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Kamikaze: Japanese Special Attack Weapons 1944–45

Kamikaze: Japanese Special Attack Weapons 1944–45 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review May 2012 Title Kamikaze: Japanese Special Attack Weapons 1944–45
Author Steven J. Zaloga Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2011 ISBN 9781849083539
Format 48 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $17.95


Let’s cut to the chase: this pithy précis deserves a place in every World War II enthusiast’s library.

Steven Zaloga himself requires no introduction.  Few have so effectively plowed the backwaters of military history for the edification of English-speaking enthusiasts.  And Kamikaze: Japanese Special Attack Weapons 1944–45 doesn’t disappoint.  It’s splendidly entertaining and informative.

After a brief introduction, Zaloga explores the origins of Japan’s “Tokko”“Tokobetsu kogeki” or “special attack” – suicide defense schemes of 1944-45.  And as Allied naval forces relentlessly advanced, initial Imperial Navy (IJN) and Army (IJA) efforts naturally focused on aerial anti-shipping options – many ad hoc.

The author’s superb summary then covers Kamikaze actions in defense of Okinawa and the Home Islands – before moving to details of specialized Tokko aircraft.  These ranged from converted conventional warplanes to the IJN’s purpose-built, relatively sophisticated Ohka designs and the IJA’s comparatively crude Ki-115 Tsuragi.  The shot of a primitively configured Nakajima Ki-9 “Spruce” with gasoline drum in the rear cockpit underscores Japan’s desperate plight.

No proverbial stone remains unturned.  Zaloga’s treatment subsequently outlines the full range of Japanese Kamikaze plans – anti-B-29 suicide schemes, Kaiten human torpedoes, midget submarines, IJN “crash” and IJA Renraku-tei boats, and frogmen with “lunge” mines.  The author’s absorbing analyses of Tokko effectiveness proved profoundly revealing.

Ably illustrated and indexed, Osprey’s guide also includes useful “further reading” notes and selective bibliography with helpful source comments.

Get this tiny tome.  It’s the best available English-language handbook on WWII Japanese suicide operations.

Rabidly recommended.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!