Shin'yō-class suicide motorboat

The Shinyo (震洋 Shin'yō, "Sea Quake") were Japanese suicide motorboats developed during World War II. They were part of the wider Japanese Special Attack Units program.

A Shinyo suicide motorboat being tested by Lt Col James F. Doyle USA commanding officer 2nd Battalion, 305th Infantry 69th Division
Class overview
Name: Shin'yō-class suicide motorboat
Builders: Yokosuka Naval Arsenal
Operators: Empire of Japan Imperial Japanese Navy
Subclasses: Shinyo Type 1, Shinyo Type 5
Built: April 1944–June 1945
In commission: August 1944–August 1945
Planned: 11,300
Completed: 6,197
Lost: At least 36
General characteristics
Class and type: Motorboat
  • Type 1: 1.35 t (1.33 long tons)
  • Type 5: 2.2 t (2.2 long tons)
  • Type 1: 26 knots (48 km/h; 30 mph)
  • Type 5: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Crew: Type 1: 1, Type 5: 2
  • Bow-mounted Type 98 high explosive charge of 270 kg (600 lb)
  • Two 120 mm (4.7 in) anti-ship rockets mounted on launchers
A Japanese Shinyo suicide motorboat, 1945


Towards the end of 1943, in response to unfavorable progress in the war, the Japanese command heard suggestions for various suicide craft. These suggestions were initially rejected but later deemed necessary.[1] For the naval department this meant kamikaze planes, kaiten submarines, fukuryu suicide divers or human mines, and shinyo suicide boats.


These fast motorboats were driven by one man, to speeds of around 30 knots. They were typically equipped with a bow-mounted charge of up to 300 kg (660 lb) of explosives that could be detonated by either impact or from a manual switch in the driver's area. These attack boats also carried two anti-ship rockets mounted on launchers located on either side of the boat behind the driver.

The similar Maru-ni, which were used by the Imperial Japanese Army, were equipped with two depth charges, and were not actually suicide boats, as the idea was to drop the depth charges and then turn around before the explosion took place. Although the chances of boat and crew surviving the wave from the explosion might seem slim, a small number of crewmen successfully escaped.[2] The depth charges used were known as the Experimental Manufacture Use 120 kg Depth Charge, and were armed by a delayed-action pull igniter.

The program began in March 1944. The first vessels were tested on 27 May, after which it was decided that the original steel hull design would be replaced by a wooden hull due to the Japanese steel shortage. On 1 August, 150 students, on average 17 years old, elected to begin training for the Shinyo.[3]

6,197 Shinyo boats were produced for the Imperial Japanese Navy and 3,000 Maru-ni for the Imperial Japanese Army.[4] Around 400 boats were transported to Okinawa and Formosa, and the rest were stored on the coast of Japan for the ultimate defense against the expected invasion of the Home islands. The main operative use took place during the Philippines Campaign of 1944–45.

Operational results

See also


  1. ^ Japanese suicide craft. US Navy. 1946.
  2. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (1959). History of United States Naval Operations in World War II: The Liberation of the Philippines. University of Illinois Press. pp. 138–140. ISBN 0-252-07064-X.
  3. ^ Hackett, Robert; Kingsepp, Sander (26 November 2011). "Battle Histories of Japan's Explosive Motorboats". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  4. ^ Japanese Suicide Weapons

External links

Fire ship

A fire ship or fireship, used in the days of wooden rowed or sailing ships, was a ship filled with combustibles, deliberately set on fire and steered (or, when possible, allowed to drift) into an enemy fleet, in order to destroy ships, or to create panic and make the enemy break formation. Ships used as fire ships were either warships whose munitions were fully spent in battle, surplus ones which were old and worn out, or inexpensive purpose-built vessels rigged to be set afire, steered toward targets, and abandoned quickly by the crew.

Explosion ships or 'hellburners' were a variation on the fire ship, intended to cause damage by blowing up in proximity to enemy ships.

Fireships were used to great effect by the outgunned English fleet against the Spanish Armada during the Battle of Gravelines, the Dutch Raid on the Medway and by the Greeks in the Greek War of Independence.

List of shipwrecks in January 1945

The list of shipwrecks in January 1945 includes ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during January 1945.

Aircraft carriers
Patrol craft
Fast attack craft
Mine warfare
Command and support


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