Why Didn’t the US Navy Bombard Ichi Jima to Reduce Aviator Casualties?

9/24/2013 • Ask Mr. History

Past president George Bush (Sr.) was shot down, like several other aviators, by the Japanese on Ichi Jima.

Why didn’t the Navy reduce aviator casualties by bombarding the targets on Ichi Jima from their capital ships?


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Dear Richard,

The U.S. Fifth Fleet sent a fast carrier group to strike at Iwo and Chichi Jima, aimed at disabling their airfields and Chichi Jima’s seaplane base. Accompanying cruisers and destroyers pounded the islands’ installations while aircraft hit them with 196 tons of bombs and 490 rockets. They shot down 10 aircraft over Iwo, along with a twin-engine bomber that was shadowing the fleet, destroyed 33 planes on the ground, probably destroyed 29 more, and 10 damaged on the regular airfield, also destroying two floatplanes at Chichi Jima. The raid’s total cost was five aircraft, from which the losses came to one pilot and three aircrewmen.

If you believe that the firepower used in the raid was inadequate, I humbly recommend you take your grievance up the chain of command to Admiral Raymond Ames Spruance. I’m betting that George H.W. Bush wouldn’t.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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