Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Bases in China were part of the China Burma India Theater of World War II for administrative purposes: the commander of the XX Bomber Command had no control over stations, bases, units, and personnel not directly assigned to him, and none over shipping and other logistic support essential to the operation. However the Commander-in-Chief of the XX Bomber Command reportd directly to the JCS in Washington and was not under SEAC operational control like the rest of the personnel in the CBI. In this respect the situation of the Twentieth Air Force was similar to that in the European Theater of Operations between the Eighth Air Force and SHAEF. Initally the Twentieth Air Force was under the command of Hap Arnold, and later Curtis LeMay.
The key development for the bombing of Japan was the B-29, which had an operational range of 1500 miles (2,400 km); almost 90% of the bombs dropped on the home islands of Japan were delivered by this type of bomber (147,000 tons). The first raid by B-29s on Japan from China was on June 15, 1944. The planes took off from Chengdu, over 1500 miles away. This first raid was also not particularly damaging to Japan. Only forty-seven of the sixty-eight B–29s airborne hit the target area in Tokyo; four aborted with mechanical problems, four crashed, six jettisoned their bombs because of mechanical difficulties, and others bombed secondary targets or targets of opportunity. Only one B–29 was lost to enemy aircraft.
Bombing from China was never a satisfactory arrangement because not only were the Chinese forward airbases difficult to supply via the Hump, but the B-29s operating from them could only reach Japan if they substituted some of the bomb load for extra fuel tanks in the bomb-bays. When Admiral Chester Nimitz's island-hopping campaign captured islands close enough to Japan to be within the range of B-29s, the Twentieth Air Force was assigned to XXI Bomber Command which organized a much more effective bombing campaign of the Japanese home islands.
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