James Harold Doolittle (14 December 1896 to 27 September 1993) was an American military general and aviation pioneer who received the Medal of Honour for his daring raids on Japan during World War II.
He also made early coast-to-coast flights, record-breaking speed flights, won many flying races, and helped develop and flight-test instrument flying.
Doolittle studied as an undergraduate at University of California, Berkeley, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1922. He also earned a doctorate in aeronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1925, the first issued in the United States. In 1929, he pioneered the use of “blind flying”, where a pilot relies on flight instruments alone, which later won him the Harmon Trophy and made all-weather airline operations practical. He was a flying instructor during World War I and a reserve officer in the United States Army Air Corps, but he was recalled to active duty during World War II. He was awarded the Medal of Honour for personal valour and leadership as commander of the Doolittle Raid (1942), a bold long-range retaliatory air raid on some of the Japanese main islands on 18 April 1942, four months after the attack on Pearl Harbour. The raid used 16 B-25B Mitchel medium bombers with reduced armament to decrease weight and increase range, each with a crew of five and no escort fighter aircraft. It was a major morale booster for the United States and Doolittle was celebrated as a hero, making him one of the most important national figures of the war.
Doolittle was promoted to lieutenant general and commanded the Twelfth Air Force over North Africa, the Fifteenth Air Force over the Mediterranean, and the Eighth Air Force over Europe. Nearly a decade and a half after World War II, he retired and left the Air Force but remained active in many technical fields, becoming inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1967, eight years after retirement and only five years after the Hall was founded. He was eventually promoted to general in 1985, presented to him by President Ronald Reagan 43 years after the Doolittle Raid. In 2003, he topped Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine’s list of the greatest pilots of all time, and ten years later, Flying magazine ranked Doolittle sixth on its list of the 51 Heroes of Aviation. He died shortly following a stroke in 1993, at the age of 96.
Early Life and Education
Doolittle was born in Alameda, California, and spent his youth in Nome, Alaska, where he earned a reputation as a boxer. His parents were Frank Henry Doolittle and Rosa (Rose) Cerenah Shephard. By 1910, Jimmy Doolittle was attending school in Los Angeles. When his school attended the 1910 Los Angeles International Air Meet at Dominguez Field, Doolittle saw his first airplane. He attended Los Angeles City College after graduating from Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, and later won admission to the University of California, Berkeley where he studied at the College of Mines. He was a member of Theta Kappa Nu fraternity, which would merge into Lambda Chi Alpha during the later stages of the Great Depression.
Doolittle took a leave of absence in October 1917 to enlist in the Signal Corps Reserve as a flying cadet; he received ground training at the School of Military Aeronautics (an Army school) on the campus of the University of California, and flight-trained at Rockwell Field, California. Doolittle received his Reserve Military Aviator rating and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Signal Officers Reserve Corps of the US Army on 11 March 1918.
During World War I, Doolittle stayed in the United States as a flight instructor and performed his war service at Camp John Dick Aviation Concentration Center (“Camp Dick”), Texas; Wright Field, Ohio; Gerstner Field, Louisiana; Rockwell Field, California; Kelly Field, Texas and Eagle Pass, Texas.
Doolittle served at Rockwell as a flight leader and gunnery instructor. At Kelly Field, he served with the 104th Aero Squadron and with the 90th Aero Squadron of the 1st Surveillance Group. His detachment of the 90th Aero Squadron was based at Eagle Pass, patrolling the Mexican border. Recommended by three officers for retention in the Air Service during demobilization at the end of the war, Doolittle qualified by examination and received a Regular Army commission as a 1st Lieutenant, Air Service, on 01 July 1920.
On 10 May 1921, he was engineering officer and pilot for an expedition recovering a plane that had force-landed in a Mexican canyon on 10 February during a transcontinental flight attempt by Alexander Pearson Jr. Doolittle reached the plane on 03 May and found it serviceable, then returned 08 May with a replacement motor and four mechanics. The oil pressure of the new motor was inadequate and Doolittle requested two pressure gauges, using carrier pigeons to communicate. The additional parts were dropped by air and installed, and Doolittle flew the plane to Del Rio, Texas himself, taking off from a 400-yard airstrip hacked out of the canyon floor.
Subsequently, he attended the Air Service Mechanical School at Kelly Field and the Aeronautical Engineering Course at McCook Field, Ohio. Having at last returned to complete his college degree, he earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley in 1922, and joined the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.
Doolittle was one of the most famous pilots during the inter-war period. In September 1922, he made the first of many pioneering flights, flying a de Havilland DH-4 – which was equipped with early navigational instruments – in the first cross-country flight, from Pablo Beach (now Jacksonville Beach), Florida, to Rockwell Field, San Diego, California, in 21 hours and 19 minutes, making only one refuelling stop at Kelly Field. The US Army awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Within days after the transcontinental flight, he was at the Air Service Engineering School (a precursor to the Air Force Institute of Technology) at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio. For Doolittle, the school assignment had special significance:
“In the early ’20s, there was not complete support between the flyers and the engineers. The pilots thought the engineers were a group of people who zipped slide rules back and forth, came out with erroneous results and bad aircraft; and the engineers thought the pilots were crazy – otherwise they wouldn’t be pilots. So some of us who had previous engineering training were sent to the engineering school at old McCook Field. After a year’s training there in practical aeronautical engineering, some of us were sent on to MIT where we took advanced degrees in aeronautical engineering. I believe that the purpose was served, that there was thereafter a better understanding between pilots and engineers.”
In July 1923, after serving as a test pilot and aeronautical engineer at McCook Field, Doolittle entered MIT. In March 1924, he conducted aircraft acceleration tests at McCook Field, which became the basis of his master’s thesis and led to his second Distinguished Flying Cross. He received his MSc degree in Aeronautics from MIT in June 1924. Because the Army had given him two years to get his degree and he had done it in just one, he immediately started working on his Sc.D. in Aeronautics, which he received in June 1925. His doctorate in aeronautical engineering was the first issued in the United States. He said that he considered his master’s work more significant than his doctorate.
Following graduation, Doolittle attended special training in high-speed seaplanes at Naval Air Station Anacostia in Washington, D.C. He also served with the Naval Test Board at Mitchel Field, Long Island, New York, and was a familiar figure in air speed record attempts in the New York area. He won the Schneider Cup race in a Curtiss R3C in 1925 with an average speed of 232 MPH. For that feat, Doolittle was awarded the Mackay Trophy in 1926.
In April 1926, Doolittle was given a leave of absence to go to South America to perform demonstration flights for Curtiss Aircraft. In Chile, he broke both ankles while demonstrating his acrobatic abilities in an incident that was known as Night of the Pisco Sours. Despite having both ankles in casts, Doolittle put his Curtiss P-1 Hawk through aerial manoeuvres that outdid the competition. He returned to the United States, and was confined to Walter Reed Army Hospital for his injuries until April 1927. He was then assigned to McCook Field for experimental work, with additional duty as an instructor pilot to the 385th Bomb Squadron of the Air Corps Reserve. During this time, in 1927 he was the first to perform an outside loop, previously thought to be a fatal manoeuvre. Carried out in a Curtiss fighter at Wright Field in Ohio, Doolittle executed the dive from 10,000 feet, reached 280 mph, bottomed out upside down, then climbed and completed the loop.
Doolittle’s most important addition to aeronautical technology was his early advancement of instrument flying. He was the first to recognise that true operational freedom in the air could not be achieved until pilots developed the ability to control and navigate aircraft in flight from takeoff run to landing rollout, regardless of the range of vision from the cockpit. Doolittle was the first to envision that a pilot could be trained to use instruments to fly through fog, clouds, precipitation of all forms, darkness, or any other impediment to visibility; and in spite of the pilot’s own possibly convoluted motion sense inputs. Even at this early stage, the ability to control aircraft was getting beyond the motion sense capability of the pilot. That is, as aircraft became faster and more manoeuvrable, pilots could become seriously disoriented without visual cues from outside the cockpit, because aircraft could move in ways that pilots’ senses could not accurately decipher.
Doolittle was also the first to recognise these psycho-physiological limitations of the human senses (particularly the motion sense inputs, i.e. up, down, left, right). He initiated the study of the relationships between the psychological effects of visual cues and motion senses. His research resulted in programs that trained pilots to read and understand navigational instruments. A pilot learned to “trust his instruments,” not his senses, as visual cues and his motion sense inputs (what he sensed and “felt”) could be incorrect or unreliable.
In 1929, he became the first pilot to take off, fly and land an airplane using instruments alone, without a view outside the cockpit. Having returned to Mitchell Field that September, he helped develop blind-flying equipment. He helped develop, and was then the first to test, the now universally used artificial horizon and directional gyroscope. He attracted wide newspaper attention with this feat of “blind” flying and later received the Harmon Trophy for conducting the experiments. These accomplishments made all-weather airline operations practical.
In January 1930, he advised the Army on the construction of Floyd Bennett Field in New York City. Doolittle resigned his regular commission on 15 February 1930, and was commissioned a Major in the Air Reserve Corps a month later, being named manager of the Aviation Department of Shell Oil Company, in which capacity he conducted numerous aviation tests. While in the Reserve, he also returned to temporary active duty with the Army frequently to conduct tests.
Doolittle helped influence Shell Oil Company to produce the first quantities of 100 octane aviation gasoline. High octane fuel was crucial to the high-performance planes that were developed in the late 1930s.
In 1931, Doolittle won the first Bendix Trophy race from Burbank, California, to Cleveland, in a Laird Super Solution biplane.
In 1932, Doolittle set the world’s high-speed record for land planes at 296 miles per hour in the Shell Speed Dash. Later, he took the Thompson Trophy race at Cleveland in the notorious Gee Bee R-1 racer with a speed averaging 252 miles per hour. After having won the three big air racing trophies of the time, the Schneider, Bendix, and Thompson, he officially retired from air racing stating, “I have yet to hear anyone engaged in this work dying of old age.”
In April 1934, Doolittle was selected to be a member of the Baker Board. Chaired by former Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, the board was convened during the Air Mail scandal to study Air Corps organisation. In 1940, he became president of the Institute of Aeronautical Science.
The development of 100-octane aviation gasoline on an economic scale was due in part to Doolittle, who had become Aviation Manager of Shell Oil Company. Around 1935 he convinced Shell to invest in refining capacity to produce 100-octane fuel on a scale that nobody needed since no aircraft existed that required a fuel that nobody made. Some fellow employees would call his effort “Doolittle’s million-dollar blunder” but time would prove him correct. Before this the Army had considered 100-octane tests using pure octane but at $25 a gallon it did not happen. By 1936 tests at Wright Field using a cheaper alternative to pure octane proved the value of the fuel and both Shell and Standard Oil of New Jersey would win the contract to supply test quantities for the Army. By 1938 the price was down to 17.5 cents a gallon, only 2.5 cents more than 87 octane fuel. By the end of WWII the price would be down to 16 cents a gallon and the US armed forces would be consuming 20 million gallons a day.
Doolittle returned to active duty in the US Army Air Corps on July 1, 1940 with the rank of Major. He was assigned as the assistant district supervisor of the Central Air Corps Procurement District at Indianapolis and Detroit, where he worked with large auto manufacturers on the conversion of their plants to aircraft production. The following August, he went to England as a member of a special mission and brought back information about other countries’ air forces and military build-ups.
Refer to the Doolittle Raid (1942).
Following the reorganisation of the Army Air Corps into the USAAF in June 1941, Doolittle was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 02 January 1942, and assigned to Army Air Forces Headquarters to plan the first retaliatory air raid on the Japanese homeland following the attack on Pearl Harbour. He volunteered for and received General H.H. Arnold’s approval to lead the top secret attack of 16 B-25 medium bombers from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, with targets in Tokyo, Kobe, Yokohama, Osaka and Nagoya.
After training at Eglin Field and Wagner Field in northwest Florida, Doolittle, his aircraft, and volunteer flight crews proceeded to McClellan Field, California for aircraft modifications at the Sacramento Air Depot, followed by a short final flight to Naval Air Station Alameda, California for embarkation aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. On 18 April Doolittle and his 16 B-25 crews took off from the Hornet, reached Japan, and bombed their targets. Fifteen of the planes then headed for their recovery airfield in China, while one crew chose to land in Russia due to their bomber’s unusually high fuel consumption. As did most of the other crewmen who participated in the one-way mission, Doolittle and his crew bailed out safely over China when their B-25 ran out of fuel. By then, they had been flying for about 12 hours, it was nighttime, the weather was stormy, and Doolittle was unable to locate their landing field. Doolittle came down in a rice paddy (saving a previously injured ankle from breaking) near Chuchow (Quzhou). He and his crew linked up after the bailout and were helped through Japanese lines by Chinese guerrillas and American missionary John Birch. Other aircrews were not so fortunate, although most eventually reached safety with the help of friendly Chinese. Seven crew members lost their lives, four as a result of being captured and murdered by the Japanese and three due to an aircraft crash or while parachuting. Doolittle thought he would be court martialed due to having to launch the raid ahead of schedule after being spotted by Japanese patrol boats and the loss of all the aircraft.
Doolittle went on to fly more combat missions as commander of the 12th Air Force in North Africa, for which he was awarded four Air Medals. He later commanded the 12th, 15th and 8th Air Forces in Europe. The other surviving members of the Doolittle raid also went on to new assignments.
Doolittle received the Medal of Honour from President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House for planning and leading his raid on Japan. His citation reads: “For conspicuous leadership above and beyond the call of duty, involving personal valour and intrepidity at an extreme hazard to life. With the apparent certainty of being forced to land in enemy territory or to perish at sea, Lt. Col. Doolittle personally led a squadron of Army bombers, manned by volunteer crews, in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland.” He was also promoted to brigadier general.
The Doolittle Raid is viewed by historians as a major morale-building victory for the United States. Although the damage done to Japanese war industry was minor, the raid showed the Japanese that their homeland was vulnerable to air attack, and forced them to withdraw several front-line fighter units from Pacific war zones for homeland defence. More significantly, Japanese commanders considered the raid deeply embarrassing, and their attempt to close the perceived gap in their Pacific defence perimeter led directly to the decisive American victory at the Battle of Midway in June 1942.
When asked from where the Tokyo raid was launched, President Roosevelt coyly said its base was Shangri-La, a fictional paradise from the popular novel Lost Horizon. In the same vein, the US Navy named one of its Essex-class fleet carriers the USS Shangri-La.
World War II, Post-Raid
In July 1942, as a brigadier genera – he had been promoted by two grades on the day after the Tokyo attack, bypassing the rank of full colonel – Doolittle was assigned to the nascent Eighth Air Force. This followed his rejection by General Douglas MacArthur as commander of the South West Pacific Area to replace Major General George Brett. Major General Frank Andrews first turned down the position, and, offered a choice between George Kenney and Doolittle, MacArthur chose Kenney. In September, Doolittle became commanding general of the Twelfth Air Force, soon to be operating in North Africa. He was promoted to major general in November 1942, and in March 1943 became commanding general of the Northwest African Strategic Air Force, a unified command of US Army Air Force and Royal Air Force units. In September, he commanded a raid against the Italian town of Battipaglia that was so thorough in its destruction that General Carl Andrew Spaatz sent him a joking message: “You’re slipping Jimmy. There’s one crabapple tree and one stable still standing.”
Maj. Gen. Doolittle took command of the Fifteenth Air Force in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in November 1943. On 10 June, he flew as co-pilot with Jack Sims, fellow Tokyo Raider, in a B-26 Marauder of the 320th Bombardment Group, 442nd Bombardment Squadron on a mission to attack gun emplacements at Pantelleria. Doolittle continued to fly, despite the risk of capture, while being privy to the Ultra secret, which was that the German encryption systems had been broken by the British. From January 1944 to September 1945, he held his largest command, the Eighth Air Force (8 AF) in England as a lieutenant general, his promotion date being 13 March 1944 and the highest rank ever held by an active reserve officer in modern times.
Escort Fighter Tactics
Doolittle’s major influence on the European air war occurred late in 1943 when he changed the policy of requiring escorting fighters to remain with their bombers at all times. Innstead, he permitted escort fighters to fly far ahead of the bombers’ combat box formations, allowing them to freely engage the German fighters laying in wait for the bombers. Throughout most of 1944, this tactic negated the effectiveness of the twin-engined Zerstörergeschwader heavy fighter wings and single-engined Sturmgruppen of heavily armed Fw 190As by clearing the Luftwaffe’s bomber destroyers from ahead of the bomber formations. After the bombers had hit their targets, the American fighters were free to strafe German airfields, transportation, and other “targets of opportunity” on their return flight to base. These tasks were initially performed with Lockheed P-38 Lightnings and Republic P-47 Thunderbolts through the end of 1943. They were progressively replaced with the long-ranged North American P-51 Mustangs as the spring of 1944 wore on.
After Germany surrendered, the Eighth Air Force was re-equipped with B-29 Superfortress bombers and started to relocate to Okinawa in southern Japan. Two bomb groups had begun to arrive on 07 August. However, the 8th was not scheduled to be at full strength until February 1946 and Doolittle declined to rush 8th Air Force units into combat saying that “If the war is over, I will not risk one airplane nor a single bomber crew member just to be able to say the 8th Air Force had operated against the Japanese in Asia.”
Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson asked Doolittle on 27 March 1946 to head a commission on the relationships between officers and enlisted men in the Army called the “Doolittle Board” or the “GI Gripes Board”. The Army implemented many of the board’s recommendations in the post-war volunteer Army, though many professional officers and non-commissioned officers thought that the Board “destroyed the discipline of the Army”. Columnist Hanson Baldwin said that the Doolittle Board “caused severe damage to service effectiveness by recommendations intended to ‘democratize’ the Army—a concept that is self-contradictory”.
US Space Programme
Doolittle became acquainted with the field of space science in its infancy. He wrote in his autobiography, “I became interested in rocket development in the 1930s when I met Robert H. Goddard, who laid the foundation [in the US]. … While with Shell [Oil] I worked with him on the development of a type of [rocket] fuel. … ” Harry Guggenheim, whose foundation sponsored Goddard’s work, and Charles Lindbergh, who encouraged Goddard’s efforts, arranged for (then Major) Doolittle to discuss with Goddard a special blend of gasoline. Doolittle piloted himself to Roswell, New Mexico in October 1938 and was given a tour of Goddard’s workshop and a “short course” in rocketry and space travel. He then wrote a memo, including a rather detailed description of Goddard’s rocket. In closing he said, “interplanetary transportation is probably a dream of the very distant future, but with the moon only a quarter of a million miles away—who knows!” In July 1941 he wrote Goddard that he was still interested in rocket propulsion research. The Army, however, was interested only in JATO at this point. Doolittle was concerned about the state of rocketry in the US and remained in touch with Goddard.
Shortly after World War II, Doolittle spoke to an American Rocket Society conference at which a large number interested in rocketry attended. The topic was Robert Goddard’s work. He later stated that at that time “… we [the aeronautics field in the US] had not given much credence to the tremendous potential of rocketry.
In 1956, Doolittle was appointed chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) because the previous chairman, Jerome C. Hunsaker, thought Doolittle to be more sympathetic to the rocket, which was increasing in importance as a scientific tool as well as a weapon. The NACA Special Committee on Space Technology was organised in January 1958 and chaired by Guy Stever to determine the requirements of a national space program and what additions were needed to NACA technology. Doolittle, Dr. Hugh Dryden and Stever selected committee members including Dr. Wernher von Braun from the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, Sam Hoffman of Rocketdyne, Abe Hyatt of the Office of Naval Research and Colonel Norman Appold from the USAF missile programme, considering their potential contributions to US space programs and ability to educate NACA people in space science.
On 05 January 1946, Doolittle reverted to inactive reserve status in the Army Air Forces in the grade of lieutenant general, a rarity in those days when reserve officers were usually limited to the rank of major general or rear admiral, a restriction that would not end in the US armed forces until the 21st century. He retired from the United States Army on 10 May 1946. On 18 September 1947, his reserve commission as a general officer was transferred to the newly established United States Air Force. Doolittle returned to Shell Oil as a vice president, and later as a director.
In the summer of 1946, Doolittle went to Stockholm where he consulted about the “ghost rockets” that had been observed over Scandinavia.
In 1947, Doolittle became the first president of the Air Force Association, an organisation which he helped create.
In 1948, Doolittle advocated the desegregation of the US military. He wrote “I am convinced that the solution to the situation is to forget that they are colored.” Industry was in the process of integrating, Doolittle said, “and it is going to be forced on the military. You are merely postponing the inevitable and you might as well take it gracefully.”
In March 1951, Doolittle was appointed a special assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, serving as a civilian in scientific matters which led to Air Force ballistic missile and space programs. In 1952, following a string of three air crashes in two months at Elizabeth, New Jersey, the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, appointed him to lead a presidential commission examining the safety of urban airports. The report “Airports and Their Neighbors” led to zoning requirements for buildings near approaches, early noise control requirements, and initial work on “super airports” with 10,000 ft runways, suited to 150 ton aircraft.
Doolittle was appointed a life member of the MIT Corporation, the university’s board of trustees, an uncommon permanent appointment, and served as an MIT Corporation Member for 40 years.
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked Doolittle to perform a study of the Central Intelligence Agency; the resulting work was known as the Doolittle Report, 1954, and was classified for a number of years.
In January 1956, Eisenhower asked Doolittle to serve as a member on the first edition of the President’s Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities which, years later, would become known as the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.
From 1957 to 1958, he was chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). This period was during the events of Sputnik, Vanguard and Explorer. He was the last person to hold this position, as the NACA was superseded by NASA. Doolittle was asked to serve as the first NASA administrator, but he turned it down.
Doolittle retired from Air Force Reserve duty on 28 February 1959. He remained active in other capacities, including chairman of the board of TRW Space Technology Laboratories.
Honours and Awards
On 04 April 1985, the U.S. Congress promoted Doolittle to the rank of full four-star general (O-10) on the US Air Force retired list. In a later ceremony, President Ronald Reagan and US Senator and retired Air Force Reserve Major General Barry Goldwater pinned on Doolittle’s four-star insignia.
In addition to his Medal of Honour for the Tokyo raid, Doolittle received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, two Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star Medal, four Air Medals, and decorations from Belgium, China, Ecuador, France, Great Britain, and Poland. He was the first American to be awarded both the Medal of Honour and the Medal of Freedom. He is also one of only two persons (the other being Douglas MacArthur) to receive both the Medal of Honour and a British knighthood, when he was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.
In 1972, Doolittle received the Tony Jannus Award for his distinguished contributions to commercial aviation, in recognition of the development of instrument flight.
Doolittle was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 1959. In 1983, he was awarded the United States Military Academy’s Sylvanus Thayer Award. He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America as the only member of the air racing category in the inaugural class of 1989, and into the Aerospace Walk of Honour in the inaugural class of 1990.
Medal of Honour Citation
Rank and organization: Brigadier General, U.S. Army Air Corps
Place and date: Over Japan
Entered service at: Berkeley, Calif.
Birth: Alameda, Calif.
G.O. No.: 29, 9 June 1942
For conspicuous leadership above the call of duty, involving personal valor and intrepidity at an extreme hazard to life. With the apparent certainty of being forced to land in enemy territory or to perish at sea, Gen. Doolittle personally led a squadron of Army bombers, manned by volunteer crews, in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland.
The headquarters of the United States Air Force Academy Association of Graduates (AOG) on the grounds of the United States Air Force Academy is named Doolittle Hall.
On 09 May 2007, the new 12th Air Force Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC), Building 74, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, was named the “General James H. Doolittle Center”. Several surviving members of the Doolittle Raid were in attendance during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
In popular Culture
- Spencer Tracy played Doolittle in Mervyn LeRoy’s 1944 film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. This portrayal has received much praise.
- Alec Baldwin played Doolittle in Michael Bay’s 2001 film Pearl Harbour.
- Vincent Riotta played Jimmy Doolittle in Bille August’s 2017 film “The Chinese Widow” aka “The Hidden Soldier”.
- Aaron Eckhart played Doolittle in Roland Emmerich’s 2019 film Midway.
- Bob Clampett’s 1946 cartoon Baby Bottleneck briefly portrays a dog named “Jimmy Do-quite-a-little”, who invents a failed rocketship.