Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka Type 11 rocket-assisted suicide glide bomb

IJN Ohka Type 11 Operations at Okinawa

© 2015-2016 Bob Hackett
Revision 1
16 August 1944:
Yokosuka. The 1st Naval Air Technical Arsenal begins development of a rocket-assisted glide bomb. .

1 October 1944:
Hyakurigahara airfield, Ibaraki Prefecture. The IJNAF’s 721st Naval Air Group (NAG) is activated at as the first operational "Ohka" unit and attached to Yokosuka Naval District. Captain Okamura Motoharu (50) (former CO of the 341st NAG) is the CO. The XO is LtCdr Nonaka Goro (61)(former squadron leader, 752nd NAG). The G4M2e "Betty" squadron leader, LtCdr Yanagisawa Hachiro (64) is appointed to lead the Yokosuka MXY7 “Ohka” (Cherry Blossom) rocket-assisted glide bomb crews.

23 October 1944:
Sagami Bay, Japan. The first unmanned flight of the prototype Ohka is conducted.

31 October 1944:
Lt Nagano Katsutoshi completes the first manned flight of the prototype Ohka aircraft; the aircraft is equipped with two wing-mounted rockets and no fuselage-mounted rockets.

7 November 1944:
The 721st Naval Air Group completes the transfer from Hyakurigahara to Konoike airfield, Ibaraki Prefecture. After the arrival Capt Okamura gives his group the unofficial nickname of the "Divine Thunder Unit" (Jinrai Butai).

13 November 1944:
Konoike airfield. Test pilot Lt Kariya Tsutomu (70) crashes and is killed during an unpowered "Ohka" K-1 trainer version drop test from a G4M2e "Betty" bomber. On 29 November, FPO Kita Nobuo is likewise killed during a similar test.

15 November 1944:
The 711st attack squadron (K711) with G4M2e "Betty" bombers under LtCdr Nonaka Goro is activated at the 721st NAG, followed by the K708 squadron under LtCdr Adachi Jiro (60), transferred from the 762nd NAG, on 20 December.

18 November 1944:
The 721st NAG is directly attached to the Combined Fleet HQ.

19 November 1944:
Kashima. The first successful test of a rocket-powered Ohka is completed, leading to the formal authorization of production.

28 November 1944:
Yokosuka Naval Base. At 1330, Captain (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Abe Toshio’s (46) uncompleted 70, 755-ton carrier SHINANO departs for Kure carrying 50 Ohka Type 11s, six `Shinyo' suicide-boats, and personnel of the "Thunder-Gods" unit escorted by ComDesDiv 17 Captain Shintani Kiichi's (50) ISOKAZE (flag), YUKIKAZE and HAMAKAZE.


29 November 1944:
198 degrees 108 miles from Omae-zaki lighthouse. At 0310, SHINANO is hit by four torpedoes fired by Cdr Joseph F. Enright’s (USNA ’33) USS ARCHERFISH (SS -311) in her starboard side, but she is able to maintain speed and course. Soon thereafter, incomplete fittings allow progressive flooding. SHINANO takes on a heavy list to starboard. Captain Abe orders the three outboard port boiler rooms flooded to take off some of the list.

30 November 1944:
By dawn, SHINANO has steamed 36 miles from where she was torpedoed and is making 11 knots, when her boiler feed water fails. At 0745, SHINANO goes dead in the water. At 0850, HAMAKAZE and ISOKAZE take her in tow and start to move toward Cape Ushio at 3 knots to beach her. However, the strain grows too great and the tow has to be abandoned. The list to starboard resumes and increases. At 1018, Captain Abe orders Abandon Ship. YUKIKAZE comes alongside to starboard to remove the crew.

At 1055, SHINANO rolls over to starboard bottom up, then sinks by the stern at 33-07N, 137-04E, taking down, 1,435 officers including Captain Abe and men, the 50 Ohka and 6 Shinyo suicide boats. 55 officers, 993 petty officers and men, plus 32 civilians (total 1,080 survivors (including 3 Ohka pilots) are rescued. HAMAKAZE also recovers the Imperial Portrait from the sea.

The CinC, Combined Fleet, Admiral Toyoda Soemu arrives at Konoike airfield to inspect the 721st NAG. That same day 30 "Ohka" bombs are transferred to Kure to be transported to Clark Field, Luzon, via Takao, Taiwan. (The 30 "Ohka" are later embarked on carrier UNRYU).

13 December 1944:
Captain (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Konishi Kaname’s (44) fleet carrier UNRYU is ordered to load 30 "Ohka" suicide rockets of the Thunder-Gods Corps for transport to Manila.

17 December 1944:
At 0830, UNRYU departs Kure for Manila, Philippines escorted by destroyer SHIGURE and Desdiv 52's HINOKI, and MOMI.

19 December 1944:
At 1635, Cdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Louis D. McGregor's (USNA '30) USS REDFISH (SS-395) fires four bow torpedoes at UNRYU. One hits under the bridge. She loses power and goes dead in the water. At 1650, while damage control parties extinguish fires and engineers restore power in No. 8 boiler, the carrier is hit by a second torpedo under her forward elevator. starboard side. Av-gas storage explodes and ignites Volatile cargo. At 1657, UNRYU sinks. Captain Konishi and 1,244 officers and men are KIA. Only one officer and 146 men are rescued by destroyer SHIGURE.

31 December 1944:
Moji. Captain Matsuura Yoshi’s light carrier RYUHO departs Moji carrying 58 Ohka, accompanying Convoy HI-87 on the first part of its route via Formosa to Hong Kong and Singapore. The convoy also consists of fleet oiler KAMOI and tankers KAIHO, KUROSHIO, HASHIDATE, MATSUSHIMA, MITSUSHIMA, MIRI, MUNAKATA, TENEI and SARAWAK MARUs and passenger-cargo ship TATSUWA MARU escorted by destroyers HATAKAZE, SHIGURE, YUKIKAZE and DesDiv17’s HAMAKAZE and ISOKAZE and kaibokan MIKURA, YASHIRO, KURAHASHI and CD-13. YUKIKAZE soon suffers a burst steam pipe and has to return to the Inland Sea.

7 January 1945:
Approaching Kirun (Keelung), Formosa, the convoy undergoes attack by a submarine a wolf pack consisting of USS BARB (SS-220) and USS PICUDA (SS-382), later joined by USS QUEENFISH (SS-393). At 0905, in heavy seas, USS PICUDA torpedoes and heavily damages tanker MUNAKATA MARU’s bow. She proceeds separately to Kirun. At 1300, RYUHO and SHIGURE are also detached to Kirun.


20 January 1945:
The first bombers of the 721st NAG arrive at Kanoya airfield, Kyushu. On that same day a 24-strong "Ohka" Fighter Squadron, led by Lt(jg) Hosokawa Hachiro is activated at the 721st NAG to conduct kamikaze attacks with Mitsubishi A6M5 fighters carrying 500-kg bombs.

25 January 1945:
The transfer to Kanoya airfield is completed.

8 March 1945:
Kanoya Naval Air Base, Kagoshima Prefecture,Kyushu, Japan. A USAF Boeing B-29 US “Superfortress” overflies the airfield and takes the first intelligence photos of the new Ohka. The Americans nickname them "Viper".

17 March 1945:
The "Ohka" rocket-assisted glide bomb is officially adopted into service.

18 March 1945:
K708 is transferred to Usa airfield, northeastern Kyushu, to conduct the first "Ohka" strike against Task Force 58. After 1000, before the squadron can take off, the airfield is attacked by VF-9 and VF-10 carrier fighters from USS YORKTOWN (CV-10) and INTREPID (CV-11). Most bombers and missiles of the K708 are destroyed on the ground. The S306 and S307 fighter squadrons from Tomitaka airfield likewise suffer heavy losses when trying to intercept the intruders. Both fighter units are transferred to Kasanohara airfield thereafter.

21 March 1945: The Frst "Ohka" Attack:
Kanoya. Vice Admiral Ugaki Matome, CinC, 5th Air Fleet, orders his 203rd Naval Air Group to launch The first "Kikusui" (Floating Chrysanthemum) operational sortie employing Ohka. At 1100, two Nakajima C6N1 "Myrt" long-range reconnaissance aircraft take off to locate and shadow Task Group 58.1 sighted 360 miles SSE of Kanoya. Starting at 1120, a total of eighteen G4M2e "Betty" bombers take off from Kanoya to attack TG 58.1. The 1st and the 2nd flights of the K711 squadron are led by LtCdr Nonaka Goro. Fifteen of the "Betty" bombers are carrying "Ohka" carrying Okha fitted with 2,646 lb. warheads in their nose. Close escort is provided by thirty-two Kanoya-based A6M5 "Zeros" from the 721st NAG fighter units (S306 and S307) led by Lt Urushiyama Mutsuo (70). One fighter crashes immediately after take-off and twelve return to Kanoya with mechanical problems. Top cover is provided by twenty-three A6M5 "Zeros" from the 203rd NAG in Kasanohara, led by LtCdr Okajima Kiyokuma (63). Twelve fighters abort the mission as a result of technical problems. Their target is Rear Admiral (later Admiral-Ret) Joseph J. Clark's (USNA '17) Task Group 58.1 consisting of fleet carriers HORNET (CV-12), BENNINGTON (CV-20) and WASP (CV-18) and light carrier BELLEAU WOOD (CVL-24) escorted by battleships USS INDIANA (BB-58) and USS MASSACHUSETTS (BB-59) and a strong force of cruisers and destroyers.

G4M “Betty” bomber carrying an "Ohka" Type 11 and a A6M "Zeke"

80 miles NW of Task Group 58.1. Around 1400, radar on light carrier USS LANGLEY (CVL-27) picks up the incoming attack 85 miles NW of the TG 58.1. Immediately, more fighter aircraft are launched to augment the existing Combat Air Patrol (CAP) bringing the USN interceptor force to more than 150 Grumman F6F “Hellcat” fighters and Chance-Vought F4U “Corsairs”. The VF-17 CAP division from USS HORNET (CV-12), led by Lt James L. Pearce, and the VBF-17 Corsair division from the same carrier, led by Lt(jg) Henry E. Mitchell, Jr., are ordered to intercept the intruders. They are joined by two Grumman F6F-5 "Hellcat" divisions from the light carrier USS BELLEAU WOOD (CVL-24), led by LtCdr Douglas A. Clark. At 1415, LtCdr Nonaka orders his strike to stand by to attack.The G4M2e "Betty" bombers approach at 13,000 ft, flying in a "V of Vs" formation. Their close escort is staggered at 14,000 ft and the top cover at 16,000 ft.

60 miles N of the carriers, VBF-17 from USS HORNET (CV-12) with 8 F6F-5 "Hellcats" engages the top cover, while VF-17 attacks the bombers. One VF-30 "Hellcat" division engages the IJNAF close escort while the second chases the bombers. The "Betty" bombers dive to sea level in an attempt to retire northward, dropping chaff. Some jettison their missiles as well. Within 20 minutes all 18 "Bettys" are shot down. The Hellcats and Corsairs make quick work of most the Zekes and their inexperienced young pilots. Only one or two A6Ms return to Kanoya. The 721st NAG loses ten "Zeros" (including the one flown by Urushiyama) and the 203rd NAG two fighters, force-landing after receiving combat damage. Although some attackers manage to close to within 30 miles from the carriers, not a single "Ohka" is launched at them. A total of 137 bomber crews and 15 "Ohka" pilots are lost.

CTG 58.1 reports a total of 26 "Bettys", 12 "Zeros" and 2 Mitsubishi J2M "Jacks" shot down, with another "Betty", 2 "Zeros" and a Kawasaki Ki-61 "Tony" damaged in the melee. [2]

1 April 1945: American Operation “Iceberg” – The Invasion of Okinawa:
Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Raymond A. Spruance's (USNA '06) Fifth Fleet, including more than 40 aircraft carriers, 18 battleships, 200 destroyers and over 1,000 support ships surround Okinawa. Lt Gen (Gen, posthumously) Simon B. Buckner Jr’s Tenth Army (7th, 77th, 96th Infantry, 2nd, 6th Marine divisions) makes amphibious landings and begins the campaign to take the island from the Imperial Army's LtGen Ushijima Mitsuro’s 32nd Army defenders.

The Second "Ohka" Attack:
That same day, after 0221 six "Ohka"-carrying G4M2e "Betty" bombers of the 1st and the 2nd flights of K708 take off from Kanoya for a dawn attack against TF 54 battleships sighted off the main island of Okinawa. Around 0245, the lead bomber, piloted by Lt(jg) Sawamoto Yoshio, is intercepted and damaged by an American nightfighter. After dropping its unmanned missile, the "Betty" ditches off Cape Sata at the southern tip of the Osumi Peninsula, Kyushu. The "Ohka" pilot, FPO Yamamura Keisuke and three bomber crewmembers are rescued the following morning.

One bomber crashes against a mountain in the southern part of Osumi Peninsula. One bomber loses its bearings in bad weather, jettisons its missile and returns to Usa. One bomber manages to land in Taiwan, but crashes during the return flight. Two other bombers, one from each flight, vanish without a trace. A total of 14 bomber crews and 3 "Ohka" pilots are lost.


A GM4 bomber attempts to crash into Attack Cargo Ship USS TYRRELL (AKA-80), diving through a storm of anti-aircraft fire. In an attempt to ram the bridge, the aircraft shears off the ship's main radio antenna, hits the lower yardarm support on the starboard side of the mainmast, and continues on to sideswipe the starboard 5-ton cargo boom at No. 5 hatch. The aircraft crashes alongside, blows up and showers the cargo ship's decks with pieces of wreckage.

Captain (later Rear Admiral) Herbert V. Wiley's (USNA '15) USS WEST VIRGINIA (BB-48) picks up three enemy planes on her radar and tracks them as they approach; flak peppers the skies, but still they come. At 1903, one crosses over the port side and and crash-dives into the “Wee Vee’s” deck just forward of secondary battery director No. 2. Four men are KIA by the blast, and seven wounded in a nearby 20-mm. gun gallery and another 16 wounded. The bomb carried by the plane breaks loose from its shackle and penetrates to the second deck. Fortunately, it does not explode and is rendered harmless by the battleship's bomb disposal officer. WEST VIRGINIA reports her damage as repairable.[1]

Okinawa. On the same day, 15 Ohka are captured by the United States Marines. Since the discovery is made on April Fool's Day, they are nicknamed “Baka”, Japanese for fool.

Ohka ("Baka") rocket glide bombs captured on Okinawa

12 April 1945: The Third "Ohka" Attack.
Between 1130 and 1234 eight "Ohka"-carrying G4M2e "Betty" bombers from K708 (1-3 flights) take off from Kanoya; only two return.


80 miles NW of Okinawa. At 1440, nine G4M2e "Bettys" and a number of A6M “Zeke” “Kamikaze” attack USN Radar Picket Station No. 14 consisting of LtCdr A. E. Parker's destroyer MANNERT L. ABELE (DD-733), Landing Ship Medium (Rocket) (LSM(R)-189 and (LSM(R)-190. At 1446, USS ABELE is attacked from different angles by three A6Ms. One hits USS ABELE in the aft engine room starboard. Its bomb explodes and fractures the destroyer’s propeller shaft and breaking her back. At 1441, an Ohka also hits ABELE and explodes. USS MANNERT L. ABELE breaks in two and at 1444 sinks. 79 crewman are KIA and 35 are wounded. Lt(jg) Dohi Saburo, launched by Ensign Miura Kitaro's bomber from the 3rd flight, is usually credited with the hit.

NW of Okinawa. Destroyer-minesweeper USS JEFFERS (DMS-27) of Radar Picket Station No. 12 At 1435, she is attacked by a GM4, misidentified as "Helen" at a range of of 14,000 yds and an altitude of 4,000 ft, that releases an Ohka at closes range. USS JEFFERS AA gunners knock down the Ohka just 50 yards from the ship, but its explosion causes extensive damage forcing USS JEFFERS to withdraw.

Lt James M. Stewart’s LSMR-189 and LSMR-190 pick up survivors while engaging and shooting down two A6Ms that are strafing men in the water. A third Zeke crashes into LSMR-190 and wounds four crewmen.

N of Okinawa. At midday, destroyer USS CASSIN YOUNG (DD-793) of Radar Picket Station No. 1 is attacked by a wave of kamikaze. The destroyer’s accurate AA gunfire aids in shooting down five aircraft, but a sixth crashes high-up in her foremast, exploding only 50 feet from the ship. One crewman is KIA and 58 are wounded, many seriously.


Destroyers USS STANLY (DD-478) and LtCdr John T. Bland’s USS LANG (DD-399) at Radar Picket Station No. 2 (NE of Okinawa main island) are ordered to Radar Picket Station No. 1 to assist CASSIN YOUNG, but soon the two destroyers come under kamikaze attack. USS STANLY's fighter-director team takes charge of YOUNG’s combat air patrol (CAP). Under USS STANLY's direction, the CAP’s fighters shoot down six Aichi D3A "Val" naval dive bombers in rapid succession.

USS STANLY (DD-478) and USS LANG (DD-399)

USS STANLY is ordered to close the transports anchored off the Hagushi beaches. En route, a "Zeke" bombs her, but its bomb falls short and the kamikaze itself misses the destroyer and crashes into the sea. USS STANLY’s casualties, for all the day's action are three wounded sailors. Late that night, she enters Kerama Retto for repairs. USS CASSIN YOUNG also makes Kerama Retto under her own power for repairs. 35 bomber crews and 8 Ohka pilots are killed.

14 April 1945: The Fourth "Ohka" Attack.
Between 1130 and 1153, seven "Ohka"-carrying G4M2e "Betty" bombers from K708 take off from Kanoya to attack a task force sighted 85 miles E of Tokunoshima. Lt Sawayanagi Hikoshi (71), the strike leader, transmits a signal announcing that he had launched his Ohka. All attackers are lost.

W of Kikaigashima. Around 1300 Lt(jg) Charles E. Watts of VF-17 from USS HORNET, escorting the photo aircraft with his F6F-5 "Hellcat" division, spots an unescorted "Betty" bomber carrying an "Ohka" at 11,000 ft. Diving down, Watts opens fire and hits the starboard engine of the bomber. The "Betty" jettisons its missile in an attempt to escape. After Watts' third attack the "Betty's" starboard wing collapses and the bomber spirals into the sea. A short time later the same VF-17 section encounters another "Betty" and shoots it down.

NE of Okinawa main island. At 1410, USS HUDSON (DD-475), patrolling at Radar Picket Station No. 3 with LCS(L)s 38, 111, and 118, picks up incoming bogeys 20 miles to the northwest. A division of F6F-5 "Hellcats" from USS BELLEAU WOOD's VC-30, patrolling over Picket Station No. 3, is vectored to intercept them. The "Hellcats", led by Ens. James J. Noel, sight two incoming "Betty" bombers at 8,000 ft and another at 4,000 ft. They are escorted by a single "Zero" at 19,000 ft. Ensign H. A. Lee attacks the "Zero". After receiving multiple hits to the engine, its pilot bails out. Ensign Noel damages the starboard wing and engine of one of the higher-flying "Bettys". It soon explodes, the wing breaks off and the bomber spirals toward the ocean. Ens. K. W. Curry catches up with the second "Betty", hitting its wing root and fuselage. Before going down, one of the bombers jettisons its missile which hits the water without making any attempt to fly.

The third "Betty", under attack by Enign R. L. Rhodes and flying at 4,000 feet, plummets into the sea after being hit in both engines. A total of 48 bomber crews and 7 Ohka pilots are killed in the attack.

16 April 1945: The Fifth "Ohka" Attack.
Between 0605 and 0708, six "Ohka"-carrying G4M2e "Betty" bombers from K708 (the 1st and the 2nd flights) take off from Kanoya to attack shipping off Okinawa. Only two bombers return, one of them still carrying its missile. Lt(jg) Sawai Masao, leading the 1st flight, reports a successful launch, after which a pillar of smoke was sighted rising from that direction. The other pilot failed to launch his missile.

8 miles NW of Iheya Shima Island. Near Radar Picket Station No. 1, two F6F-5 "Hellcats" from USS SAN JACINTO and two F4U Corsairs from another unit intercept an "Ohka"-carrying G4M2e "Betty", targeting the already crippled USS LAFFEY (DD-724). The bomber releases its missile, but its engine fails and the "Ohka" spirals aimlessly into the water. Its carrier receives multiple hits and is finally downed by Lt(jg) L. Grossman from VF-45.

NW of Okinawa main island. Over Radar Picket Station No. 14, another "Ohka"-carrying bomber, misidentified as a Nakajima Ki-49 "Helen" is intrercepted by two VMF-323 F4U "Corsairs" from Kadena, Okinawa. Flying at 8000 ft, the G4M2e takes violent evasive action and jettisons its missile, but is then downed by 2nd Lt Dewey F. Durnford.

28 April 1945: The Sixth "Ohka" Attack.
Kanoya Naval Air Base, Japan. After 1625, four "Ohka"-carrying G4M2e "Betty" bombers from K708 take off for an evening attack against the Allied shipping off Okinawa. Two bombers return, one still carrying its missile. Only one bomber reaches the target area and, after sighting AA fire in the dark, launches his "Ohka", piloted by FPO1C Yamagiwa Naohiko at 1935. A pillar of fire is sighted. Off Amakusa Island the returning bomber is intercepted by the US fighters and ditches as a result of combat damage. Two other bombers likewise ditch at sea off the west coast of Kyushu.

G4M “Betty” bomber releasing an "Ohka" and an Ohka under rocket propulsion diving on an Allied warship.

4 May 1945: The Seventh "Ohka" Attack:
After 0522, seven "Ohka"-carrying G4M2e "Betty" bombers from K708 and K711 take off from Kanoya to attack targets off Okinawa. Only two return, one carrying its missile.Seven G4M bombers attack the USN the Fifth Fleet 20 miles NE of Zampa Misaki, Okinawa. Destroyer-minelayer USS SHEA (DM-30) is on radar picket duty. At 0854, a single Betty is sighted six miles distant. At 0858, the Betty is shot down by USS SHEA-directed CAP. At 0859, a lookout spots an Ohka on USS SHEA's starboard beam, closing fast. The Ohka crashes into SHEA's bridge area, entering the sonar room, traversing the chart house, passageway and explodes beyond the port side on the water. Fire breaks out on the mess deck, the CIC, the chart house, division commander's stateroom, No. 2 upper handling room, and compartment A-304-L.

USS SHEA loses all ship's communications, 5-inch gun mounts No's 1 and 2 are inoperative and the forward port 20mm guns are damaged. The main director is jammed and the gyro and computer are rendered unserviceable. One officer and 34 men are KIA, and 91 others wounded. USS SHEA, listing 5 degrees to port, limps off to Okinawa and medical assistance. She arrives at 1052 and her most seriously wounded are transferred to USS CRESCENT CITY (APA-21) and the 35 dead are removed for burial on Okinawa. USS SHEA then limps to Kerama Retto anchorage for repairs.Two Grumman FM-2 "Wildcats" of VC-90 from USS STEAMER BAY (CVE-87) shoot down the "Betty" that launched Lt(jg) Ohashi Susumu, who attached SHEA.


WNW of Okinawa main island. Patrolling at Radar Picket Station No. 12, minelayer HENRY A. WILEY (DM-12) is targeted by two "Ohka"-carrying G4M2e "Betty" bombers. The first "Ohka", closing from the starboard quarter, receives several hits, strikes the water, bounces over WILEY's fantail and explodes just off the port quarter. Another "Ohka" heading for WILEY is caused to divert by the AA fire and misses her by 1200 yds.

A total of 35 bomber crews and 6 "Ohka" pilots are killed in the attack. They are credited with sinking one battleship and one cruiser.

Minelayer USS GAYETY (AM-239) is also damaged by a near-miss by an Ohka that makes a low altitude run on several of the smaller minesweepers then turns toward GAYETY. The ship's gunners AA fire hits the Ohka and it disintegrates tumbling end-over-end into the sea 15 yards off GAYETY's port bow. Shrapnel knocks out the port 40mm gun and wounds three men, but the ship continues her duties.

5 May 1945:
Following the heavy losses, the K711 bomber squadron is disbanded.

11 May 1945: The Sixth "Ohka" Attack:
????40 miles NW of the Okinawa Transport Area. Four G4M bombers attack Cdr B. J. Mullaney’s destroyer USS HUGH W. HADLEY (DD-774) and Cdr R. J. Archer’s USS EVANS (DD-552) on Radar Picket Station No. 15 with three landing ships. USS HADLEY is acting as fighter-director control for 12 F4U “Corsairs” of the combat air patrol (CAP). From 0750 to 0930, the Corsairs destroy three of the G4M bombers and a large number of an estimated 156 Japanese aircraft attacking the American ships. USSHADLEY’s AA gunners destroy twenty enemy planes, but at 0920, while manoeuvring at high speed, she is hit aft by a bomb and a kamikaze, followed by a hit by an Ohka. The destroyer suffers extensive damage and flooding. 28 crewmen are KIA and 67 wounded. Cdr Mullaney orders Abandon Ship, but leaves a skeleton crew to fight the raging fires aboard.

During the morning’s attacks, destroyer USS EVANS is hit by four kamikaze that flood her aft engineering spaces. Without power, her crew uses portable fire extinguishers and bucket brigades to save her. After the attacks cease, the landing craft move in to assist. crewmen are KIA and 27 wounded Including the planes that struck her, EVANS is credited with 19 aircraft plus four more shared with USS HADLEY. Together, the two destroyers account for a record 42 enemy aircraft. Both ships are awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for this action.


25 May 1945: The Ninth "Ohka" Attack:
After 0500 eleven "Ohka"-carrying G4M2e "Betty" bombers from K708 take off from Kanoya for a dawn attack against Allied shipping off Okinawa. Adm Toyoda Soemu is present to bid the pilots farewell. Eight bombers encounter a heavy rain squall and return to base without locating their targets. Three disappear without a trace.

NW of Okinawa main island, near Picket Station No. 16A. At 0845, destroyers USS COWELL (DD-547), INGERSOLL (DD-652) and WREN (DD-568) shoot down an attacking "Betty" bomber that crashes about 100 yds from WREN.

22 June 1945:
: The Tenth "Ohka" Attack:
After 0525, six "Betty" bombers take off from Kanoya for the 721st NAG's final combat sortie. Lt(jg) Ito Shoichi (73) leads the strike against the Allied shipping S of Okinawa. Eight bomb-carrying A6M5 "Zeros" from No. 1 "Jinrai" Unit also participate. Two bombers return without launching their missiles. Over Kasanohara airfield the 721st NAG's strike rendezvouses with 66 escort fighters, but 25 of these soon turn back with mechanical problems.

Approaching Okinawa from the northwest in a loose formation, the strike is soon detected by radar pickets and intercepted. NW of Okinawa main island. Near radar picket station No. 15A, an F4U-1D "Corsair" of the VMF-224 piloted by 2nd Lt Harry L. Triece shoots down a "Betty" that releases its missile before going down. Near radar picket station No. 16, another "Betty", carrying an "Ohka", is shot down by F4U-1D "Corsairs" of VMF-314 from Ie Shima.

A total of 28 bomber airmen and 4 "Ohka" pilots are lost.

23 August 1945:
Komatsu airfield, Honshu. To prevent unauthorized attacks on the Allied fleet, the 721st NAG is disbanded. The airworthy bombers are dispersed to different airfields and their crews are ordered to return home.

Authors’ Notes:
This Special Feature is intended to cover only operational missions by Ohka Type 11s at Okinawa. About 852 Ohka were built of which 755 were type 11s; other types included 21, 22, 33, 43A Ko, 43B Otsu, 53, K-1 and43 K-1 Kai Wakazakura. Many other kamikaze aircraft were also employed against the Fifth Fleet notably A6Ms, but these operations are beyond the scope of this page.

Although the numbers vary according to their sources, during World War II despite radar detection, airborne interception and anti-aircraft barrages, about 2,800 Kamikaze of all types sank at least 34 Navy ships, damaged 368 others, killed 4,900 sailors and wounded over 4,800. At least 14 percent of Kamikaze scored a hit on a ship and nearly 8.5 percent of all ships hit sank.

[1] Sources conflict concerning the 1 April 1945 attacks on USS WEST VIRGINIA (BB-48). The most reliable indicates "Wee Vee's" deck was hit forward of secondary battery director No. 2. Four men were KIA by the blast, and seven wounded in a nearby 20-mm. gun gallery and another 16 wounded. The bomb carried by the kamikaze (not an Ohka) broke loose from its shackle and penetrated to the second deck, but did not explode. It was defused by the battleship's bomb disposal officer. WEST VIRGINIA remained and provided fire support,

[2]Lt(jg) Mitchell of VBF-17 is credited with 5 "Bettys", making him an ace in a day.
Lt(jg) Murray Winfield of VF-17 is credited with 4.5 "Bettys" (one shared with an F4U pilot).
Ens James V. Ward and W. H. Smith Jr., both of VF-30, are credited with 3 "Bettys" each.
Ens James V. Reber of VF-30 is credited with 2 "Bettys" and 2 "Zeros."
Lt Pearce of VF-17 is credited with 2 "Bettys".
Lt(jg) Harvey W. Sturdevant of VF-30 is credited with one "Betty" and 2 "Zeros."
Lt.Cdr. Clark of VF-30 is credited with one "Zero" and damaging another.

[3] Between 18 March and 22 June 1945, the US forces reported encounters with a total of 57 "Ohkas". Of these, 42 of the mother planes were shot down before they could launch their glider bombs. Four "Ohkas" managed to hit their targets, sinking one ship.

Special thanks go to Sander Kingsepp of Estonia for info in Rev 1.

-Bob Hackett

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