Monday, May 11, 2015

Ohka ("Cherry Blossom")

Ohka ("Cherry Blossom") was a suicide aircraft designed for kamikaze attack on Allied warships. Most were powered by solid rockets that gave a high speed but very limited range.  They were generally carried within range of an enemy task force by a conventional bomber, such as a Betty. The pilot then lit off the rockets and attempted to dive his aircraft into a warship.

Ohka had a rudimentary set of controls and handled unlike any conventional aircraft. This posed a problem for training and may have contributed to the relatively low hit rate of these weapons. The Japanese tried to solve this problem by developing a glider trainer and, later on, a powered two-seat trainer. Both had retractable landing skids and replaced the warhead with water ballast, which was released before landing to reduce the landing speed to a barely tolerable 138 miles per hour.

Unbuilt planned variants were the Model 43A with folding wings, to be launched from submarines, and the Model 43B, a catapult/rocket assisted version, also with folding wings so that it could be hidden in caves

There is a sense in which the Ohka was a precursor to the guided standoff missiles used by naval aircraft today. The chief difference is that modern missiles use a microprocessor in place of a human suicide pilot.

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