Our Fighting Forces - Battle Album: Kamikaze (Divine Wind)
Script and art by Ken Barr
National Periodical Publications, April-May 1974, No. 148
The back of the April-May 1978 issue of Our Fighting Forces has a
two-page feature about kamikaze. The story briefly covers the history and
beliefs of Japanese kamikaze forces. The author presents the information
objectively but not entirely accurately.
The story states, "Kamikaze or 'special attack' suicide squadrons were
organized, at first, using improvised Zeke fighters and Betty bombers, loaded
with bombs and piloted to targets by dedicated warriors." Although the Japanese
Navy frequently used Zeke fighters carrying bombs as kamikaze aircraft to crash
into American ships, Betty bombers were not used as improvised kamikaze
aircraft. However, about five months after the first kamikaze attacks in October
1944, Betty bombers did first carry kamikaze ōka (called "baka" by Americans)
rocket-powered glider missiles that were intended to be released about 25 to 30
kilometers from their targets (Naito 1989, 49).
The second page summarizes the kamikaze creed, which includes the following
misleading statement, "Recruitment for the kamikaze units was voluntary and
plentiful." The final sentence states, "These willing sacrifices were made by
Japan's young men in World War II without compulsion or indoctrination." In
actuality, many times orders were given to pilots and other crewmen to form
kamikaze squadrons with no requests for volunteers. Even in instances when
officers requested volunteers for kamikaze squadrons, they expected compliance.
In addition, the young airmen faced societal and peer pressure that made it
difficult for them to turn down such requests.
The following sentence on the history of the ohka also has a couple of incorrect
As the effectiveness of these macabre last-ditch tactics brought
horrifyingly successful results, specialized 'no-return' craft attached to a
'parent' bomber were developed and for a time threatened to bring the U.S.
invasion of Okinawa to a halt.
The ōka "no-return craft" was developed before, not after as indicated
above, the first kamikaze attacks. The first ōka model was completed in August
1944 and full production started in September 1944 (Naito 1989, 11), whereas the
first kamikaze attacks took place in October 1944 in the Philippines. Also, the
ōka weapon never "threatened to bring the U.S. invasion of Okinawa to a halt."
On March 21, 1945, in the only ōka mission prior to the Okinawan invasion on
April 1, American fighters shot down the entire squadron of slow-moving Betty
bombers before they could release the ōka glider missiles they carried.
The two main stories about "The Losers" and U.S.S. Stevens in this
issue of Our Fighting Forces do not relate to kamikaze. However, both of
these long-running series have episodes in other comic books that deal with
kamikaze such as the following ones:
Naito, Hatsuho. 1989.
Thunder Gods: The Kamikaze Pilots Tell
Their Stories. Translated by Mayumi Ishikawa. Tokyo: Kodansha