By late 1944 the war in the Pacific had turned decisively against the Japanese, and overwhelming Allied forces began to close in on the home islands. At this point Japan unveiled a terrifying new tactic: the suicide attack, or Kamikaze, named after the ‘Divine Wind’ which had once before, in medieval times, saved Japan from invasion. Intentionally crashing bomb-laden aircraft into Allied warships, these piloted guided missiles at first seemed unstoppable, calling into question the naval strategy on which the whole war effort was based.
This book looks at the origins of the campaign, at its strategic goals, the organisation of the Japanese special attack forces, and the culture that made suicide not just acceptable, but honourable. Inevitably, a mythology has grown up around the subject, which the book attempts to clarify. One story that does stand up is the reported massive stock-piling of kamikaze aircraft for use against any Allied invasion of the home islands, if the atomic bombs had not forced Japan’s surrender.
However, its principal focus is on the experience of those in the Allied fleets on the receiving end of this peculiarly alien and unnerving weapon – how they learnt to endure and eventually counter a threat from WWII 'suicide bombers' whose potential was over-estimated, by both sides. In this respect, it has a very modern resonance.
ISBN: 9781848320383Format: HardbackAuthor(s): Robert C SternPublisher: Seaforth