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November 1961 issue
of Male magazine

Men's Adventure Magazines

Stories in this section from men's adventure magazines published in the 1950s and 1960s include the following:

This section of the Kamikaze Images website presents how kamikaze pilots were portrayed in men's adventure magazines, a genre quite popular among American men in the 1950s and 1960s. Dozens of different magazines were published at the height of their popularity with names such as Real Men, Real Combat Stories, Men's Adventure, War Story, True Men, Stag, Adventure, Man's World, Combat, Wildcat Adventures, Real, Man's Life, Male, and True Action. The distinctive magazine cover artwork often showed men in dangerous situations and frequently included scantily clad women.

The articles in men's adventure magazines claimed to be real and true as can be seen from the magazine titles. A few stories clearly had a strong foundation in history and reality, such as Martin Caidin's story in the October 1961 issue of Stag about Nishizawa: Japan's Deadliest Combat Pilot—102 U.S. Air Force Kills. Nishizawa flew escort from Mabalacat Air Base in the Philippines for the first official kamikaze squadron on October 25, 1944. He volunteered for a kamikaze mission on the following day, but Commander Tadashi Nakajima refused his request due to Nishizawa's great value as Japan's best fighter pilot.

Most stories about kamikaze pilots that appeared in men's adventure magazines were thinly disguised as true stories with many details invented by some non-Japanese author. Typical characteristics of these far-fetched stories were non-existent geographical locations, imaginary names for Japanese persons, vague chronology that does not allow verification, and made-up incidents for which no record exists in the history of Japan's tokkōtai (Special Attack Corps). The historical basis for these stories varied widely. Some were total fantasy such as John Caine's Kamikaze "Love School" Ordeal in the March 1961 issue of Sir! This ridiculous story describes a kamikaze school in Tokyo where pilots were encouraged to indulge themselves with drink and women after their day's lessons in classrooms, not even at an actual airfield. Others had more grounding in reality, such as The Kamikaze Blow-off in the February 1959 issue of Combat. The author appears to have been a WWII US Navy veteran with his vivid descriptions of kamikaze attacks on American warships, even though the account of two destroyers being sunk by kamikaze aircraft at the same radar picket station near Okinawa on April 12, 1945, did not actually happen.

The account entitled "I Was a Kamikaze Pilot," which appeared in the January 1957 issue of Cavalier men's adventure magazine, had a huge impact an Americans' perceptions of Japanese kamikaze pilots. The story by Yasuo Kuwahara and Gordon T. Allred was a condensed version of the full-length book Kamikaze, which was published later in 1957. Most Americans considered this story to be true for several decades, but research published in 2006 showed historical inaccuracies of many details included in the book (see Ten Historical Discrepancies).

Various stories in men's adventure magazines had a significant influence on how Americans perceived kamikaze pilots and reinforced some of the untrue stereotypes held by WWII veterans. In 1957, The Divine Wind: Japan's Kamikaze Force in World War II by Captain Rikihei Inoguchi and Commander Tadashi Nakajima was published as a true history of the Japanese Navy's Kamikaze Special Attack Corps. However, the imaginary tales in men's adventure magazines and the fictional memoirs of professed Army kamikaze pilot Yasuo Kuwahara competed strongly with the actual history by Inoguchi and Nakajima in forming American opinions, including many inaccurate ones, about Japanese kamikaze pilots.