Fightin' Navy - Kamikaze Killer
Charlton Comics Group, September 1965, 36 pages
The five-page comic entitled "Kamikaze Killer"
depicts an American destroyer fighting off kamikaze planes shortly before the
Allied invasion of Okinawa on April 1, 1945. Although the Japanese launched
many kamikaze attacks against the Allied fleet off Okinawa from March 18 to 31,
1945, this story with its thin and confusing plot does not portray real
"Kamikaze Killer" begins with a destroyer firing
at an approaching Zero fighter and an oka (also spelled
"ohka") rocket-powered glider bomb. The ship's guns shoot down the
Zero, but the oka glider continues speeding toward the ship. In the last moments of the
oka's approach, the destroyer captain suddenly stops the ship, and the oka
screams past within five feet of the bridge and crashes into the water.
Another group of Japanese planes approach the destroyer, but
Combat Air Patrol (CAP) planes shoot them all down except for one oka. In the
last moments, a gunner roused from sleep, after eighteen hours straight on duty,
shoots at the oka heading straight toward him. The oka explodes just before it
hits the ship.
The destroyer then gets a message that a troop transport has been
hit five miles to the west. The comic story's next frame after receipt of the
message shows more Japanese planes coming toward the destroyer and another oka
crashing into the sea. Although the story mentions no kamikaze hits up to this
point, an officer on the destroyer says:
We've sustained five hits by the kamikaze, Captain! Our sick
bay is filled…When do we get time to doctor our wounded and repair battle
The Captain somewhat coldly replies, "When the war is
over, mister, and that can't be too long now!"
This comic's destroyer shoots down three oka gliders in total. In
real life, during the first attack by an oka squadron on March 21, 1945, all of
the Betty bombers carrying the oka weapons were shot down even before the oka
gliders could be released. The first successful attack by an oka occurred as
part of the second oka squadron on April 12, 1945, after the date of this comic
story. The oka could reach a speed of almost 600 mph during its dive after the
ignition of its three rocket engines, which shows the implausibility of the
downing of an oka by just one of the ship's guns at the last second. Of
course, the comic's cover is even more exaggerated as a sailor tries to stop an
incoming oka with only a machine gun.
The unnamed destroyer in this story has the number of 582,
which is the same as that of USS Conner (DD-582). Conner
never went to Okinawa before or during the battle there, but the ship did
participate in fighting from October 1944 to January 1945 in the Philippines,
where kamikaze planes frequently attacked Allied ships.
Fightin' Navy was just one of several war comics by Charlton Comics, which published a wide variety of genres from
1946 until it went out of business in 1986. Other titles included Fightin'
Army, Fightin' Air Force, Fightin' Marines, Army Attack,
and Attack at Sea. The September 1965 issue of Fightin' Navy has
three stories in addition to "Kamikaze Killer," including one set
aboard an American battleship at some unknown location in the Pacific and at
some unknown date during World War II. This story entitled "The Last Salvo"
depicts a Japanese bomber that crashes into the battleship. However, it is not
clear whether this is an intentional kamikaze attack, since no crewmember
uses the word "kamikaze" or "suicide" to describe the crash.
The four stories in this issue of Fightin' Navy glorify the
successes of the American Navy. "Kamikaze Killer" ends with the
following words, "fighting a new kind of enemy…and doing it well, in the
highest traditions of the naval service!" However, this story provides an
unrealistic portrayal of Japanese kamikaze attacks by oka glider bombs.