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  • Sirens scream as British sailors run across the  aircraft carrier deck. Japanese kamikaze planes  

  • are inbound. Anti-aircraft guns fire into the skyplanes are launched from the deck, sailors dive  

  • for cover. An enemy plane goes down, then anotherand another, the sky is filled with explosions;  

  • but out of the smoke comes a horrible sightOne of the kamikaze pilots has made it through.

  • The plane dives, the bombs on the underside  of the aircraft reflect the gleam of sunlight.  

  • The kamikaze plane slams into the aircraft  carrier's deck. There is a huge explosion,  

  • fire streams across the runway, sailors sprint  with hoses to put out the flames. When they  

  • are under control the mechanics and engineers  look over the ship, it is relatively unscathed.  

  • With a few quick repairs the carrier is  once again ready for battle. Nothing is  

  • going to stop the British Pacific Fleet, not  even Japan's most deadly kamikaze pilots.

  • As World War II progressed, and Allied  forces started gaining ground in Europe,  

  • a decision was made to turn their  attention to the threat in the Pacific.  

  • The Japanese were invading parts of mainland  Asia, and wreaking havoc on the United States'  

  • bases and fleets in the Eastern part of the  world. With Nazi Germany slowly falling apart,  

  • and Allied forces closing in on all sidesit was clear that more resources needed to  

  • be deployed to the Pacific to aid  in the battle against the Japanese.

  • The British had lost ships to the  Japanese earlier in the war. Less  

  • than three days after Japan entered World  War II in December of 1941, they destroyed  

  • several British ships in the Pacific. Japanese  aircraft sank the Prince of Wales and Repulse,  

  • two of the most powerful Royal Navy vesselsAfter the loss of the British ships,  

  • and many sailor's lives, Japan attacked and  captured naval bases in Hong Kong and Singapore,  

  • basically driving any British presence  out of the Pacific Ocean indefinitely.

  • The British were too focused on fighting in  Europe at the time to send supplies and ships  

  • back to the Pacific. But in August of 1943 at  the Quadrant Conference of Allied leaders in  

  • Quebec the Allies agreed that more resources  and ships should be sent to the Pacific.  

  • The Allied forces still maintained a “Germany  first'' principle, thereby cutting off the  

  • head of the Axis Powers. But Japan was posingreal threat to an Allied victory to end the war.

  • The Pacific was of strategic importance for  Allied forces for multiple reasons, one of  

  • which was the oil-rich areas of Sumatra. Then in  September of 1944 at the second Quebec Conference  

  • a finalized plan to launch the British Navy  back into the waters of the Pacific was formed.

  • Britain offered to send a fleet of ships  including at least four aircraft carriers  

  • to Pacific waters by the end of 1944. The  stipulation was that the United States  

  • welcomed the help, but the British  force needed to be self-sufficient,  

  • as the U.S. was already struggling to  maintain their footholds and supply  

  • chains in the Pacific as it was. Admiral Sir  Bruce Fraser was appointed the commander of  

  • the newly designated British Pacific Fleet, and  ships were sent to Japanese controlled waters.

  • The British Pacific Fleet set up its main base  of operations in Australia. It took a long time  

  • for the men, materials, and ships to travel  the 12,000 miles from Britain to Australia,  

  • but the support that the British Pacific  Fleet would provide was vital to defeating  

  • the Japanese and ending World War II. The  fleet was already planning to sustain itself  

  • since most British ships, weapons, and planes  differed from what the Americans were using.

  • The differences in the British Pacific Fleet  was actually one of the things that made it so  

  • successful. The United States was struggling to  defend their ships and bases against the kamikaze  

  • pilots in the Japanese air force. And although  kamikaze planes posed a threat to British ships,  

  • the way the vessels were designed allowed them  to stand up better to kamikaze attacks compared  

  • to their American counterparts. Specificallyaircraft carriers in the British Pacific Fleet  

  • had armored decks, which greatly reduced  the damage caused by kamikaze impacts.

  • It wasn't long after the fleet had docked in  Australia and made final preparations that they  

  • were called into action by Admiral NimitzTheir mission was to attack and destroy key  

  • Japanese controlled oil refineries. This was an  important objective, but more than anything else,  

  • Nimitz wanted to see what the new British Pacific  Fleet was capable of. It did not disappoint.

  • On January 24, 1945 the British Pacific  Fleet attacked the refinery at Pladjoe.  

  • They destroyed it and moved on to the second  target at Soengi Gerong five days later. Using  

  • planes launched from aircraft carriers, the  British Pacific Fleet was able to destroy both  

  • refineries with relative ease. This slowed the  supply of oil being used to fuel the Japanese  

  • warships and aircraft. This first mission had  not only dealt a blow to the Japanese Navy,  

  • but the rest of the Japanese war machine  as well, including the ability to launch  

  • Kamikaze attacks. It did not stop  Japan entirely, but it was a start.

  • Unfortunately, a delay between the two attacks  allowed Japanese forces to organize a defense  

  • around Soengi Gerong. On January 29th enemy  forces located the British Pacific Fleet, and  

  • tried to stop them from destroying the second oil  refinery. As the fleet approached their target,  

  • Japanese fighters took off from  a nearby air base. In response,  

  • combat air patrol fighters took off from the  aircraft carriers in the British Pacific Fleet.  

  • They met the Japanese planes en route, and  destroyed all of them before they could  

  • cause any significant damage. Any kamikaze  pilots that were planning to fly into the  

  • ships of the British Pacific Fleet were shot  down before they could reach their target.

  • However, 16 British planes were lost during  the battle. The pilots gave their lives to  

  • protect the fleet so it could carry out its  mission of destroying one of the major oil  

  • supplies fueling the Japanese forces. After the  completion of their mission the British Pacific  

  • Fleet returned to Sydney. Luckily, the maintenance  carrier Unicorn had just arrived with replacement  

  • aircraft. The lost planes were replenishedand the fleet was ready for its next mission.  

  • The success of the British Pacific Fleet's first  assignment caused Admiral Nimitz to insist that  

  • the fleet be used as a “flexible reservefor  vital missions occurring across the Pacific.  

  • The next mission was Operation Iceberg, also  known as The Battle of Okinawa. The fleet was  

  • tasked with intercepting any aircraft, including  kamikazes, trying to reach Okinawa. To do this  

  • the British Pacific Fleet launched attacks  on airfields on the Sakishima Islands.  

  • On the day of the landing on Okinawa by Allied  forces the British Pacific Fleet was on guard  

  • to stop any Japanese planes trying to leave their  sector. The Japanese launched a series of attacks  

  • on the ships patrolling the waters, but planes  from the aircraft carriers intercepted them.  

  • Intense dog fighting occurred over the open  ocean, then, out of the thick of battle,  

  • came a kamikaze plane. It broke the  line of defenses and crashed directly  

  • into the Indefatigable. This was the first British  aircraft carrier to be struck by a kamikaze plane.

  • Kamikaze attacks normally had devastating  consequences, but after only a few hours  

  • of repairs, the Indefatigable was able  to launch and land aircraft once again.  

  • This would not be the last time a vessel  of the British Pacific Fleet was struck  

  • by a kamikaze. During the battles to  maintain control over the waters and  

  • airspace around the British Pacific Fleet  every single one of the aircraft carriers  

  • would be hit by kamikazes. Yet, none of  the impacts would cause critical damage.

  • What made the British Pacific Fleet so resistant  to kamikaze attacks? A lot of it had to do with  

  • the pilots and planes stationed on the aircraft  carriers. They would take out enemy planes before  

  • they could reach the fleet. The expert pilots  maneuvered their planes into attack positions  

  • and put themselves between kamikaze pilots  and the fleet. But kamikazes did get through,  

  • and they did strike the British ships. Howeverthe British vessels had armored decks that helped  

  • prevent damage by kamikaze attacks that  would otherwise have incapacitated them.

  • The reinforced decks allowed the aircraft carriers  to sustain damage from kamikaze impacts and still  

  • remain in action. For example, the collision on  the deck of the Indefatigable could have caused  

  • a massive hole in a non-armored ship deckbut instead, the Indefatigable deck only  

  • dented about three inches. There was a large  fire, but the crew quickly got it under control  

  • and immediately started repairing the ship so it  would be combat ready in just a matter of hours.

  • The amount of damage the British Pacific Fleet  could sustain impressed the United States.  

  • About a week after the Indefatigable  shrugged off the kamikaze attack,  

  • a U.S. aircraft carrier called the Hancock  was struck by a Japanese plane. The Hancock  

  • was so badly damaged it had to return  to the United States for repairs.

  • The United States had so much faith in the British  Pacific Fleet and its armored aircraft carriers,  

  • that they were sent to strike vitally  important airfields on the island of  

  • Formosa. The thought was that since the  British ships were holding up so well  

  • against Japanese forces and their kamikaze  pilots that they would be less vulnerable  

  • to counter attacks. The operation to destroy  Japanese targets on Formosa was a huge success.  

  • The British Pacific Fleet wiped out  planes, airfields, and railways.

  • After Formosa the fleet resupplied and  headed back into battle. The British Pacific  

  • Fleet engaged Japanese forces once again, and  this time, ran into some trouble. A kamikaze  

  • made it through the fleet's defenses and slammed  into an aircraft carrier called the Formidable.  

  • Just before the kamikaze hit, it released  a 500-pound bomb onto the deck. This was  

  • enough to put a two foot hole in the flight  deck of the carrier. However, later that day,  

  • the crew was able to plug the hole and  resumed flights from the carrier. Once  

  • again the British Pacific Fleet seemed to  be resistant to Japan's most deadly tactics.

  • Later in the mission a group of four kamikazes  made it through the fleet's defenses and struck  

  • the HMS Victorious. The first kamikaze smashed  into the flight deck and knocked out the carrier's  

  • catapult. The second committed to a divebut Captain Michael Denny quickly ordered  

  • evasive actions causing the plane to hit the  aft deck and bounce off into the ocean. The  

  • third kamikaze was taken out by anti-aircraft  guns before it could reach the ship. The last  

  • kamikaze hit its target. This plane caused the  most damage. When it crashed into the Formidable,  

  • it took out 18 aircraft that were  parked on the aft deck, destroying them.

  • Even with four kamikazes making it through to the  Formidable, the ship sustained only minor damage;  

  • another testament to the kamikaze resistance  of the British Pacific Fleet. During Operation  

  • Iceberg the fleet spent 62 days at sea, launched  planes 5,335 times to defend the fleet, dropped  

  • 1,000 tons of bombs, and shot 500,000 rounds of  ammunition. The British Pacific Fleet destroyed  

  • 42 enemy aircraft in the air, and more than 100  on the ground. This prevented Japanese planes,  

  • and kamikaze missions, from reaching  the United States forces at Okinawa.

  • The British Pacific Fleet had already accomplished  so much, and resisted numerous kamikaze attacks,  

  • but they were not done yet. The squadron was  split up, and the carriers were destined to be  

  • a vital part of Operation Olympic, which was  the first phase of the invasion of Japan. The  

  • special task force of British Pacific Fleet ships  dropped hundreds of tons of bombs. The planes  

  • from the carriers flew 416 defensive missions  to protect both the British and U.S. forces.  

  • The ships had to sail through rough weather and  even typhoons, but continued their support of the  

  • Allied forces so they could take the mainland  of Japan. The British Pacific Fleet destroyed  

  • countless enemy planes, ships, and bases up until  the Japanese surrendered on September 2, 1945.

  • Without the support of the British Pacific Fleet  the war in the Pacific may have lasted much  

  • longer. The British ships were especially  effective at resisting kamikaze planes,  

  • one of Japan's most deadly tactics. It was  due to the extra armor on the ship's decks,  

  • and the expertise of the pilots that launched  from the aircraft carriers of the British  

  • Pacific Fleet, that allowed them to fend off  kamikaze attacks and complete their missions.

  • Now watchWhat Was It Like to  Be a Kamikaze Pilot?” Or check  

  • outWhy Living On An Aircraft Carrier Sucks.”

Sirens scream as British sailors run across the  aircraft carrier deck. Japanese kamikaze planes  

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Why Kamikaze Attacks Failed Against the British During World War 2

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    Summer posted on 2021/07/22
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