** World War II Pacific War air campaign Kamikaze Kyhshu

Pacific Air War: Kamikazes: Kyhshu

Figure 1.--American forces began landing on Okinawa (April 1). Major Japanese Kamikaze attacks began from Okinawa bases (April 6). Here Chiran High School girls wave cherry blossom branches, and cheer kamikaze pilot Second Lieutenant Toshio Anazawa as his Hayabusa lll type-ko aircraft takes-off from a Kyushu air base to attack the American invasion fleet off Okinawa (April 12, 1945). He was carrying a 250 kg bomb.

The first Kamakazis were flown from isolated Pillipines bases. The last Kamakazes flew from bases in Japan meaning Kyhshu, the southern-most of the Home Islands The U.S. fleet off Okinawa was in range of Kamikazes flown from bases in Kyhshu Japan. The Kamikazes were most effective when the fleet came close to shore meaning there was less time to intercept them. But as the Okinawa cmpign progressed, the Americans took or dstroyed the various air bases meaning that massed assaults from Okinawa could no longer be launched and the Kamikazes were only effective if launched in mass to ovewhealm the fleet's fighter screen protecting the fleet. Most Kamikaze attacks were launched from Kyhshu against the Okinmawa invasion fleet. From these bases the Kamikaze pilots were given a stirring send off. The Government recrited virgin school girls who waved and threw cherry blosooms and other pink flowers as the pilots took off (Spring 1945). [Thomas, p. 2.] This of course signaled wher the Americans would land in any invsasion. Throughout World War II, the Americans only landed where they had air superority. (Guadalcanal was a rare exception.) And this maeant there wa sno doubt where the first blow would fall--it would be Kyhshu. So as the Americans built up forces for the Kyhshu invasion--Operation Olympic, the Japanese built up forces on Kyhshu. Among the men and material were a huge flotilla of planes. They were to be launched against the American Kyhdhu invasion fleet as was the case in Okinawa. (An even larger Kamikaze fleet was being assembled on Honshu meaning around Tokyo.) Many of the planes were hidden in caves or other sites so they were protected from American bombing and fighter sweeps. American intelligence expected Kamikaze attacks, but wsas not was not aware of the magnitude of the secret air force the Japanese were massing and the air defense that awaited them. Given the success of the Kamikazes in the Okinawa campaign, the carnage would have been massive. The large number of individuals who criticize the Ametrican bombing and maintain that Japan was a defeated natiion, simply ignore the substantial forces that Japan had assembled to oppose the American invasion. President Truman was correct with his assessment that American troops faced a series of Okinawas in the Home Islands.


Thomas, Evan. Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign, 1941-1945 (Simon & Schuster: New York, 2006), 414p.


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Created: 6:57 AM 10/13/2008
Last updated: 12:25 AM 12/17/2013