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USS Missouri Struck By a “Kamikaze” on April 11, 1945 During the Battle of Okinawa

by Nov 11, 2019

Image: A “bogey” is downed by anti-aircraft fire from the USS Missouri and other ships in the Task Group during the Battle of Okinawa, the last major battle of World War II.

We may tend to think of this Kamikaze attack as a singular event. From talking with former crewmembers we learn that the actual experience of war at sea aboard Battleship Missouri was more of a constant, a day in and day out experience.

That experience was translated, recorded in formal, official records and reports, written in concise, emotionless language, that requires us to read between the written lines to catch a glimpse of their experience of being there.

Transcribed below, from the original document, is the “Chronological Account of Action” for April 11, 1945. This record provides us with a glimpse of war at sea aboard Battleship Missouri:

Note: the terms “Bogey” and “Bandit” used frequently in this document, identified approaching aircraft. Originally “Bogey” referred to approaching unidentified (friend or foe?) aircraft while “Bandit” indicated approaching confirmed enemy aircraft. By war’s end, “Bogey” was often used to convey either meaning.

USS Missouri BB-63 - Chronological Account of Action - 11 April 1945

Overcast skies with light occasional rain ending in mid morning. Light rain again at 1300, after which clouds became broken to scattered. Ceiling 1500 feet, 2500 in afternoon, occasionally unlimited. Visibility 6 to 8 miles becoming better, to 10 miles. Surface wind north-northwesterly 22 to 24 knots. Slight seas. Flying conditions average. Sunrise 0602, sunset 1841.

0145 Intercepted enemy radar signals on 152 megacycles;

0400 Radar contact with TG [Task Group] 58.3 bearing 310 degree T, distance 32 miles.

0551 Secured from dawn alert, set condition of readiness III.

0709 Formed cruising formation

1110 Picked up bogey bearing 080 degrees T, distance 7 miles. Set condition I in AA [Anti-Aircraft] batteries. Bogey turned away began opening up to Northeast.

1125 INTREPID [CV-11 Essex-class carrier] CAP [Combat Air Patrol] plane splashed bogey, a Kate [Nakajima B5N carrier born attack bomber].

1322 Bogey picked up at 090 degrees T, distance 24 miles. Took control of YORKTOWN [CV-5 Essex-class carrier] CAP plane for interception.

1336 Picked up Raid 4 bearing 345 degrees T, distance 58 miles.

1342 Formed cruising dispositions 5VC [A defensive cruising formation for repelling air attacks]

1350 Several groups of bogies reported closing from the northwest.

1355 Sounded “Air Defense.”

1410 Intercepted enemy radar signals on 180 megacycles;

1425 Raids 4 to 13 disappeared or were splashed by CAP.

1440 Intercepted reports of 13 bogies splashed by CAP up to that time. Three or more bandits were now closing this formation very quickly.

1442 Commences firing on a low flying Zeke coming directly in on starboard quarter, bearing 150 degrees T, distance 7,000 yards [approx. 4 miles], altitude 100 feet.

1443 Zeke [Mitsubishi A6M Zero] crashed ship at frame 169 starboard about 3 feet below main deck level. The ship was sprayed with parts of the plane, and the plane’s starboard wing was thrown forward to the first superstructure [01 level just aft of the Surrender Deck] frame 102, inboard of “5 mount #3. A gasoline fire resulted at this point. The mutilated body of the pilot landed on after main deck.

1446 Fires were reported under control. No casualties, damage only superficial caused by fire. Minor damage to 40mm quad #17 and bulwark area.

1446 Commenced firing at second plane bearing 120 degrees T [believed to have been piloted by Ishii].

1447 Ceased firing, plane splashed.

1500 – 1630 During this period only 1 bandit showing on screen, Raid 16, to Southwest being chased by YORKTOWN VF. Raids 14, 15, and 18 were friendly. Bogey Raid 17 was picked up at 090 degrees T, distance 45 miles.

1635 Lost Raid 16 over TG 58.3.

1640 Raid 17 identified as PDM [US Navy Patrol bomber “flying boat”].

1645 Screen clear of bogies.

1710 Raid 19 splashed by TG 58.3, I Jill [Nakajima B6N carrier borne attack bomber]

1720 Picked up Raid 18 bearing 08 degrees T, distance 105 miles.

1724 Secured from Air Defense set condition I in AA batteries.

1746 CAP splashed Raid 18, a Betty, bearing 130 degrees T, distance 38 miles.

1825 Picked up Raid 20, 4 to 6 planes, bearing 130 degrees T, distance 62 miles.

1834 Formed in cruising formation 5V.

1839 CAP splashed 2 Bettys of Raid 20 on bearing 125 degrees T, distance 34 miles.

1848 One Betty broke away from 20, now designated Raid 22

1854 Another Betty of Raid 20 splashed by CAP. Raid 22 now at 095 degrees T, distance 50 miles.

1905 Numerous bogies reported approaching, sounded “Air Defense”.

1907 Opened fire on twin-engine bandit 12,000 yards astern of ship. Distance did not decrease.

1910 Raid 23 closing from Southwest.

1915 Intercepted enemy radar signals.

1937 Flares being dropped by enemy planes.

2000 Bogies, 8 – 10, to west and northeast of formation, circling at 20 to 40 miles.

2030 Secured “Air Defense” set condition 1 in AA batteries.

2035 All but 1 or 2 bogies clear of screen.

2040 Set condition of readiness III throughout the ship.

2045 One bogey present to eastward on northerly course.

2050 Bogey at 074 degrees T, distance 47 miles, course 350 degrees T, speed 150.

2251 Raid 28, picked up and tracked, distance 70 miles, closing on course 205 degrees T.

2316 Alerted anti-aircraft battery. Raid 31 picked up at 045 degrees T, distance 26 miles.

2318 Raid 28 closing formation bearing 270 degrees T.

2327 Commenced firing on Raid 28 bearing 245 degrees T, distance 11,000 yards, altitude 7,500 feet.

2329 Ceased firing, splashed 1 bandit, probably twin engine, on bearing 235 degrees T, distance 10,000 yards.

2330 Set condition 1 in AA batteries.

2335 Raid 31 faded at 060 degrees T, distance 30 miles.

2340 Raid 29 bearing 045 degrees distance 26 miles.

2345 Set condition of readiness III throughout the ship.

Ammunition expended: 398 projectiles 5”/38, 421 cartridges 40mm, 680 cartridges 20mm

Kamikaze strike on USS Missouri, April 11, 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa.