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Kamikaze Attacks.........overrated?

Discussion in 'Axis Aviation Of WWII' started by JJWilson, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    True. And in the Summer of '45 many of the pilots were training solely in visual navigation to speed up their training. They were going to be going after ships that could see the shore from their station offshore.
     
  2. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    You might want to review Allied shipping losses in 1944-45. The closest thing to a "true Aircraft Carrier" sunk by conventional aircraft was CVL Princeton, a converted light cruiser. The only major warship sunk by a submarine in that period was Indianapolis. The Japanese were achieving nothing like the success they had in 1942; that was what led them to adopt "special attack" tactics.

    LCdr Iwatani was right in principal, but by mid-1944 they were losing most of their aircraft and aircrew on conventional attacks without accomplishing much of anything. They simply were not able to strike "over and over again". Their flyers were not gaining experience; most of them were dying on their first or second or third mission.
     
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  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Plus we could put a lot more metal in the air, including the VT fuzed shells and rude boats like this one.

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Well Sakai was sent on such a mission. They didn't find any USN vessels so he returned home. Early on they seam to have formed the units without as much thought as they did later on.
     
  5. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The long distance missions had a guide plane, to get them to the target and report the results. Some authors have speculated that they reported any column of smoke as a burning carrier rather than enter the death zone around the bird farms.
     
  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Huh?

    Kikusui is Water Chrysanthemum...Special Attack Unit is tokubetsu kogeki tai, some times reffered to as Tokkotai...Kamikaze likely comes from the name of the first official Japanese Navy kamikaze unit Shimpu tokubetsu kogeki tai - Shimpu(variously spelled as Shimbu, Shinpu, Shinpuu) being another way to read the Japanese characters of kamikaze. Shimpu, IIRC, was also the name adopted for the entire Japanese Army kamikaze effort. So, it can be seen as either an allusion or mistranslation regarding Kamikaze(Divine Wind).

    However, Kikusui was the operational name given to a series of large Kamikaze attacks that took place during the Battle of Okinawa...Kikusui #1 - #10 between April 6 and June 22, 1945, similar to the Allies naming their operations Operation Market Garden, Operation Neptune, etc. Perhaps this is what you are thinking of? Also, Kikusui was the name appointed to one of the IJA Kamikaze units that flew the Nakajima Ki-49IIa. Finally, I have seen Kikusui given to the Kaiten operation against Ulithi Atoll.
     
  7. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The debate has been ongoing since the war ended. The numbers do tend to fluctuate though, as I have seen the number of kamikaze placed at 2314 sorties(including escorts) with 1086 returning and 1228 expended. The number of sunk ships also tend to fluctuate as smaller ships would be lost as they were being towed for repair or declared total constructive losses(written off) - Numbers I have seen vary between 34 and 57. Probably the most concise list can be found here: 47 Ships Sunk by Kamikaze Aircraft

    Also, how does one figure out percentages...Planes sortied vs. ships lost and sunk, planes expended vs. ships lost and sunk, pilots lost vs. warship crew killed, etc. The combinations can be quite numerous.

    Regardless, one can argue that the Kamikaze was effective in sinkings & damages achieved, material expended, and by forcing the USN to expend a good deal of effort in countering the Kamikazes(including calling on USAAF bombers to attack known Kamikaze bases) - Not to mention that some of these efforts would not bear fruit until after the war had ended, USN anti-aircraft guided missiles, for instance.

    However, did the Kamikaze effect the outcome of the war, and the answer would be a resounding "No." So, in that case the Kamikaze could be considered ineffective.


    Your argument that "But in terms of actual physical effectiveness, Kamikaze attacks made up only a small portion of Allied shipping losses in 1944 and 1945, Sinking and Damaging about 400 vessels in a 1 year span is impressive, but still isn't as significant as the losses suffered to Submarines, and Japanese aircraft attacking with bombs and torpedoes, not kamikaze's," at least in terms of warships DE size or larger, would be a fool's errand. Throughout the war aircraft bombs and torpedoes(all Axis nations) sank or damaged 111 USN warships(DE or larger), while suicide aircraft sank or damaged 183, Axis submarines sank or damaged 40, and Axis surface action sank or damaged 71. The last year, roughly, December 8, 1944 through October 9, 1945, highlights this point even more: with a/c bombs & torpedoes sinking or damaging 21 warships (DE or larger), suicide planes 153, submarines 5, surface action 5. The numbers easily show that the Kamikaze was the most effective anti-warship weapon in the Japanese arsenal, nothing else even came close. The Americans were just to powerful, numerically & technologically, in defeating Japanese conventional air, submarine, and surface attacks. Go here: HyperWar: USN War Damage Report--index
    and read through the 4 Summary of War Damage to US BBs, CVs, CA, and DDs:



    Your argument "that the Kamikaze attacks weren't as effective as other anti-shipping methods, because of the Japanese failure to sink a true Aircraft Carrier (not escort Carriers), which would have truly struck a blow to the Allies." can likewise be easily defeated. One can say that Japanese submarines, alone, never sank a "true" aircraft carrier - The USS Yorktown(CV-5) had already been heavily damaged by Japanese carrier-based airpower and the submarine, I-168, basically finished off a cripple. Since you used the word "true," then one can just as easily argue that the USS Wasp(CV-7) was also not a "true" aircraft carrier, by dint of her small size, weight, and lack of protection. Moving on to Japanese airpower...Well, now, one can argue that they too never sank a "true" aircraft carrier: The Lexington was scuttled by a US DD, the Yorktown needed to be finished off by a Japanese submarine, and the Hornet...She just took a beating from most everybody; Japanese airpower, American scuttling attempts, before being finished off by Japanese surface warships. Still, one could concede that Japanese airpower alone did sink the Lexington, since she likely would have been a total constructive loss had she survived. Finally, to Japanese surface warships, the best they ever did was to finish off, as mentioned earlier, the Hornet. Still, even conceding large carrier losses, the fact remains that other Japanese anti-shipping methods had not sunk a large American carrier since 1942, times had changed and Japanese naval air power, surface power, and subsurface power was being soundly beaten by the Americans.

    With regards to the quote from Iwatani(Taiyo was the magazine it was taken from), the fact remains, that Special Attack methods were not normal - They were undertaken because "normal" attacks were achieving very little in way of stopping the Americans. Further, Japanese pilots, for the most part, had little skill - They had received only rudimentary training, were flying "hotter" aircraft than had previously been flown, and were being shot down in droves by the Americans. Thus, they had very little chance to improve upon the few skills that they did possess. We, in hindsight, and the Japanese high command, in real time, have seen this progression...The Japanese Sea Eagles had been ground down in the Central Pacific & Solomons, reformed, with less skill, and butchered in the Philippine Sea, reformed, with even less skill, and massacred in the invasion of the Philippines proper. Meanwhile, the USN was growing ever more powerful and ever more skilled. In a perfect world, Iwatani's sentiment would have held true, but in late-1944, the Japanese world was far from perfect, and getting further away with each passing day.
     
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  8. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I think it was their most effective option. Given the late war AA fit on late war US vessels, the radar, the fire directors, the operational techniques like CIC's, the shipping of a second fighter squadron on most fleet carriers, and the quality of pilots and frontline fighter aircraft, I doubt that pilots that flew the Pearl Harbor strike or scoured the oceans of enemy shipping in 1942, would have had better results with a conventional strike facing what they would have faced in late '44 and '45. What the US fighters didn't shoot down when vectored towards the strike by radar information and coordinated by the CIC, would face a wall of precision guided anti-aircraft fire in quantities that couldn't be imagined in 1942. Look at the BB North Carolina, when she protected the USS Enterprise during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in August 1942, she shipped 20 x 5"/38's in twin mounts, 16 quad 1.1" mounts (64 barrels), 36 x 20mm Oerlikons and 24 x .50 cals, she had XCAM-1 radar and her MK37 directors had the MK 4 radar that had a range accuracy of 40 yards and a bearing accuracy of 4 mils (IIRC, her aft director MK37 didn't have radar fitted yet). The MK 4 could not track low flying aircraft. By the time of Okinawa she had the same 20 5"/38's but now the proximity fuze was available and she had the MK 12 and Mk 22 radars fitted to her directors. The MK 12 had an accuracy of 20 yards and 3 mils in bearing and the MK 22 could track low flying aircraft. She had 60 quad bofors mounts (240 barrels), 56 x 20mm oerlikons ans SK-2 air search radar.
    The USS Wichita was the last "treaty" heavy cruiser built. In August 1942 she had 8 x 5"/38 EBR single mounts, 16 quad 1.1's and 12 20mm Oerlikons. The Baltimore class that followed her had 12 x 5"/38's in twin turrets, 48 quad bofors mounts and 24 x 20mm Oerlikons. Quite an increase in AA capability.
    What aircraft did survive to get through to the ships would have timed their attacks with the intent of being able to pull out and return to home. Those that survived would have been attacked on egress and more shot down. Then more would have gone down from damage or wounds on their way home. With the Kamikazes you still had the inbound problem, but if you got through you were now a human, guided munition. At least you had a chance of inflicting damage.
    Given the lack of pilot training, the lack of combat experience, flying aircraft that had no qualitative edge, with little or no bombing/torpedo training, if Japan had launched conventional airstrikes, I seriously doubt their survival rate would have been much improved and can guarantee the damage inflicted on US warships would have been minimal.
     
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  9. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    This is what I'm getting from the last few posts here, Kamikaze attacks were in fact effective, certainly not enough to change the outcome of the war. Yes it was in many ways their best option, but just because it was the best does not mean it works out to be the most effective. I can agree that the Kamikaze attacks were effective enough to cause problems for the Allies, and did inflict considerable damage, so I think Kamikaze attacks are worthy of being mentioned in a history textbook for high school.
     
  10. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Look up USS Laffey.
     
  11. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    That's me sort then. Thanks. I'll have to make some notations on a book or two.
     
  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    How are you determining effectiveness? Effectiveness over the course of the war? Effectiveness during the late 1944-45 time frame?

    Of course, the Kamikaze would not be very effective over the course of the war, which is why they were not formed until mid-1944(Army) and late-1944(Navy). As an aside, while the Army was the first to start training tokko units, it was the Navy's that first went into action. Early in the war, it had been they use of Kamikaze had been discussed, but was always turned down. Another aside, Yamamoto's original plan for Pearl Harbor had the pilots of his carriers making a one-way trip, almost ensuring their total loss, but he was soon dissuaded from using the pilots in such a way. The Kamikaze were not formed early in the war because other Japanese forces were still quite effective in combating the Americans.

    However, this had all changed by late-1944, after the slaughter of Japanese carrier pilots at the Battle of the Philippine Sea. No longer were Japanese aircraft effective in conventional attacks on the American fleet. Likewise, the Japanese submarine force was equally decimated during 1944, so much so that they too turned to Kamikaze tactics, using what were essentially manned torpedoes called Kaiten. The Japanese surface forces also had been decimated early on during the invasion of the Philippines. Here too, the surface fleet resorted to what was essentially a suicide mission, by sending the superbattleship Yamato, light cruiser Yagahi, and 8 destroyers against the vast American forces invading Okinawa. Yet another aside, it had long been said that the Yamato did not have enough fuel to return to Japan, but it was later proved that she had been supplied with more than enough fuel to make the return journey.

    Thus, by this point in the war, Kamikaze tactics were seen as the only effective way to combat the ever encroaching Americans. There was nothing else that could effectively take the fight to the Americans.
     
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  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I told a class that the Okha rockets had an "Organic Processing Unit" for guidance. Took them a minute.
     
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  14. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Now that is too funny.
     
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  15. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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  16. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    This is the reason why I now agree Kamikaze use in the later stages of the war were effective, it was really their best option, despite heavy casualties and the decimation of what was left of the Japanese Air power, it did succeed in causing quite a bit of damage and instilling fear into the opposition, so I would consider that effective.
     
  17. Half Track

    Half Track Active Member

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    I have this picture of the USS KIDD being hit by a kamikaze, hanging in my garage.



    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Half Track

    Half Track Active Member

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  19. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    An excerpt from the link Half Track posted pretty well sums it up; "more than 300 vessels were struck by kamikazes at the Battle of Okinawa with over 5,000 sailors lost,” said Ship Superintended Tim NesSmith. “That's more vessels damaged or lost than in any other single battle in the history of the U.S. Navy"

    Then consider that during the same battle, one of the most grueling of the war, 86,000 Japanese Army and Navy personnel fought in the land battles, about 79,000 were killed. (I'm not including Okinawans in this total, about 39,000 were drafted as militia, laborers, etc. by the Japanese but it's hard to seperate their numbers killed from those of Okinawan non-combatants).
    The US Army and Marine Corps had 7,613 personnel killed or MIA ashore, so the kill to loss ratio was about 10:1 for the US. At sea the Navy had 4,907 killed and 4,874 wounded, the Japanese expended was 1,430 so that give a kill ratio of 1:3.43 in favor of the Japanese. Then when you look at ships lost/damaged I don't think most people understand how bad the damage to the ships that survived was.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    USS Franklin hit in pre-invasion strikes on Kyushu

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    USS Bunker Hill

    [​IMG]

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    USS Laffey

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    USS Lindsey

    [​IMG]

    USS Aaron Ward

    You get the idea.
     
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  20. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    The Franklin wasn't hit by a kamikaze. She was hit by two 550lb bombs.
     

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