Last Bomb, The (1945) Movie Script

Early in 1945
our B-29s began full-scale
operations against Japan.
1,500 miles to the targets...
and 1,500 miles back.
From bases at Saipan, Tinian and Guam.
Here, 21st Bomber Command
concentrated its massive air power
and planned the ultimate
crushing defeat of Japan,
down to the last bomb.
Here was the beginning
of the end of the road to Tokyo.
After six months of reoccupation,
there were few signs of war along
the quiet summer shores of Guam.
The liberated Chamorrans
were back in their native villages,
American citizens again,
smiling and friendly, unaware that
a miracle had happened around them.
A miracle that moved mountains
of material, equipment and supplies
across the Pacific,
that changed their dirt roads
into highways,
that manicured their jungles
into acres of blacktopped airfields.
Nearby, new communities of American
citizens had set up housekeeping
with various types of self-service...
the latest labor-saving devices,
few laundry problems...
and no modern inconveniences.
By midsummer, 21st Bomber Command
was in business - big business.
Under General LeMay's direction,
Bomber Command began punching
the enemy with appalling power.
From Guam, Tinian, and Saipan
600-plane missions
increased the bombing weight
100 per cent in two months.
Behind this expanding power
was planning.
The LeMay plan began on the ground,
with maintenance.
Assembly-line technique
cut engine change time
from three days to less than half a day.
In shops and hardstands crews work
day and night during the blitz weeks
to keep more B-29s on the line.
By July, LeMay's Bomber Command
is an efficient,
well-drilled machine of destruction.
Here's a vital cog of that machine-
11 men and a bomber.
While they wind up for action,
let's find out where they're going
and some of the things they're going
to do and why and with what.
How do they set up the longest,
toughest bomber mission in history?
It began about 12 hours ago
in the war room at Guam
with General LeMay receiving a report
on tomorrow's weather in Japan.
Tomorrow's forecast is typical.
Nagoya, eight tenths
cloud above 10,000 feet.
In the east, Tokyo area
will be six tenths at 22,000,
three tenths at 14,000 feet,
closing up solid after 11 A.M...
Osaka and everything west
is completely socked in.
How will the general solve that one?
His B-29s are up against a blank wall
except for an opening around Tokyo.
The old man considers every factor
and makes his decision.
Four wings will strike Tokyo
at ten o'clock.
They'll go in under that weather
and bomb at 12,000.
Now it's a question of target selection.
First priority in the Tokyo area
is number 573.
Intelligence informs the general that 573
is already three quarters destroyed.
At the moment 574, still untouched,
would seem more important.
Operations checks
the tactical plan for 574.
General LeMay orders
the required changes, OKs the target
and commits
all executive details to his staff.
Operations, with its deputy chief of staff
and project officer,
goes to work setting up the changes.
In that plans folder
is a mountain of preparation
by special sections of
Intelligence and Operations,
a thousand hours of research,
collated facts and figures have
been distilled into tactical plan 574.
Aircraft will assemble as briefed
with three groups of P-51s for escort.
Smoke markers at one-minute intervals
will be dropped to expedite departure
from assembly point.
One squadron each wing
will carry M47 incendiary clusters.
Balance of squadrons,
500 and 1,000Ib GP bombs
fused a quarter second nose and tail.
Altitude of attack, 12,000 feet.
Planes of 314th wing
will carry capacity fuel loads
of approximately
7,300 gallons per plane.
Calibrated airspeed of 210mph will be
flown by all aircraft on bombing run.
Radar landfall 34 50' north and 01 40
east will be the same for all planes
to afford a good
land-water contrast checkpoint.
The Navy has requested to furnish
the following facilities
for air-sea rescue purposes-
three surface vessels
to proceed to positions X,
four submarines assigned
to lifeguard duties at positions Y,
two Dumbos to orbit at station Z,
four B-29s will orbit as super Dumbos
at the following positions.
The plan is double-checked.
To supervise
certain aspects of planning,
Lieutenant Colonel Caton,
a former lead crew pilot,
was brought over to staff
as project officer.
This officer's extensive
combat experience
helps to iron out operational kinks.
He will accompany this mission
to observe new smoke signals
at assembly point.
A field order is
now dispatched to the wings.
Takeoff time is flashed to the controller,
who coordinates the vast network
of communications
gathered here at the heart
and nerve center of command.
Here in the control room
status panels and a mission board
are maintained
to show at a glance the up-to-the-minute
details of all daily operations.
Prior to takeoff,
each mission is set up on the board
to afford a visual progress of the flight.
From takeoff to target and return.
Colored yarns, one for each wing,
are laid out to indicate the flight lines,
which pass close to Iwo Jima,
the halfway point.
And proceed as specified
in the field order to the proper target.
Other symbols are used to mark
air-sea rescue positions.
A timetable of statistics for each wing,
as planned and flown,
is recorded from hourly reports
on the status panel,
beginning with takeoff time.
To veteran crews,
it's just another day's work.
One more 1,500-mile haul
up and down the ruddy Pacific.
15 hours, 7,000 gallons,
four engines, 11 guys.
Knock wood.
A water jump across
20 degrees of the globe,
a continent of ocean.
Destination, Tokyo.
It's like taking off in Mexico
for targets in Canada.
The 314th is airborne.
145 planes, one minute apart,
67 tons each.
Those B-29 takeoffs are a tough sweat.
That first long moment is the worst.
Some swear it takes luck,
like a wife's stocking, to beat it.
At Tinian, 100 miles north,
two more B-29 wings prepare for takeoff.
134 aircraft from the 58th wing.
100 more from the 313th wing.
At Saipan a few minutes later, the
veteran 73rd wing lines up for takeoff.
153 more bombers are added
to the mission's striking force.
The last B-29 is airborne at 15:40.
The tower at Saipan relays this
information to the controller at Guam.
First and last takeoff times
of each wing are recorded here
and go to make up the first
of a series of tabulated mission reports.
Copies of these reports are dispatched
to headquarters, Washington,
and posted on
the control room report board.
During that first hour, the B-29s
have settled down for the big grind,
saving precious gas,
cruising 1,000 feet off the water.
Ability, experience, confidence
ride in each plane.
A plan of action for 11 men
trained and tested to function as one.
The navigator sets the course,
logging island checkpoints as
they climb past the northern Marianas.
Pagan, Asuncion, Maug, The Pajaros.
After about four hours of flight,
the bombers pass close to Iwo Jima.
The hot rock. A black, gritty
pork chop halfway to Honshu.
Eight square miles
bought and paid for by our marines.
We made some quick changes.
Cutting away that
sulphurous volcanic crust
and rolling Iwo's surface into
one enormous flattop.
Three big airstrips now launch off
P-51s for bomber escort over Japan.
General Moore and his staff of
Seventh Fighter Command run the show
and direct all air-sea rescues in close
collaboration with Bomber Command.
A last-minute briefing check,
just to make sure today's fighter escort
knows all air-sea rescue positions.
General Moore's P-51s are warming up
for the longest fighter flight on record.
Seven hours and one engine.
Extra belly tanks.
Extra nerve and stamina in the cockpit.
About the time our bomber wings
are passing Iwo Jima,
the P-shooters are taking off,
scheduled to join them three and a half
hours later off the shores of Japan.
After a rendezvous at Kita,
the P-51s head for assembly point
led by B-29s designated
as navigator ships.
Farther west, our bomber wings grind
ahead on the last lap to the empire.
Reports to the controller at Guam
give their flight position,
which is kept up to the hour
on the mission board.
Still at low altitude, the B-29s
are approaching the bad weather belt,
where unreported storms
and cold fronts
appear suddenly
across the bomber course.
Pilot to crew,
we're gonna start our climb.
Check oxygen equipment.
Tell Bucky he better get
out to his dog house.
As they begin their
slow climb to altitude,
the crews prepare for
the business ahead
and from now on till they come off target
and head home, it's all business.
The central fire control system
is warmed up.
Superhuman brainpower
at the flick of a switch.
Each gunner flexes his sights
and tries the coordinated fire controls
with a few short bursts
to clear the guns.
After pushing up to altitude, the
bombers arrive close to assembly point.
Air in the pressurized cabin
is comparable to 8,000 feet
but oxygen masks are adjusted
and ready for instant use.
From the southeast our fighter escort
appears with its navigator ships,
which now turn off to wait for
the fighters return at rally point.
The Mustangs climb in formation
to take positions
above the boxes of B-29s.
Lead bombers begin to circle,
dropping their new smoke markers
for assembly.
The project officer observes
this part of the tactical plan in action.
From various zone positions
the groups separate.
And form on their lead ships
in nine-or 11-plane waves...
which head for initial point.
The big parade is on.
Landfall is picked up,
along with the first flak burst
from enemy coastal batteries.
Fujiyama, the familiar white beacon,
marks the turn for initial point.
Flak becomes heavier
and more accurate.
And now the first Jap snoopers appear
diving head-on into the formations.
Some are suicide fighters
trying to ram our bombers.
Other Jap fighters
drop phosphorous bombs
set to explode in front
of the oncoming B-29s.
Our P-51s go out after them
and know they're tangling with experts.
The P-51s' job is to protect the B-29s.
But some Jap fighters filtered through
and meet the blast of bomber guns.
A tail gunner pleads with a Nip fighter
to come in a little closer.
From the turn at initial point the
tight bomber waves move steadily on
and get ready for business.
Flak and fighters fall off.
But those clouds are beginning
to close in and it looks worse ahead.
Then just east of Hachioji,
the Tokyo area breaks clear.
The bombardiers begin
to draw a bead on 574.
Their planes sit tight
for the bombing run.
Here's where we pay off.
Two Jap aircraft plants
and an aerodrome 12,000 feet below
are about to receive
4,000 tons of destruction.
The first waves of B-29s
have already found their objective.
Succeeding bomber groups add
their devastation to the smoking targets.
Tactical plan 574
is now an accomplished fact.
The bombers turn and go downwind
across the burnt acres of Tokyo.
Close-up cameras show the scars of
those spectacular fire strikes last March.
51 square miles of LeMay treatment.
Across the bay and a tailwind speeds
them south down the Chiba peninsular.
This is fighter country.
With the first call on the intercom
our Mustangs peel off
and go to work again.
With the big bombers homeward bound
our P-51s dropped down
for strafing runs,
concentrating on definite objectives
from here to the enemy coast.
Skimming along at maximum speed,
the fighters pair off and go to work
cutting vital Jap lifelines.
Blasting away at communications,
radio installations, power lines.
Swooping down on
enemy transportation, railroads,
marshaling yards,
small suburban factories.
And airfields.
Then onto shipping targets-
freighters, fishermen, trawlers,
harbor and coastal craft.
Destroyer or lugger,
it's the same enemy.
After strafing,
our fighters climb back to rally point
and the waiting B-29 navigator planes.
With the first sight of Iwo,
fuel gauges are down close to empty
but fighters' spirits begin to rise.
They wind up and finish with a kick
coming past Suribachi
at whiplash speed
and zoom into their victory rolls.
Once over for each Jap killed.
After the last fighter groups are in,
all hands sweat in
those first limping B-29s.
That runway is a beautiful sight
as they let down
with engines out, low on gas
or beat up by flak and fighters.
In three months nearly 2,000 crippled
or gas-shy B-29s havened at Iwo.
You can understand why those
four-fan boys bless those marines
and even name their planes after them.
The lucky ones are fueled
and depart for home bases in an hour.
But Iwo still has its hazards.
Weather can turn this station
into a hopeless day-mare.
Fog and quick overcast often blacks out
the airstrip during these crucial periods.
That means orders to bail out.
Or with luck, a B-29 might drop in
for a copybook ditching.
From here you can see how
the cloud cover smothers the runway
and realize what one pilot went through.
Sometimes a battle-scarred bomber
staggers back to Iwo
only to flatten out
at the last heartbreaking second.
By some miracle,
the whole crew got away to safety
before 2,000 gallons of flaming gas
enveloped them.
Firefighters risked their lives
to save the ship.
This too takes courage
beyond the line of duty.
Far to the south, most of the wings
are nearing their bases.
Exhausted crews wait out
the last endless hour
when time seems to stop.
Their position is radioed in
and the controller gets word
of the approaching flight.
At last the familiar Marianas
appear on the horizon.
The bombers fly across Guam
and turn in to the landing pattern.
15 hours ago they left
the other end of that runway.
It's a pleasure to be back, a pleasure
to roll on solid familiar blacktop.
It's good to feel the sudden humid heat.
To be among the living,
swapping details with the ground crew.
Flak, fighters, the close call,
the one that got away.
But some of those B-29 crews
won't be able to talk it over today.
11 men and a bomber
that didn't quite make it.
The rescue squads
tear away the hot metal.
Somehow in that burning wreckage
a man has lived to feel
those eager gallant hands.
One life saved and ten lost.
That's part of today's toll.
There were many other days and nights
that took their toll
of young American lives
in the service of
our relentless expanding air power.
By the end of July,
our B-29s had all but obliterated
the enemy's ability to make war.
1,000-plane missions
were going to hit Japan
with twice the monthly tonnage
that ever fell on Germany.
The question was how much longer
would a beaten Japan hold out.
In August we made a test
that never was applied to Germany.
While great land, sea and air forces
gathered for the last invasion,
our B-29s dropped two atomic bombs...
which hastened the surrender of Japan
and saved untold thousands
of American lives.
So the mission of our air forces,
which began nearly four years ago,
was accomplished.