USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), an aircraft carrier, was hit by two kamikazes on 11 May 1945, resulting in 389 personnel dead or missing and 264 wounded.
The Mongol fleet destroyed in a typhoon, by Kikuchi Yōsai, 1847
Lt. Yoshinori Yamaguchi's Yokosuka D4Y3 (Type 33 Suisei) "Judy" in a suicide dive against USS Essex (CV-9) on 25 November 1944. The attack left 15 killed and 44 wounded. The dive brakes are extended and the non-self-sealing port wing tank trails fuel vapor and/or smoke.
Model 52c Zeros ready to take part in a kamikaze attack (early 1945)
A kamikaze aircraft explodes after crashing into Essex flight deck amidships 25 November 1944.
Rear Admiral Masafumi Arima
26 May 1945. Corporal Yukio Araki, holding a puppy, with four other pilots of the 72nd Shinbu Squadron at Bansei, Kagoshima. Araki died the following day, at the age of 17, in a suicide attack on ships near Okinawa.
St Lo attacked by kamikazes, 25 October 1944
Starboard horizontal stabilizer from the tail of a "Judy" on the deck of USS Kitkun Bay (CVE-71). The "Judy" made a run on the ship approaching from dead astern; it was met by effective fire and the aircraft passed over the island and exploded. Parts of the aircraft and the pilot were scattered over the flight deck and the forecastle.
An A6M Zero (A6M2 Model 21) towards the end of its run at the escort carrier USS White Plains (CVE-66) on 25 October 1944. The aircraft exploded in mid-air moments after the picture was taken, scattering debris across the deck.
An A6M5 "Zero" diving towards American ships in the Philippines in early 1945
USS Louisville (CA-28) is struck by a Mitsubishi Ki-51 kamikaze at the Battle of Lingayen Gulf, 6 January 1945.
USS Missouri (BB-63) shortly before being hit by a Mitsubishi A6M Zero (visible top left), 11 April 1945
Aircraft carrier after being struck by a kamikaze off the Sakishima Islands. The kamikaze made a dent 3 m long and 0.6 m wide and deep in the armored flight deck. Eight crew members were killed, forty-seven were wounded, and 11 aircraft were destroyed.
Ugaki, shortly before taking off in a Yokosuka D4Y3 to participate in one of the final kamikaze strikes, 15 August 1945
A crewman in an AA gun aboard the battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62) watches a kamikaze aircraft dive at USS Intrepid (CV-11) 25 November 1944. Over 75 men were killed or missing and 100 wounded.
Japanese Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka ("cherry blossom"), a specially built rocket-powered kamikaze aircraft used towards the end of the war. The U.S. called them Baka Bombs ("idiot bombs").
First recruits for Japanese Kamikaze suicide pilots in 1944
Chiran high school girls wave farewell with cherry blossom branches to departing kamikaze pilot in a Nakajima Ki-43-IIIa Hayabusa.

Kamikaze, officially Shinpū Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (神風特別攻撃隊), were a part of the Japanese Special Attack Units of military aviators who flew suicide attacks for the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, intending to destroy warships more effectively than with conventional air attacks.

- Kamikaze

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Japanese Special Attack Units

During World War II, Japanese Special Attack Units (特別攻撃隊), also called shimbu-tai, were specialized units of the Imperial Japanese Navy and Imperial Japanese Army normally used for suicide missions.

Ohka at the Yasukuni Shrine
A Shinyo suicide boat
Kaiten manned torpedoes, stacked on top of a departing submarine
A Kairyu in the Aburatsubo inlet

They included kamikaze aircraft, fukuryu frogmen, and several types of suicide boats and submarines.


Kaiten (回天) were crewed torpedoes and suicide craft, used by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the final stages of World War II.

A Kaiten, Type 1, at the Tokyo Yasukuni War Memorial Museum
Kaiten Type 1 periscope at the Tokyo Yasukuni War Memorial
Map of known Kaiten base locations at the end of World War II
A Kaiten Type 1 being trial-launched from the light cruiser Kitakami
Schematic of a Kaiten type 1
A Kaiten Type I at the Tokyo Yasukuni War Memorial Museum
Schematic of a Kaiten type 2
Inside the hydrogen peroxide chamber of a type 2 Kaiten
Schematic of a Kaiten type 4
Schematic of a Kaiten type 10
A kaiten type 10 on display at the Yamato Museum
USS Mississinewa (AO-59), victim of a kaiten attack on 20 November 1944
USS Underhill
Submarine I-47 as Kikusui group on 8 November 1944
Submarine I-56 as Kongō group on 21 December 1944
Submarine I-47 as Kongō group on 25 December 1944
Submarine I-48 as Kongō group on 1 January 1945
Submarine I-370 as Chihaya group on 21 February 1945
Submarine I-44 as Tatara group on 3 April 1945
Submarine I-36 as Tembu group
Submarine I-47 as Tembu group on 20 April 1945
Submarine I-367 as Simbu group on 2 May 1945
Submarine I-361 as Todoroki group on 23 May 1945
Submarine I-165 as Todoroki group on 15 June 1945
Submarine I-367 as Tamon group on 19 July 1945
Submarine I-363 as Tamon group in August 1945
Light cruiser Kitakami on 20 January 1945 at Sasebo Naval Arsenal
Kaiten Type 1 being trial launched from the light cruiser Kitakami (port)
Type D destroyers on 11 September 1945 at Kure Naval Base

For the Navy, this meant Kamikaze planes, Shinyo suicide boats, Kaiten submarines, and Fukuryu suicide divers or human mines.

Suicide attack

Any violent attack, usually entailing the attacker detonating an explosive, where the attacker has accepted their own death as a direct result of the attacking method used.

USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) after a kamikaze attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on May 11, 1945
Several coordinated suicide attacks targeted the United States on September 11, 2001
The number of suicide attacks grew enormously after 2000.
Chinese suicide bomber putting on 24 hand grenade-explosive vest prior to attack on Japanese tanks at the Battle of Taierzhuang.
A Japanese Mitsubishi Zero's suicide attack on the USS Missouri (BB-63), April 11, 1945.
Kamikaze pilot about to miss crash diving into escort carrier USS White Plains (CVE-66).
The U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in the aftermath of August 7, 1998, Al-Qaeda suicide bombing
Bus after 1996 Hamas bombing in Jerusalem
The result of a car bombing in Iraq
Afghanistan suicide bomb attacks, including non-detonated, 2002–2008
A female US Air Force officer playing the role of a suicide bomber during an exercise, 2011
Wreckage vehicles after a 2001 suicide bombing in Beit Lid Junction
Early Israeli construction of West Bank barrier in 2003

Suicide attacks have occurred throughout history, often as part of a military campaign (as with the Japanese kamikaze pilots of 1944–1945 during World War II), and more recently as part of terrorist campaigns (such as the September 11 attacks in 2001).

Shin'yō-class suicide motorboat

The Shinyo (震洋) were Japanese suicide motorboats developed during World War II.

A Japanese Shinyo suicide motorboat, 1945

For the naval department this meant kamikaze planes, kaiten submarines, fukuryu suicide divers or human mines, and shinyo suicide boats.

Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Long-range carrier-based fighter aircraft formerly manufactured by Mitsubishi Aircraft Company, a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and was operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1940 to 1945.

Mitsubishi A6M2 "Zero" Model 21 takes off from the aircraft carrier, to attack Pearl Harbor.
The cockpit (starboard console) of an A6M2 which crashed into Building 52 at Fort Kamehameha during the attack on Pearl Harbor, killing the pilot.
Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero wreck abandoned at Munda Airfield, Central Solomons, 1943
A6M2 Zero photo c. 2004
Carrier A6M2 and A6M3 Zeros from the aircraft carrier Zuikaku preparing for a mission at Rabaul
A6M3 Model 22, flown by Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa over the Solomon Islands, 1943
Wrecked A6M Zero in Peleliu jungle
The Akutan Zero is inspected by US military personnel on Akutan Island on 11 July 1942.
A Zero over China
A6M2 "Zero" Model 21 of Shōkaku prior to attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941.
A6M3 Model 32.
Mitsubishi A6M5 Model 52s among other aircraft types abandoned by the Japanese at the end of the war (Atsugi naval air base) and captured by US forces.
A6M5c Zeros preparing to take part in a kamikaze attack in early 1945
A6M8 Type 64: one of two prototypes being tested by US Forces at Misawa Airbase
A6M2 Model 21 on display at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, United States. This aircraft was made airworthy in the early 1980s before it was grounded in 2002.
A6M5 on display at the National Air and Space Museum, United States
A6M5 on display at Yūshūkan in Tokyo, Japan
A6M on display at the National Museum of Nature and Science, Japan
An A6M at the National Museum of the USAF, painted to represent a section leader's aircraft from the Japanese aircraft carrier Zuihō during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.
2017 Red Bull Air Race of Chiba (N553TT)
A6M on display at Dirgantara Mandala Museum, Indonesia
Orthographically projected diagram of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero

During the final phases, it was also adapted for use in kamikaze operations.

Battle of Leyte Gulf

The largest naval battle of World War II and, by some criteria, the largest naval battle in history, with over 200,000 naval personnel involved.

The light aircraft carrier USS Princeton (CVL-23) on fire, east of Luzon, on 24 October 1944
The four main actions in the Battle of Leyte Gulf: 1 Battle of the Sibuyan Sea 2 Battle of Surigao Strait 3 Battle off Cape Engaño 4 Battle off Samar. Leyte Gulf is north of 2 and west of 4. The island of Leyte is west of the gulf.
departing Brunei in October 1944 for the Battle of Leyte Gulf
hit by a bomb near her forward gun turret in the Sibuyan Sea, 24 October 1944
USS Princeton (CVL-23) explodes at 15:23
Musashi under aerial bombardment
The Battle of Surigao Strait
USS West Virginia (BB-48) firing on the Japanese fleet
The Battle off Samar
USS St. Lo (CVE-63) exploding after a kamikaze strike.
The Japanese aircraft carriers, left, and (probably) come under attack by dive bombers early in the Battle off Cape Engaño.
The crew of salute as the flag is lowered on the listing carrier after an airstrike. She was the last carrier participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor to be sunk.
Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey – Commander U.S. Third Fleet at Leyte Gulf
A 60th-anniversary memorial ceremony in Palo, Leyte, Philippines, on 20 October 2004
The Battle of Surigao Strait Memorial in Surigao City, Philippines.

This was the first battle in which Japanese aircraft carried out organized kamikaze attacks, and the last naval battle between battleships in history.

USS Franklin (CV-13)

One of 24 s built during World War II for the United States Navy, and the fifth US Navy ship to bear the name.

The newly commissioned Franklin departing Norfolk in February 1944
USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) (left) and Franklin hit by kamikazes, 30 October 1944
USS Franklin on fire after being struck by two bombs on 19 March 1945
* Franklin listing, with crew on deck, 19 March 1945
The burning Franklin with USS Santa Fe (CL-60) alongside
Aft 5-inch gun turret on fire, 19 March 1945
Franklin approaching New York, 26 April 1945
USS Franklin, anchored in New York harbor, 28 April 1945
Franklin at Bayonne in 1964
Franklin in January 1945
F4U-1D of VF-5 on Franklin in 1945
Franklin 's bridge on 19 March 1945
Joseph T. O'Callahan gives last rites to an injured crewman aboard Franklin on 19 March 1945
Bow of the badly damaged Franklin in April 1945
Franklin and Marblehead off New York in 1945
Franklin under repair at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1945
Franklin laid up in the early 1960s

Franklin and USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) (damaged by two kamikazes) were the only Essex-class carriers not to see active service as aircraft carriers after World War II.


Guided airborne ranged weapon capable of self-propelled flight usually by a jet engine or rocket motor.

A V2 launched from Test Stand VII in the summer of 1943
HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën (F802) firing a Harpoon
V-1 missile
Missile Maintainer inspects missile guidance system of the LGM-30G Minuteman ICBM
A simplified diagram of a solid-fuel rocket.
An R-36 ballistic missile launch at a Soviet silo
American Tomahawk cruise missile
Russian-Indian Supersonic cruise missile BrahMos
The French Exocet missile in flight
U.S. Army soldiers firing an FGM-148 Javelin
MIM-104 Patriot missile being launched
Arrow missile
A F-22 Raptor fires an AIM-120 AMRAAM
ASM-135 ASAT missile launch in 1985

The US Navy also started missile research to deal with the Kamikaze threat.

Escort carrier

Small and slow type of aircraft carrier used by the Royal Navy, the United States Navy, the Imperial Japanese Navy and Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in World War II.

Escort carrier
USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73), burning from earlier gunfire damage, is bracketed by a salvo from a Japanese heavy cruiser (faintly visible in the background, center-right) shortly before sinking during the Battle off Samar.
Model of the Casablanca-class Gambier Bay at USS Midway museum

Among their crews, CVE was sarcastically said to stand for "Combustible, Vulnerable, and Expendable", and the CVEs were called “Kaiser coffins" in honor of Casablanca-class manufacturer Henry J. Kaiser. Magazine protection was minimal in comparison to fleet aircraft carriers. was sunk within minutes by a single torpedo, and exploded from undetermined causes with very heavy loss of life. Three escort carriers—USS St. Lo (CVE-63), USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79) and USS Bismarck Sea (CVE-95)—were destroyed by kamikazes, the largest ships to meet such a fate.

Mongol invasions of Japan

Major military efforts were taken by Kublai Khan of the Yuan dynasty in 1274 and 1281 to conquer the Japanese archipelago after the submission of the Korean kingdom of Goryeo to vassaldom.

Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281
Letter from Kublai Khan of the "Great Mongol State" (大蒙古國) to the "King of Japan" (日本國王), written in Classical Chinese, the lingua franca in East Asia at the time, dated 8th Month, 1266. Now stored in Tōdai-ji, Nara, Japan.
Two Samurai with a dead Mongol at their feet. The one on the right is possibly Sō Sukekuni, the defending commander at Tsushima. Votive image (ema) at the Komodahama Shrine at Sasuura on Tsushima.
Samurai Mitsui Sukenaga (right) defeating the Mongolian invasion army (left)
The Mongol fleet destroyed in a typhoon, ink and water on paper, by Kikuchi Yōsai, 1847
A stone defense wall (Genkō Bōrui) at Nishijin, near Seinan University. Currently, only the top of a few stone walls are exposed to the ground, and most of them have been reclaimed.
A stake driven into the mouth of a river to prevent the Mongol army from landing. It was excavated in 1905 (Genkō Museum).
Japanese samurai boarding Yuan ships in 1281.
The defensive wall at Hakata
Wooden anchor of Mongol invasion
Stone anchor of Mongol invasion
Shōni Kagesuke and his forces in Akasaka
Stoneware bombs, known in Japanese as tetsuhō (iron bomb), or in Chinese as zhentianlei (literally, heaven-shaking thunder), excavated from Takashima shipwreck, October 2011.
Takezaki Suenaga and escaping Mongolians
A typical Ko-Hōki (old Hōki) school tachi. Dōjikiri, by Yasutsuna. 12th century, Heian period, National Treasure, Tokyo National Museum. This sword is one of the Five Swords Under Heaven. (天下五剣 Tenka Goken)
thumb|A Sōshū school katana. It was originally a tachi forged by Masamune in the 14th century, but later it was cut from the root and converted into a katana. As it was owned by Ishida Mitsunari, it was commonly called Ishida Masamune. Important Cultural Property, Tokyo National Museum.
Japanese attack ships
Mongol soldiers, second version
Mongol ships, second version
Japanese armour ō-yoroi, National Treasure, Kasuga grand shrine
Mongol brigandine armour
Mongol helmet

The failed invasions also mark the first use of the word kamikaze ("Divine Wind").