Usa Special Attack Monument
The commander at Usa Naval Air Base, located on the northern coast of Oita
Prefecture on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyūshū, received orders in
February 1945 that 110 men in the Naval Air Corps there should commence training
for special (kamikaze) attacks. Near the planned dates of their attacks, these
young men in the kamikaze corps moved south to bases in Kagoshima Prefecture,
from where they would sortie on suicide attacks against Allied ships off
Okinawa. The monument at right, erected in 1954, honors the 154 Usa Naval Air
Corps men who died in kamikaze attacks.
The Navy opened Usa Air Base in October 1939 for flight training of pilots
and observers of carrier dive bombers and carrier attack bombers. The use of
Usa as a training base continued through the end of 1944. In April and May 1945,
the men from Usa Naval Air Corps
participated in the first five of ten mass kamikaze attacks, named Kikusui
(Floating Chrysanthemum) operations. They sortied from Kushira Air Base and Kokubu
No. 2 Air Base on April 6, 12, 16, 28, and May 3 .
In total, 61 men in 49 carrier dive bombers and 93 men in 32 carrier attack
bombers perished in carrying out kamikaze attacks.
In 1954, surviving pilots from the Naval Reserve Training Program provided
funds and a local man donated land to build a monument in honor of men in
the Usa Air Base Kamikaze Corps who died in the war. The monument site also
includes a stone wall with names, ages, and home prefectures of those who died.
The monument tablet has engraved on it the three-character word "chūkonhi," which means
monument to the war dead. Each year a memorial service is held at the monument
site on April 16.
During early 1945, Usa Air Base also provided support for other
naval air units. Several kamikaze squadrons from air bases further north stayed there
temporarily or refueled, and they then proceeded to kamikaze sortie bases in
the southern part of Kyūshū Island. Also, ōka weapons (rocket-propelled
glider bombs) and mother planes (Betty bombers) were kept at Usa Air
Base at times during the first half of 1945.
On April 21, 1945, about 30 American B-29s bombed Usa, which
caused about 320 deaths among soldiers and civilians. B-29s dropped bombs on Usa
four other times before the end of the war.
Planes at Usa Air Base were stored in camouflaged concrete hangars
to protect them from enemy air attacks. The Usa hangar shown below is among the best-preserved in Japan.
1. Kushira Air
Base and Kokubu No. 2 Air Base also have
monuments built in honor of the kamikaze pilots who departed from those two
naval air bases.
historical summary of Usa Air Base provided by Usa City indicates that some Usa
Air Base kamikaze pilots also sortied from Kokubu No. 1 Air Base, but this is
inconsistent with other sources such as Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 327) and a sign
in Usa City that lists the sortie bases of Usa Air Base kamikaze pilots. The
same historical summary provided by Usa City indicates that kamikaze pilots from Usa also sortied on
May 11 during Kikusui No. 6 operation, but other sources do not mention
Wartime aircraft hangar in Usa
The following sources were used for this web page.
- Usa City provided several documents about the history of Usa Naval Air
Base. These documents included a 30-page detailed chronology of Usa Air Base
with an extensive bibliography.
- Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace
Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack
Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai, p. 327.
- Yuko Shirako provided the two photos on this web page.