THIS WEEK IN WORLD WAR II
BOMBING OF YAWATA
On June 15 and 16, 1944, the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) strategic bombers conducted their first air raid on the Japanese home islands. 75 B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers staged from bases in China. The target was the Imperial Iron and Steel Works at Yawatta in northern Kyūshū but only 47 of the bombers hit the target. Five B-29s were lost in accidents and two were destroyed by Japanese aircraft.
Despite that the raid did not achieve its aims, it did have other effects. It raised Japanese civilians’ awareness that their country was being defeated and received unduly positive media coverage in the United States. Intelligence gathered by the B-29s also revealed weaknesses in Japan’s air defenses and the raid was the first of many on Japan. Yawata was attacked again by B-29s operating from China on August 20, 1944 and much of the city was destroyed in a fire bombing raid conducted by B-29s based in the Mariana Islands on August 8 1945.