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Ginga tokkoutai kishuu seri! Saigo no nichibei koukuu koubousen (Ginga special attack corps kamikaze attacks! Last aerial battles between Japan and America)
by Shin Ueda, Kuroko Yabuguchi, Masato Tanaka, Taisyu Matsuda, Yohnosuke Sugiura, Hiroyasu Hatakeyama, Yohichi Ochiai, and Takeshi Kobayashi
Gakken, 2001, 206 pages

Fantasy rules the skies in this manga book. Separate authors wrote this book's stories on five different types of Japanese war planes, such as the Raiden interceptor fighter (Allied code name "Jack") and the Gekko night fighter (Irving). The stories focus on the real planes' capabilities and on invented battle accomplishments. The pilots and military leaders constantly display bravado, but the authors' pay almost no attention to the characters' personalities and relationships.

The first story relates a fictional event concerning a squadron of 16 Ginga (Frances) twin-engined bombers. The Ginga take off from the carrier Shinano in April 1945 to make an attack on the B-29 air bases in Saipan and Tinian. The Navy leaders designated this as a special attack (suicide) mission, so the Ginga pilots do not worry about a place to return when they intercept an enemy message saying that the carrier Shinano has been sunk by American planes. The squadron goes first to drop bombs on parked B-29s at Saipan, which sets off a chain reaction of fires around the airfield. Next, the remainder of the squadron head for Tinian, and two planes make body-crashing attacks on the B-29s on the ground. This daring mission results in the destruction of over 300 B-29s, but the Americans with their huge supply of B-29s soon continue the bombing of Japan by using the air base in Guam.

The writers of these stories mix in enough historical names and events to blur the distinction between fact and fiction. The Japanese pilots in these stories always seem to be much more successful than actual history. For example, the Japanese did have a carrier Shinano with a heavily armored flight deck, but she sank when attacked by an American submarine just outside Tokyo Bay in November 1944, five months prior to the time of the first manga story (Warner 1982, 141-2). In the story, the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Mitate Unit No. 2 pilots the 16 Ginga planes to bomb the two B-29 air bases, but this unit actually had been destroyed in February 1945 in an attack on American ships around Iwo Jima (Inoguchi 1958, 130-1). The destruction of over 300 B-29s on the ground is sheer fantasy.

The other stories in this manga book do not specifically involve special attacks, but there are a couple of remarks about suicide ramming attacks on other aircraft.

Although this book contains a separate page of detailed technical data for each plane's specifications and performance capabilities, the authors took no such care with other historical facts.

Sources Cited

Inoguchi, Rikihei, and Tadashi Nakajima, with Roger Pineau. 1958. The Divine Wind: Japan's Kamikaze Force in World War II. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.

Warner, Denis, Peggy Warner, with Commander Sadao Seno. 1982. The Sacred Warriors: Japan's Suicide Legions. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.