US Navy Ships vs Kamikazes 1944-45, Mark Stille

US Navy Ships vs Kamikazes 1944-45, Mark Stille

Duel 76

This entry in the 'Dual' series makes perfect sense, examining a particular type of attack on the US fleet, rather than picking out one aspect of a more complex battle.

Just over half of the book looks at the technology involved, the aircraft, ships, weapons, the strategic situation, the Japanese attack plans and the American defensive measures. The rest focuses on the attacks themselves, with the framework coming from the Japanese side, making it clear that there was a clear plan behind the kamikaze attacks, and they weren't simply random waves of attacks. A kamikaze raid required just as much planning as a normal bombing raid, and each was fought with less and less experienced crews, so got more difficult to carry out. In places there might actually be too much here - there are two and a half pages of colour illustrations of the Zero that could easily have been reduced to one better labelled page.

The statistical analysis at the end is particularly interesting. Many accounts of the kamikazes focus on the attacks on carriers, but this proves that they were actually rather rare, and only accounted for three escort carriers. It also helps answer the key question of how effective the kamikaze attacks actually were. The answer would appear to be that they were more dangerous than conventional attacks at this stage in the war, but that they also inflicted such heavy losses on the Japanese air forces that they couldn't have been kept up for long - even a kamikaze attack needed some skill, and as the pool of trained aviators was used up, their impact was reduced. 

A look at the targets is interesting, as it shows that far too many attacks were made against the first targets that were encountered - the destroyers and smaller ships in the outer ring of defences. These ships could be vulnerable if hit, but could also defend themselves quite well, either with gunfire or manoeuvre. The larger cruisers and battleships weren't as nimble, but they were also never seriously endangered by kamikaze attacks, which never threatened to penetrate their armoured cores.

Design and Development
Technical Specifications
The Strategic Situation
The Combatants
Statistics and Analysis

Author: Mark Stille
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 80
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2016

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