Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Epigraph

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Contents

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p. ix

Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xiv

The end of World War II in the Pacific is known for its bloody island battles and the use of two atomic bombs, bombs that marked the end of one era and the dawn of a more modern and colder one. Part of the sweeping away of the old ways in 1945 was the scrapping of the fleets of bombers that...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvi

This work started as an idea for a graduate thesis provided by my thesis adviser, Dr. Gordon Bakken. When I told him I wanted to write about bombers, he suggested a topic waiting for a historian to uncover its secrets: why we switched to incendiary bombing against Japan during World War...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

Upon first glance, the list of sixty-seven Japanese cities and the percentage destroyed by fire appears impressive but not shocking. Only when paired with U.S. cities of comparable population does the magnitude of the American incendiary bombing become apparent: Savannah, Georgia (Chiba), 41.0...

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1. The Origins of Destruction

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pp. 9-22

The story of Japan’s incineration began twenty years before the first embers flickered as air forces in Europe and the United States struggled to find their place in the aftermath of World War I. In the United States, the small cadre of officers left in the Army Air Corps found themselves beholden to the...

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2. The Makings of a Mission

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pp. 23-44

With the pieces in place to strike Honshu, the need to overcome the basic challenges of bombing remained. Flak, weather, bombing accuracy, and fighters plagued a bomber in different ways, and the skies over Japan came as no exception. Experience in Europe taught several harsh lessons...

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3. Planning Japan’s Demise

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pp. 45-94

The planning for incendiary attacks on Japan started soon after Pearl Harbor. In the years before the war, General Mitchell touted the cities of Japan as “congested” and built from “paper and wood.” Maj. Gen. Claire Chennault, the leading Air Corp expert on the Far East, concurred, and pressed President...

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4. Hansell’s 21st Bomber Command

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pp. 95-114

Gen. Haywood Hansell’s tenure as commander of the 21st bc had never gone well. Not due to his lack of ability—he was one of the leading staff officers in the Air Force at the time—but because of the overall complexity of what General Arnold asked of him and the 21st bc and his dedication to...

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5. Losses Per Unit of Target Destruction

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pp. 115-130

Among the multitude of boxes brought ashore in the Marianas to support the 21st bc, several brought harbingers of a future world concerned with data management. In these crates came the ibm punch card machine of the 33rd Statistical Control Unit (scu). Originally conceived out of a contract Harvard...

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6. Down the Path of Destruction

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pp. 131-158

If circumstances did not allow him to send planes at night to Japan filled with incendiary bombs, LeMay looked for a way to use the dark for precision purposes. The opportunity to fly at low altitudes with heavy bomb loads and little enemy interference proved too good to pass up. He put his staff and those of the wings on the task of finding the best method for...

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7. Death Throes

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pp. 159-188

The week of May 7, 1945, proved monumental for the 21st bc and the world. On Tuesday, May 8, Germany surrendered, ending the war in Europe, and on Friday, May 11, the support of Okinawa operations officially came to an end. The war now focused on the Far East and the pending final act of Japan’s...

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8. Interpreting the Campaign

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pp. 189-198

Upon review it appears evident that the switch in tactical doctrine to low-altitude area attacks occurred, but only to a point, because of expediency. To maximize the effectiveness of the bomber sorties and the destruction of Japanese war-making ability, the commander on scene, LeMay, focused a portion...

Notes

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pp. 199-210

Bibliography

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pp. 211-218

Index

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pp. 219-222

Image Plates

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