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Kaiten (Reverse Destiny) Midget Submarine / Manned Suicide Torpedo (Imperial Japan)

Suicide Kaitens achieved minimal success with only the USS Mississinewa and USS Underhill recorded as being sunk to Kaiten action.

 Entry last updated on 6/30/2017; Authored by JR Potts, AUS 173d AB and Dan Alex; Content ¬©

  Kaiten (Reverse Destiny)  
Picture of Kaiten (Reverse Destiny) Midget Submarine / Manned Suicide Torpedo (Imperial Japan)

The Kaiten (meaning "Reverse Destiny" or "Change the World" in Japanese) was based on the Japanese Navy Type 93 torpedo and was a top secret suicide weapon developed by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) for service during World War 2 (1939-1945). The IJN had suffered considerable defeats heading into 1944 and all measures were on the table to stem the tide of defeat. As such, a reworked torpedo, housing a single crew member with basic instrumentation and controls and showcasing with a 3,000lb (1,360 kg) warhead at its bow, was devised to sneak up on unsuspecting Allied warships and merchantmen. The IJN commissioned about 400 of these suicide machines with more than 100 of these sent on missions.

As well as the obvious advantage of the pilot providing guidance for the torpedo, Kaitens could be launched from a submerged submarine unlike the unmanned Type 93 torpedo which was deck-launched from the surface at no deeper than periscope depth. Mothership submarines could carry up to six suicide-minded Kaiten vehicles. The manned torpedo was launched around 8,300 yards from its intended target and, at about 550 yards away, the torpedo submerged to about 13 feet to complete the final run and give the pilot some visual awareness. However they were not nearly as effective pound-for-pound as the highly-successful Type 93 torpedo series on which they were based and used up their valuable pilots in the process.

American sources report that the only sinkings caused by Kaiten suicide attacks were the tankers USS Mississinewa and USS Underhill.

Picture of the Kaiten (Reverse Destiny) Midget Submarine / Manned Suicide Torpedo (Imperial Japan)
Picture of the Kaiten (Reverse Destiny) Midget Submarine / Manned Suicide Torpedo (Imperial Japan)

Kaiten (Reverse Destiny)

Service Year: 1944
Type: Midget Submarine / Manned Suicide Torpedo
National Origin: Imperial Japan
Ship Class: Kaiten
Number-in-Class: 400

Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

Complement (Crew): 1
Length: 45 feet (13.72 meters)
Beam (Width): 3.3 feet (1.01 meters)
Surface Displacement: 8 tons

Installed Power and Base Performance

Engine(s): 1 x H2O diesel engine developing 550 horsepower driving power to a single shaft.

Submerged Speed: 30 knots (35 mph)
Operational Range: 11 nautical miles (13 miles, 21 km)

Armament / Air Wing

1 x 3,000lb (1,360kg) contact explosive warhead

Aircraft: None.

Global Operators

Imperial Japan

Ships-in-Class / Group (400)

Not Applicable.

Kaiten (Reverse Destiny) Images