Bombs, Torpedoes and Kamikazes
by John W. Lambert
Specialty Press, 1997, 112 pages
Photographs of kamikaze plane attacks and damage on Allied
ships have played a large role in shaping people's images of kamikaze pilots.
These photos usually focus on incoming planes and subsequent damage. The
collected photographs in Bombs, Torpedoes and Kamikazes show U.S. Navy
battle action in the Pacific during World War II, with an emphasis on kamikaze
attacks. Each photograph takes up one page or a half page, so readers sometimes
can make out details not easily seen in smaller-size photos.
The book's four chapters cover the Pacific war
chronologically, and each chapter begins with a one-page history of the period
covered. Chapters 1 and 2, which together make up about a quarter of the book,
have photos from December 1941 (Pearl Harbor attack) to September 1944.
Kamikaze attacks started in October 1944 in the Philippines, and the final two
chapters cover these attacks and fighting by Allied naval forces in the
Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.
Most photos in the last two chapters deal with kamikaze
attacks, with the photos about equally divided into the following three types:
(1) incoming planes, (2) flames and smoke after planes hit ships, and (3)
damage caused by the attacks. There are also a few other kinds of photos, such
as planes used in kamikaze attacks and kamikaze crashes into the sea.
Photographers on Allied ships took most of the kamikaze-related photos included
in this book. Most photos are from the National Archives, but the book also
contains some photos from veterans and other individuals. The author did not
use Japanese sources to show kamikaze farewell ceremonies and plane departures
other than one photo of men in the 201st Air Group who made Japan's first
The book's photograph captions for kamikaze attacks identify
the ships, attack dates, casualty totals, and sources. This pictorial history
could be used as a companion volume to a detail history of Japan's kamikaze
operations, and the book's introduction recommends The Sacred Warriors
and The Divine Wind as two of the best sources. However, these two books
and others have some of the same photographs contained in this illustrated
history. While this book has more and larger photographs than other books, many
photos have blurry details, and enlargement helps little for some photos with
smoke or flames. This does not mean the author has not done a commendable job
with the materials available, but it does demonstrate the scarcity of high-quality
photos of kamikaze attacks.
Most people interested in kamikaze history will find that
other books contain enough photos without feeling the need to take a look at
this photo collection.