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The Kamikaze Aircraft

As the B-29's hammered Japanese cities to rubble, in the closing months of the war, Japanese aircraft designers with an inventiveness fueled by desperation designed an array of fascinating, fearsome and potentially deadly new aircraft. These new aircraft, was an attempt to counter, to some degree the Allies' immense superiority in numbers of aircraft.

One of the aircraft was the Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka, or Cherry Blossom, which we called Baka, or Fool as the pilot directed aircraft was designed to dive into enemy aircraft or ships. This writer and crew were stalked by a Betty carrying an Ohka one night. The aircraft itself was made of wood, with a type 4 MK 1 model 20 rockets with a thrust of 1,764 pounds. It had a wingspan of about 16 feet and length of almost 20 feet. The standard model had twin fins and rudder. Maximum speed was 403 mph with a terminal dive velocity of 575 mph. It weighed 4,718 pounds as slung under a Betty Bomber. It carried a 2,646-pound war head in the nose.

The Mitsubishi J8M1 or Shusui was almost a direct copy of the Me-163. It was designed to climb to over 32,000 feet in a little more than three minutes. It carried two 30mm cannons in its wings. It had an endurance of about seven and one half minutes. The Shusui was designed to use an undercarriage for take off, which was jettisoned, after being airborne. Landing was accomplished on ski like central skid. On its first flight the engine failed with the Shusui crashing and killing the pilot. That was the last of the Shusui effort.

The Nakajima Kikka was twin-engine jet designed to reach a speed of about 433 mph. It was meant to carry a 1,100 bomb. This was the only jet powered Japanese aircraft to take of under its own power during WWII. It crashed on it second attempt.

The Kyushu J7W Shiden was a rear engine interceptor fighter that was flight tested just 12 days before the war ended. It was the only pusher type of aircraft that was slated for mass production for any nation during WWII. Aft of the cockpit, which was just ahead of the wing, was a 2,130 hp radial engine that drove the rear propeller with an extension shaft. It had design speed of 466 mph which was about 30 mph faster that the P-51 Mustang. The long nose housed four cannon. It was the only aircraft of WWII of the canard type, that is, the elevators were positioned at the front end of the nose of the aircraft.

Dr. Vic Durrance, Historian
39th Bomb Group

This page was created on 24 March 2001
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