US National Archives photos posted in a a Facebook aviation group on 13 August 2019 revealed members of the 500th Bomb Group (Very Heavy) (Group letter “Z”) receiving their pre-mission briefing at 1800 hours on 13 August 1945 for an attack on the Osaka Army Arsenal scheduled for 14 August 1945.
Recorded in the 883rd Bomb Squadron’s war diary was the following perspective, which captured the feelings of many personnel hoping that the war would end after the atomic bombings of Japan:
“Everyone was becoming frustrated with Japan’s failure to respond unequivocally to the Allied terms of surrender. Missions had already been postponed twice, but patience was wearing thin. The command had decided that unless Japan answered, the next mission would go ahead, and it would be a big one.”
For the mission, the 500th BG put up 42 B-29s plus another to serve as a “Super Dumbo” communications relay and rescue plane. These joined with other groups of the 73rd Bomb Wing to attack the arsenal with a total of 165 very heavy bombers. The bomb loads the 500th B-29’s carried consisted of 4 x M66 2,000-lb bombs and 2 x M65 1,000-lb bombs each. The aircraft carried 6,000 rounds of .50-caliber machine gun ammunition as well, 500 rounds per gun. Takeoff of the group was completed by 0713 on 14 August, a daylight mission being flown.
The B-29s of the 500th encountered no enemy fighters on the mission, and flak over the target ranged in intensity from meager to moderate. Eleven aircraft sustained battle damage but they all made it home in what turned out to be the last mission of the war for the 500th Bomb Group.
What damage they all inflicted on Osaka Army Arsenal is described in another post on this weblog, at: https://osakakushu.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/day-of-wreckoning-for-osaka-arsenal/