Seventy-five years ago, 16 B-25 land-based bombers took off from the US CV-6, the aircraft carrier Hornet and bombed Tokyo and other major Japanese cities. They did little material damage but the repercussions felt from their tiny pinprick against the Japanese homeland would have a far lasting impact later.

Shortly after the debacle at Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt gave the task to the military to bring the war to the Japanese and wanted their homeland bombed. The Japanese in the following months would sweep across the Pacific, taking the Philippines, Burma and were flush with victory.

Roosevelt’s order to bomb Japan was met with skepticism, how could the US launch an air attack when they had no bases close enough to launch. Roosevelt wanted a victory to stimulate the morale of the American people. The Doolittle Raid was born.

The plan was to launch land-based B-25 bombers off an aircraft carrier, something that had never been attempted. The fact that the Japanese would see B-25s over their skies would be confusing. The Chinese had no air force to speak of and the Japanese military would not expect the Americans to risk their few precious carriers to launch short-range carrier aircraft at Japanese targets so far from home.