Original Japanese WWII Kamikaze Pilot Grouping with Photo, Service Record, Flag & Knife
Original Item: One-of-a-kind Set. Any type of records from Kamikaze are extremely rare, because most items they took off with were destroyed when the Japanese pilot crashed his plane into a ship, or was shot down. Kamikaze translates to Divine Wind. The Japanese started using Kamikaze attacks against U.S. Naval forces in October of 1944.
The centerpiece of this set is a photograph, captured from a Kamikaze pilot by a USGI, which has Kanji writing on the back of it. The Japanese serviceman in is his uniform in the photograph, which measures about 3 3/4" x 3 7/8". On the back of the photo the USGI wrote "AIN'T HE CUTE?" as well as "JAPANESE SUICIDE PILOT - HA! I GOT HIS HELMET MOM!". Unfortunately the helmet did get passed along, but this photograph did.
The other items in this set are:
- One Japanese ID pamphlet with picture. This definitely looks to match the previous picture, and it is full of information. Definitely an excellent translation project.
- One Small 16" x 12" Imperial Japanese Navy Rising Sun Flag (旭日旗 Kyokujitsu-ki) with the "sun" correctly to the left.
- One Small Japanese knife in a wooden "resting" scabbard. Various accounts describe these as either for defense, or to end one's life should they remain alive after the attack.
- One miniature Rising Sun Flag Machine Embroidered patch, possibly post war. Measures 2 3/8" x 1 1/4".
This is a great set, full of translation and research potential. Ready to display!
Kamikaze, (神風) "divine wind" or "spirit wind", officially Shinpū Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (神風特別攻撃隊, "Divine Wind Special Attack Unit"), were a part of the Japanese Special Attack Units of military aviators who initiated suicide attacks for the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy warships more effectively than possible with conventional air attacks. About 3,800 kamikaze pilots died during the war, and more than 7,000 naval personnel were killed by kamikaze attacks.
Kamikaze aircraft were essentially pilot-guided explosive missiles, purpose-built or converted from conventional aircraft. Pilots would attempt to crash their aircraft into enemy ships in what was called a "body attack" in planes laden with some combination of explosives, bombs, torpedoes and full fuel tanks. Accuracy was much higher than that of conventional attacks, and the payload and explosion larger; about 19% of kamikaze attacks were successful. A kamikaze could sustain damage that would disable a conventional attacker and still achieve its objective. The goal of crippling or destroying large numbers of Allied ships, particularly aircraft carriers, was considered by the Empire of Japan to be a just reason for sacrificing pilots and aircraft.
These attacks, which began in October 1944, followed several critical military defeats for the Japanese. They had long since lost aerial dominance as a result of having outdated aircraft and enduring the loss of experienced pilots. Japan suffered from a diminishing capacity for war and a rapidly declining industrial capacity relative to that of the Allies. Japan was also losing pilots faster than it could train their replacements. These combined factors, along with Japan's unwillingness to surrender, led to the use of kamikaze tactics as Allied forces advanced towards the Japanese home islands.
While the term kamikaze usually refers to the aerial strikes, it has also been applied to various other suicide attacks. The Japanese military also used or made plans for non-aerial Japanese Special Attack Units, including those involving submarines, human torpedoes, speedboats and divers.
The tradition of death instead of defeat, capture and shame is deeply entrenched in Japanese military culture. One of the primary traditions in the samurai life and the Bushido code: loyalty and honor until death
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