be used as barracks or for light industry etc using the civilians as cover.

    Civilians were an integral part of the war machine releasing men to fight and keeping industry working.

    There can't be a military target any where that doesn't have a cluster of civilians working near by or in it so every bomb dropped is a war crime if you state armchair philosophy like "To me every type of bombardment of civil targets is a war crime."
    arnob, this sounds like the terrorist ideology -"civilians as cover".
    The contemporary terrorist also don't separate the soldiers and civils peoples.
    In its essence, the bombardment of Japanese was a big terrorist attack on the state level. One state (US) made a attack the city of another state (Japane) for its political purposes. This attacks hadn't much military loses for the Japane and it did not accelerate its capitulation.
    In spring 1945 Japane already lose the war it was absolutly clear. The sea and air blocade of Japane islands did its work enough good(Japane losed practicaly all its war and trade fleet and hadn't the resource to continie the war at least to the November of 1945).
    So i don't belive in any "arguments" which justify the bombing the Japane cities in 1945.

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

Page 1 of 11 12345678910 ... LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •