This article is a brief overview of Japan's suicide pilots. Kamikaze were designed to destroy warships more effectively than was possible using conventional attacks. During World War II, about 3.860 kamikaze pilots were killed, and about 19% of kamikaze attacks managed to hit a ship.
Kamikaze suicide attacks were one of the most frightful tactics of the Pacific theater during World War II. Named after the divine wind of a hurricane that repelled Mongol invaders in Japan’s ancient past, these planes and pilots are often thought of as nothing more than fanatics, brainwashed into giving their lives, but the truth is more nuanced. These pilots were as human as any and often battled between loyalty and their fear of death.
Kamikaze ("divine wind") pilots were a part of the Japanese Special Attack Units of military aviators who initiated suicide attacks for the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II. Read a detailed account of the story of the kamikaze.
The Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka was a rocket-powered, human-guided kamikaze attack aircraft employed by Japan against Allied ships towards the end of World War II. United States sailors gave the aircraft the nickname "Baka," which means "fool" or "idiot" in Japanese. These flying bombs represented a serious threat to transport ships like Elmore in the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands.
On the evening of 10 January 1945, during the invasion of Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines, enemy aircraft attacked. USS DuPage (APA-41), Elmore’s sister ship, was leading a convoy of transports Despite heavy anti-aircraft fire, a kamikaze crashed to port damaging her severely as well as starting fires which stubbornly recurred and were fought all through the night. She lost 35 killed and 136 wounded.
While at Buckner Bay, Okinawa, USS LaGrange (APA-124) unloaded cargo needed for the final days of the war when she came under enemy air attack and suffered the last known kamikaze attacks of the war.
Despite accurate antiaircraft fire, an unidentified kamikaze carrying a 500-pound bomb crashed into LaGrange’s superstructure. A second suicide plane struck the top of a kingpost and splashed 20 yards from the ship. The transport suffered considerable damage in both strikes, with 21 sailors killed and 89 wounded.