Japanese Kamikaze pilot's aircraft dinghy

Catalogue number
  • MAR 595
Display status
IWM London
  • whole: metal
  • whole: rubber
  • whole: rope
  • whole: textile
  • whole: Depth 220 mm, Length 1920 mm, Width 950 mm
Alternative names
  • full name: Japanese Kamikaze pilot's aircraft dinghy
  • simple name: boat, dinghy : Japanese
Vehicles, aircraft and ships

Purchase & License
Object description

Dinghy from a Japanese Kamikaze aircraft, recovered from HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, 1945.


Picked up on the flight deck of H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS, damaged and deflated, after an attack on the aircraft carrier by a Japanese "suicide plane". The ILLUSTRIOUS was in action in the attack on the Italian Fleet in Taranto Harbour in 1940, and was severely damaged in six-dive bombing attacks by nearly 100 German and Italian planes in 1941. After repair in the United States, she returned to the Mediterranean and was present at the invasion of Sicily and the Salerno Landings in 1943. She also served in the Indian Ocean and took part in the capture of Madagascar in 1942. In 1945 she went out to the Far East. The attack by the Japanese "suicide plane" took place while she was operating with a British Task Force attacking Sakshima and Formosa in support of American landings on Okinawa in April 1945. Look-outs in the ILLUSTRIOUS saw the enemy plane shoot from behind clouds 3000 feet above the ship. Even as the warning was given, the Japanese pilot put the plane's nose down and began his 500 mile-an-hour death dive on the carrier. ILLUSTRIOUS had eleven seconds to defend herself. The first burst from one Bofors chipped pieces off the tail of the Japanese plane. With only 500 feet and a few seconds to go, the gunners then sheared off one of the plane's wings and the plane began to fall apart. The other wing hit ILLUSTRIOUS before crashing into the water. The body of the plane then hit the water a few feet from the carrier and exploded. Later, the pilot's body, and parts of the plane, including an engine cylinder and this dinghy, were recovered from the carrier's flight deck.

Physical description

Ring of red and white fabric and rubber, with a seat formed from a strap of fabric. A rope net bridges the centre, attached to the dinghy by passing through metal eyelets around the inner edge. A rope is attached to the outer edge.

History note

This Japanese aircraft dinghy was discovered on the flight deck of HMS Illustrious after a kamikaze attack on 6 April 1945. The ship had been operating with the British Pacific Fleet attacking Sakishima and Formosa, in support of the American landings on Okinawa.

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All Rights Reserved except for Fair Dealing exceptions otherwise permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended and revised.