The Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka ("cherry blossom") was a purpose-built kamikaze aircraft employed by Japan towards the end of World War II. US servicemen gave the aircraft the Japanese name Baka ("fool") out of spite.
The first operational Ohkas (Type 11 and Type 21) were powered by solid fuel rocket motors, which provided great speed but only very limited range. This was problematic as it required the carrier aircraft to approach close to the target, making them very vulnerable to fighter defences.
The Ohka Type 22 was designed to overcome this problem by using a thermojet style jet engine, the Tsu-11. This engine was successfully tested, and Ohkas were built to accept this engine, but none appear to have been used operationally.
The final stage in Ohka development was the Type 43, which was intended to be powered by an Ne-20 turbojet. Two trainer versions were also under development for this version, the K-1 and the K-1 Kai, the former being a glider, and the latter fitted with a single rocket motor.
Some 850 were built, mostly Type 11. Surviving Ohkas include:
March 21 1945 - fifteern Ohka carrying Betty bombers escorted by about thirty Zeros fly to attack Taskgroup 58.1 (USS Hornet, USS Bennington, USS Wasp, USS Belleau Wood). Attack force intercepted and destroyed some 70 miles from the target. None of the Bettys return.
April 1 1945 - Six Bettys attack the US Fleet off Okinawa. At least one makes a sucessful attack, with its Ohka hitting one of the 16" turrets on the USS West Virginia, causing extensive damage. USS Alpine, USS Achernar, and USS Tyrrell are also hit by kamikaze aircraft, but it is unclear whether any of these were Ohkas from the other Bettys. None of the Bettys return.
April 12 1945 - nine Bettys attack the US Fleet off Okinawa. USS Mannert L Abele is hit, breaks in two, and sinks. USS Jeffers destroys an Ohka with AA fire fifty yards from the ship, but the resulting explosion is still powerful enough to cause extensive damage, forcing the Jeffers to withdraw. USS Stanly is targeted by two Ohkas. One strikes just above the waterline, with the charge punching through the other side of the hull before detonating, causing little damage to the ship, and the other Ohka narrowly missed (collecting the Stanly's ensign!) and crashed into the sea. One Betty returns.
May 4 1945 - seven Bettys attack the US Fleet off Okinawa. One Ohka hits the bridge of the USS Shea, causing extensive damage and casualties. Vessel judged beyond repair. The USS Gayety is also damaged by a near-miss by an Ohka. One Betty returns.
|Type 11||Type 22||Type 43|
|Wing Area:||6.0 sq m||4.0 sq m||13.0 sq m|
|Powerplant:||3 x rocket motors producing 800kg||Tsu-11 thermojet producing 200kg||Ne-20 turbojet producing 475kg|