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

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: September 24, 2013 
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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?


* * *

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
Weider History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History


One Response to “Why Didn't the US Navy Bombard Ichi Jima to Reduce Aviator Casualties?”

  1. 1
    Stuart says:

    You can destroy the aircraft and damaged the runways but the fact is Chichi Jima was a staging area for aircraft flown in from main land Japan which is why the U.S. wanted Iwo Jima because it was so close to main land Japan. The Japanese could fill in the holes on the damaged runways.

    Only when the U.S. Fleet was off Okinawa whithin range of land based
    air of the home islands was the pressure eased on Iwo Jima.

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