Kamikaze: Five Things You Didn’t Know

USS Bunker Hill was hit by kamikaze pilots on May 11, 1945. 389 personnel were killed or missing and 264 wounded from a crew of 2,600. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
USS Bunker Hill was hit by kamikaze pilots on May 11, 1945. 389 personnel were killed or missing and 264 wounded from a crew of 2,600. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1944, the first Kamikaze attack of World War II took place.

Here are some things you may not have known about the suicide missions.

By the time 1944 rolled around, Japan had suffered several critical defeats, leaving it with old aircraft and inexperienced pilots. An example of this was the loss of more than 400 carrier-based aircraft in the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944. That battle came to be known by the Allies as the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.”

The first talk about suicide missions is believed to have occurred right around the time of that battle.

The next month, the Japanese lost the island of Saipan, which allowed the Allies to set up a forward base for attacks on the Japanese home islands.

Kamikaze, which means “divine wind” or “spirit wind,” were known as Special Attack Units by the Japanese. The missions were designed to inflict as much damage as possible on Allied warships. The strategy allowed the Japanese to essentially double the range of their outdated aircraft, as they didn’t have to return home. The planes were also loaded with more explosives than they ordinarily would have been.

It’s believed that 2,800 kamikaze attackers managed to sink 34 Allied ships, and damage 368 others. 4,900 sailors were killed and 4,800 were wounded. About 14 percent of Kamikazes managed to hit a ship and 8 1/2 percent of all ships hit by Kamikazes sank.

Our question: What was the most commonly used Japanese fighter plane of World War II?


Today is Apple Day in the United Kingdom; Armed Forces Day in Honduras; and National Nurses Day in Thailand.

It’s unofficially International Day of the Nacho, National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day, and National Mammography Day.

It’s the birthday of inventor Alfred Nobel, who was born in 1833; musician Dizzy Gillespie, who was born in 1917; and actress Carrie Fisher, who turns 60.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1973, the top song in the U.S. was “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight and the Pips.

The No. 1 movie was “The Way We Were,” while the novel “The Hollow Hills” by Mary Stewart topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.



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