"From the mountains towards the sea
A divine wind blew.
It smelled of death. "
The gloomy mood of this hokku is not accidental. "Divine wind" - this is the name of the typhoon, which twice in the XIII century destroyed the armada of the ships of the Mongol Khan Kublai. Because of this, the Horde never conquered the Japanese Islands. In the XX century, the "divine wind" kamikaze acquired a completely different meaning, which now does not need to be deciphered.
The turning point in World War II in the Pacific came on June 4, 1942, after Japan was defeated by the United States at the Battle of Midway Atoll. From that day on, the advantage was more and more on the side of the Americans - the industrial power of the United States affected. Japanese aviation suffered heavy losses. In July 1944, American long-range bombers were able to strike directly against Japanese territory. By October, there was a real threat that Japan would lose the oil sources it had seized in Southeast Asia. Her position was becoming desperate.
The birthday of the strike force of the Japanese suicide pilots is October 19, 1944. The decision to form the detachment was made by the commander of the First Air Fleet, Vice Admiral, nicknamed "Father of the Kamikaze". However, the Japanese themselves called such units "special attack shock troops." They were called "Kamikaze" by the Japanese immigrants who served in the US Army. Soon, the Allies began to use this word to refer to all suicidal attacks used by the Japanese.
On the one hand, the emergence of the kamikaze was influenced by the ancient samurai code of bushido ("the way of the warrior"), which considered death an integral part of life, and therefore taught contempt for fear of it. On the other hand, the educational system in Japan in the 1930s and 1940s, which brought up children in the correctness, prestige and nobility of death for the emperor. In addition, Japanese militaristic propaganda suggested that each such death is a step towards the victory of Japan, while at the same time hiding the most insignificant defeats of the Japanese army.
Japanese engineers no longer had time and resources to develop automatic guidance systems. They were to be replaced by kamikaze pilots. There was never a shortage of volunteers: there was only one plane for three suicide bombers. All of them were very young, literally, yesterday's children (mostly 20-year-old university students), but in their heads - a wild mixture of healthy patriotism, historical heritage, hatred of invaders and militarism. Not everyone wore a kamikaze out of conviction or a desire to glorify their family. There were also those who were simply afraid of losing the respect of society, becoming a persecuted outcast. Be that as it may, all kamikazes were deeply respected, including by the top leadership of the Japanese army. In Shinto shrines, they were revered as saints. Kamikaze parents became the most respected people in their village.
A special ceremony was held before each kamikaze flight. Each suicide bomber drank a ritual cup of sake and tied a white hachimaki bandage on his forehead. The symbol of imperial Japan - the chrysanthemum flower - also became their symbol. There is a legend: after taking off on a mission, the kamikaze flew over Mount Kaimon, located almost a thousand kilometers southwest of Tokyo. Having looked at their homeland for the last time, they saluted it and went to meet death.
Initially, for the needs of the kamikaze, a Mitsubishi A6M Zero light carrier-based fighter was used, armed with a 250-kilogram bomb that could not be separated from the aircraft - there was no need for this. Then, in November 1944, the Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka (cherry blossom) projectile was developed. It was lifted into the air by a Mitsubishi G4M carrier aircraft, which separated the Oka in line of sight of the enemy ship. After aiming at the target, the kamikaze pilot turned on the rocket engines. This prototype of a cruise missile with a "living computer" proved to be much more effective. After the war, on the same principle, a formidable weapon of modern aviation was developed - an anti-ship missile.
Simultaneously with the deadly "sakura", the Kaiten manned torpedo (回 天) was launched. It was delivered to the target area by a submarine, the teishintai suicide pilot crossed into it, closed the hatch, and then launched. Guidance was carried out using a periscope. The reserve of compressed gas in the engine was enough only for one approach to the target. If a teishintai missed, he would still die when the pilot's compartment ran out of oxygen. Later, a self-liquidation system was added to Kaiten - out of mercy, so to speak.
From October 1944 to August 1945, the imperial army trained 2, 525 pilots and 1, 387 soldiers as kamikaze. The losses from them are estimated by American military historians at 34 sunk ships. Another 288 were more or less seriously damaged. Of course, this could not affect the outcome of the war, but it exerted serious psychological pressure. Some historians believe that the fanatically stubborn resistance of the Japanese army and the massive use of kamikaze could have persuaded US President Truman to decide on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as an act of intimidation.
The story of the sinking of the American heavy cruiser Indianapolis is related to the above. It happened on July 30, 1945. Previously, it was believed that it was the kamikaze that sent him to the bottom. However, historians have found out: after the submarine I-58 reached the target, having on board four "man-torpedoes" "Kaiten", their pilots asked the commander to send them to the attack. However, he, who already knew about the constant blunders of teishintai at long distances, decided to use conventional torpedoes. He was right: Indianapolis sank within 12 minutes. Of the 1196 people on board, only 317 were saved. The whole point is that the cruiser was torpedoed three days after the delivery of the world's first atomic bomb "Kid" to the US Air Force base. That is why, before the flight to Hiroshima, an inscription was made on its hull: “A gift for the souls of the dead members of the Indianapolis crew ...