The Japanese High Command realised that the loss of Okinawa would give the Americans a base for the invasion of Japan. Its desperate response was to unleash the full force of the Special Attack Units, known in the west as the Kamikaze ('Divine Wind'). In a series of mass attacks in between April and June 1945, more than 900 Kamikaze aeroplanes were shot down. Conventional fighters and bombers accompanied the Special Attack Units as escorts, and to add their own weight to the attacks on the US fleet. In the air battles leading up to the invasion of Okinawa, as well as those that raged over the island in the three months that followed, the Japanese lost more than 7,000 aircraft both in the air and on the ground. In the course of the fighting, 67 Navy, 21 Marine, and three USAAF pilots became aces. In many ways it was an uneven combat and on numerous occasions following these uneven contests, American fighter pilots would return from combat having shot down up to six Japanese aeroplanes during a single mission.
Edward M. Young is a retired financial executive with degrees in Political Science from Harvard University and the University of Washington. During his career he held assignments in New York, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong. He has written a number of books and numerous articles on aviation and military history. He is the author of Osprey Campaign series number 136 Meiktila, Warrior series number 141 Merrill's Marauders and Osprey Combat Aircraft series number 87 - B-24 Liberators of the Tenth and Fourteenth Air Forces. He lives with his wife in Seattle, Washington. Mark Styling has illustrated many titles for Osprey including Aircraft of the Aces, Combat Aircraft and Elite Units series books since 1994. Now based in Bridport, Dorset, he produces accurate illustrations of any chosen aircraft type. He has created some of the best artwork available to Osprey, and his nose art panels are legendary.
Origins of the Kamikaze Force /Importance of Okinawa /The April Battles /Desperation - The May Battles /The Final Battles /VC Squadrons and the Fleet Air Arm /APPENDICES
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