Mechanical Problems Saved the Lives of Many Kamikaze Pilots
In an unlikely turn of events, some kamikaze missions were not a death sentence. Kamikaze pilots were taught to divert and try to return to the base if there was engine failure or any other sort of mechanical issue. As the war trampled on, Japanese aircraft became increasingly outdated. This led to many pilots needing to abort the mission in their unpredictable air crafts.
One kamikaze who survived a mission this way numerous times was Takehiko Ena. He was part of a crew of three who flew a bomber during Operation Kikusui, a suicide campaign during the battle of Okinawa. His luck was threefold: on his first mission, he failed to get airborne. The second mission, engine trouble forced an emergency landing. His third and final mission resulted in a crash landing into the sea due to engine trouble.
While history may look at these particular instances of mechanical failure favorable on the pilots, there was a lot of guilt involved. Many surviving kamikaze pilots reminisce on their failed missions and felt as though they dishonored their families and the other pilots who died on the same missions. Survivor’s remorse is difficult to comprehend. But the bond these bombers formed, locked them together in solidarity.
U.S. pilots flying in formation were equipped with radios and kept communication strong, however, the outdated Japanese planes did not have this luxury. However, it was common practice for the same flight formation team to be maintained through all stages from training to actual combat in order to create and sustain coordinated team actions.