When Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, China had already been at war with Japan for four years. President Roosevelt was determined to avenge the devastating blow to American morale by striking back. A daring scheme was devised to attack Japan with bombers taking off from an aircraft carrier – an audacious enterprise that had never been done before. America’s most famous flier, Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, was put in charge of the mission. Returning to an American base was impossible. The sixteen flight crews were instructed to fly on to China after completing their mission, overflying the territories occupied by Japan.
The American fleet was spotted, forcing an earlier takeoff and an even greater distance before the fliers reached their targets. None of them was able to land safely in China, running out of fuel and forced to crash land or bail out. Astonishingly, sixty-five of the eighty airmen avoided capture or death. They owed their survival to the bravery and support of the Chinese people they encountered.
The Doolittle Raid tells this story. The principal flight crew we follow are fictional characters, as are the Chinese who bravely assisted them, but the essential facts are true. The film is dedicated to the very real heroes who risked their lives to achieve what was thought to be impossible. And to the quarter of a million Chinese who lost their lives in the subsequent Japanese reprisals.
- Produced by: Anthony J. Scotti, Donna Smith and Bo Han
- Director: Bruce Beresford
- Screenplay: Dick Clement and Ian LaFrenais