Profile Photo
Tom Cleaver
906 articles

The Doolittle Raid - in color

May 9, 2022 · in Photo Collections · · 21 · 1K

This is Totally Cool

This is the stuff that makes me love being an historian.

My friend and fellow researcher Lynn Ritger just spent the last several days playing “Squirrel!” in the uncategorized digitized film files at the National Archives.

The best is this. Footage taken from Spruance's flagship, the cruiser “Northampton,” as she escorted the carriers “Enterprise” and “Hornet” on the Doolittle Raid. The footage includes the takeoffs of the bombers from the “Hornet.”


Never seen before in any documentary.

I'm really glad the photographer managed to turn around and look at the guys watching the planes get into the air - it's the looks on their faces that tell you what the mission was all about.

Reader reactions:
14  Awesome

21 responses

  1. Awesome! Thanks to you and Lynn for this!

  2. Fantastic! What a gem of a find. I didn’t realize that there were other planes in the air that day. Pretty choppy weather to recover those Seagulls!

  3. Tom, @tcinla
    This is an incredible find. My Aunt's husband served on the USS Astoria, He ended up losing part of a finger on one hand, when they were rolling depth charges overboard trying to sink a Japanese sub. He used to joke about it, saying if it would have been my trigger finger, the Navy would have let me go home. Instead they wrapped it up and he went back to his duties.

    My Dad worked as a deep sea fisherman for many years, and he told me all about the white caps on the waves, and how you can judge the seas by the appearance of the caps. I knew from reading and looking at pictures how they timed the launches of the B-25's to compensate for the waves... after seeing this short clip, now I completely understand how it was necessary.

    These guys had big brass ones... The colors are so vivid on the Curtiss Seagulls, and it's neat to see the red and white stripes on the rudders.

    Years ago I met Lynn at the Hobby Towne store in Ormond Beach. He and I talked for a good long while. He seemed like he was very knowledgeable about the 109's. Small world isn't it ?

    Thanks for sharing this with us. I definitely pressed the "like" button.

  4. Ritger's a helluva guy. And he didn't get the nickname "Mr. 109" for playing tiddlywinks.

  5. Love the guys on deck saluting the crews basically flying off into the unknown.

  6. Profile Photo
    Walt said on May 10, 2022

    Thanks Tom, @tcinla, that is some remarkable and amazing footage. Those B-25's look like they were just hanging in the sky. The story is amazing and the men involved were incredibly brave and remarkable men. Thanks again for sharing this video, it is now saved to my computer.

  7. Simply Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Amazing history, Tom @tcinla
    Thanks for sharing.
    Great that we can share this valuable information amongst others more easily these days.

  9. Impressive footage, Tom!
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Fabulous primary source! Thanks for sharing!

  11. We can’t ever understand what was in their minds, but watching this is the closest I ever felt.

  12. The footage certainly does feel like you're there. Including feeling seasick watching the waves chop about.

  13. That is incredible! @tcinla, Thanks so much for sharing that with us here. To see those Mitchells lifting off that carrier deck, well, it's just amazing to think about what we're actually witnessing. And in color, no less. That is wonderful, historic footage and makes one wonder what other gems have not been unearthed yet. And yes, it's the human aspect and the faces of those young men that moves me most. Wow. Just wow.

  14. Incredible footage! It’s almost like it happend a few years ago. I second Louis opinion, the Seagulls clip shows the pristine conditions those scouts had by then. Fabulous images and superb atmosphere in each frame

  15. Great! I wish to build B-25 in the future!

  16. Priceless. Thanks for sharing, Tom. Some of the "shots" have a John Ford feel/perspective.

  17. That is some cool stuff indeed!

  18. Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Extraordinary find. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Simply amazing footage that desperately needs restoration ala HBO's Cold Blue. I've seen black and white versions of the takeoff scenes and overflights in documentaries, but not in Kodachrome.

  21. Fantastic to see. Thank you for posting.You almost felt like you were on board.

Leave a Reply