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Suicide mission to decipher wartime message

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 03, 2014

  • Some of the insignia on the side of an Ohka 2 suicide plane

  • The Ohka 2 kamikaze plane which has been restored at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton PICTURES: SWNS

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Museum managers in Somerset are appealing for help to decipher mysterious codes discovered on the side of a Second World War kamikaze aeroplane.

The cryptic markings were found when the Ohka 2 Japanese aircraft was removed from the rafters of the museum where it has been hanging for 30 years.

Closer inspection of the plane – one of only two complete examples in the world – revealed two sets of symbols. One of them is etched into the hatch-cover, which would have held one-and-a-quarter tons of explosives in the nose of the aircraft.

Puzzled staff at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton are now appealing for help to translate the codes to better understand their meaning. Curators also found a marking of a cherry blossom on the aircraft, from which the Ohka takes its name – a Japanese symbol of flowering and rebirth. The Ohka 2 aircraft were used towards the end of the conflict and were fixed to the underside of bombers before being flown to a height of 12,000ft and released. Japanese suicide pilots crashed them into allied ships.

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