B-25Bs. And he did it in only 467 feet of deck length.
Last week I visited Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection of restored military aircraft at Paine Field in Everett, Washington.
I stood for the longest time right next to his magnificently restored B-25J - set up in low-level attack configuration - and tried hard to imagine just how the hell Doolittle was able to get one of those airborne off of a pitching carrier deck in only 467 feet. Freaking amazing.
[Off-topic photo opportunity note...]
For those reading who may be in the Puget Sound region on Saturday, September 24, 2011 between 12:00-1:00pm, the FHC pilots are going to team up with the nearby Historic Flight Foundation and put both collection's B-25s in the air together. The HFF's is a B-25D named Grumpy.
There aren't too many opportunities anymore these days to see a pair of operational B-25 Mitchell heavy bombers flying formations together. I'll be there...*
*If you are too, look for a tall fellow with a black baseball cap, about 6' 5" and 225 lbs., and carrying a Nikon F2 with MD2/MB1 motor drive. There sure won't be more than one of those at the same event! Come on over and say hi.