Aces of World War II: The Doolittle Raid Quiz

HISTORY

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James P

6 Min Quiz

What movie was made during the war to document the story of the Doolittle Raid?

Two years later, Hollywood's 1944 release of "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" starred none other than Spencer Tracy.

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Why were some Japanese civilians seen to be waving to the U.S. bombers as the raid began?

Japanese homeland forces had been conducting air raid drills on a regular basis long before the attack on Pearl Harbor. One was conducted on the morning the Doolittle Raid arrived.

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What was Jimmy Doolittle’s official rank when the raid began?

Lieutenant Colonel Doolittle had also been a stunt pilot prior to serving in the U.S. Army. After the Raid, he was promoted to Brigadier General and received the Medal of Honor.

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What was the significance of the Doolittle Raid to the United States?

After the Emperor announced to the Japanese people that their mainland would never be bombed, the Doolittle Raid was a response that forced the Japanese troops to refocus on protecting it, instead, thereby reducing their strength in other parts of the Pacific.

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Ultimately, what was the deciding factor in timing the launch of the Doolittle Raid?

A Japanese ship was spotted when the USS Hornet was still 10 hours and 250 miles from the location they’d originally planned to start the raid.

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What type of Japanese vessel spotted – and was spotted by – the Hornet?

The launch was set to happen in an area controlled by the Japanese Navy, so patrol boats were common.

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Which was never considered a viable option for pilots after completing the Doolittle Raid?

Everyone knew the planes couldn't carry enough fuel to make it all the way back to the Hornet. Originally the hope was that they could make it to temporary Chinese landing strips, but the unexpected early launch added 200 more miles of flight distance. That meant the crews needed to be ready to bail out...somewhere.

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What was the name of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier that launched the Doolittle Raid?

The Hornet’s participation was remarkable because U.S. Navy ships never carried U.S. Army aircraft.

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Which U.S. military aircraft was used for the Doolittle Raid?

The Mitchells were a new medium-sized bomber named after aviation pioneer Billy Mitchell. They were known for their versatility and twin tails, but hadn’t been used in combat before they were selected for the Doolittle Raid.

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What was Doolittle’s greatest personal concern about the raid?

Doolittle was said to fear that the loss of all 16 aircraft and crewmen in his charge would also lead to a court-marshall, if not his own demise.

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Which branch of the U.S. military led the Doolittle Raid?

The U.S. Air Force at the time was part of the U.S. Army, not yet its own branch. All the pilots in the raid were volunteers, as it was generally considered to be a suicide mission.

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Why was the B-25 selected?

The plane’s relatively light weight allowed its pilot to take off from the deck of a small aircraft carrier, another feat that had never been tried before the Doolittle Raid. Senior U.S. Navy personnel openly doubted such a take-off was even possible.

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What happened to all of the returning Doolittle fliers?

The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded for "Heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.” After the Doolittle Raid, many crewmembers went right back into the war effort.

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How many planes participated in the Doolittle Raid?

Doolittle successfully piloted the first take-off to start the raid.

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How many of the planes reached their targets in Japan?

This was an impressive outcome, considering the circumstances and level of risk involved.

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How did the Japanese crew react to sighting the American aircraft carrier?

The patrol boat did manage to transmit one message to the Japanese mainland: “warships” …which was also picked up by U.S. intelligence in Pearl Harbor.

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When was the Doolittle Raid?

The Doolittle Raid was a response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, which occurred on December 7, 1941, as well as other Japanese military aggression across the Pacific.

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What happened to the Japanese patrol boat?

The Japanese patrol boat was attacked and sunk relatively quickly by the U.S. Navy ships escorting the Hornet.

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How much runway was available to the Doolittle Raid planes that were first to take off?

A B-25 typically used 2,000 feet of runway for take-off, but the Doolittle pilots trained themselves on runway lengths as short as 275 feet. During the raid, they knew their aircraft carrier would be packed with B-25s, dramatically limiting runway space, especially for the pilots who had to take off first.

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What happened to Doolittle’s plane after lifting off the deck of the Hornet?

The first two bombers “nearly went in the drink,” including the plane Doolittle was piloting, despite skilled attempts to gain altitude as fast as possible. Actual film footage even exists to prove it. To quote one expert, “It’s real hard to take off from an aircraft carrier in a bomber.”

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What is the name of the island often called the “Japanese Mainland”?

Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, as well as Mt. Fuji, are all located on Honshu, which means "Main Island" or "Main Province.”

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Last-minute specially modified parts were needed immediately after the sailing of the USS Hornet. How did they get onboard?

Now there’s something we bet you don’t see every day.

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What was considered the single biggest risk to the flight crews during take-off?

Because of the short runway distance and subsequent lower speed, the biggest concern was that there would not be enough time to regain control of the plane if its engine stalled or failed before reaching the speed required for lift-off. The bad weather also wasn't helping any, but it was more of a secondary concern.

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Who was Doolittle’s copilot?

Richard “Dick” Cole, at 101 in 2016, was also the longest surviving member of the crew.

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How many of the 16 bomber crews eventually returned to safety after the raid?

14 of the 16 crews returned to the United States or were assigned to other military units in various theaters. Each of the 16 planes had five crewmembers, for a total of 80 airmen.

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The Russian mainland was 600 nautical miles closer to the raid site than the coast of China. So why didn’t the raiders land in Russia?

The neutrality pact specifically forbade such landings in Russia

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What was the Japanese fleet’s response to the Doolittle Raid?

The Battle of Midway is considered by many as an unsuccessful effort by the Japanese forces and a turning point in the war.

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How many of the Doolittle Raid bombers made it all the way to China?

Considering the risks involved, this was an impressive feat. All 15 bombers either crash-landed or were abandoned in flight; one crewman was killed during a landing.

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How many other ships were tasked with protecting the USS Hornet?

The task group included cruisers, destroyers and one other carrier with fighter planes to provide coverage during the mission. The launch site was deep within areas known to be controlled by the Imperial Japanese Navy.

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How did the Doolittle Raid get its name?

Jimmy Doolittle, who had been a stunt pilot before the war, was the driving force behind the mission. Incidentally, there’s only one "o" in the last name of the fictional children's book character, Doctor Dolittle.

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Including Tokyo, how many total sites were targeted by the Doolittle Raid?

The Doolittle Raid did not inflict heavy damage on its targets.

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What happened to the Japanese sailors aboard the patrol boat?

The ship was sunk by the Americans in half an hour, partly due to rough seas.

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How were the standard defensive armaments customized on each of the Doolittle Raid B-25s?

Three guns were left on each plane to defend against attacking Japanese fighters: two 50-caliber machine guns in the top turret and a single 30-caliber gun in the nose station. All the others were removed – even the “belly turret – to help make the Mitchells as light as possible for take-off. Replacing the tail guns with broomsticks appeared to discourage the Japanese interceptors from attacking from the rear, while still lightening the load.

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What was a major problem with launching the Doolittle Raid 200 miles early?

It was a very stormy night, the Japanese had indeed received the message from the crew of the captured boat, and it was going to be very dark and dangerous when the American pilots either attempted to land somewhere or bail out over China.

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One B-25 crew managed to land their plane successfully instead of crashing or bailing out. Where did they land?

The plane that landed in Russia was confiscated, and the crew was interned for about a year until they escaped from Russia.

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Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

2017 marked the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, a surprise U.S. operation carried out in response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. How much do you know about the mission, its daredevil leader, and the raid's overall impact on the course of the war across the Pacific Theater?

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