Softening Up Iwo
undated Official U.S. Army Air Force photo

The instant of impact of bombs dropped by B-24 Liberator bombers on Iwo Jima targets is captured on this high altitude photo. The raid's purpose was to soften up the defenses for the February 1945 invasion of the island. Blooms can be seen from multiple simultaneous strikes (center). The notorious black volcanic sand beaches are clearly visible — these beaches made it difficult for the invaders to move inland quickly and made them sitting ducks for Japanese artillery, which, by and large, were not knocked out by the bombing.

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