Today is the 64th anniversary of one of the key events that led to the end of World War II. On March 10, 1945, a formation of B-29 bombers from the United States Army Air Force firebombed Tokyo. This was by no means the first or the last time that Tokyo was attacked during the war. What made this raid different, however, was that it was the first time that Allied commanders tried to destroy the military capacity of Japan by burning entire sections of cities. Prior to this point in the war, the strategy for the US in Japan had been to focus almost exclusively on precision bombing. The mission was called Operation Meetinghouse, and in the end the military got a lot more than they had bargained for. Over 300 B-29s participated in the mission, hoping to destroy several key railroad yards and small factories in part of the city. However, the bombing ignited what we now know as a firestorm, and by the time the fires had burned themselves out a few days later, nearly 100,000 Japanese had died and over a million were homeless. Just to put that into perspective, more people died in the Tokyo firestorm than when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. On today’s episode of Weather Break, Dr. Jon Schrage explains how a firestorm works and talks about some other examples of great firestorms in history.
There is a particularly interesting video about the Tokyo Firestorm on YouTube.