The pilot guided the torpedo to its destination, effectively committing suicide on impact. Kaiten meaning “Return to the sky” was a manned torpedo designed by the Japanese in World War II. In 1943 the Japanese began reviewing suicide crafts since they were struggling in the war. At first, they were deemed too extreme, but later were reviewed and said to be necessary.
They began developing various crafts. The navy developed kamikaze airplanes. They developed shinyo suicide boats, fukuryu suicide divers, also known as human mines, and the kaiten submarines. The kamikaze planes were somewhat effective, and the kaiten subs were second most effective.
The kaiten were developed to deploy from the surface deck of a submarine. They were basically a torpedo with a cockpit attached to it. Specially equipped subs could hold two to six kaiten at a time. Kaitens, however, had very minimal diving depth and for this, many submarines ended up sinking.
Men volunteered to be Kaiten pilots and their families were told they’d be compensated 10,000 yen if their pilot was killed.