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Okinawa

A B-29 releases incendiary bombs on Yokohama in May 1945. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A B-29 releases incendiary bombs on Yokohama in May 1945. (U.S. Air Force photo)


The B-29 fire bombing campaign against Japan was interrupted temporarily in April and May 1945 as AAF bombers attacked airfields and aircraft plants with high-explosive bombs and mined Japanese waters in support of the invasion of Okinawa, the largest of the Ryukyu Islands. Five days after the Army and Marines landed on Okinawa on April 1, the Japanese opened a furious aerial counterattack that included more than 350 Kamikaze attacks against U.S. ships and ground forces. Consequently, on April 8, the AAF began a campaign to destroy the Kamikaze bases in Japan. However, the enemy attack continued in its intensity and by June 22, about 1,900 suicide planes had struck against Allied forces at Okinawa, sinking 25 ships. In early May the AAF was able to move P-51 fighters onto airfields on Okinawa and nearby newly captured le Shima Island to provide aerial defense. Although Okinawa was not declared secure until July 2, B-29s were released from further support of the island campaign on May 11. Seizure of the island provided bases from which 7th Air Force medium bombers and fighters could attack the Japanese home islands.

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