Weapons of World War Two
Yokosuka MXY 7 Ohka
When the utilization of the "kamikaze" techniques intensified, the Japanese industry and Air Force started to resent from the extraordinary effort that the military authorities had decided to face. The Navy and the Army, which had put their aircraft at the disposal of the suicidal pilots, saw how the number of their effectives decreased due to the actions without return. It is true that the number of available aircraft was always higher than the number of volunteers, but this was not because of the lack of men, but because an aircraft was built in a matter of days, while the training of a pilot required a much longer period.
On the other hand, attention had to be put also in the problems of the defense of the metropolitan territory, problems increasingly pressing due to the increment of the American incursions over Japan. Finally, there was the problem of the very aeronautical industry which, in full crisis of lack of metals and raw materials, had to deliver an increasing number of aircraft, in a moment in which it was rather difficult to keep the average of normal production. Because of this it was started to think about the possibility of building aircraft able to solve the destructive necessities with a wide margin of reliability, and which could be built in little time and using cheap materials that would not raise their cost.
Several companies started to work immediately, trying to find the solution for such a difficult problem, and finally it was the shipyard of Yokosuka which found the most practical solution. The result was a self-propelled contraption which, manned by a pilot, would crash against the enemy ships at a speed of 925 kilometers/hour. The "Ohka" (Cherry Blossom), for such was the denomination of the aircraft, had a torpedo-shaped fuselage; the wings, disposed in the center of the fuselage, just before the cockpit, had a small area, just enough to grant a minimum lift during the long dive towards the target; the tail had two ailerons disposed in the shape of double T. The construction was almost entirely in wood and, hence, very economical. In the nose of the aircraft there were 1200 kilograms of TNT, and the propulsion was entrusted to three rockets.
The Ohka was transported by a bomber until it was about 40 kilometers from its target; then it was disengaged from the mother aircraft, which returned to its base. So far this was the theory, which, apparently, did not present many difficulties. The pilots were trained with gliders similar to the Ohka before entering action. However, the aircraft was not at the level of the expectations of the projectists. In the first place, they were the cause of the loss of a large number of bombers, which, due to the large weight that they transported under the fuselage, were easy prey for the enemy fighters.
Moreover, at the moment of truth, the Ohka was quite difficult to pilot and the high speed reached during the dive, albeit it protected the aircraft from the enemy fighters and antiaircraft artillery, rendered very difficult its handling, so that the victims from the Ohka could be counted with the fingers of a hand. On the other hand, it was impossible to take benefit from the experiences of the pilots in this rocket aircraft, for they never returned. The 755 exemplars of this aircraft which were produced, supported desperately the cause of a then agonizing Japan, but in the end they only contributed to the vanishing of the dream of seeing all Asia grouped along with the flag of the Rising Sun.
First flight: Spring of 1945
Wingspan: 5.12 meters
Wing area: 6 square meters
Length: 6.06 meters
Height: 1.16 meters
Full load/Empty weight: 2140/440 kilograms
Payload/Crew: 1700 kilograms/1
Engine: Three rockets Type 4-1 of 800 kilograms of thrust
Maximum speed: 648 kilometers/hour in horizontal flight and 925 kilometers/hour at the end of the dive
Armament: 1200-kilogram warhead
Operational range: About 37 kilometers
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