Prior to the formation of kamikaze units, deliberate crashes had been used as a last resort when a pilot's plane was severely damaged and he did not want to risk being captured, or he wanted to do as much damage to the enemy as possible since he was crashing anyway; this was the case in both the Japanese and Allied air forces. According to Axell & Kase, these suicides "were individual, impromptu decisions by men who were mentally prepared to die." In most cases, there is little evidence that these hits were more than accidental collisions, of the kind that sometimes happen in intense sea-air battles. One example of this occurred on 7 December 1941 during the attack on Pearl Harbor. First Lieutenant Fusata Iida’s plane had been hit and was leaking fuel, when he apparently used it to make a suicide attack on Kaneohe Naval Air Station. Before taking off, he had told his men that if his plane was badly damaged he would crash it into a "worthy enemy target".
The carrier battles in 1942, particularly Midway, had inflicted irreparable damage on the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (IJNAS), such that they could no longer put together a large number of fleet carriers with well-trained aircrews. Japanese planners had assumed a quick war and were ill-prepared to replace the losses of ships, pilots, and sailors; at Midway, the Japanese lost as many aircrewmen in a single day as their pre-war training program had produced in a year. The following Solomons and New Guinea campaigns, notably the Battles of Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz, further decimated their veteran aircrews and replacing their combat experience proved impossible. During 1943–44, U.S. forces were steadily advancing towards Japan. Japan's fighter planes were becoming outnumbered and outclassed by newer U.S.-made planes, especially the F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair. Tropical diseases, as well as shortages of spare parts and fuel, made operations more and more difficult for the IJNAS. By the...
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