The Okha, Or “Cherry Blossom” Was The World’s First Guided Missile.

Japanese Okha Suicide Bomb/Aircraft, Dropped From Beneath a Mitsubishi "Betty" Bomber.
Japanese Okha Suicide Bomb/Aircraft, Dropped From Beneath a Mitsubishi "Betty" Bomber.

I am certain that from the perspective of Japanese defense forces in WWII, the attack on Pearl Harbor was like biting the tail of a tyrannosaur. They must have watched as we slowly stood up and crashed through one defensive gate after the next. The tough talk and rah rah attitudes of Imperialist Japan were never be enough to stop the United States from seeking to smash Japan for Pearl Harbor. They blustered in public and worried in private.

After the Battle of Midway, it became perfectly clear to Russia that we were going to invade Japan, and thus Stalin moved millions of troops from Siberia and Manchuria to the Western front where a massive counter offensive had the Wehrmacht on the run. Midway also scared the Japanese high command realizing that as good as their defense forces were, they might not be able to stop an enemy that had not just immense industrial capability. That said, the Japanese were looking for new weapons to stop the allied advance.

The Japanese Yokosuka design and research facility decided to create a suicide weapon built with the kamikaze mission in mind from the bottom up. They designed a rocket powered, single engine, single seat one way ticket to oblivion. The Okha was carried beneath a Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” bomber at high speed where it became a glide bomb with a person steering it. Some 700 of these missiles were created in 1944 and 1945, each with a 2,646lb warhead. As the Okha neared it’s target the pilot fired up the rocket engine which gave the Okha almost too much velocity to stop it. The Okha featured triple solid-fuel Type 4 Mark 1 Model 20 rocket booster systems. These produced 1,764 pounds of thrust upwards of 500 mph terminal velocity.

All told, the Okhas hit seven ships and sank two of them. The entire kamikaze program was largely successful, causing 18,000 casualties among US Naval personnel, although by then it was just too little too late. Putting a person into a suicide plane was the same as putting an infrared or radar guided missile onto the warhead. And in the case of kamikaze, if they came back from a mission, they could always redeploy on another mission. The Ohka pilot, however, was locked into the seat from the outside. Like the Roach Motel, you can check in, but once you’re in the Okha, you can never check out.

The Cherry Blossom, The First Guided Missile
The Cherry Blossom, The First Guided Missile

Sources: and Citations:


Angelucci, Enzo: Matricardi, paolo; Pinto, Pierluigi, The Complete Book Of WWI Aircraft, 2001. Barnes and Noble Books.


3 thoughts on “The Okha, Or “Cherry Blossom” Was The World’s First Guided Missile.”

  1. Dan in Michigan

    Believe you can find that the Germans used them in 42′-43′ in the Med with some success. And we used them in the Solomons in early 44′ (as a test bed only) against Japanese garrisons that were bypassed.

  2. Fritz X and another German missile were radio guided so they were before the guided Okha missile. See the usage on the Italian battleship Roma. I believe in September 43.

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