What are Kamikazes? How were they used in World War II?

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The word Kamikaze means "Divine Wind" in Japanese, and refers to several times in Japanese history where a wind protected them from invading fleets of ships.  In World War II, there were more volunteers for these suicide missions than there were planes.  Japanese soldiers operated according to the Code of Bushido, where it was the highest honor to die for the Emperor, protecting the home islands.  To surrender was not only dishonor, but dishonor for all of your ancestors.

The Kamikazes first made an appearance in large numbers during the Battle of Leyte Gulf where they were sent to stop the US invasion fleet at the Philippines in 1944.  Hundreds were shot down or crashed into the sea, but they did succeed in sinking 36 American ships, including an aircraft carrier.

It was an act of desperation, and failed to do anything to change the outcome of the war.

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Kamikaze was the name given to Japanese pilots who volunteered to fly their airplanes and intentionally crash them into US ships.  In essence, they were making their planes into guided missiles on the idea that one life in exchange for serious damage to a ship was a great idea.

Kamikazes were first deployed against Allied forces at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in late 1944.  They continued to be used in later battles such as the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The word "kamikaze" means "divine wind" in Japanese and refers to historical storms that destroyed Mongol fleets that were trying to invade Japan.

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