Somerset

Somerset museum receives kamikaze insignia translation help

A rare Japanese kamikaze aircraft, an Ohka 2
Image caption The markings are on the left side of the Ohka 2 aircraft and also on a hatch cover

Two "intriguing markings" on a Japanese kamikaze aircraft are just technical information, interpreters have said.

The museum which owns the rare Ohka 2 had appealed for help to decipher the signs after its first close-up inspection of the aircraft in 30 years.

Somerset's Fleet Air Arm Museum was sent emails from Japan, the US and UK saying the markings referred to weight and other technical specifications.

The translation will be given for future visitors to the museum.

Image caption The aircraft had been hanging from the museum's rafters for three decades

The museum said the longest set of Japanese symbols read: "Outer plate. Surface of the upper from rear sight. Foresight. Centre to height. 148.0mm".

"I was rather hoping the markings might reflect the attitude of the pilot, perhaps 'For the glory of the Emperor', however they relate to weight and the technical specifications of the aircraft," said spokesperson Jon Jefferies.

The aircraft, of which there are thought to be fewer than 12 in existence today, had been hanging from the rafters of the museum.

Kamikaze is Japanese for "divine wind".

The Ohka 2 aircraft were used towards the end of World War Two, fixed to the underside of bombers, flown to a height of 12,000ft (3,658m) and then released.

Speeds of up to 475mph (764km/h) were reached over a distance of 21 miles (33.8km) which it could travel to reach its target.

More than a tonne of explosives was contained in the nose of the vessel.

About 800 of them were built, to be used by Japanese suicide pilots who crashed them into allied ships. Other kamikaze missions used existing conventional aircraft.

Image caption This symbol has been translated into information regarding the weight of the aircraft

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites