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Yokosuka MXY7-K1 Ohka (Cherry Blossom) Single-Seat Pilot-Guided Suicide Aircraft (1945)

Authored By Dan Alex and JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Updated: 8/29/2014

The macabre Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka system never materialized as a serious threat to Allied warships in the Pacific.

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The Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka (translated to "Cherry Blossom") was a single-seat, pilot-guided suicide fighter proposed and produced by the desperate Empire of Japan for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in a macabre attempt to thwart the ever-increasing advances by Allied forces in the Pacific and hopefully force a favorable negotiation to end the war. By 1944, the Japanese military and government bodies were in agreement that the war could not be won outright, and certain measured need be enacted to thwart an Allied victory at the expense of the Empire. The Empire had already begun using much-publicized suicide attacks with IJN aircraft of all types - at the expense of material and experienced pilots - through their sometimes-lethal "kamikaze" strikes on Allied vessels in the Pacific Theater.

As such, other methods of kamikaze warfare were soon under reviewed by the Japanese High Command and a design of a manned, rocket-powered "flying bomb" by Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Ensign Mitsuo Ohta was accepted. The design was sent to the Yokosuka research facility located at the University of Tokyo for evaluation. After dissecting the simple diagram of the craft provided by Ohta, engineers at the First Naval Air Technical Bureau felt it had merit and developed formal blueprints under the designation of "MXY7". The first 10 prototypes failed during trials while prototype "11", this powered by 3 x Type 4 Mark 1 Model 20 engines, proved a success.

The system was designed to be launched from a Mitsubishi G4M series bomber "mother ship" and the suicidal pilot would journey with the bomber crew to a pre-designated location. The Ohka pilot then took his place within the small vehicle in the bomb bay and was locked into place from the outside. Once released from the bomber, he piloted his craft towards a target under rocket power and gravity to ensure top speed. The pilot, of course, would perish with his aircraft. The end result - as it was hoped - was to instill a deep psychological effect on the American sailor. The real end result, however, left much to be desired. As with most suicidal types of warfare, the Ohka program never materialized into a viable deterrent to Allied operations in the Pacific, not even slowing the impending conquest of the Japanese mainland. Production lasted a few short months and totaled over 855 examples.

The MXY7 was a diminutive design concept constructed of wood over an aluminum frame to help reduce weight and need for war-critical materials. powered by three solid-fuel Type 4 Mark 1 Model 20 rocket booster systems producing a combined 1,764 pounds of thrust. This limited flight time is what made the mother ship a necessary part of the Ohka scheme. As such, it was not wholly uncommon for the mother ship to release the suicidal aircraft too early, fearing their own aircraft's safety from aggressive and accurate Allied fighters and air defenses. This left the Ohka pilot with little in the way of aborting his mission as pilots were sealed inside craft with no way out. Once inside his "flying coffin", the pilot was also given little to think about but the mission itself. Most of the slim and featureless fuselage contained the 2,646lb warhead in the nose for lethal destructive capabilities. A simplistic wing structure and "T" style tail assembly offered up some basic pilot control.


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Specifications for the
Yokosuka MXY7-K1 Ohka (Cherry Blossom)
Single-Seat Pilot-Guided Suicide Aircraft


Focus Model: Yokosuka MXY7-K1 Ohka (Cherry Blossom) Model 11
Country of Origin: Imperial Japan
Manufacturer: Yokosuka / Kasumigaura Naval Air Arsenal - Japan
Initial Year of Service: 1945
Production: 855


Crew: 1


Length: 19.91 ft (6.07 m)
Width: 16.80 ft (5.12 m)
Height: 3.81ft (1.16 m)
Weight (Empty): 970 lb (440 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 4,718 lb (2,140 kg)


Powerplant: 3 x Solid Fuel Type 4 Mark 1 Model 20 rockets generating 1,764lbs of total thrust.


Maximum Speed: 404 mph (650kmh; 351 kts)
Maximum Range: 23 miles (37km)
Service Ceiling: 41,404 ft (12,620 m; 7.8 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 0 feet per minute (0 m/min)


Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
1 x 2,646lb warhead in nose


Variants:
MXY-7 "Ohka" Type 11 - Base Attack Series Designation; rocket-propelled; 852 examples produced.


Type 21 - Rocket-propelled; steel wings; single example produced.

Type 22 - Motorjet-propelled; 50 examples produced.

Type 33 - Turbojet-powered; Renzan drop-launched.

Type 43A "Ko" - Submarine-Launched, Turbojet Propelled.

Type 43B "Otsu" - Cave-Launched, Turbojet Propelled.

Type 53 - Tow-Launched, Turbojet Propelled

K-1 - Trainer

K-1 "Kai" - Trainer


Operators:
Imperial Japan