Fightin' Marines - Kamikaze
October 1979, Vol. 11, No. 146, 36 pages
This one-page comic story with only three frames does not really fit in with this
issue's four other stories about US Marines as indicated by the comic books'
title of Fightin' Marines. Unlike most other comics about kamikaze pilots, this
story does not portray them in any way as fanatics but rather as "courageously
giving up their lives for their country." The story only shows an ōka (piloted
rocket-powered glider) diving at an aircraft carrier and getting shot down, even
though extremely few ōka weapons got close to American ships in comparison to
suicide attacks by conventional Japanese aircraft.
The story has some questionable points. The aircraft carrier with the
number of 47, USS Philippine Sea (CV-47), did not get commissioned until May 11,
1946, about a year after ōka weapons were deployed just before and during
the Battle of Okinawa. The final frame shows gunners shooting down the ōka very
close to the ship, but the likelihood of gunners' hitting and stopping an ōka this close
would have been very small due to its relatively small size and its top speed of
almost 600 mph after using its three rocket engines.
The angle of the ōka's attack shown in the first comic frame seems to be too
steep, since generally an ōka planned to come in at about a 50 degree angle, but
the pilot would try to level it out from the dive to strike the target ship at
the waterline (O'Neill 1981, 181-2). The last frame states, "As the kamikaze
pilots attacked again and again, U.S. gunners got more accurate." Although many
kamikaze aircraft attacked American ships, an individual ship would get very
little practice at shooting them down due to the huge number of Allied ships and
the many enemy aircraft shot down by CAP (Combat Air Patrol) even before
they reached the ships.
O'Neill, Richard. 1981. Suicide Squads: Axis and Allied Special
Attack Weapons of World War II: their Development and their Missions. New York: