TARGET SURIBACHI Iwo Jima Release Date: April 12, 1953 ... (Episode #23) In the spring of 1945, Tokyo becomes a battlefield as the Allies bomb the Japanese city using long-range B-29 Superfortress bomber planes. They fly from Guam, Saipan, the Marianas and Tinian to deliver their payloads to the Japanese empire. Their mission: destroy factories, lines of communication and the infrastructure that runs the Japanese war machine. P-51 Mustang fighter planes from Iwo Jima help protect the bombers and strafe ground targets and other military bastions. The bombers attack city after city on the Japanese mainland. Iwo Jima, once under Japanese control is now a safe haven for the crippled or damaged bombers and her crews. The small island helps save tens of thousands of Allied air force personnel. As the Island Hopping Campaign continued over a 3-year period after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a huge task force of many ships and troops converge on the tiny 8 square mile island called Iwo Jima in February of 1945. Before the invasion can begin, a naval bombardment comprised of 7 battleships, 4 cruisers and 15 destroyers unleash their full fury on the island for 72 hours. The marines are forced to land and only a headlong assault will eliminate the 23,000 well-trained Japanese soldiers. The island is a solid mass of underground fortifications and tunnels and is well defended. The marines use extreme force and air superiority to help climb the first obstacle on the island, the giant 566-ft extinct volcano called Mount Suribachi. In the end, 5,000 brave marines give their life to help win the battle and vanquish the enemy completely. With the island in Allied control, the B-29 bombers now have an emergency base to land on when called for. Iwo Jima ultimately saves the lives of 25,000 American airmen.