Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

What the Hell is That?

with 13 comments


OK, it has wings, it must fly. There’s no propeller or air intakes, so it glides or has a rocket engine. Judging from the small wings it must have a rocket engine. It has a cockpit so it has a pilot. It does not appear to have landing gear, nor does it have any obvious weapons. One of the men has a gun, the men appear in uniform, and the vehicle has what looks like military markings on it. It’s a likely a military flying device of some sort, but what sort exactly? Stop reading here if the gentle reader wants to guess.

Yeah, I can never be bothered to guess on stuff like this either. If the gentle reader noticed it looks kind of like a cruise missile, they were onto something. That’s exactly what it is, a cruise missile. Typically launched from a Betty bomber, though submarine and cave launched versions were also planned. It only had enough fuel to fly for 20 miles or so, so it had to be launched pretty close to its target. And yes, it had a pilot. This was World War Two,  electronically guided missiles were still a dream, if a cruise missile was going to hit any thing smaller than a city, it had to be piloted. Yes, this bad boy was the Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka (Cherry Blossom) purpose-built suicide plane. It had a 2,000 lb high explosive warhead, and could fly at over 400 mph (650 kph) in level flight or over 650 mph (1,000 kph) in a dive. This was considerably faster than the fighters of the day, and made them almost unstoppable if they got into a final approach. And yes, this was built by Japan in the last years of World War Two. It’s a kamikaze plane.

So, how did they do? Over 800 of them were built, and most of them saw action. Unfortunately, at least from the Japanese point of view, most of the action they saw was being shot down while attached to the Betty bomber long before they got close enough to be launched at a target ship. Still, a number of them did get close enough to US fleets to be launched. Very few though, most of the time the planes carrying them were intercepted long before they launched their Chery Blossoms. And what few Cherry Blossoms actually attacked only managed to sink or damage seven small allied ships, destroyers mostly. No American capital ships (carriers, cruisers, battleships) were hit by Cherry Blossoms. That’s around 1600 planes and their flight crews (very few of the launching bombers got back to Japan safely) for seven minor ships and a few hundred killed and injured Americans. Not a good trade at all. The Cherry Blossom was a military failure.

In point of fact, Japanese kamikaze attacks in general were a failure. Over 4,000 were used, they sank about 50 Allied ships and damaged about 300 others. 3 escort carriers were the largest ships sunk, the rest were small support ships like destroyers or troop transports. The losses the Allies suffered from kamikaze attacks at this late date in the war were insignificant. The Japanese had hoped the tactic would be so successful that it would blunt the US advance towards Japan, and make a negotiated settlement to the war possible. It was a clever idea, though only made possible by Japan’s traditional society and Bushido code, at least on such a large scale. Germany and Italy also had some efforts at suicide aircraft and such, but nothing like the scale of the Japanese kamikaze program.

Suicide attackers have been known since at least the 11th century. Occasionally soldiers of all stripes would themselves commit the ultimate sacrifice. A German officer tried to hug Hitler while he had two bombs set to go off in his pockets, the attack failed. When suicide attackers were organized, which was rare, it was usually in defense of the homeland in the face of an invader or occupier. Almost all modern suicide bomber fall in the later category. While popular belief in the west ascribes suicide attack to religious fanaticism, this is largely propaganda. Suicide attackers are certainly motivated by their faith, but almost all soldiers are motivated by their faith. Properly deployed, modern suicide attackers have achieved some stunning results, the attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 being possibly their biggest success.  Suicide attacks are a tactic, not an ideology, and as such fall into the broad spectrum of horrific behaviors that warfare encourages.

Of course most people think that their side’s forces are fighting the good fight for God and country, while their enemies are Godless barbarians with no respect for human life. In most cases both sides are both wrong and right … neither of them is fighting for anything worthwhile. Wars are almost always senseless. But they’re so interesting! More weird weapons of war will be covered as the spirit takes me. Have a great weekend everyone!

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I got it from Wikipedia so it’s more than likely public domain of one sort or another. Here’s a youtube video montage of Japanese kamikaze attacks during World War Two. It’s pretty horrible actually, lots of people are dying in these images.)


Written by unitedcats

January 18, 2013 at 7:34 am

13 Responses

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  1. Wow, I guessed submarine. Imagine riding to your death in one of those, 500 mph then boom, damn….People are nuts.


    January 18, 2013 at 8:41 am

  2. Ok, going on one of your previous blogs, you were asking for unusual aircraft to write about.
    My suggestion
    This is one strange (excruciating?) machine!


    January 18, 2013 at 9:52 am

  3. Churchill believed that by de-housing (fire bomb raids on residential areas of German cities) and killing German workers, their will to continue to fight would fail. At the same time Churchill was proud of how the British people’s will to fight was stiffened by the Germans bombing British cities. Seems like holding both views at the same time would be a defination of insane. Pyschopath is the correct word I think, and applies to lots of world “leaders”
    btw occassionally US and Russian fighter pilots out of ammo would ram and enemy bomber on purpose. Of course we never called our pilots who did this “Sucide Pilots” but Heroes. An Act of Patriotism when committed by the enemy is an atrocity.

    you could write about the Deltoid Pumpkin Seed aka Aereon 26

    Or you might mention that the V-22 Osprey while it can fly much faster than the CH-46 its replacing, it can’t carry a slingload, like an artillery piece any faster than the CH-46. A CH-53E can slingload larger tube artillery faster. The V-22 can get lots of our troops deep in enemy territory, but without any artillery support. Duh.

    Wade O Kane

    January 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    • If I haven’t written on the boondoggle that is the V-22 Osprey, I should, it’s kind of what’s wrong with our military spending in microcosm, incredibly expensive weapons that don’t live up to half of what was promised. Eisenhower is spinning in his grave.


      January 18, 2013 at 7:02 pm

  4. Am I right in thinking that the Japanese are Buddhists. If this is so then how did they reconcile these bloodthirsty attacks. I am acquainted with the ability that most religions have for talking their way out of mass murder but the Japanese behaviour during the second world war hardly fits comfortably with this peace loving religion surely.

    By the way was anybody in London for the 150 anniversary of the London Underground. I saw the steam train puffing through.Reminded me of Sherlock Holmes.

    barry waterfield

    January 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    • Buddistism arrived in Japan in the 6th century. The local religion was Shinto, and managed to co-exist with Buddism. In WWII State Shinto was stressed it it was done to enforce that the Emporer was a divine God. For a lot of Japanese religion did not play a major role in their lives and lots were non-belivers as best I can tell. Not that some European nation wouldn’t have done it, but it was the USA at cannon point “opened” Japan to the 17th Century after they had closed Japan to advances in technology in the 15th Century. Their miliary was humbled by Admiral Perry’s ships, and their military soon sought to buy modern battleships from France and England who were happy for the export sales. Just like when we were friend with the Shah of Iran we exported or best fighter at the time the F-14 to Iran. By 1905 the Japanese Navy could defeat the Russian Navy. Over the objections of the British Admiralty, British companies sold in 1922 both the plans for the British most modern aircraft carriers, torpedo planes, and training in how to use the planes. The crews of the HMS Prince of Wales and the HMS Repulse must have appreciated this when sunk off Mylasia in early December 1941. War is Madness, Sheer Madness, and we never seem to learn from past mistakes. For blood thristy attacks try Dresden Germany 1944, 137,000 dead civilians in one night. Dresden was a major railroad center, and the raid knocked out Dresden as a rail road center for 48 hours. That’s about 2800 dead civilians for every hour the Railroad yards were out of commission. About the same as the WTC, but just an hours worth. There’s great worry about Iran getting “the bomb” Meanwhile Indian and Pakistan could have a nuke war and expend something like 200 warheads.

      For weird aircraft FICON (FIghter COvery) On 24 April 1953, the left-hand F-84 hooked up and the automatic system was activated. The F-84 immediately flipped over onto the wing of the B-29 and both crashed with loss of all on board. But that didn’t kill the project, just the crews…

      Wade O Kane

      January 18, 2013 at 7:11 pm

  5. What about that Wacky Guy who flew an F18 straight up inside that giant UFO and Kamokarzied himself into the alien ships main power sorce; totaly destroying them while the US President flew alongside him in another f18 to witness the event.


    January 19, 2013 at 7:14 am

    • LOL That movie was a big hit in the USA and Israel, and flopped in the rest of the world. As my (Canadian) dad said “Another movie where the USA saves the world, yawn.”


      January 19, 2013 at 7:21 am

    • If it was designed to fly but was built with an engine with less power than the designer hoped to use, it might never have lifted off. Having wings just shows a desire to have it fly. Of course this one did fly and rather fast. One can have too much power and not always fly. Planes with big radial or inline engines if given full power when the wheels broke down, would roll to the left and slam the wing tip into the ground, like in a P-51. One had to have skill and smarts to fly one off.

      btw the first physicist to envision a thermonuclear H-bomb was a Japanese scientist in 1940. “the secret of the A Bomb my ass. Sizlard first envisioned the A-Bomb in 1932

      Wade O Kane

      January 19, 2013 at 7:38 am

      • I \meant to write “wheels broke ground”, not “wheels broke down”.
        Helicopters just beat the air into submission to fly

        Wade O Kane

        January 19, 2013 at 7:42 am

  6. […] via Doug’s Dark World […]

  7. What movie are we talking about?


    January 21, 2013 at 3:53 pm

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