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Halonut24

Was the Kamikaze a justifiable tactic?

Is the Kamikaze justified?  

30 members have voted

  1. 1. Was the Japanese "Special Attack" a viable attack strategy or a waste of lives?

    • Yes. It was a viable strategy that proved more effective than traditional attacks in some ways.
      11
    • No. It was a waste of lives. The results were not enough to constitute it being effective or viable.
      19
  2. 2. Was it's inception and implementation justified in any way?

    • Yes, it stood a chance at drastically changing the war.
      4
    • Somewhat, while not able to win the war, it could have given them more time.
      5
    • No, it stood no chance at changing the way the war was going for them at that point.
      21

19 comments in this topic

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So this is something I've thought about a bit, because it's kind of tricky. It is my opinion that the Kamikaze was a horrible strategy or practice, but it's kind of difficult to really pinpoint why. It's a different strategy they went towards when their previous ones failed, and had somewhat better success, right?

Now that I've thought about it a little more, I'm a little more confident in my views.

One of the first recorded suicide attacks by the Japanese (that were not split-second decisions made by dying pilots, like the cases of rams of the Carrier USS Hornet or Destroyer USS Smith) was right after the Battle off Samar, where a Kamikaze attack was carried out on Taffy 3 just after their fight against Center Force, sinking the Escort Carrier USS St. Lo. After that, it saw much more frequent use during the Okinawa Campaign. Total count of losses:

  • Japan: Roughly 3,912 Kamikaze pilots lost, combined IJN and IJAAF.
  • US: 34 Ships lost; 368 damaged, 4,900 dead, 4,800+ wounded. (None of the ships lost were larger than an Escort Carrier. The majority of ships sunk by Kamikaze were support ships with little defensive armament.)

Only about 14% of the Kamikaze forces managed to reach their targets.

The intent of the Kamikaze was to turn the tide of the war, no? Clearly this did not happen, nor could it ever have. One of the major objectives was to destroy American Carriers, to which they somewhat succeeded. No fleet carriers were sunk as a result of Kamikaze attacks, though many were badly damaged, like Enterprise and Bunker Hill. At the end of the day, Japanese infrastructure was only able to produce 550,000 tons of shipping during the war, only 1/6 of what the US produced. Ship-wise, they might as well be outnumbered 6 to 1, with no way to produce more ships at a decent rate. (The US Navy launched more Carriers between 1943 and 1945 than Japan ever made, with 31 Carriers being produced (including CVL, not CVE). The IJN made 13 CV and CVL.

In short, Japan stood absolutely zero chance of winning the war when the Kamikaze were implemented. They had lost control long before then, which is why I see it as a horrible waste of human life. There was no reason for them to die. They died for a leader's delusional fantasies of regaining the upper hand in a war that had been unwinnable since the loss of Guadalcanal.

I think it also has to do with how I, as an American and westerner, value life. We generally value life higher than almost anything else, and strive to do all we can to preserve it as much as we can. They, at the time, did not view it the same way, and generally saw death as something gained rather than something lost, and were not so hesitant to give it away. 

But that's what I think. What do you think? I'm curious to see your guys' views on this. Maybe a different perspective will grant a new understanding of the subject.

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No, suicide tactics to me are not justifiable. Willingly throwing away one's life to extinguish the lives of others is a shameful act and the kamikaze did nothing to affect the outcome of the war. 

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The allies also toyed with the idea of human-guided aerial bombs -- but their idea was to have the crews parachute out. President John F. Kennedy's brother was killed when the guided bomb he was in prematurely exploded.

 

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I don;t think it was one thing but more of a combination/deep rooted  of Japanese ideas/ideology/mismanagement ever during WW2. Now the must recent form of the KAMIKAZIE attacks are the suicide bombers of today. Some thing as the Japanese with the factors mentioned earlier, for which we call now a terrorist attack. In its form, this type of warfare helps to shake the confidence in the enemy and cast doubts when in a weaker position. I think it worked, it fulfill the the purpose of installing fear. Japan got a lot by using the KAMIKAZIE method in the short term (like a band aid) BUT there was more then one issue that doomed the Japanese fleet.This was one of many.

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My god, why are we even talking about this? Is it so you Americans can keep roasting us about how you won the war? It was stupid period. The [edited]war has been over for 70 years now. I don't get why you stir the rod on such a topic that has no relation to the game or the ships we are playing here. 

But what really pisses me off is when you claim that when we started throwing boys at your ships we had lost the war. NO! We had lost that war long before that! It wasn't Kamikazes that did us in! Furthermore, you make it sound like the Japanese people did not care for our lives. And that we were willing to kill ourselves and see no value in human life. That is entirely [edited]false. No matter where you are in the world, all people value life. Such a concept is not an American one. 

 

Edited by Incendiary_Tanker
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Given that the IJN had pretty much no way of conducting conventional air attacks on the USN by that stage of the war, I'd say it's definitely understandable that such a tactic came into being.

With that being said, considering these attacks decreased in effectiveness over time and most definitely did NOT stop the US advance towards the homelands, the overall result of this tactic can only be said to be failure.

No doubt they caught the USN by surprise (like with the sinking of the escort carrier St. Lo) and were harder to stop than conventional attacks, but they were never truly a sustainable tactic.

Truth be told, Japan lost the war the minute they bombed Pearl Harbor. The industrial and economic disparity was simply too great. Japan hoped to destroy the US's spirit to fight, but instead gave it a resolve that has never been seen ever since. Kamikazes were merely delaying the inevitable.

Edited by Avenge_December_7

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IN BEFORE THE LOCK! :cap_cool:

This topic can only end badly.

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45 minutes ago, Halonut24 said:

It is my opinion that the Kamikaze was a horrible strategy or practice

In my opinion they kamikaze program was very successful. 

1). By your own statistics, the program cost the Japanese Just under 4000 pilots; this many men were dying with every island the allies took back. 

2). Approximately 2,800 Kamikaze attackers sank 34 Navy ships, damaged 368 others, killed 4,900 sailors, and wounded over 4,800.

3). Despite radar detection and cuing, airborne interception, attrition, and massive anti-aircraft barrages, 14 percent of Kamikazes survived to score a hit on a ship; nearly 8.5 percent of all ships hit by Kamikazes sank.

45 minutes ago, Halonut24 said:

The intent of the Kamikaze was to turn the tide of the war, no? Clearly this did not happen, nor could it ever have.

I disagree with this completely. Enterprise was put out of action in the final months of the war due to a kamikaze attack, and had this tactic began earlier in the war, attrition of the Allied naval forces could have been quite severe, especially at a time when the IJN enjoyed more trained pilots and more planes.

45 minutes ago, Halonut24 said:

In short, Japan stood absolutely zero chance of winning the war when the Kamikaze were implemented. They had lost control long before then, which is why I see it as a horrible waste of human life.

While I agree that the IJN started the program much too late in the war, think of what they accomplished even at that late date. They killed more men than they lost; they did tremendous damage to Allied fleets, sinking or rendering useless over 400 ships. And they made other mistakes other than starting their program too late; one of the main ones being they targeted the wrong ships. They targeted heavily armed warships rather than unarmored and undergunned supply ships and oilers. Had the IJN gone after these they could have severely hurt the Allied logistical train. No other weapon in the Japanese arsenal enjoyed such a high success rate.

The kamikaze program was an incredibly effective program which was implemented too late in the war and chose targets emotionally rather than logically.

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4 minutes ago, Incendiary_Tanker said:

My god, why are we even talking about this? Is it so you Americans can keep roasting us about how you won the war? It was stupid period. The [edited]war has been over for 70 years now. I don't get why you string the rod on such a topic that has no relation to the game or the ships we are playing here. 

But what really pisses me off is when you claim that when we started throwing boys at your ships we had lost the war. NO! We had lost that war long before that! It wasn't Kamikazes that did us in! Furthermore, you make it sound like the Japanese people did not care for our lives. And that we were willing to kill ourselves and see n value in human life. That is entirely [edited]false. No matter where you are in the world, all people value life. Such a concept is not an American one. 

 

I'm sorry you're upset about this. That is not my intention.

This isn't about gloating about winning. This is about discussing history, which is very important if we are to move forward in a positive direction as a people. There is nothing wrong about discussing history, I'm sorry this just isn't something you're particularly fond of or get flamed about. 

And I would have thought you of all people would know the difference between Imperial Japan and Modern Japan. They are basically two completely different nations. I was describing the former, whilst you seem to still see Imperial Japan and Modern Japan as the same entity, which is like seeing Germany as Nazi Germany. They are two very different things.

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More than the waste of lives, Kamikaze was a waste of aircraft that the Japanese could not hope to replace.  Japan had always been crippled by her industrial capacity, and that was exacerbated by the American submarine campaign, which choked her ability to move the necessary materials and supplies needed to maintain her war machine.

 

Training a pilot up to kamikaze level is an almost trivial thing.  Japan had already hemorrhaged away most of its veteran pilots anyway.  However, replacing the planes themselves was difficult to begin with, and near-impossible later on in the war.

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4 minutes ago, Halonut24 said:

I'm sorry you're upset about this. That is not my intention.

This isn't about gloating about winning. This is about discussing history, which is very important if we are to move forward in a positive direction as a people. There is nothing wrong about discussing history, I'm sorry this just isn't something you're particularly fond of or get flamed about. 

And I would have thought you of all people would know the difference between Imperial Japan and Modern Japan. They are basically two completely different nations. I was describing the former, whilst you seem to still see Imperial Japan and Modern Japan as the same entity, which is like seeing Germany as Nazi Germany. They are two very different things.

Ok, look I'm not angry about the history side of your post. For the most part it was perfectly fine. My major issue comes at this part of your post. 

 

51 minutes ago, Halonut24 said:

I think it also has to do with how I, as an American and westerner, value life. We generally value life higher than almost anything else, and strive to do all we can to preserve it as much as we can. They, at the time, did not view it the same way, and generally saw death as something gained rather than something lost, and were not so hesitant to give it away. 

 

This is what pisses me off. You broke away from doing a post about Kamikazes, which were the most stupidest thing in the universe, to a personal attack on my people and my nation. And to include this part makes no sense what so ever in a talk about the effectiveness of Kamikazes and their use! That's why I'm upset. 

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You mean like flying planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon....

The strategy is there.  In almost every culture, there is a suicide charge, be it at Waterloo, Pickets Charge, or Mordrid to King Arthur.

Every Frontal Assault to capture enemy trenches in WW1 was a suicide charge.  Millions die.

To single out hundreds of Japanese pilots is a bit unfair.  After all, the Yamato was also sent on a suicide run.

.....

If used effectively, it was a drastic force multiplier.

I dread to think what may have happened if our Nuclear program had failed.

 

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I vote no to both accounts.  However,  I feel that the given reasons did not fully explain why I voted no.  

To the first question, the kamikaze attacks (I am assuming you mean only the aircraft and not the manned torpedoes or suicide boats) were not very effective.  Kamikazes are only accredited with sinking 47-57 ships (numbers vary depending on the source) of which only 17 were combat vessels, all of which were destroyers or escort carriers.  While certainly dangerous they did not sink any major surface combatants during the war.  The main success of the Kamikaze was the damaging of many warships, which forced them back for repairs or eventual scrapping.  But at this stage of the war, the Allies had so much tonnage afloat that any loss, permanent or temporary, wasn't going to stop them.  

From this I draw the conclusion that the attacks were not effective.  

As to whether they were viable or not, that is another question.  Ignoring the Japanese 'sense of honor' which would take far to long to explain, from a material standpoint the Kamikaze attacks were a viable strategy for the Japanese at that stage of the war.  A commonly told reason that the Japanese lost was because they had such rigorous and selective training regimes for their pilots and when they started losing them they could not train replacements fast enough, resulting in them sending poorly trained or untrained men against increasingly veteran enemy fliers.  So, instead of spending valuable time and resources (fuel, spare parts, training aircraft, etc.) training pilots only to have them shot down in their first real combat, costing them a considerable investment in said time and resources, why not use that same man and resources in an effort that has a much higher chance of getting good results.  Both Allied and Japanese reports say that the Kamikaze was far deadlier than a conventional attack and caused far more damage, meaning a better chance of damaging, crippling or sinking the ship.  At worst, the result is the same as if they had trained the pilot: you lose the plane and the pilot.  At best, you sink an enemy capital ship, worth hundreds of thousands of manhours, tons of resources, potentially kill hundreds if not thousands of trained enemies, and create horrible moral breaking headlines back home about a capital ship, the pride of the fleet, being sunk.  In return, you lose one untrained man and a single plane.  

A very overlooked part of the late Pacific war is the fact that the Home Islands were still producing large quantities of equipment.  A common misconception is that by the end of the war the Axis had nothing to fight with.  That is untrue.  Both Germany and Japan had lots of equipment (Japan more than Germany).  It was getting that equipment to the units that needed it that was the problem.  Allied attacks crippled infrastructure or destroyed equipment in transit.  Japan did not have a lack of usable aircraft.  They weren't very good aircraft, but they only needed to fly once.  The distinct lack of trained pilots (and the lack of a realistic pilot training program) was the real problem.

Why wouldn't they try this tactic.  There is no reason they shouldn't at least try.  The return on their 'investment' was very good for them.  2 to 1 kill ratio, severe damage to the enemy, a 14% to 19% chance to hit (better than anything a poorly trained bomber crew could do with the same equipment) and a constant headache to the allies.  That's better results than most experimental tactics.  

 

In short, the Kamikaze programs were viable, but not effective for the duration of their service.  

 

As to the second question, that is more of a what if.  I said no, the attacks had no chance of winning the war.  That is true, in retrospect the attacks would not win the war.  However, at that point in time the atomic bombs were not a viable option and the invasion of the Home Islands was still planned on going foreword.  There is a slim, microscopic chance that the continued Kamikaze attacks, combined with the absolute horror that would have been Operation Downfall, could have pushed the Allies to the negotiating table. Highly unlikely, but still plausible.   

 

In total, the attacks were not effective (for the duration under which the attacks occurred) but certainly viable, and if the war had not been ended by the use of unconventional weaponry they might, might, (but not really) have forced the allies to the table.  

 

Just my two cents.  

Edited by Ie_Shima

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Hey, if you brainwash people with nationalism, they'll do anything for you, no matter how stupid the idea is.

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Well Halonut24 heres how it is.....You can't discuss history without knowing your the Japanese at that time period.  The Japanese had won many victories which bolstered their arrogance and wanted more..yeah.its kinda like a drug..the more you get the more you want. So far they had been doing well to expand their empire. But as always they came upon a juncture where things would have to get bigger and bolder to continue this war. Some  Japanese knew that their efforts were being met with more and more force so they had to up the tempo. Using kamikazes was one of them. Not any different than sending a soldier with grenades into a nest of enemy soldier to inflict the most damage to degrade their numbers.  Lives were lost needlessly but thats your viewpoint..not theirs. Their loss was a honorable one for their country. Some may not have been so intense but many were willing for the most part if thats whats ordered.  It all goes back to the days of the Samurai and their code  of Bushido.   In all probability the was was going badly but not everyone knew it.  And then their was the issue of disgrace and dishonour if they failed.  In the kamikazes eyes it would be better to die than to survive as that would shame the pilot's family as well.  So were talking two different cultures here with different points of view.  Your trying to make it way too simplified as it can't.    

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25 minutes ago, Avenge_December_7 said:

Given that the IJN had pretty much no way of conducting conventional air attacks on the USN by that stage of the war, I'd say it's definitely understandable that such a tactic came into being.

With that being said, considering these attacks decreased in effectiveness over time and most definitely did NOT stop the US advance towards the homelands, the overall result of this tactic can only be said to be failure.

No doubt they caught the USN by surprise (like with the sinking of the escort carrier St. Lo) and were harder to stop than conventional attacks, but they were never truly a sustainable tactic.

Truth be told, Japan lost the war the minute they bombed Pearl Harbor. The industrial and economic disparity was simply too great. Japan hoped to destroy the US's spirit to fight, but instead gave it a resolve that has never been seen ever since. Kamikazes were merely delaying the inevitable.

This is an understatement. One even wonders what they were thinking. Perhaps they thought that they would be able to cement their hold in the eastern Pacific and then get the US to sue for peace? If so then they woefully underestimated the American response. Perhaps they thought by keeping the Americans busy in the Pacific that their Axis allies would have pressure taken off them? Again, they, and Germany too, woefully underestimated the ability of the US to produce and man war material. 

Major weapons groups

System Allies Axis
Tanks, self-propelled artillery, vehicles 4,358,649 670,288
Artillery, mortars, guns 6,792,696 1,363,491
Aircraft 637,248 229,331
Missiles (only for test) 45,458
Ships 54,932 1,670

Economy

In thousands of international dollars, at 2014 prices.

Service Allies Axis
GDP 97,707,908,723.20 10,268,201,776.37

 

Edited by Snargfargle

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This is sort of like asking if the Children Volkssturm were a justified tactic.  The answer is always no.  Leave the kill/death ratios out of the discussion.

43FEFD5C00000578-4861410-image-m-83_1504

Edited by Sventex

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By the numbers in the OP for effectiveness, I tend to think that it didn't work - but didn't do survey because I simply don't know enough facts.

As far as "We generally value life higher than almost anything else,"  and the Japanese dude it ticked off.  History will show that we care about life as humans until it becomes inconvenient- but all of our past is pretty brutal - USA happens to be pretty young.  

War is absolutely ugly, and when we are losing we take desperate measures and oftentimes become horrible decision makers. 

Japan is not alone in this, and no, "we" don't relish in bringing up the loss of WW2.  As an American I certainly don't want to here about my country's failed wars either - but history should always be talked about.

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57 minutes ago, Incendiary_Tanker said:

Ok, look I'm not angry about the history side of your post. For the most part it was perfectly fine. My major issue comes at this part of your post. 

 

This is what pisses me off. You broke away from doing a post about Kamikazes, which were the most stupidest thing in the universe, to a personal attack on my people and my nation. And to include this part makes no sense what so ever in a talk about the effectiveness of Kamikazes and their use! That's why I'm upset. 

Okay, I see. I apologize for the offense.

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