The MegaMilitary Project | Online Edition #373

World War II Pacific Theater

As the 1940s began, war raged in Europe. But it wasn’t the only hot spot on the globe. The Japanese had occupied northern Indochina in Southeast Asia in 1940. They were still on the offensive in China itself, which was teetering toward civil war between Nationalists and Communists.

Roosevelt wanted to contain the Japanese. But with all of Europe threatened by fascism, he needed to keep the United States out of a war in Asia. On November 26, a secret Japanese task force steamed out of Hittokapu Bay. Six aircraft carriers, two battleships, and their escorts were on their way to Pearl Harbor. They were instructed to deal a “mortal blow” to the U.S. fleet in the Pacific.

On the same day that they bombed Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attacked Guam and the Philippines. They moved quickly to grab U.S. island bases in the Pacific. Japan’s military leaders knew that the United States would soon make good its losses at Pearl and mount a counterattack. They had to press their advantage while the United States was still weak.

On December 8, 1941, President Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war against Japan. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. The nation, once sworn to neutrality, was now committed to war. World War II had spread to the Pacific...

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Doolittle Raid (Tokyo Raid) - April 1942

World War II Pacific Theater
On the 18th of April 1942, 16 American medium bombers commanded by Colonel James Harold Doolittle took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet to bomb Tokyo. The Doolittle Raid (Tokyo Raid) was a great success in propaganda terms, but eight of the pilots fell into Japanese hands.
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