Chapter XVII

1 This chapter was originally prepared in Japanese by Col. Takushiro Hattori, Imperial Japanese Army. Duty assignments of this officer were as follows: Chief, Operations Section, Imperial General Headquarters, Army Section, 1 Jul 41-14 Dec 42; Secretary to the War Minister, 14 Dec 42-20 Oct 43 ; Chief, Operations Section, Imperial General Headquarters, Army Section, 20 Oct 43-12 Feb 45; Commander, 65th Infantry Regiment, 12 Feb 45 -15 Aug 45. All source materials cited in this chapter are located in G-2 Historical Section Files, GHQ FEC.

2 The term tokko is an abbreviation of Tokubetsu Kogeki or "special-attack." Tokkotai (WAR) or "special-attack unit" was the official designation given to any group organized to undertake suicide missions. The term Kamikaze was originally limited to naval air units using suicide attack methods but later came to be applied by the western world to special-attack air units of both services.

3 These squads were known as Teishintai-raiding units-and Giyutai-volunteer units. Initially they consisted of about 2o men and were assigned to such missions as destroying artillery, munition dumps, and other important installations behind enemy lines. The Eighteenth Army in May 1943 activated two provisional raiding companies which subsequently were employed in the Ramu Valley and in the Finisterre Mountain campaigns of September-December 1943. In the summer of 1944, the Inspectorate-General of Military Training compiled a "Raiding Attack Training Guide", based on experience up to that time, for distribution to the entire Army. (Statement by Lt. Col. Kengoro Tanaka, Staff Officer (Operations), Eighteenth Army.)

4 An indication of this defensive attitude was the fact that the emphasis of Army aircraft production in the Homeland, by the autumn of 1943, had shifted from bombers to fighters. More and more fighters were being turned out in proportion to bombers to meet the huge demand by the Army Air forces for interceptors. (Statement by Lt. Col. Kotaro Katogawa, Military Affairs Bureau, War Ministry.

5 Not only was the fire power of the Japanese fighter planes no match for enemy B-17's and B-24's, but insufficiently trained replacements, frequent breakdowns in aircraft supply, poor quality of aircraft and equipment, and high combat losses contributed to the feeling of helplessness and desperation among front line units. This state of progressive deterioration on New Guinea and in the Solomons led the Japanese to believe that the only way to stop the enemy in the air was for their aircraft to crash deliberately into the invading air formations. (Statement by Lt. Col. Koji Tanaka, Staff Officer (Air Operations), Imperial General Headquarters, Army Section.)

6 Immediately following the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Rear Adm. Obayashi, Commander of the 3d Carrier Division, volunteered to organize special attack units and requested Vice Adm. Ozawa, then Commander of the First Mobile Fleet, for authorization to do so. Ozawa unofficially informed Admiral Toyoda, Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet, but no positive action was taken on the grounds that the formation of special-attack units had to remain on a volunteer basis and could not be ordered. United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific), Naval Analysis Division, Interrogations of Japanese Officials,Vol. I, p. 152.

7 In late July the directors of air training schools and local Air force commanders were ordered by the Inspectorate-General of Army Aviation and the War Minister to submit lists of volunteers for special-attack training. Fifty flight personnel were recruited in the first group, their training to be completed in September. Abont sixty flight personnel (for four groups) were later recruited in August and September. Instructions were given to the recruits at Army air schools at Hamamatsu and Hokoda for heavy and light bomber pilots, and at Hitachi and Akeno for fighter pilots. (Statement by Col. Monjiro Akiyama, Chief, Training Section, Office of the Inspectorate-General of Army Aviation.)

8 The Army began conversion of a number of new Type-IV heavy bombers and Type-99 twin-engine light bombers into special-attack aircraft. The heavy bombers were armed with two 800-kilogram demolition bombs and a contact fuse built into the fuselage. The light bombers were similarl y armed with one 800-kilogram bomb. Fighters and fighter-bombers were also being equipped with devices for carrying a greater load of bombs to permit instant conversion into special-attack planes. The Navy meanwhile speeded the secret development of a new type of special-attack ordnance, the Oka (dubbed "Baka bomb" by the Americans), a one-man rocket-powered glide bomb invented by a Navy ensign. It was put into production in September. The bomb was attached to the underfuselage of a mother plane and was released at a point most effective for a glide and dive on the target. This was usually 11 miles from the objective at an altitude of 3,500 meters or at a point not liable to interception by enemy carrier fighters. About 70 of these bombs were launched against Allied ships during the Okinawa campaign from March to June, 1945. (Statements by Lt. Col. Koji Tanaka, previously cited, and Rear Adm. Katsuhei Nakamura, Chief, General Affairs Bureau, Naval Aeronautical Department.)

9 In April 1943, a Sgt. Ono of the 6th Air Division, rammed his plane into a B-17 north of Madang, New Guinea, while on transport escort duty. In May 1944, four fighter planes led by Maj. Takada of the 5th Air Regiment, launched a crash attack against an Allied warship off southern Biak, New Guinea. During the Midway naval battle of 5 Jun 1942, a Lt. Tomonaga executed a suicide dive on an enemy ship. (Statements by Lt. Col. Koji Tanaka, previously cited, and Capt. Mitsuo Fuchida, Staff Officer (Operations), Combined Fleet.)

10 "To achieve Kamikaze, the ordinary technique of the pilot is sufficient, no special training methods are necessary.... But to pilots who have had short training and least flight experience we give the essence of the Kamikaze attack in the shortest period possible." (Statement by Capt. Rikihei Inoguchi, Staff Officer, First Air Fleet, USSBS Interrogations of Japanese Officials, op. cit. Vol. I, p 61.)

11 By mid-September, the Fourth Air Army in the Philippines began independently to form tokko units for special missions. On 21-22 September, three Type-I Army fighters, organized for such a mission, carried out an attack on an enemy carrier force. (Statement by Lt. Col. Katsuo Sato, Staff Officer (Operations), Fourth Air Army.)

12 While the Army and, to a lesser degree, the Navy had proceeded with the physical formation of tokko units and the production and equipment of special-attack planes, Imperial General Headquarters issued no general orders placing such units on a compulsory basis. The Army and Navy High Commands still considered special-attack a method of coping with local situations and not an over-all policy. Large-scale special-attacks in the Philippines Campaign were counted upon, but no orders to impress flying personnel into tokko units were issued because numerous volunteers were available. (Statement by Lt. Gen. Torashiro Kawabe, Deputy-Chief, Army Aeronautical Department.)

13 Although Rear Adm. Arima's attempted crash attack was reported successful by returning Japanese aircraft, U. S. Navy sources indicate that his plane crashed into the sea. No carrier or any other ship was hit by a suicide plane in the period 14-18 October. USSBS (Pacific), Military Analysis Division, Japanese Air Power, July 46, p 62.

14 The commander of this corps was a regular Navy officer. The other 23 airmen were graduates of naval pre-flight training courses and had received some special training in skip-bombing. (Statement by Capt. Fuchida, previously cited.)

15 The technique of approaching the target was of great importance. This varied according to circumstances and the skill and preference of the pilot, but was generally calculated to achieve surprise and evade or confuse radar detection, visual spotting, and fire control. During the Leyte operations, tokko planes generally used a high or medium-altitude approach up to 6,000 meters, although on occasion a low-level approach using cloud cover was employed. Over the target each plane was on its own, one plane usually being assigned to one ship. Pilots were instructed to attack enemy carriers by diving at the flight deck at as steep an angle as possible, or if this was not feasible, to aim at the side of the vessel. (Statements by Lt. Col. Koji Tanaka and Capt. Fuchida, both previously cited.)

16 Since there is no record of any other suicide attack on ships in Leyte Gulf during 21 October, it appears probable that this aircraft was the one which, according to Allied naval records, hit and damaged the HMAS Australia on that date. This was the first successful suicide attack in the Leyte campaign.

17 Hito Homen Kaigun Sakusen Sono Ni (Philippine Area Naval Operations, Part II) 2d Demobilization Bureau, Oct 47, p. 101.

18 Pilots, as well as aircraft of various types, were drawn from the 153d, 601st and 761st Air Groups. The initial corps used only bomb-equipped fighters. However, after the reorganizations of the Kamikaze corps, all types of aircraft were used. (Statement by Capt. Fuchida, previously cited.

19 Philippine Area Naval Operations, Part II, op. cit, pp. 101-2,

20 The Banda unit used a twin-engine bomber manned by a crew of two and armed with a single 800-kilogram bomb. The Fugaku unit used a Type-IV heavy bomber, which carried two 800-kilogram bombs.

21 Statement by Lt. Col. Koji Tanaka, previously cited.

22 Between 15 October 11944 and the end of January 1945, a total of 11,970 Army aircraft were lost in the Philippines theater. Of this total, about 700 planes were destroyed on the ground because of the inability of the air defense to protect Japanese bases from enemy air strikes. Attempts were made to reduce losses by dispersal to concealed airfields at various points on Luzon, but these efforts were largely ineffectual. Top priority was also given to moving air replacements from the Homeland. However, ferrying losses were extremely high due to poor quality of aircraft and inadequately trained pilots. (Statement by Lt. Col. Sato, previously cited.)

23 (1) Hito Koku Sakusen Kiroku Dai Niki Philippine Air Operations Record, Phase Two 1st Demobilization Bureau, Nov 46, Attached Chart XVII. (2) Philippine Area Naval Operations, Part II, op. cit., pp. 101-2.

24 A check of the results officially claimed by the Japanese Air forces against the figures of actual losses and damage given in American naval records covering the Philippines Campaign shows the following: Only 19 Allied ships, including two escort carriers, were actually sunk by Kamikaze attack. However, 121 suicide planes hit their targets, inflicting varying degrees of damage, and 53 scored damaging near-misses. One third of the recorded hits were on carriers, battleships and cruisers. USSBS, Japanese Air Power., op. cit., p. 63.

25 Cf. Chapter XIII, pp. 393-397.

26 On the night of 24 May 1945, the Giretsu (Army) Airborne Raiding Unit crash-landed on Kita (north) and Naka (central) airfields which had been occupied by the enemy, and succeeded in doing extensive damage to parked aircraft before the unit was wiped out. The Navy planned a similar raiding attack on American B-29 bases in the Marianas in July 1945, but the 25 long-range Navy bombers assigned to the mission were destroyed by enemy carrier raids on Misawa airfield, in northern Honshu, on 14-15 July, and the plan had to be abandoned. (Statements by Lt. Col. Koji Tanaka, previously cited, and Comdr. Yoshimori Terai, Staff Officer (Operations), Imperial General Headquarters, Navy Section.)

27 The Navy gave its crash boats the designation Shinyo, while those used by the Army's surface raiding regiments were known as Renraku-tei or "liaison boat." The boats were essentially of the same type, 18 feet in length and powered by automobile engines capable of driving them at a maximum speed of 26 knots. The Shinyo carried a single 250-kilogram explosive charge in the bow, while the Renraku-tei loaded two 120-kilogram depth charges, one on each side of the cockpit. Shinyo crews were instructed to crash headlong into the target vessel, while Renraku-tei navigators were originally trained to approach the side of an enemy ship abreast the engine compartments at high speed and drop their charges while executing a U-turn. The charges were fixed to detonate six seconds after release. This allowed virtually no leeway for crash boat to get away. Both the Army and Navy planned to concentrate as many boats as possible for a surprise attack, but actually no more than 70 boats were ever employed on a single raid. (1) Shusenji ni okeru Nihon Kantei (Japanese Naval Vessels at the End of the War) 2d Demobilization Bureau, 25 Apr 47. (2) Statement by Lt. Col. Tsugunori Kuriya, Staff Officer (Shipping), Fourteenth Area Army.

28 Philippine Area Naval Operations, Part I, op. cit., pp. 401.

29 The Army surface raiding forces in the Philippines were organized into boat regiments, each regiment with an authorized strength of 100 boats and 104 navigating personnel, and supported by a base battalion of about 900 men. Boat regiments and base battalions stationed in the Manila Bay, Batangas and Lamon Bay areas were commanded by three Surface Raiding Force headquarters, one for each of these areas. One boat regiment and a base battalion, commanded by a local division commander, were stationed in Lingayen. Most of the boat regiments were below authorized strength because of the large proportion of craft lost in transit to the Philippines. At the time of the Allied invasion of Luzon, about 150 surface raiding boats were based at Sual, on Lingayen Gulf. (Statement by Lt. Col. Kuriya, previously cited.)

30 Cf. Chapter XV, p. 436.

31 Midget submarines were first used in the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941, all five participating craft being lost in the operation. (Cf. Chapter V, p. 71.) During 1942 they were used in small-scale attacks on shipping inside the harbors of Sydney, Australia, and Diego Suarez, on Madagascar Island, and also operated in the Solomons area during the fight for Guadalcanal. Limited cruising range, low speed, difficulty in launching from the mother submarine, and inadequate power of the torpedoes carried so reduced the effectiveness of these craft that a new type of midget submarine, with a cruising range of 300-350 miles, was developed. Sixteen of this new type, designed to operate from shore bases, were built between 1942 and 1945. (Statement by Capt. Toshikazu Ohmae, Naval Affairs Bureau, Navy Ministry.)

32 Seven submarines, each carrying four Kaiten, were used in attacks against enemy ships in Ulithi Anchorage, Apra Harbor on Guam, Kossol Passage and Humboldt Bay between 20 November 1944 and 12 January 1945. Enemy vessels off Iwo Jima in the Bonins were also attacked by eight Kaiten in late February 1945, but the results are not known. (Navy Ministry's Report to Col. F. P. Munson, 22 November 1945.)

33 Ibid.


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