TOKYO 15 OCTOBER 1945
Interrogation of: Captain INOGUCHI, Rikibei, IJN, Chief of Staff of First Air Fleet throughout the PHILIPPINE Campaign.
Interrogated by: Lt. Comdr. J. A. Field Jr., USNR, and Lt. Comdr. R. P. Aikin, USNR.
Allied Officers Present: Captain S. Teller, USN, Lt. R. Garred, USNR.
Captain INOGUCHI discusses the origin, philosophy, and history of the Kamikaze Corps, with particular reference to the PHILIPPINE Campaign. The interrogation contains some specific facts on Japanese air strength in the PHILIPPINE and OKINAWA operations, and on Japanese air order of battle, but in general is of most interest as a picture of the state of mind that gave rise to Kamikaze.
Q. What was your position in the Philippines in 1944-1945?
A. Operations and Plans, Staff of First Air Fleet.
Q. Was the First Air Fleet combined with the Second Air Fleet during the time of our attacks there?
A. At the beginning they were separate. 22 October they combined with the Second Air Fleet. They had a single staff but remained under separate operation. Kamikaze was begun by the First Air Fleet.
Q. Were the plans of the First Air Fleet and surface forces combined in the SHO Operations?
A. They were.
Q. Who made the plans for coordination?
A. The Imperial Headquarters (Daihonei). Admiral TOYODA was the Senior Navy Member of Imperial Headquarters.
Q. Does the plan cover the complete SHO Operation?
A. The entire study of the SHO Operation is not in the plan. It is divided into three phases (3 plans), but the whole plan was directed at the same objective.
Q. I am not so much interested in the Kamikaze, but in the air cover for Admiral KURITA's fleet. Is this covered in the plan?
A. Yes, it is covered in the plan. Due to bad weather they never received cover and the Air Fleet was not able to get into the air. There was a very bad cloud bank between LUZON and BATANGAS. U.S. planes. of your Task Force were able to escape through this cloud bank.
Q. Where were your planes on LUZON?
A. NICHOLS Field -- and we had an insufficient number of aircraft in the command to complete the mission.
I would like to read you the history of Kamikaze which I have prepared and perhaps you will find the answer to your questions in it.
Admiral ONISHI ordered the organization of the Kamikaze on 19 October 1944. They were ready to go on 20 October, but no opportunity presented itself. On 25 October the first Kamikaze attack was made, having a great morale-raising effect. Although the attacks were ordered by the Commander in Chief (1st Air Fleet), in fact it was originated by the feeling of all combatants in the PHILIPPINE Area. All were beginning to think that there was no way but suicide to save the situation; there were many volunteers.
For example, on 15 October, Admiral ARIMA. Commander of the 26th Air Squadron, himself dove into an aircraft carrier. Admiral ARIMA lit the fuse of the ardent wishes of his men in order to bring their wishes into reality. At this time we in the PHILIPPINES thought about the approach of the crisis, owing to the odds. So we felt as follows: we must give our lives to the Emperor and Country, this is our inborn feeling. I am afraid you cannot understand it well, or you may call it desperate or foolish. We Japanese base our lives on obedience to Emperor and Country. On the other hand, we wish for the best place in death, according to Bushido. Kamikaze originates from these feelings.
It was the incarnation of these feelings. We believe in absolute obedience to the supreme authority who is unselfish, and whose concern is the welfare and peace of mankind. By this means we can accomplish peace. In view of this -- from this standpoint, the Kamikaze deserved the consideration of the whole world.
The center of Kamikaze is morale. To achieve Kamikaze, the ordinary technique of the pilot is sufficient, no special training methods are necessary. Certain points about special attack are given. But to pilots who have had short training and least flight experience we give the essence of Kamikaze attack in the shortest period possible. Later on we gave them training in Kamikaze night attack.
As soon as our reconnaissance flight consisting of several planes ascertained the location of the enemy, then the Kamikaze units would start. Our Kamikaze units tried to make their operations secret so they did not start to attack until preparation was completed and the location of the enemy fleet ascertained. Each unit consisted of five planes; one unit after another would take off in the usual method. The method of attack changed in accordance with the attacks of the Task Force.
Later the method of attack was changed. Small number of planes were deployed to many bases. The other method was to deploy a large number of planes at only a few bases. This method has the advantage of providing many supporting planes. It was useful when defense of your carriers was very effective. This method was also used when we were going to attack the enemy at the landing point.
It is to be regretted that the number of bombers we had were insufficient and cruising radius of planes inadequate.
Q. Were any of the men refused permission to make Kamikaze attacks because they were considered valuable for other missions?
A. Anybody who felt that he wanted to, could do so, and he was pledged to carry out his feelings for the Emperor. The only trouble with the U.S. way of looking at it is if you start out on a mission with the idea of coming back you won't proceed to carry out the mission with 100% efficiency. The main point of failure was the short cruising radius of the planes. When we dispersed a small number of Kamikaze planes to a large number of bases it confused the enemy but lacked cover. When a large number of planes were based at a small number of bases it gave more opportunity for cover but lessened their opportunity to attack objects from many angles.
Q. Were you cognizant of overall air and fleet plans of the PHILIPPINE Campaign.
A. Only with air operations plans of my base.
Q. Were those plans made up by your staff or made up by GHQ?
A. From GHQ. The details and execution of over-all plans were left up to us.
Q. Was the use of Kamikaze envisaged by GHQ?
A. No, they were purely and simply a policy of that base.
Q. First Air Fleet started Kamikaze?
Q. But the Domei News Agency announced that they were training Kamikaze pilots in August 1944?
A. There is absolutely no basis for such a statement and possibly what they meant was that the Japanese war was going badly and that the nation would use suicide as a policy, not that the Kamikaze was a definite plan.
Q. Were Army and Navy pilots in the first Kamikaze attack?
A. Navy only. Members of the 201st Air Group. This sort of thing has to come up from the bottom and you can't order such a thing. At no time were Kamikaze tactics ordered.
Q. Do you know whether the carrier force under Admiral OZAWA took part in this campaign?
A. A Task Force under his command participated in the attack.
Q. Was it intended that the pilots from the carriers should carry out Kamikaze attacks?
A. There was no plan as to whether carrier-based pilots would take part in the action and it depended on the unit in the area and the responsibility for carrying out the Operations Plan. In the PHILIPPINE Campaign it was the First Air Fleet's responsibility. Because of lack of personnel and planes they felt that it was their responsibility to evolve some tactics that would cope with the situation. Later on when the Second Air Fleet came into the picture in the PHILIPPINE action they, too, had some Kamikaze flyers. But the main point is that initially the Kamikaze concept was a method of coping with local situations and not the result of an overall policy handed down from GHQ.
Q. Did any of the carrier pilots join your forces on shore or take part in the operations?
A. The carrier-based planes were actively engaged between the period 24th and 26th, after which they joined our land-based forces.
Q. Did any of them carry out Kamikaze attacks from carriers or from your base?
A. Generally it was from a land base that the Kamikaze attacks were started.
Q. When was the Baka (Oka) bomb invented?
A. Approximately August 1944. The name was given to the bomb by a Navy petty officer.
Q. Did it come from GERMANY originally?
A. Maybe; my opinion is absolutely no. It has no connection with the German plan.
Q. Doesn't the fact that construction of Oka was begun in August 1944 indicate a general plan for the use of Kamikaze attacks?
A. The Oka did not precede the Kamikaze plan.
Q. How do you reconcile the two dates, August for Oka and October for Kamikaze?
A. While there may have been overall conceptions of the Kamikaze idea outside the PHILIPPINES, there was no connection. The Kamikaze spirit is uniformly Japanese. They may have very well been thinking about it at Imperial Headquarters but the first were put into practice in the PHILIPPINES. I do not know of any Kamikaze ideas in the Imperial Headquarters.
Q. Did they have Special Attack Units training in Japan?
A. There was no connection; that is, in the plans and policies. The Special Attack is a submarine attack. The common thing with all these attacks is the Kamikaze idea.
Q. In carrying out Kamikaze attacks in the PHILIPPINES was any special method of approach used to avoid radar detection?
A. The main method was to have planes, of course, drop window etc., in order to detract, while the other planes made the main attack.
Q. But as to the altitude of approach, was there any specific instructions? '
A. Altitude policy was to fly as high as possible; about 18,000 feet (6000 meters). We tried various altitudes. Came in at 18,000 feet and as soon as they realized that the radar had picked them up they would go down to as low as 80 or 90 meters. After they became accustomed to your defense tactics they found that the easiest altitude was about 3000 meters.
Q. What was the best type for dive attack?
A. Tactics changed with the type of planes. A fighter would come in at 3000 or 4000 meters and then when sighting the enemy would go down to 500 meters and perform a 45° dive.
Q. Did they prefer to attack from astern, ahead, or on the beam?
A. Preferred to aim at the forward elevator from astern. We found that diving from astern and aiming for forward elevators reduced the efficiency of the target's evasive action.
Q. Did they have priority on targets, were they specifically instructed as to what targets to attack, and who issued those instructions?
A. It depended; on certain days, aircraft carriers; on other days, destroyers, etc. It was usually embodied in the Operations Plan handed down by the Commander of the Air Fleet.
Q. Why was it that Kamikaze pilots, when attacked by our fighters, did not attempt evasive tactics?
A. In such cases, if they were quite far off from their main objective, they would take evasive tactics. Sometimes it was too late.
Q. Which service, Army or Navy, conceived the idea first?
Q. During the PHILIPPINE Campaign what types of aircraft ware used for Special Attack Units?
A. ZEKE, JUDY and FRANCES.
Q. What types of planes were used in the OKINAWA Campaign?
A. Same types of planes were used by the Fifth Air Fleet (KYUSHU) in their suicide attacks at OKINAWA as the First Air Fleet did in the PHILIPPINES, but as the supply of bombers and fighters became insufficient, training planes were used.
Q. What types of training planes?
A. SHIRAGIKU was used. Also Type 93 (WILLOW) from FORMOSA only. No other type that we could use.
Q. What about float planes?
A. We did use float planes -- ALF, PETE and DAVE.
Q. When did you get short of combat type planes?
A. Beginning approximately 10 April 1945.
Q. When was the Tenth Air Fleet formed?
A. 1 March 1945. Fifth, Third, and Tenth Air Fleets cooperated in attacks against OKINAWA.
Q. Was the First Mobile Base (tactical title of Fifth Air Fleet) Air Force Commander in charge of the Fifth, Third, and Tenth Air Fleets?
A. The commander of the First Mobile Base Air Force commanded the Third, and Tenth Air Fleets.
Q. Did the Commander of the Third Air Fleet move from KISARAZU to KYUSHU during the OKINAWA Campaign?
A. The Commander of the Third Air Fleet went from KISARAZU to KANOYA. The Commander of the Tenth Air Fleet went from KASUMIGAURA to KANOYA as soon as the OKINAWA operations began. The Commander of the Tenth Air Fleet stayed in KANOYA a month and went back to KASUMIGAURA. The Fifth Air Fleet Headquarters was at KANOYA. The Commander at KANOYA was Vice Admiral UGAKI, CinC of the Fifth Air Fleet for tactical operation.
Q. Was there any trouble with those three senior commanders being at KANOYA at the same time? Who commanded?
A. There was no trouble at KANOYA. As a matter of fact, the Commanders of the Third and Fifth Air Fleets were classmates at the Naval Academy. The Commander of the Third Air Fleet was a jolly fellow. The Sixth Air Army was under command of the Fifth Air Fleet during the OKINAWA Campaign. The 29th Air Flotilla in FORMOSA was an individual command.
Q. What percentage of hits were obtained in relation to the number of Kamikaze planes employed in the PHILIPPINE Campaign and at OKINAWA?
A. Approximately one-sixth of all Kamikaze planes used in the PHILIPPINES hit their target. My estimate of the OKINAWA figure was approximately one-ninth.
Q. To defend the homeland what percentage of Kamikaze planes were expected to hit targets?
A. I think that it would have depended a lot on the point at which you would have landed. We probably would have used inexperienced pilots and the figure would be probably only one-ninth or one-tenth successful. Another factor in the low score was that we had no defense against fighters.
Q. Were they going to make Kamikaze attacks at night or day, and what type of planes?
A. The plan was to use them primarily at twilight or on bright moonlight nights. SHIRAGIKU, ZERO fighters and WILLOW.
Q. Did you plan to use pathfinder planes equipped with radar during KETSU Operations (Defense of Japan)?
A. There were too few radar equipped planes to plan any considerable use of them in the KETSU Operation. Certain reconnaissance planes were equipped with radar such as FRANCES and MYRT. In my opinion, if it came to KETSU Operations, there would be no need for pathfinder planes for Kamikaze.
Q. Was it planned to use Kamikaze planes after the landings on the beaches?
A. The plan was to wait until the very last moment, until the American forces were dispersed as little as possible and thus inflict a greater amount of damage.
Q. Do the figures or results in the PHILIPPINE and OKINAWA Campaigns include joint Army and Navy Kamikaze units?
A. The figures are for the Navy only. If the Army were involved the figure would probably be less. (i.e. smaller percentage of hits).
Q. Did the Army use Kamikaze attacks in the PHILIPPINES or just the Navy?
A. Both Army and Navy.
Q. Did the Navy plan to use all training planes (Kamikaze) and all combat planes to resist an invasion of KYUSHU or did they plan to hold back some planes for the defense of HONSHU?
A. About 2/3 of the planes would be thrown into an attack on KYUSHU.
Q. How many flying hours did the Navy Kamikaze pilots have in (a) the PHILIPPINE Campaign (b) the OKINAWA Campaign?
A. Most of the men in the PHILIPPINE Campaign had about 300 hrs., but in the OKINAWA Campaign we had Kamikaze pilots with as little as 100 hours.
Q. Were Kamikaze pilots during the PHILIPPINE Campaign limited to those having 300 hours or less in order to conserve the more experienced flying personnel?
A. Every one of the pilots hoped to get into the Kamikaze Corps but several of them, with the most flight time, were prevented by order of the Commanding Officer from doing so as he wanted them for torpedo bombing.
Q. Why did he limit it to torpedo bombing attack?
A. We felt that torpedo bombing took a greater amount of accuracy.
Q. In the middle of September our carrier force attacked in the PHILIPPINES. Do you know the total loss from those attacks?
A. We lost 200 planes in one attack in one day. About 60 fighters in one day. The total loss in September from the carrier strikes was about 1000.
Q. When the Second Air Fleet came down from FORMOSA. how many did they bring?
A. 300 from FORMOSA on the 22nd of October.
Q. On the 24th of October Admiral KURITA was attacked while passing through the SIBUYAN Sea. Did he have any Navy land-based plane protection?
A. They did not get through because of weather. They planned to but there was no cover.
Q. What did Admiral KURITA have scheduled for the 25th?
A. He depended on indirect support, our planes attacking your ships.
Q. Did Admiral KURITA call for fighters on the 24th when he was attacked?
A. Admiral KURITA did not request air cover. If you haven't got enough planes, there is no sense sending them.
Q. In your opinion, what was the cause of failure of the plan to defend the PHILIPPINES?
A. First, lack of planes; second, lack of experienced pilots; third, the superiority of the U. S. GRUMMAN fighter over the ZERO and the fact that the P-38 could get such good altitude.
Q. Do you feel that the shortages of planes was due to production at home or our attacks?
A. First important reason was production failure. Second was attrition of planes before they reached the scene of combat.
Q. At the start of the war did you expect a long war?
A. I thought it would last more than two years.
Q. At what stage of the war did you realize that victory was not possible for Japan?
A. Battle of MIDWAY.
Q. Were you at MIDWAY?
A. No. After GUADALCANAL, U.S. pressure became irresistible. With a Task Force you still have mobility and you can still operate, but with land-based aircraft you have to have air bases which you must hold or else your air force is neutralized; and when pressure became so strong after GUADALCANAL, we couldn't use our air forces effectively from the bases that we had left. Another factor was that we had no long range planes like U.S. B-29s and B-17s.
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Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Charles Hall, HyperWar Foundation