Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Shin'yo, Fukuryu & Kairyu

The Japanese Kamikaze planes are fairly well known, but the desperate Japanese deployed many other sorts of suicide attacks against the allies when it became clear that the war was going all but in their favour.

An American warship burning
after a Kairyu attack
First of all, there was the Shin'yo; the suicide boat. These boats were all motorboats, piloted by a single man and were driven at high speeds at allied warships. There were two main types of Shin'yo; one that was loaded with explosives and was designed to plow into ships then explode in the standard suicide attack. The other one was given depth charges which the pilot dropped overboard then sped away. However, the blast invariably killed the pilot somehow, yet theoretically provided him with an escape route.
These ships were not extensively used during the war as they were mostly reserved for the invasion of Japan itself, which never actually came to be due to Japan's unconditional surrender.

The Fukuryu, which literally meant 'crouching dragon' were divers that were equipped with mines on the end of a long wooden pole. The idea was that they would submerge themselves then walk under the allied ships, swim up, then detonate their mine. Of course; this would kill them too.
As with the Shin'yo, this tactic was reserved for the invasion of Japan, and therefore rarely practically used.

Lastly, the Kairyu: manned torpedoes. Fitted with 3,200 pounds of high explosives each were man-guided to their targets with devilish accuracy.

All the families of assorted suicide attackers were paid 10,000 yen, this comes to 74 British Pounds, 122 US Dollars, 119 Canadian Dollars or 88 Euros.

The American military took to calling all Japanese suicide attackers 'baka', which was Japanese for 'idiot'.

All in all, the various types of Japanese suicide attacks did as much damage to allied morale as to their ships/men as it showed then in no uncertain terms just how determined the Japanese were to defend their homeland at all costs.

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