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Home » Shipwrecks » Kamikaze plane basically just bounced off of this heavy cruiser in WW2.

Kamikaze plane basically just bounced off of this heavy cruiser in WW2.

Original black and white photo has been colorized

PortandTerminal.com, February 28, 2020

In 1945, the HMS Sussex was struck by a kamikaze near the Dutch East Indies. The Japanese Mitsubishi Ki-51 ‘Sonia’ failed to penetrate the ships 4.5″ (115 mm) armor, leaving only a distinct imprint on the hull 

LONDON – As WWII came to its final months the forces of Imperial Japan became increasingly desperate to stop the Allies and their advance.

With qualified pilots running low and a huge Allied fleet headed their way Japan was forced to implement kamikaze attacks. These suicide strikes caused massive damage to Allied vessels but not all of them went as planned.

Black and white photo of  HMS Sussex was a London-class heavy cruiser from WW2
HMS Sussex

The HMS Sussex was a London-class heavy cruiser on the service of the Royal Navy. After finishing service in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans she was dispatched to the Pacific in 1944 to aid the Allies against the Japanese Navy. In the Pacific, the heavy cruiser would get its first taste of Japanese military tactics.

Black and white photo of a  Mitsubishi Ki-51 “Sonia” Japanese aircraft in flight
Mitsubishi Ki-51 “Sonia” aircraft were frequently used as Kamikaze fighters by the Japanese

On July 26th, 1945 the HMS Sussex came under attack by Japanese suicide bombers. A Mitsubishi Ki-51 “Sonia” targeted the heavy cruiser and crashed into the side of its hull. 

Image of the HMS Sussex’s hull after being hit by the Kamikaze fighter just above the waterline. A bit like a bug hitting a car windshield.

Surprisingly, there was no major damage due to the heavy cruiser’s powerful defenses, the attack only left a mark on the side of its hull.

Not all ships were so lucky. Approximately 2,800 kamikaze pilots died during the war, according to US estimates. They managed to hit targets around 14% of the time, sinking 34 Navy ships and damaging 368 others. They killed around 4,900 sailors and injured 4,800. 

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