Kugisho Okha (Cherry Blossom) Model 22, 1945 - (scan - 1996)

This is an example of the first aircraft designed specifically for suicide (kamakaze) missions. The Model 11 was rocket powered and launched from "Betty" bombers against ships participating in the Okinawa invasion. The Model 22 was powered by a Tsu-11 jet engine which used a 100 hp Hitachi 4 cylinder inline engine to turn a single axial-flow compressor stage. Designed to be carried by the "Frances" medium bomber, the war ended before the aircraft could enter production. (Smithsonian caption)

This example was one of several training gliders intended to familiarize pilots with handling characteristics of Ohka suicide aircraft. In 2-seat version, separate cockpits provided--one forward of wing's leading edge and second about even with trailing edge. Flaps added to reduce landing speed; ski-like skid mounted on underside of fuselage for landing. Catapult system used to launch trainer; no details available on catapult's construction or flight profile after launch. Ohka proposed by transport pilot, Mitsuo Ohta, and conceived as small, low-winged, rocket-propelled suicide plane which would be carried to combat zone by a mother plane (usually Betty) and then dive toward target under rocket power. Although ordered into production before testing complete, was not unpleasant to fly and could go over 400 mph under power. Wings and tail surfaces made of molded plywood, fabric-covered for smooth finish. All-aluminum fuselage was of typical aircraft semi-monocoque construction and contained 1200 kg (2,645 lb) warhead. Cockpit included only 4 instruments--compass, airspeed indicator, altimeter, and inclinometer used as turn indicator. Ring sight used in acquiring target. Released from a Betty bomber at 27,000 ft and about 50 mi out, Ohka would glide five nose- down at about 230 mph. About 3 mi from target, rocket engines fired increasing speed up to 500 mph. At dive angle of about 50, could reach speed near 600 mph as it crashed into the target. About 750 built, but most lost in transit (while still mated to Betty) or destroyed on ground. They were particularly effective, however, against US fleet during the invasion of Okinawa in Apr 45. A Washington Post article (late 89) stated:

"Kamikazes sank 34 Allied ships in WWII and hundreds of American vessels were damaged by suicide attacks; in the Okinawa campaign alone, Ohka pilots sank 15 ships. Nearly 12,300 servicemen were killed (from all Kamikaze attacks). That is a high figure, but in reality it was just a moment against the American tide. The "final plan" for the Japanese in those closing months, approved by the Supreme Council, provided for 10,000 suicide planes, practically anything that could fly, a nation of planes flinging itself at the enemy."

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