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USAAF April 18, 1942
VSS April 18, 1942
|Pilot Captain Edwin J. York, O-21151 (interned, RTD) Batavia, New York
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Robert G. Emmens, O-24104 (interned, RTD) Medford, OR
Navigator-Bombardier Lt. Nolan A. Herndon, O-419328 89 RS (interned, RTD) Greenville, TX
Engineer SSgt Theodore H. Laban, 6559855 (interned, RTD) Kenosha, WI
Gunner Sgt David W. Pohl, 6152141 (interned, RTD) Boston, MA
Landed April 18, 1942 "Doolittle Raid"
Built by North American Aviation (NAA). Constructors Number 62B-2911. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25B Mitchell serial number 40-2242.
Assigned to the 12th Air Force, 17th Bombardment Group, 95th Bombardment Squadron. Nose number 3. No known nickname or nose art. One of sixteen B-25 Mitchells assigned to the "Doolittle Raid".
On April 18, 1942 at 8:46am took off from USS Hornet CV-8 piloted by Captain Edwin J. York as as aircraft number eight (no. 8) on the "Doolittle Raid" against targets in Japan. Aboard was a mixed crew from the 37th Bombardment Squadron and the 89th Reconnaissance Squadron. Just prior to take off, the top turret of this bomber failed and was inoperative during the entire flight. Also, this aircraft was experiencing engine problems.
This B-25 lead the third flight over southern Tokyo and northern Tokyo Bay. Over the target, released three demolition bombs and one incendiary bomb.
Afterwards, York realized he did not have enough fuel to reach China and at at 5:45pm elected to land at Primorskrai Airfield (Primiori) near Vladivostok. After landing, the Soviet Union confiscated the bomber and the crew were interned.
Fates of the Crew
The crew overnighted at the airfield and were briefly interviewed by Col. Kovalev, the base commander. The next morning, they were flown aboard a Russian Li-2 (license-built DC-3) to Khabarovsk Airfield roughly 400 miles north of Vladivostok, where they were held for ten days and met General Stearn, Soviet Far Eastern Army Commander.
Next, the crew was escorted by a Soviet officer aboard a train to Penza (roughly 350 miles southeast of Moscow) where they were held for two and a half months and were visited by U.S. military attaché Colonel Joe Michela who reported their health and condition to U.S. authorities.
On March 25, 1943, the crew was transported from Okhansk (Оха́нск) to Ashkabad (Ashgabat, Turkmenistan) near border with Persia (Iran).
On May 29, 1942 the crew bribed a smuggler, who helped them to cross the border and arrived at Mashhad (Mashhadi) in Persia (Iran). In fact, their "escape" was staged by the NKVD, since the Soviet Union was unable to legally repatriate the crew due to their neutrality pact with Japan. The crew reached the British Consulate in Tehran then were returned to the United States.
After landing, the B-25 was immediately impounded by the Soviet forces. The B-25 was photographed and heavily re-touched photos were published. Reportedly, this aircraft was scrapped during the 1950s.
York died August 31, 1984. He is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery section 1 grave 1220.
Emmens died April 02, 1992. He is buried at Eastwood IOOF Cemetery at block 206 lot 2 space 3.
Herndon died October 7, 2007 He is buried at Travis Park Cemetery in Saluda, SC.
Laban died September 16, 1978. He is buried at Highland Cemetery at Lot 93 Grave 7.
Pohl died February 18, 1999. He was Cremated and his ashes scattered over the Pacific Ocean.
Published accounts often incorrectly state this B-25 landed "forty miles north of Vladivostok".
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25B Mitchell 40-2242
"2242 (17th BG, 95th BS) was Doolittle raider. Was 8th aircraft launched from USS Hornet. Mixed crew from 37th BS, 89th Recon Squadron. Bombed Tokyo, landed 40 mi N of Vladivostok Apr 18, 1942. Crew interned for 13 months, aircraft kept by USSR, scrapped in 1950s."
Flight Report - Engineering B-25B Mitchell 40-2242 April 18, 1942
General Doolittle's Report on Japanese Raid April 18, 1942
"This airplane bombed Tokyo with 3 demolition bombs and one incendiary bomb. Due to extremely high gasoline consumption they proceeded to Siberia landing at a point about 40 miles north of Vladivostok. All crew members o.k. and plane apparently saved. All were interned by the Russian Government and are now at Penza about 350 miles Southeast of Moscow."
Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence "Interview with B-25 crew that bombed Tokyo and was interned by the Russians" June 3, 1943 [York debriefing]
Guest of the Kremlin by Robert Emmons
Doolittle Raider 80 Brave Men
List of Americans, British, and French military personnel detained by organs of the Ministry of State Security [B-25 piloted by York]
FindAGrave - Robert G. Emmens (grave photo, photos)
FindAGrave - Nolan A Herndon (grave photo, photos)
FindAGrave - Theodore H Laban (grave photo, photos)
FindAGrave - David W Pohl (photo)
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
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