FRAGMENT FROM A JAPANESE WORLD WAR II KAMIKAZE AIRPLANE THAT SUCCESSFULLY ATTACKED THE USS SALAMAUA DURING THE PHILIPPINES CAMPAIGN
(WORLD WAR II). Airplane fragment. Japan/Philippines, 1945. Painted metal fragment from a World War II Japanese aircraft, measuring 3-1/2 by 4-1/4 inches. $4500.
Original fragment of a Japanese World War II airplane used in the successful kamikaze attack on the USS Salamaua in the Lingayan Gulf on January 3, 1945, with its identification scratched into the paint by its owner, Lt. Commander Fred R. Salisbury II of the Salamaua.
This is a fragment of a Japanese airplane that was flown by a kamikaze pilot into the USS Salamaua on January 13, 1945. The ship had participated in the invasion of Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines. It was one of 91 ships damaged or sunk by kamikaze attacks during the war. The aircraft in this case was a Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate single-seat fighter, Japan's fastest fighter plane. First produced in the spring of 1942, the Ki-84 did not see major operational use until the Battle of Leyte at the end of 1944. After that point, it became a favored airplane and was heavily used.
The kamikaze attack carried out by this Ki-84 left a 16-foot by 32-foot hole in the Salamaua's flight deck. It also sparked a number of fires. The plane had carried two 551-pound bombs, allowing it to penetrate deeply into the lower decks. One bomb detonated near the tank tops, just above the bilge and narrowly missing the bomb stowage compartment. The blast sent debris and fuselage across the flight deck, collapsing a number of bulkheads. The second bomb failed to explode and was ejected through the starboard side of the ship at the waterline. The 20-inch hole it left allowed seawater to rush into the ship. As a result, the ship lost power, communications, and steering, becoming a sitting duck.
While the Salamaua sat immobile, two more planes tried to strike it. One crashed into the sea, while another detonated in mid-air as it approached. The failure of those pilots meant that the attack killed only 15 of the Salamaua's crew. Another 88 crewmen were injured, some seriously.
When Rear Admiral Calvin T. Durgin, in command of a task force, asked for the origin of the smoke he saw coming from the Salamaua, he received the reply, "Something just went through our flight deck." The starboard engine was submerged and the ship listed 8 degrees to starboard. Yet the crew managed to get the ship functional using only the portside engine. Ten long hours after the attack, the Salamaua was able to break away to Leyte for repairs. An entire day of pumping failed to alleviate the flooding, so the ship merely underwent stabilization repairs before being sent to San Francisco for two rounds of repair. The Salamaua returned to the Philippines in May and eventually was retired from service in 1946, earning the dubious distinction of being the last ship to be successfully attacked by a kamikaze. This fragment belonged to Lt. Commander Fred R. Salisbury II of Minnesota. Salisbury worked in his father's business, a furniture manufacturer, until the outbreak of World War II, Salisbury enlisted in the U.S. Navy in February of 1942 and was assigned to be lieutenant commander of the USS Salamaua, a Casablanca-class escort aircraft carrier. Salisbury was released on inactive duty in March 1946 and became vice president of the family business. Salisbury was responsible for etching the inscription—"Piece of Jap Kamikazi that hit USS Salamaua of Lingayan Guld, Jan 13 1945—into the airplane fragment. Accompanied by Salisbury's identification card from the U.S. Naval Reserve dated "28 NOV. 1945."
A fascinating World War II artifact.