Monday, February 22, 2010
There were single person operated torpedoes called Kaiten (回天, translated "the turn toward heaven") at the end of WWII.
"Early designs allowed for the pilot to escape after the final acceleration toward the target, although whether this could have been done successfully is doubtful. There is no record of any pilot attempting to escape or intending to do so, and this provision was dropped from later production kaitens, so that once inside, the pilot could not let himself out. In the event that an attack failed, the kaiten was fitted with a control for self destruction."
If you visit Hawaii you can see one of them in display. Needless to say this weapon was not very efficient one.
Imperial Japanese Navy also had rocket powered bomb plane called Ohka( 桜花)- cherry blossom- built.
The US military gave it the nickname, Baka ( 馬鹿）- meaning idiot in Japanese. When near the target, the Cherry Blossom was released and the pilot attempted to hit the ship causing the 1,200 kilogram (2,646 pound) warhead to explode. The first successful attack was made on 1 April 1945 when Ohkas damaged the battleship USS West Virginia and three transports off Okinawa. The first Allied ship sunk was the destroyer USS Mannert L. Abele (DD-733), off Okinawa on 12 April 1945. A total of 852 Ohkas of all types were built.
More info on Kaiten, Wikipedia-Kaiten Ohka wikipedia-ohka