History of Asia

Kamikazes underwater during World War II

Although the legend of the Kamikazes (divine winds) refers to two powerful typhoons that destroyed the Mongol fleet when they tried to conquer Japan in the 13th century, we usually associate them with those suicide pilots of the Imperial Japanese Navy who launched themselves against units or installations. Allies during World War II. But there were also other suicides, less well known, and who acted underwater... the Kaiten and the Fukuryu .

With the entry of the Red Army into Berlin, the Americans were able to focus on the South Pacific front and although their undeniable superiority by air and sea soon prevailed, they knew that they would have to conquer island by island and inch by inch. Faced with this situation, the Japanese took desperate measures:they created the Tokubetsu Kōgekitai or Tokkotai (Special Attack Unit) under the supervision of Captain Shintani . For this unit, young people were recruited (except for firstborns, only children and orphans) who would sacrifice themselves for their country in two types of suicide mills:the Kaiten and the Fukuryu .

The Kaiten they were torpedoes modified to include a cockpit where a pilot whose destiny was to die or be killed, either by the explosion or lack of oxygen, was embedded… the cockpit was sealed from the outside. They were launched from a mother ship and the pilot had to guide the torpedo to make it explode against the American ships. It is said that the inventor of the Kaiten, Lieutenant Hiroshi Kuroki , was lost during one of the first training missions and when the torpedo was recovered, along with his body, a farewell note to his family was found... and the solution to correct the error that had caused his death.

The Fukuryu they were a mix between divers who sabotaged anchored ships and underwater mines, suicide divers . The common method of defense in the Pacific islands was to mine their perimeter, but these static mines were easy to spot and therefore easy to avoid. So a moving mine that went towards the ship and not the other way around was much more effective. These divers were equipped with a bamboo pole about 5 meters long and at the end of it a bomb of about 15 kg that they had to hit the hull of the boats and make it explode. Like the Kaiten, the divers' diving suit was also screwed down and therefore their death was assured. Luckily for those youngsters, it was never used in combat because it was still in the testing phase when Japan surrendered. Of course, there were several deaths during the tests.

Source:Fire at will!