GUAM -- Fifteen square miles of war factories, business houses and other buildings in the heart of Tokyo lay in flaming ruins today following the heaviest Superfortress raid ever made on Japan.
A Japanese communique said the imperial stables on the grounds of Emperor Hirohito's palace was set afire. The stables also were burned in a B-29 raid Feb. 25.
Fires visible for 200 miles were kindled by 1,000 to 2.000 tons of incendiary bombs in the two-hour raid shortly after midnight this morning. More than 300 giant B-29s, the greatest force ever assembled, thundered over the capital three abreast in a 300-mile-long parade of death and destruction.
Only two bombers were lost to enemy action, a communique announced. Anti-aircraft fire was meager to intense, but fighter opposition was light.
The devastated target area, equal to southern Manhattan and Brooklyn combined, extended to, the eastern edge of the imperial palace and housed 1,000,000 persons.
A medium force probably 50 strong of Superfortresses from the 20th Bomber Command in India, meantime, struck in daylight today at railway yards in the vital communications center of Kuala Lumpur on the Malayan peninsula.
Eye witness reports from returning crewmen indicated that the raid on Tokyo seriously disjointed the capital's war effort. The attack was three to four times heavier than the famous German fire raid that burned out the center of London in December 1940 and approached in weight the 1,000-plane American daylight raids on Germany.
The target area originally charted covered an area 50 blocks long and 10 blocks wide -- 10 square miles -- packed with vital war factories and other military objectives. Conflagrations engulfed another live square miles before the raid was over.
City Is Sea of Flames.
Crewmen said the mile aud a half stretch from the moated imperial palace to the Sumida River and another huge area on the opposite bank of the river literally were a "sea of flame."
Thousands of war workers' homes within the area marked for destruction. "There wil be a lot of, cold, shelterless people in Tokyo tonight," said Maj. Robert Irwin of Esthmille, Iowa, a unit commander. "The city was burning to beat hell."
Irwin new over Tokyo about midway in the raid and found the urea assigned his .unit burning so furiously that he moved to another area.
"Tokyo was lit up like a football field at a night game," he said. "Smoke was pouring up to 2,000 to 7,000 feet. Fires were spreading fast."
Brig. Gen. Thomas Power, commander of the Guam-bused raider, spent two hours shuttling over the capital charting the progress of the fires. He said the flames were burning so fur furiously he doubted that fire equipment could be brought in.
The target area was laced with tire breaks wide, straight boulevards designed to prevent the spread of tires but the area was so thoroughly saturated that nearly every building with in the 15-square-mile area was destroyed or damaged.
"It was the greatest tJiow on earth, and the damnedest thing I ever saw," Power said. "Areas below me literal ly were a sea of flame. We did 50 limes more damage than on Feb. 23, when we burned out 240 city blocks."
Fly From Guam First Time.
Maj. Gen. Curtis K. LeMay, commander of the 21st Bomber Command, said the operation was "very much the most successful to date."
"However, we must await photographs for final determination." he said. "Flight reports indicated excellent results."
The Superfortresses took off for the first announced time from Guam, well as the other American-held lands in the Marianas, Tinian and Saipan.
Approximately 3,500 officers and men made up the crews and the observers who participated in the raid. Their planes took off from the Marinas airstrips at the rate of better than two planes a minute for more than an hour.
The Japanese sought to belittle the raid. An imperial headquarters communique said only about 130 B-20s participated, of which 14 had been shot down and "about 50" damaged.
"Due to the blind bombing of the enemy planes," the communique said, "fires were started at various points throughout the city. However, the tire at the bureau of imperial news (stables) of the imperial household ministry was extinguished at 2:3o a. m.. while the fires at other points were extinguished at about 8 a. m."