KAMIKAZE

“There was a hypnotic fascination to the sight so alien to our Western philosophy. We watched each plunging kamikaze with the detached horror of one witnessing a terrible spectacle rather than as the intended victim. We forgot self for the moment as we groped hopelessly for the thought of that other man up there.”

Vice Admiral C.R. Brown, US Navy

Kamikaze (神風, pronounced [kamiꜜkaze]; “divine wind” or “spirit wind”), officially Shinpū Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (神風特別攻撃隊, “Divine Wind Special Attack Unit”), were a part of the Japanese Special Attack Units of military aviators who flew suicide attacks for the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, intending to destroy warships more effectively than with conventional air attacks. About 3,800 kamikaze pilots died during the war, and more than 7,000 naval personnel were killed by kamikaze attacks.

Kamikaze aircraft were essentially pilot-guided explosive missiles, purpose-built or converted from conventional aircraft. Pilots would attempt to crash their aircraft into enemy ships in what was called a “body attack” (tai-atari) in aircraft loaded with bombs, torpedoes or other explosives. About 19% of kamikaze attacks were successful. The Japanese considered the goal of damaging or sinking large numbers of Allied ships to be a just reason for suicide attacks; kamikaze were more accurate than conventional attacks, and often caused more damage. Some kamikazes were still able to hit their targets even after their aircraft had been crippled.

The attacks began in October 1944, at a time when the war was looking increasingly bleak for the Japanese. They had lost several important battles, many of their best pilots had been killed, their aircraft were becoming outdated, and they had lost command of the air. Japan was losing pilots faster than it could train their replacements, and the nation’s industrial capacity was diminishing relative to that of the Allies. These factors, along with Japan’s unwillingness to surrender, led to the use of kamikaze tactics as Allied forces advanced towards the Japanese home islands.

The tradition of death instead of defeat, capture, and shame was deeply entrenched in Japanese military culture; one of the primary values in the samurai life and the Bushido code was loyalty and honor until death. In addition to kamikazes, the Japanese military also used or made plans for non-aerial Japanese Special Attack Units, including those involving Kairyu (submarines), Kaiten human torpedoes, Shinyo speedboats and Fukuryu divers. (Wikipedia)

USS Missouri (BB 63) about to be hit by a Japanese A6M “Zero” Kamikaze, while operating off Okinawa on 11 April 1945. The plane hit the ship’s side below the main deck, causing minor damage and no casualties on board the battleship. A 40mm quad gun mount’s crew is in action in the lower foreground. The photographer has been identified as Seaman Len Schmidt.
Carrier USS Essex nearly hit by kamikaze off Okinawa
Kamikaze vs USS Yorktown
Kamikaze attack pilot Lt. Yoshinori Yamaguchi’s Yokosuka D4Y3 Model 33 diving at carrier Essex, 25 November 1944.
Pressure bandaged after they suffered burns when their ship was hit by a Kamikaze attack, men are fed aboard the USS SOLACE. 1945.
Closer view of the Japanese kamikaze aircraft, smoking from anti aircraft hits and veering slightly to left moments before slamming into the USS Essex on November 25, 1944.
A Japanese kamikaze pilot in a damaged single-engine bomber, moments before striking the U.S. Aircraft Carrier USS Essex, off the Philippine Islands, on November 25, 1944.
A Japanese torpedo bomber goes down in flames after a direct hit by 5-inch shells from the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, on October 25, 1944.
Wrecked 40mm Bofors batteries abroad the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise following a kamikaze attack, 1945.
Ensign Kiyoshi Ogawa, who flew his aircraft into USS Bunker Hill during a kamikaze mission on 11 May 1945
USS Bunker Hill was hit by kamikazes piloted by Ensign Kiyoshi Ogawa & Lieutenant Seizo Yasunori on 11 May 1945. 389 personnel were killed or missing and 264 wounded from a crew of 2,600.
Lt. Yoshinori Yamaguchi’s Yokosuka D4Y3 (Type 33 Suisei) “Judy” in a suicide dive against USS Essex. The attack left 15 killed and 44 wounded.25 November 1944.
A Japanese kamikaze aircraft explodes after crashing into Essex’s flight deck amidships 25 November 1944
Model 52c Zeros ready to take part in a kamikaze attack (early 1945)
St Lo attacked by kamikazes, 25 October 1944
Starboard horizontal stabilizer from the tail of a “Judy” on the deck of USS Kitkun Bay. The “Judy” made a run on the ship approaching from dead astern; it was met by effective fire and the plane passed over the island and exploded. Parts of the plane and the pilot were scattered over the flight deck and the forecastle.
A kamikaze hits USS Columbia on 6 Jan 1945. The plane and its bomb penetrated two decks before exploding, killing 13 and wounding 44.
An A6M Zero (A6M2 Model 21) towards the end of its run at the escort carrier USS White Plains on 25 October 1944. The aircraft exploded in mid-air, moments after the picture was taken, scattering debris across the deck.
A Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero kamikaze plane attacking U.S. Navy ships off the Philippines in early 1945.
The U.S. Navy heavy cruiser USS Louisville (CA-28) is hit by a kamikaze in Lingayen Gulf, Philippine Islands, 6 January 1945. The aircraft was a Mitsubishi Ki-51. 43 men were killed and at least 125 were wounded. Rear Admiral Theodore E. Chandler, commander of Cruiser Division 4 (CruDiv 4) was among the killed, as he was fatally injured helping sailors man handle the fire hoses to put out the massive flames during the attack.
Aircraft carrier HMS Formidable after being struck by a kamikaze off Sakishima Islands. The kamikaze made a dent 3 m long, 0.6 m wide and deep in the armored flight deck. Eight crew members were killed, 47 were wounded, and 11 aircraft were destroyed.
The remains of a Japanese Kamikaze aircraft that crashed on board HMS FORMIDABLE off the Sakishima Islands, May 1945. Firefighters busy on board HMS FORMIDABLE after a Japanese suicide plane had crashed on the flight deck whilst she was operating off the Sakishima Islands in support of the Okinawa landings. The forward part of the aircraft carrier’s island can be seen, some of it is badly scorched whilst the flight deck is covered in foam and water.
Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki, the commander of the IJN 5th Air Fleet based in Kyushu, participated in one of the final kamikaze attacks on American ships on 15 August 1945.
Ugaki, shortly before taking off from a D4Y3 to participate in one of the final kamikaze strikes, 15 August 1945
A crewman in an AA gun aboard the battleship New Jersey watches a kamikaze plane descend upon Intrepid 25 November 1944. Over 75 men were killed & missing and 100 wounded.
26 May 1945. Corporal Yukio Araki, holding a puppy, with four other pilots of the 72nd Shinbu Squadron at Bansei, Kagoshima. Araki died the following day, at the age of 17, in a suicide attack on ships near Okinawa.
Chiran high school girls are waving farewell with cherry blossom branches to a taking-off kamikaze pilot. The pilot is Second Lieutenant Toshio Anazawa of Army Special Attack Unit (20th Shinbu party). The aircraft, an Army Type 1 fighter “Hayabusa” III- type-Ko holding a 250kg bomb, is departing towards Okinawa on April 12, 1945.
A Japanese plane crashes near the stern of a U.S. Navy light aircraft carrier, during an unsuccessful kamikaze attack, 17 April 1945. As the photo was taken from the battleship USS South Dakota (BB-57) the carrier is most probably USS Bataan (CVL-29), as South Dakota and Bataan were assigned to Task Group 58.3 (and Bataan was the only CVL assigned to TG 58.3).
The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) being hit by a Japanese bomb-laden kamikaze on 21 May 1945. The ship’s forward elevator was blown approximately 400 feet into the air from the force of the explosion six decks below.
USS Enterprise (CV 6) hit by kamikaze on 21 May 1945
A Japanese kamikaze crashes aft of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) off Okinawa, 1409 hrs, 11 April 1945.
A kamikaze attack on a US warship during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 1944
Kamikaze pilot.
Kamikaze pilots who took part in suicidal missions to try and destroy Allied boats during the Second World War.
A Japanese kamikaze pilot smiles as he helps another with his gear during World War II.
The photograph shows the men of the first actual Kamikaze unit to make an attack on a US ship. The men are being offerred a ceremonial toast of water as a farewell. Yukio Seki, the leader of the first kamikaze unit, is shown with a cup in his hands, and Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi, who organized the first kamikaze unit, is in the middle of the photo facing the five men of the Shikishima Unit. The man offering the cup is Seki’s officer, Asaiki Tamai. 25 October 1944
The photograph shows the men of the first actual Kamikaze unit to make an attack on a US ship. The men are being offerred a ceremonial toast of water as a farewell. Yukio Seki, the leader of the first kamikaze unit, is shown with a cup in his hands, and Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi, who organized the first kamikaze unit, is in the middle of the photo facing the five men of the Shikishima Unit. The man offering the cup is Seki’s officer, Asaiki Tamai. 25 October 1944
A Japanese Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero Kamikaze fighter before crashing into the sea after trying to hit the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Essex (CV-9) off Okinawa, in 1945. Note the Cleveland-class light cruiser in the background.
A Japanese Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero Kamikaze fighter trying to hit the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Essex (CV-9) off Okinawa, in 1945.
U.S. Navy crewmen aboard the light cruiser USS Nashville (CL-43) cleaning up the port side 5″/25 gun battery, after the ship was hit in that area by a Kamikaze on 13 December 1944, while en route to the Mindoro invasion. Note the fire damage to the guns and nearby structure.
A U.S. Navy Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer rescues sailors standing on a section of an aircraft elevator blown off the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) after the ship was hit by a kamikaze off Kyushu, Japan. May 1945
The U.S. Navy light aircraft carrier USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) burning aft after she was hit by a Kamikaze, while operating off Luzon, Philippines, on 30 October 1944. Flight deck crewmen are moving undamaged Grumman TBM Avenger planes of torpedo squadron VT-21 away from the flames as others fight the fires. USS Franklin (CV-13), also hit during this Kamikaze attack, is afire in the distance.
The crew of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) fighting fires after a kamikaze hit the forward elevator on 14 May 1945.
The Royal Australian Navy destroyer HMAS Arunta (I30) is near-missed by a kamikaze plane, while en route to the Lingayen landings, 5 January 1945. The ships, units of Task Force 77, were then west of Luzon.
A kamikaze suicide plane splashes near the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) underway off the Philippines. 6 Nov 1944
View of the Kamikaze-damage suffered by the U.S. Navy destroyer-minelayer USS J. William Ditter (DM-31). She was hit off Okinawa, Japan, on 6 June 1945.
Damage amidships of USS Aaron Ward (DM-34) received during Kamikaze attacks off Okinawa on 3 May 1945. View looks down and aft from Aaron Ward’s foremast, with her greatly distorted forward smokestack in the lower center. Photographed while the ship was in the Kerama Retto on 5 May 1945. A mine is visible at left, on the ship’s starboard mine rails.
A Japanese Kamikaze suicide plane explodes above the U.S. Navy destroyer USS John Rodgers (DD-574) on 14 May 1945.
A Kamikaze hits the U.S. Navy escort carrier USS Suwannee (CVE-27) in the waters off the Philippines on 26 October 1944. The photo was taken from the USS Sangamon (CVE-26).
Japanese Kamikaze suicide plane disintegrates in flames after hitting USS Intrepid (CV-11), during operations off the Philippines on 25 November 1944.
USS Intrepid (CV-11) crew clear away wreckage from the hangar deck, following a fire resulting from the attack of two kamikaze aircraft, 25 November 1944. Six officers and 59 Sailors were killed in the attack but Intrepid maintained station, and in less than two hours had extinguished the blaze.
Burial at sea ceremonies aboard USS Intrepid (CV-11), 26 November 1944.
Shortly after noon 25 November a heavy force of Japanese planes struck back at the carriers. Within 5 minutes 2 kamikazes crashed into the carrier killing 6 officers and 59 bluejackets. Intrepid never lost propulsion nor left her station in the task group; and, in less than 2 hours, had extinguished the last blaze. The next day, Intrepid headed for San Francisco, arriving 20 December for repairs.
14 April 1945 after being hit by a kamikaze off Okinawa. View is from USS Dashiell while approaching to render assistance, remove ComDesDiv50 Hop Parish, and rig a tow.
This kamikaze apparently “expected to land on the after end of the flight deck.” CAPT Sullivan, White Plains commanding officer, avoided a direct hit by ordering a hard turn to starboard: the plane and its bomb exploded just off the port side of the carrier and caused only minor damage; eleven men were injured, none
USS LST-738 burning after she was hit by a Kamikaze off the Mindoro landing beaches, 15 December 1944. USS Moale (DD-693) is nearby. Note the hole in LST-738’s starboard side, just forward of the large “738” painted there. Smoke in the left distance may be from USS LST-472, which was also hit by the Kamikaze attack.
USS LST-738 burning after she was hit by a Kamikaze off the Mindoro landing beaches, 15 December 1944. USS Moale (DD-693) is nearby.
USS Columbia (CL 56) Japanese “Zeke” type Kamikaze aircraft diving on the ship during the Lingayen Gulf operation, 6 January 1945. This plane, afire from hits by the ship’s guns, crashed close aboard, showering Columbia’s superstructure with gasoline. Photo taken from USS California (BB-44).
USS Columbia (CL 56) Japanese Kamikaze aircraft diving on the ship at 1729 hrs on 6 January 1945, during the Lingayen Gulf operation. This plane hit the main deck by the after gun turret, causing extensive damage and casualties. Photo taken from USS California (BB-44).
USS Columbia (CL 56) Japanese Kamikaze hits the ship at 1729 hrs on 6 January 1945, during the Lingayen Gulf operation. The impact, on the main deck by the after gun turret, with the resulting explosion and fire, caused extensive damage and casualties. Photo taken from USS California (BB-44).
Failed Kamikaze strike by a Yokosuka P1Y “Frances” on USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79), at 0945 on 15 December 1944.
Failed Kamikaze strike by a Yokosuka P1Y “Frances” on USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79), at 0945 on 15 December 1944.
Failed Kamikaze strike by a Yokosuka P1Y “Frances” on USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79), at 0945 on 15 December 1944.
USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79) about four minutes after being hit by suicide plane in Sulu Sea on 4 January 1945. She sank about an hour later. USS West Virginia (BB-48) in foreground.
USS Ommaney Bay was hit by a twin-engined Frances at 1712, January 4, 1945. With the fire main ruptured, fires quickly spread out of control. At 1750 the order to abandon ship was given.
USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79) was hit by a Kamikaze on 4 January 1945. Within a half-hour, all power was lost and the ship drifted to a stop. This photo appears to have been taken before she lost power. The ship sank later in the day.
USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79) burning in Sulu Sea after Japanese kamikaze dive on her flight deck. 4 January 1945
USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79) on fire in the Mindoro Strait, Philippine Islands on 4 January 1945 after a kamikaze came in at dusk undetected. USS Natoma Bay (CVE-62) is in the foreground.
Kamikaze attack against the USS Saratoga, 21 February 1945.
Kamikaze attack against the USS Saratoga, 21 February 1945.
Kamikaze attack against the USS Saratoga, 21 February 1945.
Kamikaze attack against the USS Saratoga, 21 February 1945.
USS St. Lo (CVE-63) explodes after being hit by a Kamikaze on 25 October 1944.
USS Bunker Hill (CV 17) burning after being hit by a “Kamikaze” attack while operating off Okinawa on 11 May 1945. Photographed from USS Wilkes Barre (CL 103), which appears to have received fire damage herself helping to fight the blaze from alongside the carrier. A destroyer is off Bunker Hill’s port side.
USS Bunker Hill (CV 17) casualties from Kamikaze hits are transferred to USS Wilkes-Barre (CL 103) for medical care, off Okinawa on 11 May 1945.
USS Saint Louis (CL 49) Crewmen fight fires in the cruiser’s hangar, after she was hit by a “Kamikaze” off Leyte on 27 November 1944.
USS LSM-20 sinking stern first after the Kamikaze attack at Surigao Strait, 5 December 1944. Several crew members are still aboard, one can be seen on the port side and another on the starboard side clinging to the life lines. USS LCI(G)-1017 is visible off LSM-20 port side as she stands by to rescue the LSMs’ crew. Photo was taken from a second LCI laying off her starboard side.

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