On This Day – U.S Air Force Firebombs Tokyo


On this day in 1945, the United States Air Force carried out Operation Meetinghouse, an air raid that was at the time labelled the single most destructive bombing raid in history. The bombing of Tokyo, often referred to as a firebombing, was conducted as part of the air raids on Japan by the United States Air Forces during the Pacific Campaigns of the Second World War.

The key air craft involved in these bombings was the B-29 Superfortress Strategic Bomber, which was capable of attacking from 30,000 feet in the air. It is estimated that 90% of the bombs dropped on Japan’s home islands were carried out by the B-29.

100,000 civilians are said to have been killed in these attacks, but in reality the actual figure is likely to be much higher, especially when you consider that in Operation Meetinghouse alone, 15.8 square miles of Tokyo’s industrial area was bombed and destroyed, and firefighting techniques were not well-equipped to douse the flames. An estimated 1.5 million people lived in these burned-out areas.

Operation Meetinghouse was the single deadliest air raid of the Second World War, greater even than Hiroshima as a single event.