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DIRTY-MAC
10-10-2006, 04:24 PM
€œI BOMBED AMERICA€


By Flying Officer Nobuo Fujita, Imperial Japanese Navy, with Don Dwiggins, edited by James F. Lansdale

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Introduction: Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita holds the distinction of being the only foreign pilot to drop bombs on the American mainland. Fujita€s wartime experiences were related in a personal account published with the editorial assistance of Don Dwiggins and it was entitled, €œI Bombed America.€ The original English version first appeared in the magazine €œMan€s Illustrated,€ Volume III, No.165, December 1962. Fujita€s translated manuscript has been edited, amended, and annotated as follows.

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*****

As a career naval air officer I knew something big was up when my submarine left Yokosuka early on the morning of November 21, 1941, under secret orders. Four days earlier a great task force had sailed from Saeki, the training harbor, with more than 350 fighters and bombers of the First Air Fleet. After we had cleared port we got the exciting news that my submarine, the I-25, had been ordered to join in an attack on the United States Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii! There was much speculation among our submariners as to what role we would play in the attack, but my part was decided by an unfortunate accident. Rolling violently in heavy seas, the I-25, carrying a small reconnaissance floatplane, having been made top-heavy by its watertight compartment, keeled over so far that the floatplane was badly damaged.

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Thus, I was not able to make my planned reconnaissance flight over Pearl Harbor to survey the battle damage wrought by the attack of the task force that swept in from the north. Instead, I remained aboard the I-25, while it patrolled a hundred miles northeast of Oahu.

The mission of the I-25 at that time was to pick off any U.S. warships that might have survived the paralyzing air attack at Pearl Harbor as they sortied from their base, but it soon became clear that the attack was a complete success. For three days we patrolled back and forth without sighting a single enemy vessel. During those days I worked feverishly to repair the floatplane. Especially since an idea was forming in my mind that I hoped to put into practice. Originally my floatplane had been intended simply for reconnaissance missions and to scout ahead of the submarine for likely ship targets. Why not carry bombs, I speculated, and attack enemy targets from a highly mobile submarine base that could disappear immediately after the attack?

I was about to discuss the idea with the I-25 captain, Commander Meiji Tagami, when wireless orders came from Tokyo on December 10, to €œattack a carrier of the Lexington type!€ We immediately surfaced and ran full speed toward the position given us, but before we reached her, a flight of SBD dive-bombers from the enemy carrier spotted us and attacked.

€œDive! Dive!€ Commander Tagami shouted. The I-25 headed for deep water in the nick of time. Another sub close by was not so lucky. The dive-bombers hit and sank the I-70 while we lay deep and still through the day. It was then that I discussed my idea with the I-25€s executive officer, Lieutenant TatsuoTsukudo.

€œHalf a dozen submarines carrying airplanes could create panic along the west coast of America!€ I told him. €œWe could attack cities from Seattle to San Diego as well as hitting the Panama Canal locks at the same time the enemy would never know where the attacks came from!€ Tsukudo nodded enthusiastically, saying, €œYes, and that would force the enemy to pull back the bulk of his attacking warships for defensive patrols along the coast. Meanwhile, our navy could complete the conquest or the whole Pacific Ocean!€ My enthusiasm quickly drained, though, when another thought struck me. €œBut who would listen to my idea,€ I grumbled. €œI€m a farm boy from Kyushu who volunteered for service, not a graduate of Eta Jima like those high officers in Tokyo.€

€œWrite a letter just the same,€ Tsukudo insisted. €œI€ll see that it gets to the right people.€

That night I sat down with brush and ink and did what the executive officer had suggested. I proposed a way to bomb America from a submarine, a scheme I hoped the high command would not think insane. Then, having written the letter, I promptly forgot about it. The I-25 was ordered to patrol off the west coast of the United States. My damaged floatplane remained inside its watertight compartment while we joined eight other subs in hunting down enemy shipping along the freighter routes between Seattle and San Francisco.

Then orders came to shell the American mainland on Christmas Day! Further south, another of our submarines was heading for coastal oil refineries at Carpenteria, near Santa Barbara. As for us, we planned to slip right into San Francisco Bay where vast shipyards were waiting to be attacked. On the morning of the 27th we sighted an oil tanker and attacked. I watched from the conning tower as the crew leaped overboard and swam for lifeboats and I wondered if we would meet the same fate in San Francisco Bay. I never found out, because an emergency wireless message came which reported a large number of U.S. Navy ships passing through the Panama Canal.

We headed down the coast under full power to intercept the enemy ships, but our luck ran out. A destroyer sighted us and gave chase. Captain Tagami took the I-25 down, and we lay on the bottom listening to the depth charges exploding above us. It was a close shave.

Captain Tagami next headed the I-25 west to rejoin submarines of the Sixth Fleet in the Marshall Islands. Near Johnston Island on January 8 we sighted what appeared to be the carrier USS Langley and we fired a torpedo at her. However, I learned later that our bombers in another area had actually sunk her.

On January 11 we finally slid into the lagoon at Kwajalein Island, and for the first time in three months set foot on solid land. If was a welcome relief from the tedious life on board the submarine. We basked in the warm, tropical breeze and feasted on fresh fruits and vegetables. We swam in the lagoon and soaked up the sunshine, while others of the crew applied a fresh coating of black gum to the I-25€s hull. There was something in the air, though. Radio traffic through Hawaii was building up, and it became obvious that the enemy was planning a strike. It came suddenly on the morning of February 1, when U.S. carrier planes swept in over the lagoon and began bombing us. Their marksmanship was poor, however, and we were able to flood our compartments and sink to the bottom undamaged.

Two weeks later we were running southward through the Coral Sea and on February 13 I looked through the periscope at the lighthouse off Sydney, Australia, studying the high sandstone cliffs of Sydney Head. Inside that narrow passage was a harbor teeming with enemy shipping, but five days passed before the seas were calm enough to attempt a launching.

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At sunrise on the 17th Okuda and I climbed into the float plane, and soon we were flying inland north of Sydney, to circle back over the harbor. It was a beautiful sight, although at any moment I expected to see Allied fighters diving out of the sun at us as we flew slowly along. Okuda hurriedly marked his chart, indicating the types and number of ships at anchor or berthed at Sydney Cove, Globe Island, Pyrmont and Woolloomooloo. Our first reconnaissance flight over enemy territory had been successful, but very nearly ended in disaster. We could not find the I-25 when we returned to the rendezvous point! I thought of breaking radio silence and calling for a fix, when off to the south I saw a yellow puff of smoke. It was the I-25 signaling to us. Our compass had been in error, and it almost cost us our lives.

All that night the I-25€s radioman kept busy reporting to Tokyo the information we had gathered on the number and type of enemy shipping at Sydney, and on the 26th we were able to repeat the success at Melbourne.


*****

Commander Tagami then pointed I-25 southwards for their next mission - a similar flight over Melbourne. Tagami decided to launch the aircraft from Cape Wickham at the northern end of King Island at the western end of Bass Strait about half way between Victoria and Tasmania.
By midday on Wednesday 18 February 1942 they were nearly 400 miles south east of Sydney still heading southwards. Their course took them down the east coast of Tasmania and back up the west coast.

At 10.30 am on 19 February 1942 they were traveling on the surface 200 miles east of Hobart. They swung southwest about 80 miles off Cape Bruny lighthouse. That afternoon they hit a fierce storm as they headed westwards below Tasmania. By midnight they had passed Maatsuyker Island off the south west coast of Tasmania.

As they traveled up the west coast of Tasmania on 20 February 1942, the seas moderated. Before he launched the floatplane near Cape Wickham, Tagami made a submerged daylight trip across Bass Strait to Cape Otway. He made a number of periscope inspections of the southwest Victorian coastline when he was about 10 miles offshore.

They traveled the 37 miles back to Cape Wickham submerged. They saw a number of freighters traveling east through Bass Strait. They waited in sight of the northern end of King Island for a few days for conditions suitable to launch the aircraft. After sunset on Wednesday 25 February 1942, Tagami surfaced his submarine and for an hour made his way between the reefs and shoals to a position 10 miles north of Cape Wickham.

Nobuo Fujita and Shoji Okuda were ready for their flight over Melbourne. They could still see the beam of the unmanned Cape Wickham lighthouse in the distance through the light fog. I-25 moved forward to generate sufficient wind for take-off.

They were in the air about 2 hours before dawn on Thursday 26 February 1942. Fujita flew north across Bass Strait headed for Cape Otway where he banked to the north east and followed the coastline to the Point Lonsdale lighthouse near the narrow entrance to Port Phillip Bay. He then headed northeast towards the city of Melbourne. Fujita struck a few heavy banks of cloud. He flew across the Bellarine Peninsula towards Portarlington. The city of Geelong was 16 kms away to the left of his aircraft on the other side of Lake Connewarre.

He was flying NNE as he flew over Portarlington. He then flew another 24 kms along the western edge of Port Phillip Bay. He continued to encounter heavy cloud and was unsure of his position. They eventually dropped down from 1,500 meters into a gap in the clouds. At about 6.45 a.m. Fujita cleared the base of the clouds when he reached 300 meters. They had exited the clouds directly above the RAAF's Laverton airfield. There were about 12 Wirraways based at Laverton along with some Lockheed Hudsons and some Avro Ansons.

About nine RAAF personnel at Laverton reported sighting the Japanese aircraft. Two RAAF aircraft were scrambled to try to locate the intruder. They found nothing. Three Wirraways were sent to Bairnsdale.

Fujita climbed back into the relative safety of the clouds and headed for Melbourne. He passed over Altona. He used a tactic of dropping down out of the clouds every now and then to make some observations and then climbing back into the clouds for safety. His unexpected descent above RAAF Laverton had made him very nervous about the rest of their flight.

The crews of the 4 ack ack guns at Williamstown beside the rifle range were in the middle of a routine inspection of their guns when the telescope person spotted the aircraft identifying it as a Japanese aircraft. Aubrey Auton from Melbourne, spotted the prominent red roundel. The roundel was easy to spot as the aircraft was flying so slow and was very low.

The Lieutenant in charge of the gun battery unfortunately did not give the order to open fire. Instead he got on the phone to headquarters to obtain permission. By that time it was too late. Fujita turned right and headed across the rifle range butts towards Port Phillip Bay.








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Fujita continued his charmed journey across Melbourne at a height of 300 meters obtaining a birds eye view of the Yarra River, the central business district of Melbourne and the docks at the mouth of the Yarra River. He spotted a number of docks along the river used to repair ships. The other thing that struck him was the red, green and yellow roof tiles on all the houses and the beautiful countryside and the large flocks of sheep.

Fujita continued southwards over St. Kilda, Brighton and Sandringham. He then turned towards Frankstown. Okuda, with the canopy back, spotted 19 vessels anchored in the harbour through his binoculars. He also spotted 6 warships headed in single file towards the Port Melbourne dock area. Fujita confirmed through his binoculars that the leading ship was a light cruiser, and the others were all destroyers.

Fujita crossed the shore again near Dromona and continued on towards Cape Schanck where he was able to re-establish his position via the Cape Schanck lighthouse. He then set a direct 175 kms course for the Cape Wickham lighthouse. He spotted the submarine only 6 nautical miles east of the lighthouse. It had drifted 4 nautical miles closer to the lighthouse since they first took off.

Fujita and the crew of the submarine were concerned that the large submarine would be sighted by the lighthouse keepers at the Cape Wickham lighthouse. Little did they know that "downsizing" was alive and well in the 1940's. The superintendent and his 3 assistants had been withdrawn from the island when the original kerosene wick lamps were replaced by an acetylene flasher way back in 1918. Despite this, Fujita reported sighting 3 or 4 men dressed in white running around the lighthouse. He was sure they had been spotted. The aircraft was disassembled and as it was being stowed I-25 speed away from the area doing 14 knots. *Peter Dunn, €œAustralia At War€ http://home.st.net.au/~dunn/japrecce/recce02.htm (http://home.st.net.au/%7Edunn/japrecce/recce02.htm)

At dawn on the last day of February, the citizens of Hobart, Tasmania, would have been shocked to learn that we flew lazily over that seaport, mapping its defenses with absurd ease.

Commander Tagami then pointed Japanese submarine I-25 back down the west coast of Tasmania traveling on the surface. They decided to initiate the reconnaissance flight from Great Oyster Bay, which is located about half way up the east coast of Tasmania. The bay is about 35 kms long by 15 kms wide and is protected by the red granite cliffs and steep headlands of the Freycinet Peninsula and Schouten Island. Tagami brought I-25 into the large bay under a full moon.

Fujita decided to take off from the water rather than use the catapult on the front deck of the submarine. The €œGlen€ floatplane was withdrawn from the waterproof hanger at the front of the submarine, assembled, and lifted into the water. Two hours before dawn, Fujita and Okuda were heading south for Hobart. Once he was well south of Cape Pillar, Fujita turned northwest and went around the Tasman Peninsula. He then made another sharp turn and approached Hobart from a southerly direction.

With the full moon, they could easily spot all the fishing boats and coasters on the Derwent River. They spotted the glow of a furnace at a foundry and saw a white concrete road leading away from Hobart. They could see Mount Wellington looming over the beautiful city of Hobart. They saw 5 cargo ships at anchor but no warships.

Fujita retraced his course back to the submarine arriving back just after dawn. As they were preparing to lift the aircraft on to the deck of the submarine, Tsukudo spotted a small freighter steaming southwards. After some anxious moments it became apparent that the steamer had not seen the Japanese submarine.

As the €œGlen€ was being lifted, the submarine rolled in the rising swell causing the wingtip of the €œGlen€ to swing hard against the crane. The spruce formers and plywood wing ribs splintered under the impact. Fujita, who was still in the cockpit at the time, was devastated when he heard the cracking sound of the impact. Fujita was very concerned by the damage as there were no spare wings carried on I-25.

Tagami set out on the surface for their 4 day journey to New Zealand. The maintenance crews repaired the damaged wing tip but the adequacy of the repairs was disputed by Fujita. *Peter Dunn, €œAustralia At War€ http://home.st.net.au/~dunn/japrecce/recce05.htm (http://home.st.net.au/%7Edunn/japrecce/recce05.htm)

Okuda and I then completed our amazing series of reconnaissance flights with a run over Wellington, New Zealand, on, March 8, another over Auckland on the 12th, and, our last flight, over Suva, Fiji Islands, on the 18th. Not once were we intercepted. If we had been, Okuda and I had things all figured out. We would draw pursuit away from the submarine until we ran out of gas. Then we planned to land, destroy our papers, punch holes in the pontoons and commit hari-kari with our pistols. Fortunately for us, it never proved necessary to put that plan into effect.


*****

By mid-June 1942 we were back operating off Vancouver, British Columbia, shortly after the Battle of Midway, when orders came to shell the naval base at Astoria, Oregon. We felt it would be suicidal to attempt a flight over the base in our floatplane, but it was almost equally risky running the I-25 in through the minefields that we knew protected the mouth of the Columbia River. Shrewdly, Captain Tagami figured a way to avoid the mines. He would go in directly under a group of boats of a salmon fishing fleet we spotted heading for the mouth of the river! On June 21, Running just below the surface, we crept silently into the Columbia at dawn, in the middle of the fishing fleet, our periscope barely above the waves.

Suddenly we surfaced, raced in close to the naval base and fired off 17 rapid rounds of 5.5-inch shells from our deck gun, then turned and ran back through the surprised fishing fleet to the open sea. It was an incredibly daring feat, but it worked to our disadvantage: the report of the shelling brought all coastal shipping scurrying into port, frightened by our presence.

This long cruise ended on July 11 when we returned to Yokosuka, but instead of a long-awaited liberty at home, Captain Tagami handed me a message. I had to read it twice before I could believe it:

€œWARRANT OFFICER FUJITA IS INSTRUCTED TO REPORT TO IMPERIAL NAVAL HEADQUARTERS IMMEDIATELY.€

I had entirely forgotten my letter outlining my daring plan to bomb America, and did not know that it had received top priority in Tokyo. I found Commander Shojiro Iura€s office and nervously entered. €œI am Warrant Officer Fujita, sir,€ I said, saluting. €œChief flying officer of the I-25. You sent for me, sir.€ Iura smiled and stood. He introduced me to another officer in the uniform of a full commander. I recognized him immediately as Prince Takamatsu, and suddenly I panicked. I wanted to run. What had I gotten myself into? €œAt ease, Fujita,€ Iura said. €œDo you know why we sent for you?€ I shook my head, although secretly I knew it must have something to do about the letter I had written. €œFujita,€ he went on hurriedly, €œwe are going to have you bomb the American mainland.€

There it was. My heart leaped. I started to say something, but I could not. In my mind I could see myself winging over the Golden Gate, into the heart of the enemy camp, the way the Doolittle raiders had struck Tokyo only three months before. I thought of how I might drop my bombs smack on a brand new carrier still on the ways in a Seattle shipyard, or into an aircraft plant in Los Angeles or San Diego. By coincidence I learned my proposal to bomb America was not the only one. Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura, Japan€s former ambassador to the United States, had recently returned with the same idea.

A third officer entered the room and spread on the table a pile of charts that had been captured at Wake Island. He stabbed his forefinger at one of the charts and told me: €œYou will bomb the American forests for us, right here!€ I was dumfounded! Any novice pilot could hit a forest with a bomb! I was the Japanese Navy€s senior submarine flying officer and already I had proved to them my skill by flying half a dozen successful reconnaissance flights over enemy territory!

€œI can understand your confusion,€ the officer said abruptly. €œBut please understand what we want you to do. It would be foolish to send you over a heavily defended target and lose you. However, if you can start a forest fire here in Oregon,€ he continued and pointed to a spot on the map, €œit could start a great conflagration that will sweep down the coast and destroy whole cities!€ Catching the excitement of this officer€s words, I bent over the chart more closely. €œFujita,€ Commander Iura said, €œif you can succeed in this mission you may well help to win this war by spreading panic throughout the enemy cities, proving to them that we can bomb their homes and factories even though our Homeland is 5,000 miles away.€ He gripped, my hand, then concluded: €œOne more point, Fujita. This mission must be kept secret. Do not tell anyone, even your own wife.€

My heart was heavy when I visited home for a few days, and I could not even tell my family what was on my mind. My earlier flights had been relatively simple and of minor scope. This mission was different. I looked at my young son, Yasuyoshi, and knew I might never see him again. It was an agonizing leave. Only the secret knowledge of how much my contribution would mean to the Empire buoyed my spirits.

I left Yokosuka aboard the I-25 on August 15, with high hopes of the ultimate success of my mission to bomb the United States. I was going to destroy America€s myth that she was invulnerable from attack from another hemisphere. Not since the British Redcoats fired their incendiary rockets into the national capitol at Washington in 1812 had American soil been violated. I was going to prove, once and for all, that America could be bombed.

Things seemed to be going our way when we raised Cape Blanco on the morning of September 9, 1942. The wind blew out of the northwest. The Ocean was moderately ruffled by it, but not enough to abort the mission I had planned for so long. Heavy swells caused our submarine, the I-25, to pitch and roll dangerously, dipping into white waves that broke over her black hull and sent spindrift flying.

It was 4 A.M. by the luminous dial on my wris****ch. I sat on the edge of my bunk, carefully cleaning my pistol. I hadn€t slept well, thinking about the suicidal mission that lay ahead, and trying to prepare myself for it in the proper manner.

I had great faith in my ability to complete the mission to bomb the United States of America, but I did not try to deceive myself about my personal fate €¦I had learned to look upon death as an honor, if one died for the Emperor.
Beside me, I noticed my little paulowniawood box. I opened it. Everything was in order including my will, clippings of my hair, and fingernail cuttings. I closed the lid and thought for a moment of my wife and son, back home 5,000 miles away, in Kyushu, Japan. I wondered how she would feel, receiving this box of my last remains, all that would be left to cremate if I did not return home.

There was a knock. I looked up. It was a messenger dispatched by Lieutenant Commander Meiji Tagami, our submarine commander. €œCommander Tagami wishes to see you, sir,€ the messenger said, saluting. I returned his salute and followed him to the central control room beneath the conning tower. Tagami nodded and beckoned me to join him at the periscope. €œLook,€ he said excitedly. €œTell me what you see!€

My heart beat fast as I placed my eye to the periscope, grasped the handles and slowly moved it left and right. At first I saw nothing, until my eyes became accustomed to the half-light of coming dawn, a luminous glow over the eastern horizon that slowly rose and fell with the action of the waves. €œI see!€ I cried suddenly. €œI see it!€ I froze at the eyepiece, staring at the blinking light in the distance - the Cape Blanco Lighthouse! We were less than 15 miles off the coast of America, north of the California-Oregon border, and within the hour I would be sweeping inland past that landmark on a mission no one had believed could be carried off.

€œYou€re going to make history today, Nobuo,€ the commander smiled. €œYou€re going to show them who really owns the Pacific - the Empire of the Rising Sun!€ We shook hands, and at that moment I felt grimly confident that I would repay in full what the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders had done to us four months earlier. €œFor the honor of those who died aboard the Ryuho!€ I cried. From the look on Tagami€s face I knew he too was thinking of those men killed by the first bombs to hit Japan€s mainland, that day on April 18 when the B-25 swept low across Tokyo Harbor and attacked the Ryuho, while we in the I-25 lay alongside.


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Now it was time to go. I buckled on my parachute harness, grabbed my helmet and goggles and went up the ladder through the conning tower to the slippery deck. Behind me came my navigator-bombardier, Petty Officer Shoji Okuda, a taciturn man who accepted the responsibility of flying this mission-with complete stoicism. To him it was simply another job to be done. I couldn€t understand how he could be calm about it.

I sucked my lungs full of fresh air. Bad weather had kept us submerged for several days; we came up only long enough to recharge our batteries at night. A weather front had passed, a dry front that had not brought rain. The forests of Oregon should be tinder-dry, and with luck our incendiary bombs would start a great firestorm that the Japanese High Command predicted would sweep the western coast of America with disastrous effect.
Already the launch crew had opened the doors of the watertight hangar and moved my floatplane into position on the catapult at the bow of the I-25. She looked sleek and clean, my little bomber, poised there waiting to strike disastrously at America!

€œCome on,€ I cried to Okuda. €œIt will soon be sunup!€
Okuda followed me to the plane, and after I settled into the front seat of the greenhouse, he climbed in behind me. Our two bombs were tucked beneath the wings, and the launch officer gave me the signal. We were set to go. I quickly ran through my preflight check, fired up the engine, and then called Okuda on intercom. €œPrepare for launch!€

Okuda€s face looked tense, but he nodded that he was ready. I moved the throttle full forward, heard the engine pick up speed. The floatplane tugged at the catapult hooks, and I pressed back in the seat, waiting for the explosion of the launching gun that would shove us skyward on one of the strangest missions of World War II. With a mighty blast we were catapulted into the air from the deck of the submarine. At long last we were airborne and Okuda and I roared off toward the coast to bomb America!


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I adjusted my goggles, slid the canopy open and peered ahead, past the blinking Cape Blanco light. There was the rising sun in the eastern sky, a gloriously thrilling sight! It was a rising sun to greet the first Japanese plane over America to retaliate for the horror of the Doolittle Raid. I scanned the sky carefully, swiveling my head to look in all directions for enemy fighters we expected to jump us at any moment. We had heard of the great advances the United States had made in radar, and we believed it would be a 100-to-l chance for us to bomb our target and return safely to the waiting submarine. But, oddly, there were no planes in the sky. I felt an exhilarated - the coastline of America was completely, undefended €¦ at least, it appeared undefended when Okuda and I flew over it at 9,000 feet and looked at the breathtaking scenery below us.

Passing the lighthouse in the early morning sun, I banked left toward the high mountains of the upper Umpqua River. For miles there were nothing but great forests covering the grandeur of the Coastal Range, from Coos Bay on the north to the valley of the Rogue River off our right wing. Somewhere down below, we hoped, our bombs would start a great firestorm that would swirl down the coast with mounting intensity and precipitate a national disaster for America. At this moment, I doubted very much the wisdom of Headquarters€ decision to strike at the enemy in such a remote region, but it was not for me to question their strategy. In fact, it had been a bitter disappointment to me that they had not acted on my original suggestion to bomb the shipyards of Seattle or San Francisco, or attack the aircraft plants in Los Angeles and San Diego. And, in reality, they had almost chosen as our target the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal. There, a well-placed bomb could plug that vital traffic artery and create greater havoc.

I looked down at the dense forest and nodded to Okuda. He released for a 73-kilogram incendiary bomb slung under the port wing, but the weight of the other bomb caused us to roll to starboard. Circling, I watched the bomb fall down into a small valley and explode with a brilliant white light that was followed by an orange ball of fire. I rocked the wings and felt elated. We had done it! We had bombed America! I flew eastward and, over the next ridge, signaled Okuda to release the second bomb. It fell away and exploded in a brilliant white blossom and then I turned 180 degrees and headed back.

Down below a forest fire had started from the first bomb as a northwest wind proceeded up the valley fanning the fire we had started.
There was no time to waste now. Certainly we had been spotted; at the very least, the fire would attract the attention of forest lookouts. Our hope was that the fire erupted in a section so remote it would rage out of control before smoke jumpers could be flown to contain it. I dove for the coast at full throttle and skimmed across the coastline at less than100 feet altitude, flying directly between two freighters moving southward close to shore. I sighted the I-25, waiting for us at the rendezvous point, and came down for a perfect water landing close by.

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A crane swung us aboard and within minutes the floatplane was stowed in its sealed hangar and we were running out to sea, submerged.

I went directly to the control room and found Captain Tagami. €œMission completed, sir!€ I cried excitedly. €œWe€ve started two big fires and the plane is in excellent condition. Oh, one more thing, there are two merchant ships to the east, headed north at 12 knots!€

Without bothering to congratulate me, Captain Tagami shouted to the navigator: €œGive me an intercept course for those freighters!€ We surfaced once more and were running toward the vessels at full speed when planes appeared on the horizon. We had been spotted, and the U.S. Navy was out to get us. But again, Tagami was too quick for them. We submerged to 250 feet and spent the day there, lying silent with engines off, listening to the depthcharges exploding in the distance.

After dark we surfaced once more for fresh air, and to charge the batteries. Suddenly the radioman cried out, €œIt€s Tokyo!€ he yelled. €œThey say San Francisco radio reports enemy incendiary bombs have been dropped over Oregon! Do you think they mean us?€ We all laughed at that, and tired and happy I went to my bunk for some sorely needed sleep.

For nearly three weeks after that raid we hunted enemy shipping off the West Coast of America. Then, on the night of September 29, we surfaced once more, 50 miles west of Cape Blanco. We had a surprise for the Americans. To many of them, the Japanese are a people who only copy others, who do the same thing in the same predictable way. Now, instead of another dawn attack, we were going to make a night raid, but on the same target!

A bright moon hung in the eastern sky as Okuda and I flew through the black night toward the Oregon coast. Except for the Cape Blanco light, which drew us like a moth to a candle, all the coastal lights from the little town of Brookings Harbor were blacked out. But that gleaming Cyclops eye from the lighthouse made a perfect navigation beacon for us. We crossed the coastline directly above the light and then continued inland over enemy territory for half an hour. Finally I checked the luminous dial on my cockpit clock and waggled the wings. €œBombs away!€ I called to Okuda. Again he released the two bombs, one after the other, and we watched them explode with blinding flashes that soon blossomed into the dull red glow of a spreading forest fire.

Dropping down to 1,000 feet we streaked back across the coastline, just north of Cape Blanco Lighthouse. €œContinue on course for 20 minutes,€ Okuda called to me. I nodded and did as he said, but at the end of that time, when we circled over the sea, we saw nothing! Alarmed, I wondered whether the I-25 had been surprised and forced to submerge. After all, we were expendable. The mission comes first, the sub next, and we came last.
Then I remembered the compass trouble we had experienced flying over Sydney in February. Angrily, I reversed course and flew back to the Cape Blanco light. We had barely enough fuel to start out again from that single reference point in a last desperate effort to find the I-25 on a corrected course. If that failed, I intended to die honorably by flying back and ramming headlong into the lighthouse.

At the end of the next 20-minute run I again circled over the sea, and again saw nothing. But now the moon was higher in the sky, and just as I prepared to give up and return to crash the lighthouse, I spotted an oil slick in the moonlight path that stretched off toward the east. I dropped lower and circled the oil slick. Then I saw the black hull of the submarine, lying there waiting for us. Captain Tagami had guessed at our plight when we were late returning, and he had ordered a drum of oil poured overboard as a signal to us!

The second firebombing had been as successful as the first, but now we bad only two bombs left. I began to wish that we had brought more-perhaps I might even get radio orders to attack San Francisco. But bad weather set in, and soon Captain Tagami gave up waiting for a day calm enough to launch one more strike. We moved off to the west on October 5. On that day and the next we torpedoed two juicy tankers off Seattle.

With one torpedo left, we took up a course of 260 degrees until, 600 miles west of the Washington coast, our lookout spotted a pair of enemy submarines. Captain Tagami manned the periscope and waited until they were dead ahead, then fired. The torpedo leaped from its launch tube and streaked off on its deadly mission, leaving a white wake behind. We waited; counting under our breaths, until we heard the explosion-it was a direct hit!

No one cheered. Among the men who live under the sea there is a gallantry reminiscent of the type that existed among the wood-and-wire pilots of World War I. We had sent to the bottom a crew of men who were enemies of Japan, but submariners nonetheless. Each of us said a silent prayer for them.

There was still much work ahead for me as a reconnaissance pilot, and I pushed from my mind any idea of becoming a national hero. We arrived back at Yokosuka on October 24 tired and dirty, our legs swollen with beriberi from lack of vitamins and green vegetables.

At that time of our return only a few submarines, including the I-25, had been fitted with clumsy watertight deck hangars, which housed one small float-equipped Type Zero submarine-reconnaissance airplane. I did not know until months later that my original ideas and my recent successes had gained even greater attention at headquarters and that plans were being rushed to build a whole fleet of giant super-submarines of the I-400 class, capable of making a round trip to any port in the world with three bombing planes.

While some of the admirals favored the idea, it met with opposition from Vice-Admiral Shigeyoshi Miwa, director of the Naval Submarine Department, among others. One strong objection was that the super subs were too easily spotted by enemy radar. To overcome this problem, they were heavily coated with sticky black gum. Construction ordered on nine super subs, but only four actually were built and used to form new First Submarine Squadron in December of 1944.

The airplane to be carried on the super subs was also unique. It was designated as the Aichi M6Al and given the beautiful name Seiran, which means €œMountain Haze on a Clear Day.€ While special combat crews were being trained to attack replicas of the Panama Canal Zone, work was speeded on the Seiran; a sleek, low-wing floatplane powered with an inline 1,400 horsepower Atsuta engine, designed after the German Daimler Benz. Beneath the fuselage was a rack for carrying a single torpedo or two 250-kilogram bombs. In order to fit inside the submarine€s small watertight compartment, the Seiran was equipped with folding wings and tail surfaces. To spread the wings and tail surfaces prior to flight necessitated an eight-man crew, who completed the operation in six minutes. Their task was made easier at night by coating the important parts with luminous paint. Despite the Seiran€s beauty, it was relatively slow. It could fly over 700 miles to target and back, with a cruising speed of around 180 mph and, at that crawling speed, a pilot€s chances of getting back were slim.

After my return to Japan in the Fall of 1942, I did not then know my fate was to be assigned as a flight instructor, but first I had been given time to visit with my wife and son. It was strange, not being able to tell them how I had bombed America. The project was still top secret, and instead of becoming a national hero, as Jimmy Doolittle was in America I remained a simple warrant officer. I received no promotion and no bonus, yet I felt great satisfaction in having completed my missions as best as I knew how.

During my first week home, I took my wife and son on a trip to town, to enjoy a festive meal in celebration of my return. But it was not as festive for me, all I could think of was the bomb, the bomb. I had dropped the first bomb on America. It was strange, when, years later, I remembered my preoccupation with €œmy bomb€ that night, because the restaurant in which we ate no longer is there.

The town in which we had dined that day long ago was Nagasaki.

Nabuo Fujita, 1962.


The End

Credits/Acknowledgments:

Nabuo Fujita M/S Edited/Annotated 2006 by James F. Lansdale

Nabuo Fujita Family

Nabuo Fujita & Don Dwiggins, €œMan€s Illustrated,€ Vol.III, No.165, December 1962

Zenji Orita with Joseph D. Harrington, €œI-Boat Captain,€ Major Books, Canoga Park:1976

Peter Dunn, €œAustralia At War€

Juzo Nakamura Collection

LRA Collection

berg417448
10-10-2006, 05:09 PM
Thanks for posting.

I remember reading this very same story in a paperback book of short stories that I bought probably 30 years ago. Good stuff.

El Turo
10-10-2006, 05:23 PM
Good read!

LOL @ wris****ch

leitmotiv
10-10-2006, 08:02 PM
The History Channel ran a doc about late-war Japanese aerial weapons. Involved the I-400 class submarine-launched Seiran advanced floatplane strike aircraft. Supposedly, in 1945 the Navy wanted to drop weaponized anthrax over San Francisco which had been perfected in the hideous Japanese Army lab in Manchuria and tested successfully with aircraft on the Chinese. The Army incomprehensibly vetoed the plan. This was news to me.

mandrill7
10-10-2006, 08:36 PM
Ahem........ You guys are forgetting Big Bud McTavish. During the War of 1812, Big Bud took off in a hot air balloon from Little York, Upper Canada (now known as Toronto, Ontario) and dropped hockey pucks on the US Army base at Buffalo, NY. The US quickly sued for peace and Canada was saved from becoming part of the USA and became.... err, Canada.

leitmotiv
10-10-2006, 08:43 PM
Awww, com'on, you are letting us off the hook---we invaded Canada again in 1812 and were seen off again like in the Rev War. How humiliating!

fordfan25
10-10-2006, 10:28 PM
Originally posted by mandrill7:
Ahem........ You guys are forgetting Big Bud McTavish. During the War of 1812, Big Bud took off in a hot air balloon from Little York, Upper Canada (now known as Toronto, Ontario) and dropped hockey pucks on the US Army base at Buffalo, NY. The US quickly sued for peace and Canada was saved from becoming part of the USA and became.... err, Canada. yea we lost bad on that one http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

DIRTY-MAC
10-11-2006, 05:53 PM
back to topic and a bump

bhunter2112
10-11-2006, 06:29 PM
I always seems odd to me. These crazy plans. Add up all the resources used /sub/men/fuel/time all for the end result 2 small bombs starting two small fires.

They would have done MUCH better just putting on shore a few two man commando suicide teams with Pistols and zippo lighters. Hide by day travel at night - steal food/ammo/weapons. Sow destruction.