Doolittle file photo [652]

James Doolittle

Given NameJames
Born14 Dec 1896
Died27 Sep 1993
CountryUnited States


ww2dbaseJames Harold "Jimmy" Doolittle of Alameda, California, United States, was an enlisted man in the Army Signal Corps in 1917. Perhaps from the time he had spent in frontier Alaska, Doolittle developed to be a daring and innovative individual from a young age. His interest in aviation, a newly developed technology at the time, drove him to receive flight training and became a commissioned officer (lieutenant) at the conclusion of that training on 11 Mar 1918. He served as a Air Corps instructor during WW1 and earned fame as an aviator while studying at MIT during the inter-war years. Between the great wars, he had also worked in the civilian aeronautical science field and piloted experimental aircrafts with pioneering instruments. During the inter-war years he contributed greatly to the development of instrument-assisted flying; he was the first pilot to operate an aircraft based solely on instrument readings without utilitzing human sight.

ww2dbaseWhen WW2 started, as a lieutenant colonel of the Army Reserves, he oversaw the conversion of peace-time automotive manufacturing plants into war production. Perhaps in his most famous role in WW2 history, he planned and personally led a daring bombing run on Tokyo during the early stages of the Pacific War. The B-25 bomber he was in crash-landed in rice paddies in Zhejiang, China, where he was assisted by Chinese Nationalist troops. He was awarded the Medal of Honor and received a promotion to brigadier general for the successful execution of the plan, which aroused American morale. His Medal of Honor citation was as follows:

"For conspicuous leadership above and beyond the call of duty, involving personal valor and intrepidity at an extreme hazard to life. With the apparent certainty of being forced to land in enemy territory or to perish at sea, Lt. Col. Doolittle personally led a squadron of Army bombers, manned by volunteer crews, in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland."

ww2dbaseLater as a lieutenant general, he commanded air forces in nearly every theater of the war.

ww2dbaseAfter the war, he returned to the civilian aeronautics industry but continued to work closely with the United States military. In March 1951 he was appointed as a special assistant to the Air Force Chief of Staff and served as consultant in US Air Force ballistic missile and space program research projects. He officially retired from the Air Force on 28 Feb 1959. On 4 Apr 1985, he was promoted by the United States Congress to a four-star general on the Air Force retired list; his stars were pinned on his uniform by President Ronald Reagan and Senator Barry Goldwater.

ww2dbaseHe passed away in California in 1993 and now rests in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, United States.

ww2dbaseSources: Naval Historical Center, Wikipedia.

James Doolittle Timeline

14 Dec 1896 James Doolittle was born.
24 Sep 1929 Flying a Consolidated NY-2 Husky biplane, equipped with a Sperry artificial horizon, directional gyro, and a Kollsman altimeter, Lieutenant James H. Doolittle USAAC, completed the first successful blind take-off circuit and landing at Mitchell field, Long Island, New York, United States.
11 Mar 1932 James Doolittle set a new world record in air speed.
1 Jul 1940 The noted American aviator James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle was recalled to active service as a Major and began assisting US car manufacturers as they switched to aircraft production.
6 Jan 1944 James Doolittle, commanding officer of USAAF Eighth Air Force, ordered his fighter chief William Kepner to go on a fighter offensive, rather than focusing on bomber escort as he had instructed under the former commanding officer.
13 Mar 1944 US Eighth Air Force commander James Doolittle was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general.
27 Sep 1993 James Doolittle passed away.


Brigadier General Doolittle posing with a globe, circa 1942James Doolittle with his crew shortly before the Doolittle Raid against Japan, Apr 1942Doolittle wiring a Japanese medal to a bomb, Apr 1942, 1 of 2Doolittle wiring a Japanese medal to a bomb, Apr 1942, 2 of 2
See all 35 photographs of James Doolittle

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Tom Jackson says:
5 Dec 2011 03:38:46 PM

Jimmy Doolittle was a great leader.He had more guts and common sense than lots of the leaders of WW2.Also one of the greatest and instinctive fliers of all time.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
17 Apr 2014 08:58:44 AM

Even after his official retirement 'Jimmy' Doolittle continued to work tirelessly as an aviation consultant and served on numerous committees promoting the US Air Force in particular. Until his health began to fail he famously continued to drive daily to his office in Los Angeles from his home in Santa Monica.
3. Aaron rasey says:
2 Sep 2014 05:07:55 AM

james h. doolittle was a great man also he was my great great grandfather
4. Anonymous says:
15 Mar 2016 11:40:42 AM

It was okay I guess to much to read

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More on James Doolittle
Event(s) Participated:
» Doolittle Raid
» Operation Torch
» Conclusion of the Desert War

Associated Aircraft:
» B-25 Mitchell

Related Books:
» Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

James Doolittle Photo Gallery
Brigadier General Doolittle posing with a globe, circa 1942
See all 35 photographs of James Doolittle

Famous WW2 Quote
"All that silly talk about the advance of science and such leaves me cold. Give me peace and a retarded science."

Thomas Dodd, late 1945