It was a combat mission that electrified the country, less than four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy, Dec. 7, 1941. America struck back. It was the Doolittle Raid, a mission using 16 land-based B-25 Mitchell bombers flying from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet on April 18, 1942 to strike back at the Japanese Homeland – to boost citizen morale in the United States and to send a message to the Japanese nation: “We’ll be back.” Visitors to the Saturday, March 7, open house from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, “Wings, Wheels & Waves” at the Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport, will have the opportunity to tour and take photographs of a combat-tested B-25 restored to authentic flying condition by the Commemorative Air Force. The B-25 is a two-engine twin tail medium bomber, and the CAF plane, nicknamed “Maid in the Shade,” flew 15 combat missions in late 1944 against railroad bridges in Italy and Yugoslavia while based in Corsica. The Mitchell carried a crew of six, and total of 80 airmen carried out the strike and strafe mission against Honshu, the main island of Japan. Takeoff from the Hornet was dicey – famed racing aviator and flight leader Col. Jimmy Doolittle got his plane airborne in 467 feet, aided by a 30 mile per hour headwind. Normal takeoff distance on land could be four times that. The B-25 was unsuitable for carrier landings, so the 16 bombers continued on to China – some crews bailed out over land; planes crash landed; and one landed in the Soviet Union. Three airmen were killed; eight were captured by the Japanese and seven died while in captivity. During World War II, the B-25 was the most heavily armed aircraft in the world and flew a variety of missions in the European and Pacific theaters – bombing, strafing, reconnaissance, and submarine patrol. More than 9,000 were manufactured at the time. The medium bomber will arrive on Friday, March 6; remain parked on March 7 on the ramp for tours and photos; and will offer rides at $395 per person on Sunday, March 8– reservations will be taken on Saturday. There will be a one-hour presentation on the Doolittle Raid in the airport terminal, presented by retired naval aviator Capt. Michael Malchiodi, who will also conduct a session on attending U.S. military service academies. The Civil Air Patrol will offer a program, and Vietnam veterans will be honored at Wings, Wheels & Waves. In contrast to the warbird, there will be high tech machines that the spectacular Big Boys Toys event will bring to the table – hot rods, motorcycles, speed boats, pontoon boats, rock crawlers, drag cars, ultralights and more. Local classic car clubs will participate, and local aircraft and helicopter owners will display their machines. Admission is free; however, there is a $2 parking charge at the event with proceeds going to the local non-profit Initiative for Growth Foundation. For more information please contact the Lake Havasu Municipal Airport Operations at (928) 764-3330.
Photo of CAF B-25 Mitchell “Maid in the Shade”