by David Alan Johnson The deliberate crashing into enemy targets by Japanese aviators did not begin at the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands. The first suicide attack against American shipping took place at Pearl Harbor, over eight months earlier, when a bomber crashed into the seaplane tender Curtiss and set her on fire. Attacks of this kind, including the crashes into Hornet and the destroyer Smith, were known as kesshi, “dare to die tactics.” [text_ad] Skip-bombing and ramming were also adopted. Skip-bombing involved fitting a Zero fighter with a 550-pound bomb, which was to be released 200 to 300 yards from an enemy ship. These were not exactly suicide tactics, although they were extremely hazardous. The bomb might bounce up and hit the Zero, or the explosion of the bomb could destroy the plane. A training program for skip-bombing was carried out in the Bohol Strait, near Cebu, but all training was stopped in September 1944, when American aircraft destroyed 50 percent of the air group. Most Suicide Attacks Were Spontaneous Actions Deliberately crashing into an enemy target was not limited to shipping; it was used successfully against enemy planes as well. A Japanese flight sergeant rammed his fighter into a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber on May 8, 1943. He was protecting a convoy off the coast of New Guinea and made the decision to kill himself and take the American bomber and its crew with him. Over a year later, the pilot of a two-man Nakajima Gekko night fighter (co


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