Operation Bombing of Akita

The 'Bombing of Akita', also known as the 'Bombing of Tsuchizaki', was the attack by Major General Curtis E. LeMay’s US XXI Bomber Command as part of the strategic bombing campaign waged by the USA against military and civilian targets and population centres during the Japanese home islands campaign in the closing stages of World War II (14/15 August 1945).

The attack was reportedly the longest-ranged and also the last bombing mission in World War II, coming only hours before Japan announced its surrender.

The town of Tsuchizaki was a major port on the coast of the Sea of Japan, a railway nexus and a major centre for the processing of oil from nearby oilfields. The town was incorporated into the neighbouring city of Akita on 1 April 1941 and, despite its military significance, had not been attacked during the initial stages of the strategic bombing campaign. This was a result, at least in part, of its remote location.

On 14 August 1945, the day before the surrender of Japan, a force of 134 Boeing B-29 Superfortress four-engined heavy bombers of Brigadier General Frank A. Armstrong’s 315th Bombardment Wing launched an attack on the coastal part of the city. The bombers arrived over their target without opposition at 22.30 on the night of 14 August 14, and dropped a total of 7,360 220-lb (100-kg) and 4,687 110-lb (50-kg) bombs, with the final bomber departing the target area at 03.30 in the early morning of 15 August. The bombs completely destroyed the oil refinery of the Nippon Oil Company and adjacent port facilities, and the resulting fire spread to the neighbouring town. The estimated civilian casualties were more than 250 people killed, and an estimated 200 severely injured.