On the phenomenon and ideology of kamikaze
Before the story of live torpedoes, which were recently shown in the American film Cruiser, which tells about the last cruise of the Indianapolis cruiser and the fate of its crew, it is necessary to discuss the kamikaze phenomenon and their ideology, history the formation of their schools.
The education system in Japan in the first half of the twentieth century was not much different from dictatorial schemes aimed at shaping the desired ideology. From an early age, Japanese children were told that when they died for their emperor, they were doing the right thing, and their death would be blessed. As a result of this treatment, starting from school, young Japanese grew up with the motto “jusshi reisho” (sacrifice life).
Additionally, the state machine of the empire did its best to hide any information about the defeats of the Japanese army and fleet (even the smallest). The propaganda machine created a false idea of the country's capabilities and effectively inspired poorly educated children that their death could be a step towards Japan's total victory in the war. It is appropriate to recall the famous Bushido Codex, which also played an important role in shaping the ideals of kamikaze. From the time of the samurai, Japanese soldiers saw death as part of life (literally). They simply got used to the thought of death, without fear of its approach.
Kamikazes were usually recruited from poorly educated young men, who were the second or third boys in their families. Such a selection was due to the fact that the first (that is, the oldest) boy in the Japanese family was usually the heir to the state, therefore excluded from the military sample. At the same time, educated and experienced pilots flatly refused to sign up for the kamikaze units, referring to the fact that they simply had to save their lives in order to train new fighters, who are also destined to become suicide bombers. Thus, the greater the number of young people who sacrificed themselves, the younger the recruits who came to their place became. Many of them were practically teenagers who had not even reached their 17 years, but who had the chance to prove their loyalty to the country and the emperor, to show themselves as “real men”.
At the same time, some kamikaze pilots were lucky they survived, such examples really exist. One of them, Kenichiro Onuki, later recalled that he was alive by chance. During the flight, his plane simply did not start and did not take off. The history of underwater kamikaze did not know such examples. The man who sat in a controlled torpedo, had no chance to stay alive after its launch. "Kayteny" was a one way ticket.
The device "Kaiten"
Underwater kamikazes for the fulfillment of their mission used special torpedoes-kaitens, translated from Japanese, this meant “the will of the heavens”. For the Japanese, this title was hidden deep meaning, kaiten - this is something that had to make fundamental changes in the usual course of affairs. The idea of developing human-guided torpedoes appeared in the 1942 year, after the Japanese fleet suffered a very painful defeat in the Midway Atoll, which determined the entire outcome of the campaign in the Pacific. After this battle, two Japanese submarine sailors, Lieutenant Hiroshi Kuroki and Junior Lieutenant Sekio Nishin, had the idea to use submarine kamikazes against the American fleet. The officers gathered to cross a small submarine with the largest Japanese torpedo at that time based on Type 93. Taking up the creation of drawings, they quickly realized that they could not realize their plans on their own.
Then they decided to seek help from Hiroshi Suzukawa, who was the designer of the Naval Arsenal. He liked the idea of submariners, and by January 1943, the project of a new weapons was ready. But it was not so easy to bring the idea to the higher management. Prior to the inventors in this difficult time, just no one was concerned. In such conditions, the officers chose the true samurai way: they wrote an appeal to the country's naval minister with their own blood. According to the traditions of Japan, the letter, which is written in the blood of the author, will certainly be read. It happened this time. The letter from the submarine officers and their proposals were read, the Japanese admirals liked the idea, and a year later the construction of the first samples of unusual weapons began in Japan.
At its core, kaiten represented a symbiosis of torpedoes and a small submarine. He worked on pure oxygen, under water such a torpedo could accelerate to 40 nodes, which guaranteed the possibility of hitting almost any warships of that time period. Inside the torpedo were a very powerful charge, engine, and a fairly compact place for a suicide bomber. The workplace was very narrow, even by the standards of not the biggest bodies of the Japanese, there was a catastrophic lack of space. On the other hand, what's the difference when the death of a torpedo controlling person was inevitable.
Immediately before the face of the kamikaze, there was a periscope, as well as a speed knob that regulated the oxygen supply to the torpedo engine. At the top of the torpedo there was another lever that was responsible for the direction of movement. The dashboard was saturated with various sensors, showing oxygen consumption, there was also a depth gauge, a clock, a pressure gauge, and so on. Directly at the feet of the kamikaze was a valve for admitting seawater into the ballast tank; this was necessary to stabilize the weight of the torpedo. Managing the torpedo was not easy, and the training of suicide pilots left much to be desired. Schools of kaiten appeared spontaneously, but also spontaneously they became victims of American bombardment.
The human-controlled torpedo of the “Type 1” modification was designed based on the 610-mm torpedo “Type 93” model 3, with a wide borrowing of the elements of its design. The main difference was the vertical and horizontal rudders of an increased area. To the stern, the engine part, the designers docked the central part of a somewhat larger diameter (0,99 meter), in which the cockpit was placed, as well as two differential tanks. In the nose of the controlled torpedo there were two compartments. The first was a warhead - 1550 kg of explosive (according to the developers, this should have been enough to sink the battleship), and in the second compartment were two nasal trim tanks, an additional fuel tank and tanks with compressed air depth control systems and the course, also here was located "air balloon", which was taken from the torpedo "Type 93". The total oxygen supply on board was 1550 liters. Oxygen consumption at the speed of 12 nodes - 1 kg / min; at the speed of 20 nodes - 3 kg / min; at the speed of 30 nodes - 7 kg / min. The stock of 9 compressed air cylinders, which was designed to control the rudders, was 160 liters.
The length of the man-torpedo was 14,75 meter (torpedo length "Type 93" - 8,99 meter), the largest diameter - 1 meter (torpedo - 0,61 meter). The maximum depth of the dive is 60 meters, the working depth is up to 35 meters, the maximum calculated depth of the dive is 100 meters. During the tests it was at a depth of 100 meters kaiten gave a leak. The submerged displacement amounted to 8,3 tons, the combat charge mass was 1550 kg (in a torpedo of the “Type 93” - approximately 500 kg). The maximum range at a speed of 30 nodes was to be at least 23 kilometers. The detonation of the combat charge took place either with the help of an electric mine fuse (main and reserve), which was activated manually by the pilot from his cabin, or with the help of a torpedo fuse Type 2. Also on the torpedo was placed "automatic" fuse, which was installed at a certain depth and triggered by a signal from the hydrostat when diving to a depth that was greater than the specified.
At the same time, man-torpedoes were continuously upgraded. In the summer of 1944, in Japan, new types were prepared that were distinguished by a more powerful charge, which was almost three times higher than the one that was installed on Kaiten 1. Turbines powered by hydrogen peroxide were to be used as engines for them. But with them the Japanese industry had serious problems.
The failure of the project "Kaiten"
Underwater kamikazes, which were supposed to lead kaitens to the target, were prepared in several stages. In the first of these, the cadets for three months underwent special training on high-speed launch boats. The main purpose of this training phase was to teach them to control the boat using only a magnetic compass and a periscope. The second stage of the training took place on simulators that imitated the internal structure of kaitens. At the simulators, the cadets practiced the skills and abilities to touch any of the instruments and mechanisms located in the cabin, as well as perform all actions on the way to a given area and attack the ship, practicing them to automatism. And only at the third stage of training, kamikazes went to sea on real kaiten.
Initially, the Japanese planned to use kaitens to attack enemy ships, located in berths. The submarine carrier with fixed kaitens (usually from 4 to 6 pieces) detected enemy ships, and then built a trajectory (the boat turned its nose toward the target), and the captain gave the last order to the bombers. They penetrated the cockpit of the guided torpedo through a narrow pipe, secured the hatches behind them and received the last orders from the submarine captain by radio. After that, the kamikaze launched the engine and independently moved in the direction of the enemy at a depth of 4-6 meters. At the same time, they were almost completely blind, because they did not see where they were going. They were allowed to use the periscope for no more than 3 seconds, as this led to the risk of the enemy detecting a torpedo. After the discovery of a torpedo, she could be shot from rapid-fire machine guns or anti-mine caliber guns on the attacked target, without even having time to reach it.
The Japanese first used kaitens in November 1944. The purpose of the attack was the base of the American fleet on the Uliti Atoll (Carolina Islands). Three Japanese submarines were supposed to participate in the attack, on which there were 12 kaitens, but one of them did not reach their destination. The boat was discovered and attacked by American destroyers, which sunk her deep bombs. As a result, on the night of November 20, 1944, only two submarines attacked the base. Of the eight remaining kaitens, only five managed to be launched, the remaining three had to be drowned due to technical problems, having previously removed the prepared kamikaze from them. Of the five released kaitens, only one is guaranteed to hit the target. He crashed into a missile squadron tanker and sunk it. On board the tanker was aviation petrol. The explosion was very strong, and 50 American sailors were killed along with the tanker. From Japanese submarines they saw a huge column of fire and smoke that rose in the lagoon of the atoll, and heard several powerful explosions. The Japanese command rated this first operation with the participation of kaitens as successful, the Japanese believed that they managed to sink the aircraft carrier, although in reality only one out of five released kaitens reached the target, and the tanker turned out to be a sunken ship.
More or less successfully kaiten could only be used at the beginning. Following the completion of naval battles, the official Japanese propaganda declared 32 sunk with their help of American ships, including battleships, aircraft carriers, squadron destroyers and cargo ships. However, these figures were greatly exaggerated. By the end of the war, the US navy in the Pacific had greatly increased its combat power, and it was increasingly difficult for kamikazes to hit targets. In addition, large warships in the bays were securely guarded, it was difficult to get close to them even being at a depth of 6 meters. And the kaitens scattered in the sea were unable to attack, they simply could not withstand long swims.
Development kaiten was a desperate step, which in Japan went after the defeat at midway. The guided torpedoes were a crisis solution, the imperial fleet had high hopes for it, which never came true. With their main task - the guaranteed destruction of American ships, they failed, the efficiency of kaitens was low. An absurd attempt to make irrational use of an existing human resource ended up in complete failure of the project.
It is worth noting that the managed torpedoes created in a hurry were very imperfect technology. Very often they broke down and broke. Many kamikazes simply did not reach their intended targets, suffocating from the lack of oxygen, and the torpedoes simply sank. Even the time-blown timers installed on kaiten did not always lead to the death of enemy ships, since kaitens often exploded before they reached the target. Also, the long and frequent trips of Japanese submarines with kaitens on board led to their thin hull (thickness no more than 6 mm) rusting and becoming unsuitable for use at depth. The rust could be the reason that the pressure simply flattened the corroded body, and the kamikaze died ingloriously.
At the very end of the war, within the framework of defensive measures against the possible invasion of the American army into Japan, 100 kaitens and 400 ultra-small submarines were prepared, which were intended for operations from coastal bases against the American fleet. With the same purpose, in the secret places along the coast, as well as in the harbors of the southern part of the country, the Japanese deployed 1000 small boats that carried a charge of explosives with a mass of 550 kg. All these forces were never used, the invasion of the Japanese islands did not occur. The bombing of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with American atomic bombs and the defeat of the Kwantung Army by the Soviet forces led to the total defeat of Japan in the war. Neither the kamikaze pilots nor the kaitens who left their mark on history without changing the course of the conflict could change this.