Jan 2

Kamikaze Strike on Battleship USS Tennessee (1945)

Sunday, January 2, 2011 12:01 AM


During the furious kamikaze attacks off Okinawa in 1945, the battleship USS Tennessee (BB-43) was struck by a Japanese suicide plane. 22 Americans died in the attack, and another 107 were wounded. This combat footage, filmed during the attack on 12 April 1945, shows the moment of impact. The film opens with a quick shot of another American battleship, possibly USS Idaho (BB-42). At 0:26 seconds of the film, one of the five suicide aircraft that attacked Tennessee (but missed) can be seen exploding in the water, off the port side of the battleship. At 0:37, another Japanese kamikaze begins its fatal descent towards Tennessee, impacting the port 40mm and 20mm guns. Also seen in the film at 1:00 is the destroyer USS Zellars (DD-777) on fire from another kamikaze strike.

Source: Naval History and Heritage Command, Photographic Section, UM-23.

  • Jim Valle

    Just about every documentary we see shows the kamikazi hits on the carriers but this is the first time I’ve seen the battleships take their punishment. This little clip of raw film really captures the incredible fury of that last great Pacific battle.

  • Beth Walsh

    This is the first time I have actually seen any footage showing the Zellars during this battle. My dad served on board this ship and survived the attack. Today on the 66th anniversary, I came across this clip while looking to see what new information I might find about the kamikaze strikes that day. I only wish he was still alive now to see this. He always felt like their actions were overlooked that day due to the death of Pres. Roosevelt. Thank you for making this available.

  • Robert Stockham

    My dad, William Stockham was on the Tennessee that day. He credited the firefighting training by the US Navy for their survival. When I was in the 3rd grade he let me take a piece of one of the aircraft to show and tell. I wish he had seen this too, I did manage to get him to interview for the Veteran’s History Project.

  • Tim Gipson

    My Dad Paul L.Gipson was on the Tennessee during this battle and was one of the wounded that day. Dad passed August 8 2013 we’re going to bury him tomorrow August 12 2013. He was 87 years old and was married to my mom for 69 years.

  • Peter Pane

    I and others aboard USS New York BB34, witnessed the attack and strike suffered by USS Tennessee on that day off Okinawa.’New YORK; was about 1000 yards away, moving in a zig zag maneuver pattern trying to avoid getting hit. Eventually did get hit, but it was more of a side swipe. Kamikaze hit one of New York’s spotter planes, lost its wing, but fuselage with bomb wound up in the sea. A friend of mine, James Minahan, a member of Tennessee’s band, was killed that day. He was a good trumpet player.

  • Tyler

    My dad, Marine corporal Harry Davidson, was operating the anti-aircraft guns on the other side (fortunately) that day.

  • Douglas Purcey

    My father James Douglas Purcey, Gunners Mate First Class was in a 40MM gun turret that was struck by this Japanese Kamikaze plane. Quick reaction time as he jumped at the last second before the impact and explosion to the deck some thirty feet below was the only thing that spared his life. After the war he met and married my mother his wife Mildred Kritzer whom he was married to for over 66 years. He lived his life as a truck driver first in Michigan and then in California. One of his favorite accomplishment as a Truck Driver came in 1966 when he hauled a 65 foot red fir from Los Angles to Washington D.C. This was the National Christmas Tree for that year, and he fondly remembers being escorted down Pennsylvania Avenue. He retired from truck driving in 1987 with over 3 million miles driven. At his 90th Birthday in March of 2015 he and over 100 family and friends were there and the Navy sent 3 representatives who presented him with a Flag and a Letter from then President Obama recognising his service to his country in the 2nd World War. He passed away on August 18, 2015 at 90-1/2 years old.

  • IronV

    Awesome. Thank you to you and your Dad!!!!

  • IronV

    Good job. Thank you.