kamikaze


kamikaze
/kah'mi kah"zee/, n.
1. (during World War II) a member of a special corps in the Japanese air force charged with the suicidal mission of crashing an aircraft laden with explosives into an enemy target, esp. a warship.
2. an airplane used for this purpose.
3. a person or thing that behaves in a wildly reckless or destructive manner: We were nearly run down by a kamikaze on a motorcycle.
adj.
4. of, pertaining to, undertaken by, or characteristic of a kamikaze: a kamikaze pilot; a kamikaze attack.
[1940-45; < Japn, equiv. to kami(y) god (earlier *kamui) + kaze wind (earlier *kanzai]

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Any of the Japanese pilots in World War II who made deliberate suicidal crashes into enemy targets, usually ships.

The word means "divine wind," a reference to a typhoon that dispersed a Mongol invasion fleet threatening Japan from the west in 1281. The practice was most prevalent in the final year of the war. Most kamikaze planes were ordinary fighter aircraft or light bombers, usually loaded with bombs or extra gasoline tanks before their suicidal dive. Such attacks sank 34 ships and damaged hundreds of others; at Okinawa they inflicted the greatest losses ever suffered by the U.S. Navy in a single battle, killing almost 5,000 men. See also Zero.

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▪ military tactic
      any of the Japanese pilots who in World War II made deliberate suicidal crashes into enemy targets, usually ships. The term also denotes the aircraft used in such attacks. The practice was most prevalent from the Battle of Leyte Gulf (Leyte Gulf, Battle of), October 1944, to the end of the war. The word kamikaze means “divine wind,” a reference to a typhoon that fortuitously dispersed a Mongol invasion fleet threatening Japan from the west in 1281. Most kamikaze planes were ordinary fighters or light bombers (bomber), usually loaded with bombs and extra gasoline tanks before being flown deliberately to crash into their targets.

      A piloted missile was developed for kamikaze use that was given the nickname “Baka” by the Allies from the Japanese word for fool. The pilot had no means of getting out once the missile was fastened to the aircraft that would launch it. Dropped usually from an altitude of over 25,000 feet (7,500 m) and more than 50 miles (80 km) from its target, the missile would glide to about 3 miles (5 km) from its target before the pilot turned on its three rocket engines, accelerating the craft to more than 600 miles per hour (960 km per hour) in its final dive. The explosive charge built into the nose weighed more than a ton.

      Kamikaze attacks sank 34 ships and damaged hundreds of others during the war. At Okinawa they inflicted the greatest losses ever suffered by the U.S. Navy in a single battle, killing almost 5,000 men. Usually the most successful defense against kamikaze attack was to station picket destroyers around capital ships and direct the destroyers' antiaircraft batteries against the kamikazes as they approached the larger vessels.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • kamikaze — [ kamikaz ] n. m. • v. 1950; mot jap. « vent divin » ♦ Avion suicide, piloté par un volontaire (au Japon, en 1944 1945); ce volontaire. Des kamikazes. ♢ Par ext. Personne d une grande témérité. Un « kamikaze du volant » (Le Nouvel Observateur,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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  • kamikaze — (n.) suicide flier, 1945, Japanese, lit. divine wind, from kami god, providence, divine (see KAMI (Cf. kami)) + kaze wind. Originally the name given in folklore to a typhoon which saved Japan from Mongol invasion by wrecking Kublai Khan s fleet… …   Etymology dictionary

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  • kamikaze — (Del jap. kamikaze, viento divino). 1. m. Piloto japonés que tripulaba un avión con explosivos con el que se lanzaba contra objetivos, suicidándose, en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. 2. Persona que se juega la vida realizando una acción temeraria. 3 …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • kamikaze — [kä΄mə kä′zē] adj. [Jpn, lit., divine wind < kami, god + kaze, the wind] 1. of or pertaining to a suicidal attack by a Japanese airplane pilot in WWII 2. Informal very reckless, suicidal, etc. n. 1. the pilot or airplane in a kamikaze attack 2 …   English World dictionary

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