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Japan Devastated

AAF personnel at Clark Field, Philippines, get their first look at a Consolidated B-32 Dominator in May 1945. Comparable to the B-29 in size and performance, B-32s saw service with only one bomber squadron before war's end. (U.S. Air Force photo)

AAF personnel at Clark Field, Philippines, get their first look at a Consolidated B-32 Dominator in May 1945. Comparable to the B-29 in size and performance, B-32s saw service with only one bomber squadron before war's end. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Gen. H.H. Arnold (center), commander of the AAF, and Gen. LeMay, commander of the 21st Bomber Command, receive a firsthand report on B-29 maintenance from a crew chief on Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Gen. H.H. Arnold (center), commander of the AAF, and Gen. LeMay, commander of the 21st Bomber Command, receive a firsthand report on B-29 maintenance from a crew chief on Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo)

While the B-29s had been concentrating on targets in support of the invasion of Okinawa, they were able to fly two night incendiary raids on Tokyo and Yokohama. On May 14, General LeMay's Superfortresses began a series of concentrated fire bomb raids against Japan's most important industrial cities. By June 15, the AAF had destroyed the industrial capability of the leading six cities -- Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe, Osaka, Yokohama and Kawasaki. Great factory complexes were devastated and millions of people were homeless, seriously reducing their effectiveness in those war industries that remained in operation. Incendiary raids also were carried out on smaller cities with similar success. The AAF's B-29 loss rate during the fire bomb campaign was 1.9 percent.

As enemy air opposition grew increasingly feeble, the AAF began to drop propaganda leaflets warning the inhabitants to flee certain Japanese cities scheduled to be bombed. Despite this advance warning, enemy opposition when such cities were struck remained ineffective.

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