American Aces against the Kamikaze by Edward M. Young, Mark Styling

By Edward M. Young, Mark Styling

The japanese excessive Command learned that the lack of Okinawa could supply the americans a base for the invasion of Japan. Its determined reaction to the invasion of Okinawa used to be to unharness the complete strength of the designated assault devices, identified within the west because the Kamikaze ('Divine Wind'), within the desire of causing punishing casualties at the US Pacific fleet that during flip disrupted the invasion. In a chain of mass assaults in among April and June 1945, greater than 900 Kamikaze aeroplanes have been shot down. traditional opponents and bombers followed the unique assault devices as escorts, and so as to add their very own weight to the assaults at the US fleet. within the air battles best as much as the invasion of Okinawa, in addition to those who raged over the island within the 3 months, that undefined, and in moves on eastern airfields in Kyushu (the base of the precise assault Units), the japanese misplaced greater than 7000 airplane either within the air and at the floor. through the struggling with, sixty seven army, 21 Marine, and 3 USAAF pilots turned aces, destroying no less than 5 plane among March and June 1945. in lots of methods it used to be an asymmetric wrestle. whereas many general eastern military and army aviators volunteered for the targeted assault devices, a lot of the pilots within the exact assault devices have been green and only in the near past out of flying education. additionally they frequently flew out of date airplane. those much less skilled pilots have been no fit for the Hellcat, Corsair and Thunderbolt pilots who have been on the height in their online game. certainly, a number of the latter were flying combatants for 2 or extra years, and had past wrestle event. On a number of events following those asymmetric contests, American fighter pilots might go back from strive against having shot down as much as six eastern aeroplanes in the course of a unmarried venture. certainly, throughout the crusade thirteen army, 5 Marine Corps and USAAF pilots grew to become 'aces in a day'.

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As part of these preparations, two Marine Air Groups arrived on Okinawa for the Tactical Air Force. On 7 April Marine Air Group (MAG) 31 began operations from Yontan with three Corsair squadrons and one night fighter unit (VMF-224, 311 and 441 and VMF(N)-542). MAG-33 arrived at Kadena airfield on 9 April, bringing in the same complement (VMF-312, 322 and 323 and VMF(N)-543). More Marine Corps and USAAF fighter squadrons would arrive over the next two months to take over responsibility for the air defence of Okinawa from TF 58.

The Aircraft Action Report gives an idea of the intensity of the combat; ‘One “Val” was flying alone. Kostik made a tail-on approach, opened fire into his wing roots and the “Val” crashed in flames. Ens Kostick observed the last aeroplane of the original five split to the right and head away from the fight. He tailed in on him and fired. The “Val” started smoking and spiralled into the water. The division had joined up and was returning to Point Nan when the call came advising us that the two destroyers bearing 030 from the orbit point were being attacked.

In the battle for Okinawa the kamikaze pilots would be going up against US Navy, Marine Corps and USAAF pilots who were at the top of their game. Many of the division and flight leaders had been flying 33 CHAPTER TWO fighters for two years or more and were on their second combat tour. By the spring of 1945 many had accumulated more than 1000 flying hours in fighters. Most of the younger US Navy lieutenants and ensigns, and Marine Corps and USAAF lieutenants had significantly more flying hours than their Japanese counterparts.

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