Japanese kamikaze pilots: the most serious enemies of the US Navy during World War II

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Japanese kamikaze pilots: the most serious enemies of the US Navy during World War II

Japanese kamikazes from World War II. When talking about these people, many ordinary people have an image of a pilot with a white bandage on his forehead, shouting a battle cry seconds before he rams an enemy ship.

But who were these people? Why did they willingly give their lives, turning their plane into a flying torpedo?



Many of these questions can be answered at the Peace Museum in the Japanese city of Chiran. It was here on the Satsuma Peninsula in Kagoshima Prefecture that during World War II the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force base was located, where kamikaze pilots were trained.

In the museum building you can see a huge number of photographs with portraits of pilots who decided to give their lives in the name of the emperor. Under some photographs are written the last words left by the kamikaze in a note to his relatives.

In particular, 18-year-old Second Lieutenant Torao Kato wrote a short letter to his mother.

Dear mother, please live a long life full of strength. I'll try to destroy a large army

- says the last appeal of the kamikaze.

The Japanese called the “Big Army” the US Navy, which suffered colossal losses in the battle for the island of Okinawa.

The very concept of “kamikaze” combines two Japanese words: “kami”, which means “divine” and “kaze” - “wind”. The term entered the Japanese lexicon as early as 1281, when a powerful typhoon sank a Mongol fleet heading to a weakly defended Japan, thereby sparing its citizens the likely destruction of hostilities.

Kamikazes from World War II are also known as "tokko", meaning "special forces pilots".

According to data provided by the museum, a total of 1036 boys and men serving at Chiran Air Base died during kamikaze missions.

The pilots were generally between 17 and 19 years of age, and were all young men who had joined the Air Force Training Corps at the age of 14, before the kamikaze units were created.

However, once they learned of their fate, they accepted their duty without hesitation. They believed it was worth dying for their country and for their parents

- says the book “The Kamikaze Mind” by Alex Guo.

It is worth noting that it was no coincidence that these young pilots were called the deadliest enemy of the US Navy during World War II.
The losses they inflicted on the American Navy were colossal.

So, in the Office of the Naval stories and US heritage call the Battle of Okinawa, which was fought from April 1 to June 22, 1945, the deadliest in the history of the American fleet.

According to published data, about 40% of the 12 thousand American troops killed in action were aboard the 26 ships sunk and 168 damaged by kamikaze attacks that fought off the coast of Okinawa.

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13 comments
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  1. +2
    January 22 2024
    From a military point of view, kamikazes are guided weapons. They brought many losses to the Americans, but the remote radio fuse was one of the measures that sharply reduced the effectiveness of both suicide bombers and conventional strike aircraft.
    So it is now: new methods of combat must be (and will be) used against UAVs - old methods of combat that significantly reduce their capabilities.
    These include remote fuses, electronic warfare, and KAZ. We just need it faster on our part.
  2. +1
    January 22 2024
    Kamkaze is described in great detail in Anatoly Ivankin’s story “The Last Kamikaze.” I highly recommend reading it
  3. +4
    January 22 2024
    Nonsense. Kamikazes were not serious enemies, and they were feared, but their effectiveness was low.
    Kamikaze managed to sink several dozen ships and vessels, with a total displacement of the order of 150 thousand tons.
    For comparison, submarines under the command of Otto Kretschmer sank 40 ships - 208 thousand gross register tons (taking into account that the transport weighs approximately the same as its cargo - Kretschmer sunk to the bottom: 208 x 2 ≈ 400 thousand tons) + 4 warships, one transport was captured and about 10 were damaged.

    Among the ships sunk by kamikazes there is not a single large artillery or aircraft carrier ship. All victims were destroyers, boats, auxiliary ships and four escort aircraft carriers.
    1. +1
      January 22 2024
      Well, sinking defenseless merchant ships is not at all the same as military ships. Compared to the costs, the kamikazes more than justified themselves.
      1. +1
        January 22 2024
        Compared to the costs, the kamikazes more than justified themselves.

        Depending on what costs you count, monetary costs probably yes.
        If it is military effectiveness, then it is close to zero.
        1. 0
          January 22 2024
          To zero, well, well.

          Although only 15% of kamikaze pilots hit their target from the first attack until the end of the Pacific War, the losses suffered by the Americans were significant. According to Reil's calculations, 60 ships sank and 407 were damaged. More than 6 sailors were also killed and about 800 wounded.

          Kamikazes took a particularly heavy toll on the US Navy during the bloody Battle of Okinawa, which lasted from early April to June 22, 1945. They sank 36 ships and damaged more than 360 enemy equipment.

          In total, kamikaze pilots sank 21% and damaged up to 48% of all American warships wrecked or damaged during the Pacific War. As Suiri notes:

          "The truth is that the kamikaze turns out to be the most effective weapon the Japanese have invented against American surface ships."
          1. 0
            January 22 2024
            There was discord between ship and ship, either transport ships or small ones with weak air defense were sunk
    2. +1
      January 23 2024
      You are absolutely right, Artyom!
      There's nothing to add. Suicide-guided torpedoes were even less effective; what did they have in store? At least Hashimoto sank the Indianapolis with six conventional torpedoes, although he had Kaiten on board.
    3. 0
      January 27 2024
      As soon as the opposition to the plane became more or less serious, all your kretschmers, and the rest of the wolves of the river, calmed down... Do not forget 95% of the sunk tonnage had one gun on board, and were transports.
  4. +1
    January 22 2024
    Rosenbaum sang in his time:

    “In accordance with my conscience, I signed up for the kamikaze.
    With a full bomb load flying.
    There are fuel tanks to the target, well, the target is in sight,
    And I want to take it today.
    Nerves are torn to the limit, to die - so for the idea.
    And I enter into my final rage.
    And those who are on target, looking into the heights, are numb,
    They know what my aerobatics threatens them with!
    The parachute was left at home, on the grass of the airfield.
    Even if I want to, I can’t turn it off.
    The clouds turned over, and all the veins on my forehead swelled,
    And squeezed overload chest.
    The sky is crowded from shells and I dive vertically,
    I go extremely beautifully.
    There are three seconds left to live and it doesn’t matter that it’s so short,
    My trees in the garden will still bloom!
    They won't get to the port, that's all. I touch the side
    And reflected in dilated pupils
    My entire long journey to the goal, the one that is in my sights.
    I explode for others there is a reason.
    There is a reason to take the soul out of someone with your flight,
    And to invest your soul in someone.
    There is a reason to reach the goal, the one that is in sight,
    Yes, because the rest need to live!
    There is a reason to reach the goal, the one that is in sight,
    Yes, because the rest need to live! (c)
  5. 0
    January 22 2024
    The problem is that the Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka was not aerodynamically perfect. Which, given the hastily prepared flight crew, multiplied the efficiency by almost zero. She was stupidly pulled into a dive.
  6. 0
    January 22 2024
    Ironically, at the end of the war, kamikazes were more effective than conventional aviation, which essentially also became disposable.
  7. 0
    February 15 2024
    There is a book "The Kamikaze Diary" by Bogdan Arzt. Kamikazes were volunteers only at the beginning of the war. At the end of the war, the weakest pilots were enlisted in the kamikaze in order to spur the remaining pilots of the air unit to act more efficiently.

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