A Close Look at a Shinyo

Just three Japanese Shinyo (Sea Quake) suicide boats are in existence today. One is in the collection of the Australian War Memorial, where it has been since the end of the war.

“A Japanese Shinyo suicide launch which was captured by the crew of the Bathurst-class corvette/minesweeper HMAS Deloraine (J232/M232), brought back to Australia and presented to the Australian War Memorial. Six of the 24 captured boats were in operational readiness. This image is from the collection of Lieutenant Paul Merrick (Mick) Dexter, who enlisted in the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RANV) in 1943, and was a watchkeeper and anti-submarine specialist on Corvettes between 1944 and 1946. He continued to serve in the RANV after the Second World War, resigning his commission in 1964.”

From AWM:

Japanese suicide launch (Shinyo). Plywood hulled vessel over frames, with a rear open-topped compartment for a single pilot. Powered by a Chevrolet straight 6 cylinder engine housed in the central compartment. Painted emerald green above the waterline and red below. The original Japanese pea-green paint survives below more modern paint coats. The missing steering wheel and some controls.

“This launch was recovered by HMAS Deloraine at Sandakan Harbour, British North Borneo, during the period of the occupation of that area by Australian Naval & Military Forces in October 1945. It was one of six that were in an immediate state of operational readiness complete with petrol, out of a total of thirty discovered. An opportunity of using this type of craft in the area was never presented. There was a further eighteen similar craft in different states of repair. This launch was used by sailors from the Deloraine as a ski boat on Sandakan Harbour. It returned to Australia with the Deloraine in late 1945 and was presented to the Australian War Memorial.

Construction of these boats began in 1943. The boats were designed to be one-man suicide craft armed with a 300kg charge of TNT. By the end of the war, about 6,000 had been produced, most of them built of wood but a few built from steel. Most of these boats were deployed around the Philippine Islands and the Japanese Home Islands and hidden until they could be of use. Because of their green color, they were referred to as ‘frogs’ by Japanese troops. The launch when transferred to HMAS Deloraine was painted to conform to the ship’s color scheme, but the correct colors should be dark olive green with red below the waterline.”

To further detail how the Dexter boat got back to the AWM, check out the below radio (podcast) interview, which is very informative.

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