Japanese kamikaze: origin, historical facts, photos

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Japanese kamikaze: origin, historical facts, photos
Japanese kamikaze: origin, historical facts, photos

Sakura blooms quickly. Her fleeting beauty is symbolic for the Japanese. Cherry blossoms are like the bright and brief life of a samurai. Just like flower petals that fly around before they wither, Japanese kamikazes passed away in the prime of life.

The Emperor's Last Weapon

In the last ten months of the Second World War, the Land of the Rising Sun was fading away. As their last weapon, the Japanese generals and admirals selected about 25 people for tasks involving organized suicide. The world remembers these people today under the name "kamikaze". The damage inflicted by the kamikaze was terrible. Sunk or damaged Allied ships only had time to count. Very many ships were so badly damaged that they had to be withdrawn from the theater of operations. More than seven thousand American soldiers, men and women, died as a result of organized attacks by the kamikaze pilot corps. Tens of thousands were injured. The reason for their incredible suffering was two thousand Japanese kamikaze pilots who would stop at nothing and were ready to die for an idea. It is impossible to overestimate theselosses for the families of both warring parties. Girls and boys have lost their fathers, mothers have lost their sons who will never come home again. Kamikaze lived beyond the concepts of grief and torment. They sacrificed themselves in the name of ideals. But in vain. Kamikaze (translated from Japanese into Russian - "divine wind") were supposed to be the answer to the invaders. The wind was strong, but it did not prevail. At this stage, the empire was already doomed. But the prologue to the collapse was four years before the advent of the kamikaze.

Japanese kamikaze pilots

Death awaits

After the world-shaking Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the US military did everything to strike back at the aggressor. The Japanese pilots succeeded in sinking the core of the American fleet, but missed the American carriers, which were on the march at sea at the time of the attack. These flat-deck ships were supposed to form the core of a counterattack to even out the skies over the Pacific.

Fight for Midway Island

On April 18, 1942, five months after Pearl Harbor, Colonel Jimmy Doolittle and his men took off from the deck of an American aircraft carrier, targeting Tokyo. So 16 aircraft brought the war to the Japanese people. It was clear to both sides that aircraft and airstrips would be key forces in this emerging war. Three months later, in June, the Japanese attacked Midway Island. But the Americans had broken the Japanese codes and were now on alert and waiting. The Japanese lost 322 aircraft, four aircraft carriers and 3,500 civilians, including their best.pilots flying over Midway. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was at the helm of the air attack on Midway. Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo commanded the formation of aircraft carriers. There is evidence that even then eight staff officers proposed the use of ram attacks, in which the pilot had to be sacrificed. So for the first time they started talking about kamikaze (translation from Japanese into Russian - "divine wind"). Yamamoto didn't want to hear about it. The humiliation of defeat in a naval battle has not been familiar to the Japanese since the 15th century. And now it has become a hard reality for the citizens of Japan.

Japanese kamikaze in World War II

In addition to the aircraft carriers that did not suffer at Pearl Harbor, the Americans also developed faster and more maneuverable aircraft carriers that were sent to combat missions. During the 1942-1943s. American military forces were getting closer and closer to Tokyo. One of the problems of the Japanese was the lack of aircraft. In addition, good pilots were needed. On June 19, 1944, in a battle known as the Great Mariana Ship Clash, the Land of the Rising Sun lost ten times more aircraft than the Allies.

Kamikaze attack

As the Allied troops advanced from one island to another, the military formations of the empire increasingly felt themselves in an extremely distressed situation. Very soon, American forces will be close enough to threaten Japan's home islands. The Allies continued to master their successful "hopping" strategy from island to island. But the closer they got to Japan, thethe fearlessness with which the Japanese were going to defend their native islands became more obvious to them. In Saipan, a huge number of civilians and paramilitary people chose to commit suicide instead of surrendering to the enemy. Believing that many of them would be enslaved and killed by the invaders, many of their Japanese chose to take poison and throw a grenade at their feet instead of surrendering. One soldier wrote in his diary: "I have finally arrived at the place where I will die. I am pleased to note that I will die peacefully, in the true spirit of the sunrise." Photos of Japanese kamikaze have survived to this day. The shocked American soldiers began to realize that the Eastern attitude towards suicide was radically different from their understanding. Now they have seen the unimaginable.

Japanese kamikaze war

Japan against the world

Meanwhile in Europe, the Allies had already survived the day of the Normandy landings and were moving on to liberate Paris. After that there will be Berlin. And Japan was expecting the first defeat in history. It was that bitter pill that the highest ranks of the empire were not ready to swallow. Events developed in such a way that soon Japan was to fight against the whole world. Such was the situation when American tactical forces approached Leyte Gulf in October 1944 as a group. If the Allies return to the Philippines, it will only be a matter of time before they take the Japanese islands. The Japanese developed a counterplan to counter the American onslaught. Several military leaders argued at once about the need to useJapanese kamikaze pilots. The main supporter of these methods was the commander-in-chief of aviation, Tokijiro Onishi. It was at this time that Japanese kamikazes appeared on the scene of hostilities.

Japanese kamikaze pilots

Defending Leyte Gulf

The First Divine Wind Squadron was formed in October 1944. Officially, they were understudies for specialized strike teams. The decision to form this group came from the commander-in-chief Tokijiro Onishi. Japanese kamikazes in World War II became a serious stumbling block for the Allies in the campaign to retake the Philippines. When the battle for Leyte began in October, panic already seized the Americans, because there was no effective defense against the kamikaze squadron. In Japan itself, this method was extolled as a new secret weapon, a glorious new invention in the art of war. The "divine wind" knights were revered as saviors.

From the very beginning of the war, Japanese kamikazes demonstrated two main types of strike:

  • The plane flew to the target at an extremely low altitude directly above the waves to avoid fixation by radars. As soon as the pilot saw the target, he climbed to gain acceleration before the last dive.
  • The second method required cloud accumulation as cover. The pilot was required to gain maximum altitude, and then fall at an angle to the target as soon as it appeared in his field of view.
Japanese kamikaze in the second

The pilots were instructed to aimnecessary in the lifting deck mechanisms. The explosion in this sector not only damaged a large number of aircraft in the hangar, but also made it impossible to conduct flight operations. For the Japanese kamikaze themselves in World War II, the only thing worse than the prospect of dying was the prospect of not dying. Failing to find the enemy ship meant returning to base and preparing for certain death the next day.

Group departures

After the tactical group was formed, Japanese kamikazes began to fly in groups of 5-10 aircraft, and only a few of them planned a deadly mission. The rest were to provide cover. In addition, they had to witness this event and report it to the emperor. In order to confuse the enemy, kamikazes made it a rule to fly by without striking those ships that were returning from the combat zone. American radars were already sophisticated enough, but not enough to tell who was who. And although Japanese kamikaze pilots appeared more often at dusk than usual, they could fly in at any other time of the day or night. In the early days of the Battle of Leyte, almost every American carrier in the task force stationed off the Philippines was attacked by a suicide plane. The dream of those who invented the kamikaze tactic ("one plane - one ship") was becoming a reality.

Kamikaze translation from Japanese

Divine Wind

How did it happen that people gave up everything for the sake of a crumbling empire? Thesethe airmen were the latest incarnation of the "divine wind" that had protected the Japanese islands for centuries. Year 1241 - Khan Kublai decided that the Mongol Empire should expand and include the Japanese islands. The commander-in-chief of the Japanese islands had completely different thoughts on this matter. The Mongols gathered a huge army on the Chinese and Korean shores and were in full combat readiness. Outnumbered, the Japanese warriors only wondered how long they could hold out. Then a typhoon rose and destroyed the invading armada, saving Japan itself. The storm was associated with the deity of the Sun. This tradition has since been told in Japanese schools to all boys and girls. This event occurred during the development of the feudal system. Among the most powerful castes of those times were the samurai. It was a caste of warriors who actually ruled the country until the 19th century. At that time, loy alty to the emperor, who was considered a god on earth, was valued above all else. The creators of the kamikaze squadron turned, in fact, to a centuries-old historical tradition.

US fleet losses

For the Americans, 1944 ended with a terrible omen, when a typhoon raged on December 17, as if he wanted to repeat the actions of those kamikazes who took his name. The hurricane overtook the fleet. And when the ships tried to leave the storm zone, the wind seemed to be trying to overtake them. The fleet "floundered" on the waves, losing more than 800 people. For some time, kamikaze flights stopped. This gave the Americans an opportunity to lick their wounds. But not for long. Eager to find their purposeand unwilling to return to the base without hitting it, the Japanese kamikaze in the second attempt began to threaten the small ships as well. Gradually, American patrols got better and better at intercepting kamikazes.

New kamikaze unit

The depleted ranks of kamikazes that successfully completed the tasks needed to be replenished. Therefore, on January 18, a fresh unit of suicide pilots was formed. The Americans decided to temporarily withdraw their aircraft carriers from the combat zone. The biggest stake for the allies in this struggle was to eliminate the Japanese aviation industry so that the kamikaze would no longer receive the components necessary for their struggle. For this purpose, B-29s were first commissioned. This bomber was so big that it was nicknamed the "super fortress".

New Suicide

It was time to face up to the new reality. And it was such that the Japanese people would soon have to defend their land from the invasion of American bombers. The B-29 flew at an altitude of 30,000 feet, but in order to drop shells on Tokyo, it was necessary to descend to an altitude of 25,000 feet. What was really bad for the Japanese was that their fighters could not even reach this mark. As a result - the complete superiority of the Allies in the air, which completely demoralized the Japanese military. Raids on the Japanese islands were carried out continuously. And since most Japanese houses were built of wood, the bombardment was very effective. By March 10, about a million Japanese were left homeless as a result of American raids on Tokyo.A new kamikaze unit was urgently created. Armor was completely removed from their aircraft, which made them especially light and made it possible to rise to the required height. The new unit was named "Shen Tek", or "Earthshakers". But the number of American bombers was too great. The Japanese people began to think more and more about imminent defeat.

Photo of Japanese kamikaze


As the war became more and more hopeless, the concept of using kamikaze expanded. Suicide boats were created with bombs planted in them. All of them were developed as a means of resisting the invasion of their native land. A suicide attack could be carried out in a wide variety of ways. So-called Japanese submarine kamikazes also appeared - small boats with two suicide submariners. They were called kaiten. The Japanese were in full swing to develop the production of such suicide boats in order to repel the inevitable invasion of Japan. The emperor's servants continued to fight desperately. Some historians believe that the successful use of suicide ram attacks led President Truman to decide to use nuclear weapons. The explosion of a nuclear bomb may have stopped the war, but it was the prologue to a new horror. Thus ended this long bloody war. Japanese kamikaze forever entered world history. Hundreds of Japanese committed suicide, not wanting to surrender to the invaders. Harakiri is a samurai way of ritual killing to avoid shame. In the last days to hara-kiriresorted and the creator of all kamikaze. Already emaciated, Admiral Onishi, father of the Divine Wind, followed the example of those he himself sent to their deaths.

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