1. #1
    This is the next installment of my listing of ships in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Today's subject are on the aircraft carriers of the IJN



    Hosho class


    Hosho (Flying Phoenix)




    Displacement: 9,630 tons normal, 7,470 tons standard
    Dimensions: 541 x 59 x 20 feet/165 x 18 x 6 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 2 shafts, 30,000 shp, 25 knots
    Crew: 550
    Armor: none
    Armament: 4 5.5/50 SP, 2 3.1/40 AA
    Aircraft: 21


    The Hosho was initially ordered as an oil tanker with the designation Hiryu under the 8-6 Fleet plan, but during construction in 1920 it was decided to redesign the ship as an aircraft carrier.

    It is believed that the British Semphill Mission, in Japan at the time, influenced the design of the Hosho ('Soaring Phoenix'). Regardless, the Hosho was the first ship completed that was specifically designed from the keel for the role of aircraft carrier. The HMS Hermes designed at the same time was not completed until a year after her Japanese equivalent. A larger sister ship, the Shokaku had been planned for the navy, but was cancelled after Japan signed the Washington Naval Treaty in 1922.

    Commissioned in 1922 at Asano Shipbuilding Yards in Tsurumi, the Hosho originally had an 'island' on her starboard side which served as a command deck and flight observation tower. It proved unsatisfactory for both purposes in air trials and by 1923 was replaced with a bridge on the starboard side forward under the flight deck. This also allowed for the flight deck to be widened further. The Hosho was also equipped with three hinged funnels, designed to rest horizontal or vertical depending on the requirements at the time. Eventually the funnels were fixed in an upright position. Other modifications to the Hosho included lengthening the deck from 519 ft to 579 ft and 5 in, in 1944.

    The first take off from the Hosho's deck occurred on 22 February 1923 by a Mitsubishi 1MF Type 10 fighter, one of three aircraft specifically designed to operate on the carrier. The other two were the Mitsubishi 2MR Reconnaisance plane, and the 1MT torpedo tri-plane.The first landing on the Hosho was made by a British civilian, a Mr. Jourdan, a day later on the 23 of February. The initial landing system used on the Hosho was based off the British method of longitudial wires running the length of the deck, in addition with the cross deck wire. The system resulted in more annoyance than benefit and was scrapped in favor of the traditonal cross deck arresting cables.

    From the date of her commission in 1922 to the completion of the Akagi in 1927, the Hosho served as the most advanced aircraft carrier in the Imperial Navy. In 1933, she was withdrawn from the regular fleet and assigned as a training vessel. She remained in this capacity until the outbreak of the Pacific War and assisted with a compliment of older aircraft in operations along the Chinese coasts in 1940.

    At the outbreak of WW II, her high angle guns were replaced by four 25mm twin mount machine guns. Later, the 14cm guns were removed and 25mm double or single mount machine guns were added. During much of the war, however, the Hosho was used primarily for training purposes, but did serve in an air defense capacity at the Battle of Midway in 1942. Three years later, she sustained damage during an American air attack on Kure, Japan.

    After the war, the Hosho was used as a repatriation vessel to return Japanese citizens and soldiers home. Upon completing this mission, she was scrapped in 1947.



    Kaga class


    Kaga (a province)




    Specifications as completed
    Displacement: 33,693 tons normal
    Dimensions: 754.5 x 97 x 26 feet/230 x 29.5 x 8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 782.5 x 100 x 26 feet/238.5 x 30.5 x 8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 12 boilers, 4 shafts, 91,000 shp, 27.5 knots
    Crew: 1340
    Armor: 11 inch belt
    Armament: 2 dual, 6 single 8/50 SP, 6 dual 4.7/45 DP, 22 MG
    Aircraft: 60

    Specifications following reconstruction
    Displacement: 42,541 tons full load
    Dimensions: 788.5 x 106.5 x 31 feet/240.3 x 32.5 x 9.5 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 812.5 x 106.5 x 31 feet/247.6 x 32.5 x 9.5 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 127,400 shp, 28.34 knots
    Crew: 2016
    Armor: 11 inch belt
    Armament: 10 single 8/50 SP, 8 dual 5/40 DP, 22 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 81 (90 maximum)



    The Kaga (named for an old Japanese province) was originally laid down and launched as a 39,900 ton battleship as part of the 8-8 Fleet plan of the Japanese Navy. Final construction of the Kaga was halted after Japan signed the Washington Naval Treaty in February, 1922. It was decided to convert her into an aircraft carrier after the planned carrier Amagi was seriously damaged in the great 1923 Tokyo earthquake. Conversion began in the latter part of 1923.
    The Kaga was laid down along the same design as her sister ship the Akagi. One difference was her shorter flight deck, approximately 58 feet shorter than that of the Akagi. Another difference involved the Kaga's funnel system, which deviated from the original large and small system of the Akagi. Instead, Kaga had boiler uptakes which bypassed the hangar deck and vented over the aft quarter deck.

    Also like the Akagi, the Kaga underwent significant overhaul in the 1930's. The work to modernize her began at the Sasebo Naval Yard in 1934 and lasted into 1935. Major changes involved the lengthening of her hull aftwards by 34 feet and the extension of her flight deck to reach the full length of the ship. The flight deck expansion added an extra 253 feet and allowed for usage by modern aircraft. Similiar to the Akagi overhaul, the Kaga's hangars were enlarged and fly-off platforms were removed from the lower deck. This allowed for the ship's complement of aircraft to be increased to an official number of 90, though her operational max was actually nine fewer planes. During the Second World War, this number was further reduced to 66 by 1942.
    Other improvements involved the addition of a starboard side island ahead of midships, as well as bulges below the waterline to increase stability and add further protection. As a result, her beam was expanded by over 9 1/2 feet. The exhaust vents, formerly placed over the aft quarterdeck, were redesigned into one downard sweeping funnel that extended to the starboard. Lastly, an additional hangar lift was added, increasing the number of her aircraft lifts to three, and several of her 8 inch turrets were removed and replaced with aft casemates.

    After her substantial reconstruction, the Kaga was active off of the Chinese coast from the beginning in 1937 for several years. She was then assigned to the Pearl Harbor strike force and her aircraft participated in the 7 December 1941 attack. Like the Akagi, the Kaga was present at the Battle of Midway and did not survive the conflict.

    There are two competing testimonies concerning her demise. The first by the United States Navy, that she was set afire by direct hits from dive bombers of the USS Enterprise and subsequently sunk as a result of the explosion caused when uncontrollable fires reached her fuel tanks. The second comes from Japanese survivors of the battle, who claim the decision was made to scuttle the Haga and she sank as a result of a torpedo salvo from the destroyer Hagekaze. Regardless of the veracity of either story, the Kaga was abandoned prior to sinking after the loss of more than 800 of her crewmen.



    Akagi class


    Akagi (Red Castle)




    Specifications as completed
    Displacement: 33,693 tons normal
    Dimensions: 754.5 x 97 x 26 feet/230 x 29.5 x 8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 782.5 x 100 x 26 feet/238.5 x 30.5 x 8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 12 boilers, 4 shafts, 91,000 shp, 27.5 knots
    Crew: 1340
    Armor: 11 inch belt
    Armament: 2 dual, 6 single 8/50 SP, 6 dual 4.7/45 DP, 22 MG
    Aircraft: 60

    Specifications following reconstruction
    Displacement: 42,541 tons full load
    Dimensions: 788.5 x 106.5 x 31 feet/240.3 x 32.5 x 9.5 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 812.5 x 106.5 x 31 feet/247.6 x 32.5 x 9.5 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 127,400 shp, 28.34 knots
    Crew: 2016
    Armor: 11 inch belt
    Armament: 10 single 8/50 SP, 8 dual 5/40 DP, 22 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 81 (90 maximum)


    The Akagi (meaning 'Red Castle' and the name of a mountain) was originally laid down as a 41,200 ton battle cruiser, but construction at the Kure Naval Yard was halted after the signing of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty. A year later the decision was made to convert the Akagi into the largest air craft carrier of the Imperial Navy. A sister ship, the Kaga, also laid down as a battle cruiser, commenced conversion to a carrier at approximately the same time.

    The Akagi was built with two hangars, a flush flight deck, and two hangar deck forward platforms for take off. In addition, she was equipped with two funnels, a large one which curved downwards and a smaller which curved upwards. Located below the flight deck, the two funnels were merged into one downward curving funnel in a massive overhaul between 1935 and 1938. In the same overhaul, a process to modernize the Akagi with technical innovations, the length of the hangars was increased by 80 feet and the flight deck expanded, while the take off platforms on the hangar deck were removed entirely. The addition to the hangar allowed for an expansion of the carrier's flight complement from 60 to 91 airplanes, though the maximum operational number was 72 craft.

    During the overhaul, two 8 inch gun turrets were replaced with an unusually located small island attached to the port side of the Akagi at midships. This was replicated only else where on the Hiryu. The remaining carriers had islands on the starboard (standard) side"”of those that had them at all. Strategists planned to use these carriers in a formation that was unique. The lead carriers in the basic formation were to be the port-islanded Hiryu and Akagi, followed by the Soryu and Kaga. This supposedly allowed for a more compact formation with nonconflicting aircraft traffic patterns. This formation was later used in the Battle of Midway.

    A significant addition was a four foot wide bulge to the hull of the ship on both sides of the Akagi, which provided better protection under the waterline, as well as offered improved stability. Lastly, a third airplane lift was added to the pre-existing two lifts. Overall, the Akagi became a showpiece in the fleet for innovative technologies which later were deemed at best impractical and at worse terrible, with the result that they were never adopted by other carrier manufacturers.

    The Akagi was formally commissioned on 25 March 1927 and replaced the Hosho as the largest operational aircraft carrier in the Imperial Navy. A year later, she was joined by the Kaga. The Akagi remained the flagship of the carrier force and was in this role in the forced that attacked the United States naval base of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. After Pearl Harbor, she participated in raids into the Indian Ocean, but was severely damaged on the second day of the Battle of Midway in June 1942. Her flight deck destroyed and ravaged by unstoppable fires, the decision was made to abandon ship and the Akagi was scuttled on 5 May 1942.



    Ryuho class


    Ryuho (Dragon Phoenix)



    Displacement: 16,700 tons full load
    Dimensions: 689 x 64 x 22 feet/210 x 19.5 x 6.7 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 707.5 x 75.6 x 22 feet/215.6 x 23 x 6.7 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 52,000 shp, 26.5 knots
    Crew: 989
    Armor: 1/2 inch deck in some areas
    Armament: 4 dual 5/40 DP, 38 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 31

    The Ryuho was originally laid down and completed as the submarine tender Taigei. She served in this capacity until the prospect of war with the United States motivated the navy to convert her into a light aircraft carrier. Construction began in 1941, but completion was delayed after the Ryuho was damaged while in dry dock in the famous B-25 Doolittle Raid on Japan.

    Completed on 28 November 1942, she had a 607 feet long and 75 1/2 feet wide flight deck that was complimented by a two lift serviced aircraft hangar. The deck was later lengthened by 43 feet towards the end of the war as part of a moderate upgrade in 1944. Her original disel motors were replaced with powerful boilers and turbines usually assigned to destroyers.

    The Ryuho did not emerge as a top fighting ship after her conversion. She suffered from poor internal subdivision, a slow cruising speed of 26 knots, and a weak hull. AS a result, for much of the war she was used as a training vessel. The desperate situation of the navy by the war's end resulted in her being placed into a combat role and promptly damaged to the point of inoperability in a 17 March 1945 attack at Kure. The Ryuho finished the Pacific War beached and was promptly scrapped soon after.



    Ryujo class


    Ryujo (Heavenly Dragon)




    Displacement: 10,150 tons normal
    Dimensions: 575.5 x 66.5 x 18 feet/175.4 x 20.3 x 5.5 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 590.5 x 75.5 x 18 feet/180 x 23 x 5.5 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 6 boilers, 2 shafts, 65,000 shp, 29 knots
    Crew: 600
    Armor: light plating around machinery and magazines
    Armament: 6 dual 5/40 DP, 24 MG
    Aircraft: 37

    In 1931, a replenishment plan was authorized the Navy, permitting it to complete construction of the Ryujo ("Galloping Dragon"), a small aircraft carrier of about 10,000 tons laid down in 1929 at Yokohama. She was completed in 1933, her limited deck, only 513 1/2 feet long and 75 1/2 feet wide, was free of an obstructive island. The Ryujo had a speed of 29 knots, carried 36 aircraft, and was armed with 12 five-inch guns.

    The original design of the Ryujo called for one hangar, but a second hangar was added to increase her number of aircraft. This addition was done without increasing the size of the ship and as a result, the Ryujo was often unstable and overloaded. Soon afterwards, the Japanese Navy discovered that an entire generation of warships, designed to squeeze a great deal of fighting power into hulls of limited size, were incapable of safe operation in the open ocean. The Ryujo was one of these, and during the mid-1930s she was extensively reconstructed to make her suitable for service.

    Though very small for her intended fleet carrier duties, she was actively employed during the war against China later in the decade. The ship was again modified in 1940, when her low forecastle was built up one deck to improve seakeeping.

    When the new, large fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku joined the Japanese fleet, Ryujo was relegated to secondary tasks. During the Pacific War's first weeks in December 1941, she supported the effort to capture the Philippines. In February 1942, the carrier participated in the conquest of the East Indies and, in the early April 1942 Japanese raids on the Bay of Bengal, Ryujo's air group sank several ships. In an operation intended to divert American attention from the impending attack on Midway her planes attacked Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on 3 and 4 June 1942.

    A few weeks after the 7 August 1942 Allied invasion of the southern Solomon Islands, the Japanese sent a convoy of transports to reinforce their beleaguered troops on Guadalcanal. Ryujo was to cover the convoy and send planes to attack the American airfield on the island, while the larger Japanese carriers operated separately against the U.S. Navy's aircraft carriers. Thus, in the 24 August Battle of the Eastern Solomons, Ryujo, isolated from other sources of air support and with most of her planes off on a strike mission, was overwhelmed by a powerful air assault from USS Saratoga. Despite effective maneuvering, she was fatally damaged by several hits and sank after her surviving crewmembers had been removed by escorting destroyers.
    She was Japan's fourth aircraft carrier.




    Soryu class


    Soryu (A Dragon Blue As The Deep Ocean)





    Displacement: 19,800 tons full load
    Dimensions: 728 x 70 x 25 feet/221.9 x 21.3 x 7.6 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 746.5 x 85.5 x 25 feet/227.5 x 26 x 7.6 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 152,000 shp, 34.5 knots
    Crew: 1100
    Armor: 1.8 inch belt, 1-2.2 inch decks
    Armament: 6 dual 5/40 DP, 28 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 63 (71 maximum)


    The two aircraft carriers laid down in 1934 and 1936 were the Soryu ("Blue Dragon") and Hiryu ("Flying Dragon"). They represented the next generation of Japanese carriers and all future ships were based off their design that emphacised speed, a light build, and offensive power at a trade off for defensive power.

    The Soryu displaced about 18,000 tons standard, had a speed of 34.5 knots, and handled 63 aircraft. The Hiryu was heavier, 18,500 tons standard, and had a speed of 34.3 knots. Officially, both ships were carried on the books as of 10,050 tons standard; the true tonnage was not revealed until after WW II. Both ships carried the same number of planes and had the same armament, 12 five-inch guns.

    Soryu built at Kure, Japan, was completed in December 1937. One of six carriers that delivered the Pearl Harbor attack on 7 December 1941, she also participated in other early Pacific War operations. Soryu was sunk on 4 June 1942, during the Battle of Midway, after SBD "Dauntless" aircraft from USS Yorktown (CV-5) hit her with several bombs which ingited fires that reached her fuel tanks with disastrous results.

    Hiryu, built at Yokosuka, Japan, was completed in July 1939. Active throughout the first six months of the Pacific War, she took part in the December 1941 Pearl Harbor attack as well as operations in the East Indies and Indian Ocean area. On 4 June 1942, during the Battle of Midway, Hiryu's aircraft inflicted serious bomb and torpedo damage to USS Yorktown (CV-5), causing her abandonment.

    Later that day, Hiryu was hit by U.S. carrier dive bombers. Though she remained underway for a time, she had been fatally damaged. Abandoned early the following morning, Hiryu sank at about 0900 on 5 June, the last of four Japanese aircraft carriers to be lost in the battle.



    Hiryu class


    Hiryo (Flying Dragon)





    Displacement: 21,900 tons full load
    Dimensions: 731.5 x 73 x 25.5 feet/223 x 22.25 x 7.8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 746 x 88.5 x 25.5 feet/227.4 x 27 x 7.8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 153,000 shp, 34.3 knots
    Crew: 1101
    Armor: 3.5-5.9 inch belt, 1-2.2 inch deck
    Armament: 6 dual 5/40 DP, 31 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 64 (73 maximum)



    Hiryu ("flying dragon") was a Soryu-class aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy. She took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor that started the Pacific War and she was sunk on June 5, 1942 by air attack in the Battle of Midway.[1]

    The ship was built within the specifications of the Washington Naval Treaty that was in place at the time, which placed limits on its tonnage and armament. As a result, the Soryu and Hiryu were relatively small as fleet aircraft carrier, compared to her contemporaries during World War II, carrying around 70 aircraft. Compared to her sister Soryu, Hiryu was almost 4 feet greater of beam, 2,000 tons heavier, and had her island placed on the left side and farther aft on her flight deck.



    Shokaku class


    Shokaku (Flying Crane)




    Zuikaku (Lucky Crane)




    Displacement: 32,105 tons full load
    Dimensions: 820 x 85 x 29 feet/250 x 26 x 8.8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 845 x 95 x 29 feet/257.5 x 29 x 8.8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 160,000 shp, 34.2 knots
    Crew: 1660
    Armor: 1.8-6.5 inch belt, 3.9-5.1 inch deck
    Armament: 8 dual 5/40 DP, 42 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 72 (84 maximum)


    The Shokuku ("Flying Crane") and Zuikaku ("Lucky Crane") were Japan's next venture into aircraft carrier construction following the Soryu and Hiryu. These carriers were kept fairly well under wraps, insofar as specifications are concerned. They were authorized under the very ambitious Fleet Replenishment Program of 1937, the same program under which the famed super battleships Yamato and Musashi were built. Shokaku was laid down December 12, 1937 at the Yokosuka Navy Yard, while Zuikaku was started at Kawasaki Dockyard May 25, 1938.

    Basically, the ships had similar specifications. They displaced 25,675 tons standard, had a designed speed of 34.2 knots, carried 16 five-inch guns in twin mounts, and could carry up to 84 aircraft, although a normal complement was 73. There were no major differences between the ships. Zuikaku, however, was fitted with a bulbous bow, the first Japanese warship so designed. Shokuku was launched June 1, 1939, and completed August 8, 1941; Zuikuku was launched November 27, 1939, and completed September 25, 1941.

    Completion of both carriers was delayed when the original funnel arrangement was changed in mid-construction by the Aeronautical Headquarters. As designed, the funnels were to appear one on each side of the island bridge, fore and aft on the starboard side. This was changed by placing the two funnels immediately aft of the island. Critically, concrete was used to fill the air spaces around the aircraft fuel tanks to avoid replication of the destructive fires that occured on the carriers at the Battle of Midway.

    The Japanese did not give either ship much publicity. Both ships, Zuikaku and Shokaku, were to figure prominently in most sea battles of WW II involving naval air. Their design was based on the best material gathered from experiences in Akagi, Kaga, and the Soryu types. Later Japanese carriers (i.e., multiple ship design classes) were constructed in two groups: the large to be like Taiho (with armored flight deck), and the medium to be repeats of the Soryu class. Zuikaku and Shokaku comprised an entire class.

    The Shokaku participated in Japan's early wartime offensives, including the attack on Pearl Harbor, the raid into the Indian Ocean and the Battle of Coral Sea. In the latter action, on 8 May 1942, Shokaku was seriously damaged by dive bombers from USS Yorktown (CV-5) and had to return to Japan for repairs.

    Later in 1942, Shokaku took part in the August Battle of the Eastern Solomons and the October Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. She was again badly damaged by bombs in the latter action. In 1943-44, she continued operations as one of the Japanese Navy's most important fleet carriers. Shokaku was sunk by the U.S. submarine Cavalla (SS-244) on 19 June 1944, during the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

    The Zuikaku took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor. During the great Japanese Pacific offensive of late 1941 and early 1942, Zuikaku was a participant in attacks on Rabaul, the East Indies, and the Indian Ocean. While covering an intended invasion of Port Moresby, New Guinea, in early May 1942, Zuikaku and Shokaku formed the Japanese side of the World's first significant battle between aircraft carriers, the Battle of the Coral Sea. On 8 May, her planes helped disable USS Lexington (CV-2) and damage USS Yorktown (CV-5). In return, Shokaku was seriously damaged, and Zuikaku's air group was greatly depleted, ensuring that both ships were unavailable for the pivotal Battle of Midway in June.

    During the rest of 1942, Zuikaku was an important component of the Japanese forces involved in the Guadalcanal campaign, taking part in the carrier battles of the Eastern Solomons in August and Santa Cruz Islands in October. After the long lull in carrier actions that covered all of 1943 and the first part of 1944, Zuikaku again engaged her American opposite numbers in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, on 19-20 June 1944. That action, which cost Japan three more carriers, hundreds of planes and most of the rest of her trained carrier pilots, reduced her once-irresistable aircraft carrier fleet to a state of virtual impotence. Zuikaku was damaged in the battle, but was soon repaired.

    In October 1944, Zuikaku led the remaining Japanese carriers in the role of "bait" to divert U.S. carrier planes away from the surface forces that were attempting to attack U.S. ships off Leyte, in the Philippines. This mission was successful, though it did not lead to Japanese victory in any component of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and it came at great cost to Zuikaku and her consorts, who had few planes embarked to defend themselves. In the resulting Battle off Cape Engano, on 25 October 1944, the four Japanese aircraft carriers were repeatedly hit by U.S. carrier planes' bombs and torpedoes. All of them, including Zuikaku, were sunk.



    Shoho class


    Shoho (Happy Phoenix)




    Zuiho (Lucky Phoenix)




    Displacement: 14,200 tons full load
    Dimensions: 660.5 x 59.5 x 21.5 feet/201.3 x 18 x 6.5 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 672 x 75.6 x 21.5 feet/204.8 x 23 x 6.5 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 52,000 shp, 28 knots
    Crew: 785
    Armor: none (?)
    Armament: 4 dual 5/40 DP, 8 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 30

    In 1936, while the submarine depot ship Takasaki was under construction, the decision was made to complete the ship as a carrier. Work on this project was not started until January 1940, but was completed in December that year. The carrier was renamed Zuiho ("Happy Phoenix"). She displaced 11,200 tons standard, sailed at 28 knots, and carried 30 aircraft. She was armed with eight five inch guns.

    A sister ship, Shoho ("Lucky Phoenix") a 13,950-ton light aircraft carrier, entered service in January 1942. Originally the fast submarine support ship Tsurugisaki, which had been completed at Yokosuka Dockyard in 1939, the ship was renamed and her conversion to an aircraft carrier begun in 1941. Both ships were equipped with one hangar and their original diesel motors were replaced with destroyer level turbines and boilers. The hangar was serviced by two lifts to the flight deck.

    On 7 May 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea, Shoho was sunk by an overwhelming dive bombing and torpedo attack delivered by aircraft from USS Lexington (CV-2) and USS Yorktown (CV-5). She was the first carrier loss to the Japanese navy in the Pacific War. The Zuiho lasted until 25 October 1944, when she was destroyed via a combination of torpedoes and bombs at the Battle of Cape Engano.



    Taiyo class


    Chuyo (A Hawk Going Speedily To Heaven)



    Unyo (A Hawk In The Clouds)



    Taiyo (Great Hawk)




    Displacement: 20,000 tons normal
    Dimensions: 570 x 74 x 25 feet/183.7 x 22.5 x 7.6 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 591.5 x 74 x 25 feet/180.3 x 22.5 x 7.6 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 25,200 shp, 21 knots
    Crew: 850 (Taiyo: 747)
    Armor: none
    Armament: 4 dual 5/40 DP (Taiyo 6 4.7/45 AA), 8 25 mm
    Aircraft: 27


    The three ships in this class were originally laid down as liners of the NYK line. In September, 1940 the Taiyo was launched at the Mitsubishi (Nagasaki) Yard. On May 1, 1940 she was towed to the Sasebo Navy Yard where she was completed in September, 1941 as an aircraft carrier. The Unyo and Chuyo were completed as liners then moved to the Kure Navy Yard and there completed as aircraft carriers (Unyo converted January-May 1942, Chuyo May-November 1942). They were the first merchantships to be converted as aircraft carriers.

    As aircraft carriers they were larger, faster, and carried more aircraft than any merchant vessels similarly converted by the Allied Navies. Lacking as they did important items of equipment for aircraft handling, they were unsuitable for their role as fleet aircraft carriers. As a result they saw very little action with the Combined Fleet. They were used mostly to ferry aircraft to distant island bases and for training pilots in aircraft techniques.

    All three of these carriers were sunk by US submarines. The Chuyo was sunk off the coast of Japan in a typhoon by the USS Sailfish. The Taiyo was sunk in the Luzon Straits while escorting an important convoy HI-71 by the USS Rasher. The Unyo was also sunk in the Luzon Straits by the USS Barb while she was escorting another convoy.



    Hiyo class


    Hiyo (Flying Falcon)




    Junyo (Peregrine Falcon)





    Displacement: 28,300 tons full load
    Dimensions: 706 x 87.5 x 26.5 feet/215 x 26.7 x 8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 719.5 x ?? x 26.5 feet/219 x ?? x 8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 6 boilers, 2 shafts, 56,250 shp, 25.5 knots
    Crew: 1187-1224
    Armor: 1 inch over machinery
    Armament: 6 dual 5/40 DP, 24 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 53



    Junyo, first of a class of two 24,100-ton aircraft carriers, was built by Mitsubishi at Nagasaki, Japan. She was begun as the civilian passenger liner Kashiwara Maru but was taken over by the Japanese Navy in 1940, while still on the shipways, and converted to a carrier. She was equipped with two aircraft hangars, two lifts, and was the first class of Japanese carriers to have the funnel incorporated into the structure of the island.

    Completed in May 1942, early in June she participated in the attacks on U.S. Alaskan bases that accompanied the Battle of Midway. As one of four large aircraft carriers remaining after the Midway action, Junyo was an important unit of the Japanese fleet during the next two years, even though she had a lower speed (about 23 knots) and smaller air group (about fifty planes) than built-for-the-purpose fleet carriers.

    In late October 1942, during the intense Guadalcanal Campaign, Junyo took part in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. In that action, her planes attacked the U.S. carrier Enterprise, battleship South Dakota and light cruiser San Juan, scoring hits on the latter two. In mid-November, she played a covering role in the three-day-long Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The following Spring, her planes were sent to Rabaul, with those of other Japanese carriers, for land-based attacks on the Allied forces gathering at Guadalcanal. In June 1943, Junyo helped protect a important convoy sent to reinforce the Japanese garrison on Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands.

    A year later, as the U.S. assaulted the Mariana Islands, Junyo joined the rest of Japan's aircraft carriers in the sortie that produced Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19-20 June 1944. After that action, her air group was so depleted that she was unable to participate in the great Battle of Leyte Gulf in October. While operating off southern Japan on 9 December 1944, Junyo was badly damaged by torpedoes from the U.S. submarines Redfish (SS-395) and Sea Devil (SS-400). Since Japan's strategic situation was now so bad as to eliminate any need for a carrier fleet, she was not repaired for seagoing service. At the end of the Pacific War, Junyo was moored at Sasebo, where she was scrapped in 1947 after servicing as a repatriation vessel. Her sister ship, the Hiyo, was sunk in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.



    Chiyoda class


    Chiyoda (a city)




    Chitose (a city)



    Displacement: 15,300 tons full load
    Dimensions: 610 x 68 x 24.5 feet/186 x 20.7 x 7.5 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 631.5 x 75.5 x 24.5 feet/192.5 x 23 x 24.5 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines plus diesels, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 44,000 shp, 12,800 bhp, 29 knots
    Armor: none (?)
    Crew: 800
    Armament: 4 dual 5/50 DP, 30 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 30


    The Chitose and her sister ship the Chiyoda both were laid down, launched, and completed as seaplane tenders prior to the outbreak of war with the United States. A year into the war it was decided to convert the two into light aircraft carriers. The Chitose underwent conversion at the Sasebo Naval Yards and was completed in New Years Day, 1944. The Chiyoda was completed approximately two months earlier at the Yokosuka Naval Yards. Both ships were outfitted with a single hangar and an additional 6 feet 7 inches were added to their beams. The added flight deck was serviced by two lifts.
    Both the Chitose and the Chiyoda were sunk at the Battle of Cape Engano, which occurred during the Japanese Navy's "Sho-Go" operation that produced the Battle of Leyte Gulf. In charge of the operation was Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, commander of the operation's northern force. Ozawa's was a desperate mission -- provide an attractive target for U.S. Admiral William F. Halsey's Third Fleet, hopefully pulling the powerful American "fast carriers" north so that Japanese surface ships could slip in and attack U.S. invasion forces off Leyte. His ships were not expected to survive their diversionary employment.
    Among Ozawa's ships were the Chitose and the Chiyoda, which steamed south from Japan on 20 October. With two other carriers in the group, they carried only 116 planes, much less than their normal capacity and nowhere close to a match for the aircraft of Halsey's task forces.
    Despite their role as "bait", the Japanese carriers sighted Halsey first and launched a strike in the late morning of 24 October. This accomplished nothing, and only a few planes returned to the carriers, leaving them with less than thirty. The Japanese ships tried hard to be conspicuous, and U.S. aircraft finally spotted them in mid-afternoon. Admiral Halsey, believing that his aviators had driven the other Japanese forces away, headed north to attack.
    At about 0800 on the morning of 25 October, American carrier planes began a series of attacks and succeeded insinking the Chitose. A second strike came in around 1000 and permanently stopped the Chiyoda, at 1624 attacked by gunfire of U.S. Navy TG 38.3 (four cruisers, nine destroyers) surface forces, and stubbornly returns fire. At 1655 - hit repeatedly - she rolled onto her beam ends and sank.



    Kaiyo class


    Kaiyo (Sea Hawk)





    Displacement: 16,483 tons normal
    Dimensions: 523.5 x 72 x 26.5 feet/159.6 x 22 x 8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 546.5 x 72 x 26.5 feet/166.5 x 22 x 8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 52,000 shp, 23 knots
    Crew: 829
    Armor: none
    Armament: 4 dual 5/40 DP, 24 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 24


    The Kaiyo, a 16,748-ton escort aircraft carrier, was built at Nagasaki, Japan, as a civilian passenger liner for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha Line. Completed in 1939, she was taken over for use as a troop transport in 1941, serving under her original name, Argentina Maru. In December 1942, she began conversion to an aircraft carrier, and was renamed Kaiyo.

    Conversion was completed in November 1943, and the ship served during the rest of the Pacific War as an escort carrier, aircraft transport and training carrier. She was seriously damaged by British Royal Navy planes in Beppu Bay, Kyushu, on 24 July 1945. Kaiyo was stricken from the Japanese naval register in November 1945 and was scrapped at Beppu Bay in 1946-48.

    A sister ship, the Brazil Maru was scheduled for conversion as well but sunk before it could occur.



    Shinyo class


    Shinyo (Godly Hawk)





    Displacement: 20,586 tons trial
    Dimensions: 621 x 84 x 27 ft
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 26,000 shp, 22 knots
    Crew: 942
    Armor: none
    Armament: 4 dual 5/40 DP, 30 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 33


    The Shinyo began as the Norddeutscher Lloyd passenger liner the "Scharnhorst," but was bought by Japan in February 1942 with the intention to convert her into an aircraft carrier. Conversion occurred at the Kure Naval Yard between 1942 and 1943 and during the process, steel originally slated for the fourth battleship of the Yamato class was used. She was formally completed on 15 December 1943, though almost a year later she was sunk by the American submarine USS Spadefish.

    A sister ship, the Kamakura Maru was sunk before she could be converted from a passenger liner to an aircraft carrier.



    Taiho class


    Taiho (Great Phoenix)





    Displacement: 37,720 tons full load
    Dimensions: 830 x 91 x 31.5 feet/253 x 27.7 x 9.6 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 855 x 98.5 x 31.5 feet/260.6 x 30 x 9.6 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 160,000 shp, 33.3 knots
    Crew: 1751
    Armor: 2.2-5.9 inch belt, 3.1 inch flight deck, 4.9 inch hangar deck
    Armament: 6 dual 3.9/65 AA, 51 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 53 (84 maximum)


    The Taiho was the first Japanese carrier built with an armored deck and was based off the designs of the Shokaku class carriers. She was ordered in 1939 and laid down by Kawasaki on 10/7/41 at the shipyards at Kobe. The Taiho had one deck for stability concerns and its funnel was incorporated into the structure of her island. In addition, her hull plating was pushed out from the bow to reach the edge of her flight deck, which was 844 feetlong and 98 1/2 feet wide.

    Completed on 7 March 1944, the Taiho spent her first several months training, but was otherwise soon put into action. She was sunk on 19 June of that year during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, when a torpedo attack from the USS Albacore resulted in damage that lead to the ignition of fuel vapors that had spread throughout the ship as a result of poor damage control.



    Shinano class


    Shinano (a province)





    Displacement: 71,890 tons full load
    Dimensions: 840 x 119 x 34 feet/256 x 36.3 x 10.3 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 872.5 x 131 x 34 feet/266 x 40 x 10.3 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 12 boilers, 4 shafts, 150,000 shp, 27 knots
    Crew: 2400
    Armor: 8.1-15.7 inch belt, 7.5 inch armored deck
    Armament: 8 dual 5/40 DP, 145 25 mm AA, 12 28-barrel AA rocket launchers
    Aircraft: 47 (120 maximum)

    The Shinano was originally laid down as the third ship of the Yamato class battleships. After the disaster at the Battle of Midway, plans were changed and the Shinano was converted to an aircraft carrier. The Shinano was completed in November, 1944. Fitted with an armored flight deck and an open hanger, it was planned to use the Shinano as an mobile air base, where the Shinano could replenish, repair, and maintain aircraft from other carriers. In this role she would carry few planes, but would carry large stocks of bombs, torpedoes, fuel and other supplies of replenishment. It was decided to move the Shinano to the Inland Sea to complete her fitting out because of the B-29 raids around Tokyo Bay. During her voyage from Tokyo Bay to the Inland Sea, she was torpedoed and sunk by the USS Archerfish.



    Unyru class


    Unyru (Cloud Dragon)




    Amagi (a town)




    Katsuragi (a castle)




    Kasagi (a town)



    Aso ( a town)




    Ikoma (a town)





    Displacement: 22,400-22,800 tons full load
    Dimensions: 731.5 x 72 x 25.5 feet/223 x 22 x 7.8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 746 x 88.5 x 25.5 feet/227.4 x 27 x 7.8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 152,000 shp, 34 knots (Katsuragi, Aso: 104,000 shp, 32 knots)
    Crew: 1595
    Armor: 1.8-5.9 inch belt, 1-2.2 inch deck
    Armament: 6 dual 5/40 DP, 51+ 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 65


    The design of this class closely followed that of the Hiryu class, but with the bridge on the starboard side. The keels were laid down for this class of ships in 1942-43, but only three of them ever reached completion. Work stopped on the Kasagi in April, 1945 when she was 84% complete, no armament having been fitted. Work also stopped on the Iso and the Ikoma in January, 1945 due to lack of building materials. They only had been completed to hanger deck level (60% complete with no hanger or armament fitted). All ships had been launched and left in their incomplete state until August, 1945 when they were surrendered and then later scrapped. The hull of the Aso had been used as a Kamikaze test-bed and she was in a poor state of repair, half sunk in shallow water when surrendered. The Unyru was sunk by the USS Redfish in the East China Sea in December, 1944.



    Akitsu Maru class


    Akitsu Maru



    Nigicu Maru

    No picture available


    AKITSU MARU
    Shipyard: Marima
    Keel Laid: 17. Nov., 1939
    Launched: 24. Nov., 1941
    Entered service: 30. Jan., 1942


    NIGICU MARU
    Shipyard: Marima
    Keel Laid: June 1941
    Launched: 1942
    Entered service: March 1943
    Builded as transport ships.


    Displacement: 11,800 t, 11,980 t max.
    Complement:
    Length: 152m
    Beam: 19,5m
    Draught: 7,85m
    Flight deck: 123x22,5m
    Aircraft: 20
    Speed: 20 knots
    Guns:
    12 - 76mm
    Machinery: 2 sets geared turbines. 4 Boilers, 2 shafts,


    Imperial Japanese Navy was not the only service to operate with carriers. In early 1941, the Imperial Army projected to convert some merchant ships into assault ships under their command. These vessels could be used both as troop transports and aircraft's transports

    Reconstruction was limited to redirecting boiler uptakes to the starboard side to emerge in a single funnel. A small flight deck was fitted over the superstructure. JAAF aircrafts could not only be transported, but also flown off to assist landing forces in the rapid establishment of a land-based air defense unit. Twenty standard landing crafts could be carried.

    Details of wartime operations are not known. Both ships, Akitsu Maru and Nigitsu Maru, were sunk by submarines during 1944.



    At the beginning of WW II the carriers that made up Kido Butai or the Mobile Striking Force had the best planes and pilots in the world. Until the the battles of Carol Sea and Midway the six carriers of the Kido Butai roamed the Pacific at will and nothing could stand in their way.



    tambor198
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  2. #2
    This is the next installment of my listing of ships in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Today's subject are on the aircraft carriers of the IJN



    Hosho class


    Hosho (Flying Phoenix)




    Displacement: 9,630 tons normal, 7,470 tons standard
    Dimensions: 541 x 59 x 20 feet/165 x 18 x 6 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 2 shafts, 30,000 shp, 25 knots
    Crew: 550
    Armor: none
    Armament: 4 5.5/50 SP, 2 3.1/40 AA
    Aircraft: 21


    The Hosho was initially ordered as an oil tanker with the designation Hiryu under the 8-6 Fleet plan, but during construction in 1920 it was decided to redesign the ship as an aircraft carrier.

    It is believed that the British Semphill Mission, in Japan at the time, influenced the design of the Hosho ('Soaring Phoenix'). Regardless, the Hosho was the first ship completed that was specifically designed from the keel for the role of aircraft carrier. The HMS Hermes designed at the same time was not completed until a year after her Japanese equivalent. A larger sister ship, the Shokaku had been planned for the navy, but was cancelled after Japan signed the Washington Naval Treaty in 1922.

    Commissioned in 1922 at Asano Shipbuilding Yards in Tsurumi, the Hosho originally had an 'island' on her starboard side which served as a command deck and flight observation tower. It proved unsatisfactory for both purposes in air trials and by 1923 was replaced with a bridge on the starboard side forward under the flight deck. This also allowed for the flight deck to be widened further. The Hosho was also equipped with three hinged funnels, designed to rest horizontal or vertical depending on the requirements at the time. Eventually the funnels were fixed in an upright position. Other modifications to the Hosho included lengthening the deck from 519 ft to 579 ft and 5 in, in 1944.

    The first take off from the Hosho's deck occurred on 22 February 1923 by a Mitsubishi 1MF Type 10 fighter, one of three aircraft specifically designed to operate on the carrier. The other two were the Mitsubishi 2MR Reconnaisance plane, and the 1MT torpedo tri-plane.The first landing on the Hosho was made by a British civilian, a Mr. Jourdan, a day later on the 23 of February. The initial landing system used on the Hosho was based off the British method of longitudial wires running the length of the deck, in addition with the cross deck wire. The system resulted in more annoyance than benefit and was scrapped in favor of the traditonal cross deck arresting cables.

    From the date of her commission in 1922 to the completion of the Akagi in 1927, the Hosho served as the most advanced aircraft carrier in the Imperial Navy. In 1933, she was withdrawn from the regular fleet and assigned as a training vessel. She remained in this capacity until the outbreak of the Pacific War and assisted with a compliment of older aircraft in operations along the Chinese coasts in 1940.

    At the outbreak of WW II, her high angle guns were replaced by four 25mm twin mount machine guns. Later, the 14cm guns were removed and 25mm double or single mount machine guns were added. During much of the war, however, the Hosho was used primarily for training purposes, but did serve in an air defense capacity at the Battle of Midway in 1942. Three years later, she sustained damage during an American air attack on Kure, Japan.

    After the war, the Hosho was used as a repatriation vessel to return Japanese citizens and soldiers home. Upon completing this mission, she was scrapped in 1947.



    Kaga class


    Kaga (a province)




    Specifications as completed
    Displacement: 33,693 tons normal
    Dimensions: 754.5 x 97 x 26 feet/230 x 29.5 x 8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 782.5 x 100 x 26 feet/238.5 x 30.5 x 8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 12 boilers, 4 shafts, 91,000 shp, 27.5 knots
    Crew: 1340
    Armor: 11 inch belt
    Armament: 2 dual, 6 single 8/50 SP, 6 dual 4.7/45 DP, 22 MG
    Aircraft: 60

    Specifications following reconstruction
    Displacement: 42,541 tons full load
    Dimensions: 788.5 x 106.5 x 31 feet/240.3 x 32.5 x 9.5 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 812.5 x 106.5 x 31 feet/247.6 x 32.5 x 9.5 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 127,400 shp, 28.34 knots
    Crew: 2016
    Armor: 11 inch belt
    Armament: 10 single 8/50 SP, 8 dual 5/40 DP, 22 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 81 (90 maximum)



    The Kaga (named for an old Japanese province) was originally laid down and launched as a 39,900 ton battleship as part of the 8-8 Fleet plan of the Japanese Navy. Final construction of the Kaga was halted after Japan signed the Washington Naval Treaty in February, 1922. It was decided to convert her into an aircraft carrier after the planned carrier Amagi was seriously damaged in the great 1923 Tokyo earthquake. Conversion began in the latter part of 1923.
    The Kaga was laid down along the same design as her sister ship the Akagi. One difference was her shorter flight deck, approximately 58 feet shorter than that of the Akagi. Another difference involved the Kaga's funnel system, which deviated from the original large and small system of the Akagi. Instead, Kaga had boiler uptakes which bypassed the hangar deck and vented over the aft quarter deck.

    Also like the Akagi, the Kaga underwent significant overhaul in the 1930's. The work to modernize her began at the Sasebo Naval Yard in 1934 and lasted into 1935. Major changes involved the lengthening of her hull aftwards by 34 feet and the extension of her flight deck to reach the full length of the ship. The flight deck expansion added an extra 253 feet and allowed for usage by modern aircraft. Similiar to the Akagi overhaul, the Kaga's hangars were enlarged and fly-off platforms were removed from the lower deck. This allowed for the ship's complement of aircraft to be increased to an official number of 90, though her operational max was actually nine fewer planes. During the Second World War, this number was further reduced to 66 by 1942.
    Other improvements involved the addition of a starboard side island ahead of midships, as well as bulges below the waterline to increase stability and add further protection. As a result, her beam was expanded by over 9 1/2 feet. The exhaust vents, formerly placed over the aft quarterdeck, were redesigned into one downard sweeping funnel that extended to the starboard. Lastly, an additional hangar lift was added, increasing the number of her aircraft lifts to three, and several of her 8 inch turrets were removed and replaced with aft casemates.

    After her substantial reconstruction, the Kaga was active off of the Chinese coast from the beginning in 1937 for several years. She was then assigned to the Pearl Harbor strike force and her aircraft participated in the 7 December 1941 attack. Like the Akagi, the Kaga was present at the Battle of Midway and did not survive the conflict.

    There are two competing testimonies concerning her demise. The first by the United States Navy, that she was set afire by direct hits from dive bombers of the USS Enterprise and subsequently sunk as a result of the explosion caused when uncontrollable fires reached her fuel tanks. The second comes from Japanese survivors of the battle, who claim the decision was made to scuttle the Haga and she sank as a result of a torpedo salvo from the destroyer Hagekaze. Regardless of the veracity of either story, the Kaga was abandoned prior to sinking after the loss of more than 800 of her crewmen.



    Akagi class


    Akagi (Red Castle)




    Specifications as completed
    Displacement: 33,693 tons normal
    Dimensions: 754.5 x 97 x 26 feet/230 x 29.5 x 8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 782.5 x 100 x 26 feet/238.5 x 30.5 x 8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 12 boilers, 4 shafts, 91,000 shp, 27.5 knots
    Crew: 1340
    Armor: 11 inch belt
    Armament: 2 dual, 6 single 8/50 SP, 6 dual 4.7/45 DP, 22 MG
    Aircraft: 60

    Specifications following reconstruction
    Displacement: 42,541 tons full load
    Dimensions: 788.5 x 106.5 x 31 feet/240.3 x 32.5 x 9.5 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 812.5 x 106.5 x 31 feet/247.6 x 32.5 x 9.5 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 127,400 shp, 28.34 knots
    Crew: 2016
    Armor: 11 inch belt
    Armament: 10 single 8/50 SP, 8 dual 5/40 DP, 22 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 81 (90 maximum)


    The Akagi (meaning 'Red Castle' and the name of a mountain) was originally laid down as a 41,200 ton battle cruiser, but construction at the Kure Naval Yard was halted after the signing of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty. A year later the decision was made to convert the Akagi into the largest air craft carrier of the Imperial Navy. A sister ship, the Kaga, also laid down as a battle cruiser, commenced conversion to a carrier at approximately the same time.

    The Akagi was built with two hangars, a flush flight deck, and two hangar deck forward platforms for take off. In addition, she was equipped with two funnels, a large one which curved downwards and a smaller which curved upwards. Located below the flight deck, the two funnels were merged into one downward curving funnel in a massive overhaul between 1935 and 1938. In the same overhaul, a process to modernize the Akagi with technical innovations, the length of the hangars was increased by 80 feet and the flight deck expanded, while the take off platforms on the hangar deck were removed entirely. The addition to the hangar allowed for an expansion of the carrier's flight complement from 60 to 91 airplanes, though the maximum operational number was 72 craft.

    During the overhaul, two 8 inch gun turrets were replaced with an unusually located small island attached to the port side of the Akagi at midships. This was replicated only else where on the Hiryu. The remaining carriers had islands on the starboard (standard) side"”of those that had them at all. Strategists planned to use these carriers in a formation that was unique. The lead carriers in the basic formation were to be the port-islanded Hiryu and Akagi, followed by the Soryu and Kaga. This supposedly allowed for a more compact formation with nonconflicting aircraft traffic patterns. This formation was later used in the Battle of Midway.

    A significant addition was a four foot wide bulge to the hull of the ship on both sides of the Akagi, which provided better protection under the waterline, as well as offered improved stability. Lastly, a third airplane lift was added to the pre-existing two lifts. Overall, the Akagi became a showpiece in the fleet for innovative technologies which later were deemed at best impractical and at worse terrible, with the result that they were never adopted by other carrier manufacturers.

    The Akagi was formally commissioned on 25 March 1927 and replaced the Hosho as the largest operational aircraft carrier in the Imperial Navy. A year later, she was joined by the Kaga. The Akagi remained the flagship of the carrier force and was in this role in the forced that attacked the United States naval base of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. After Pearl Harbor, she participated in raids into the Indian Ocean, but was severely damaged on the second day of the Battle of Midway in June 1942. Her flight deck destroyed and ravaged by unstoppable fires, the decision was made to abandon ship and the Akagi was scuttled on 5 May 1942.



    Ryuho class


    Ryuho (Dragon Phoenix)



    Displacement: 16,700 tons full load
    Dimensions: 689 x 64 x 22 feet/210 x 19.5 x 6.7 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 707.5 x 75.6 x 22 feet/215.6 x 23 x 6.7 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 52,000 shp, 26.5 knots
    Crew: 989
    Armor: 1/2 inch deck in some areas
    Armament: 4 dual 5/40 DP, 38 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 31

    The Ryuho was originally laid down and completed as the submarine tender Taigei. She served in this capacity until the prospect of war with the United States motivated the navy to convert her into a light aircraft carrier. Construction began in 1941, but completion was delayed after the Ryuho was damaged while in dry dock in the famous B-25 Doolittle Raid on Japan.

    Completed on 28 November 1942, she had a 607 feet long and 75 1/2 feet wide flight deck that was complimented by a two lift serviced aircraft hangar. The deck was later lengthened by 43 feet towards the end of the war as part of a moderate upgrade in 1944. Her original disel motors were replaced with powerful boilers and turbines usually assigned to destroyers.

    The Ryuho did not emerge as a top fighting ship after her conversion. She suffered from poor internal subdivision, a slow cruising speed of 26 knots, and a weak hull. AS a result, for much of the war she was used as a training vessel. The desperate situation of the navy by the war's end resulted in her being placed into a combat role and promptly damaged to the point of inoperability in a 17 March 1945 attack at Kure. The Ryuho finished the Pacific War beached and was promptly scrapped soon after.



    Ryujo class


    Ryujo (Heavenly Dragon)




    Displacement: 10,150 tons normal
    Dimensions: 575.5 x 66.5 x 18 feet/175.4 x 20.3 x 5.5 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 590.5 x 75.5 x 18 feet/180 x 23 x 5.5 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 6 boilers, 2 shafts, 65,000 shp, 29 knots
    Crew: 600
    Armor: light plating around machinery and magazines
    Armament: 6 dual 5/40 DP, 24 MG
    Aircraft: 37

    In 1931, a replenishment plan was authorized the Navy, permitting it to complete construction of the Ryujo ("Galloping Dragon"), a small aircraft carrier of about 10,000 tons laid down in 1929 at Yokohama. She was completed in 1933, her limited deck, only 513 1/2 feet long and 75 1/2 feet wide, was free of an obstructive island. The Ryujo had a speed of 29 knots, carried 36 aircraft, and was armed with 12 five-inch guns.

    The original design of the Ryujo called for one hangar, but a second hangar was added to increase her number of aircraft. This addition was done without increasing the size of the ship and as a result, the Ryujo was often unstable and overloaded. Soon afterwards, the Japanese Navy discovered that an entire generation of warships, designed to squeeze a great deal of fighting power into hulls of limited size, were incapable of safe operation in the open ocean. The Ryujo was one of these, and during the mid-1930s she was extensively reconstructed to make her suitable for service.

    Though very small for her intended fleet carrier duties, she was actively employed during the war against China later in the decade. The ship was again modified in 1940, when her low forecastle was built up one deck to improve seakeeping.

    When the new, large fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku joined the Japanese fleet, Ryujo was relegated to secondary tasks. During the Pacific War's first weeks in December 1941, she supported the effort to capture the Philippines. In February 1942, the carrier participated in the conquest of the East Indies and, in the early April 1942 Japanese raids on the Bay of Bengal, Ryujo's air group sank several ships. In an operation intended to divert American attention from the impending attack on Midway her planes attacked Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on 3 and 4 June 1942.

    A few weeks after the 7 August 1942 Allied invasion of the southern Solomon Islands, the Japanese sent a convoy of transports to reinforce their beleaguered troops on Guadalcanal. Ryujo was to cover the convoy and send planes to attack the American airfield on the island, while the larger Japanese carriers operated separately against the U.S. Navy's aircraft carriers. Thus, in the 24 August Battle of the Eastern Solomons, Ryujo, isolated from other sources of air support and with most of her planes off on a strike mission, was overwhelmed by a powerful air assault from USS Saratoga. Despite effective maneuvering, she was fatally damaged by several hits and sank after her surviving crewmembers had been removed by escorting destroyers.
    She was Japan's fourth aircraft carrier.




    Soryu class


    Soryu (A Dragon Blue As The Deep Ocean)





    Displacement: 19,800 tons full load
    Dimensions: 728 x 70 x 25 feet/221.9 x 21.3 x 7.6 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 746.5 x 85.5 x 25 feet/227.5 x 26 x 7.6 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 152,000 shp, 34.5 knots
    Crew: 1100
    Armor: 1.8 inch belt, 1-2.2 inch decks
    Armament: 6 dual 5/40 DP, 28 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 63 (71 maximum)


    The two aircraft carriers laid down in 1934 and 1936 were the Soryu ("Blue Dragon") and Hiryu ("Flying Dragon"). They represented the next generation of Japanese carriers and all future ships were based off their design that emphacised speed, a light build, and offensive power at a trade off for defensive power.

    The Soryu displaced about 18,000 tons standard, had a speed of 34.5 knots, and handled 63 aircraft. The Hiryu was heavier, 18,500 tons standard, and had a speed of 34.3 knots. Officially, both ships were carried on the books as of 10,050 tons standard; the true tonnage was not revealed until after WW II. Both ships carried the same number of planes and had the same armament, 12 five-inch guns.

    Soryu built at Kure, Japan, was completed in December 1937. One of six carriers that delivered the Pearl Harbor attack on 7 December 1941, she also participated in other early Pacific War operations. Soryu was sunk on 4 June 1942, during the Battle of Midway, after SBD "Dauntless" aircraft from USS Yorktown (CV-5) hit her with several bombs which ingited fires that reached her fuel tanks with disastrous results.

    Hiryu, built at Yokosuka, Japan, was completed in July 1939. Active throughout the first six months of the Pacific War, she took part in the December 1941 Pearl Harbor attack as well as operations in the East Indies and Indian Ocean area. On 4 June 1942, during the Battle of Midway, Hiryu's aircraft inflicted serious bomb and torpedo damage to USS Yorktown (CV-5), causing her abandonment.

    Later that day, Hiryu was hit by U.S. carrier dive bombers. Though she remained underway for a time, she had been fatally damaged. Abandoned early the following morning, Hiryu sank at about 0900 on 5 June, the last of four Japanese aircraft carriers to be lost in the battle.



    Hiryu class


    Hiryo (Flying Dragon)





    Displacement: 21,900 tons full load
    Dimensions: 731.5 x 73 x 25.5 feet/223 x 22.25 x 7.8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 746 x 88.5 x 25.5 feet/227.4 x 27 x 7.8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 153,000 shp, 34.3 knots
    Crew: 1101
    Armor: 3.5-5.9 inch belt, 1-2.2 inch deck
    Armament: 6 dual 5/40 DP, 31 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 64 (73 maximum)



    Hiryu ("flying dragon") was a Soryu-class aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy. She took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor that started the Pacific War and she was sunk on June 5, 1942 by air attack in the Battle of Midway.[1]

    The ship was built within the specifications of the Washington Naval Treaty that was in place at the time, which placed limits on its tonnage and armament. As a result, the Soryu and Hiryu were relatively small as fleet aircraft carrier, compared to her contemporaries during World War II, carrying around 70 aircraft. Compared to her sister Soryu, Hiryu was almost 4 feet greater of beam, 2,000 tons heavier, and had her island placed on the left side and farther aft on her flight deck.



    Shokaku class


    Shokaku (Flying Crane)




    Zuikaku (Lucky Crane)




    Displacement: 32,105 tons full load
    Dimensions: 820 x 85 x 29 feet/250 x 26 x 8.8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 845 x 95 x 29 feet/257.5 x 29 x 8.8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 160,000 shp, 34.2 knots
    Crew: 1660
    Armor: 1.8-6.5 inch belt, 3.9-5.1 inch deck
    Armament: 8 dual 5/40 DP, 42 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 72 (84 maximum)


    The Shokuku ("Flying Crane") and Zuikaku ("Lucky Crane") were Japan's next venture into aircraft carrier construction following the Soryu and Hiryu. These carriers were kept fairly well under wraps, insofar as specifications are concerned. They were authorized under the very ambitious Fleet Replenishment Program of 1937, the same program under which the famed super battleships Yamato and Musashi were built. Shokaku was laid down December 12, 1937 at the Yokosuka Navy Yard, while Zuikaku was started at Kawasaki Dockyard May 25, 1938.

    Basically, the ships had similar specifications. They displaced 25,675 tons standard, had a designed speed of 34.2 knots, carried 16 five-inch guns in twin mounts, and could carry up to 84 aircraft, although a normal complement was 73. There were no major differences between the ships. Zuikaku, however, was fitted with a bulbous bow, the first Japanese warship so designed. Shokuku was launched June 1, 1939, and completed August 8, 1941; Zuikuku was launched November 27, 1939, and completed September 25, 1941.

    Completion of both carriers was delayed when the original funnel arrangement was changed in mid-construction by the Aeronautical Headquarters. As designed, the funnels were to appear one on each side of the island bridge, fore and aft on the starboard side. This was changed by placing the two funnels immediately aft of the island. Critically, concrete was used to fill the air spaces around the aircraft fuel tanks to avoid replication of the destructive fires that occured on the carriers at the Battle of Midway.

    The Japanese did not give either ship much publicity. Both ships, Zuikaku and Shokaku, were to figure prominently in most sea battles of WW II involving naval air. Their design was based on the best material gathered from experiences in Akagi, Kaga, and the Soryu types. Later Japanese carriers (i.e., multiple ship design classes) were constructed in two groups: the large to be like Taiho (with armored flight deck), and the medium to be repeats of the Soryu class. Zuikaku and Shokaku comprised an entire class.

    The Shokaku participated in Japan's early wartime offensives, including the attack on Pearl Harbor, the raid into the Indian Ocean and the Battle of Coral Sea. In the latter action, on 8 May 1942, Shokaku was seriously damaged by dive bombers from USS Yorktown (CV-5) and had to return to Japan for repairs.

    Later in 1942, Shokaku took part in the August Battle of the Eastern Solomons and the October Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. She was again badly damaged by bombs in the latter action. In 1943-44, she continued operations as one of the Japanese Navy's most important fleet carriers. Shokaku was sunk by the U.S. submarine Cavalla (SS-244) on 19 June 1944, during the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

    The Zuikaku took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor. During the great Japanese Pacific offensive of late 1941 and early 1942, Zuikaku was a participant in attacks on Rabaul, the East Indies, and the Indian Ocean. While covering an intended invasion of Port Moresby, New Guinea, in early May 1942, Zuikaku and Shokaku formed the Japanese side of the World's first significant battle between aircraft carriers, the Battle of the Coral Sea. On 8 May, her planes helped disable USS Lexington (CV-2) and damage USS Yorktown (CV-5). In return, Shokaku was seriously damaged, and Zuikaku's air group was greatly depleted, ensuring that both ships were unavailable for the pivotal Battle of Midway in June.

    During the rest of 1942, Zuikaku was an important component of the Japanese forces involved in the Guadalcanal campaign, taking part in the carrier battles of the Eastern Solomons in August and Santa Cruz Islands in October. After the long lull in carrier actions that covered all of 1943 and the first part of 1944, Zuikaku again engaged her American opposite numbers in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, on 19-20 June 1944. That action, which cost Japan three more carriers, hundreds of planes and most of the rest of her trained carrier pilots, reduced her once-irresistable aircraft carrier fleet to a state of virtual impotence. Zuikaku was damaged in the battle, but was soon repaired.

    In October 1944, Zuikaku led the remaining Japanese carriers in the role of "bait" to divert U.S. carrier planes away from the surface forces that were attempting to attack U.S. ships off Leyte, in the Philippines. This mission was successful, though it did not lead to Japanese victory in any component of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and it came at great cost to Zuikaku and her consorts, who had few planes embarked to defend themselves. In the resulting Battle off Cape Engano, on 25 October 1944, the four Japanese aircraft carriers were repeatedly hit by U.S. carrier planes' bombs and torpedoes. All of them, including Zuikaku, were sunk.



    Shoho class


    Shoho (Happy Phoenix)




    Zuiho (Lucky Phoenix)




    Displacement: 14,200 tons full load
    Dimensions: 660.5 x 59.5 x 21.5 feet/201.3 x 18 x 6.5 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 672 x 75.6 x 21.5 feet/204.8 x 23 x 6.5 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 52,000 shp, 28 knots
    Crew: 785
    Armor: none (?)
    Armament: 4 dual 5/40 DP, 8 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 30

    In 1936, while the submarine depot ship Takasaki was under construction, the decision was made to complete the ship as a carrier. Work on this project was not started until January 1940, but was completed in December that year. The carrier was renamed Zuiho ("Happy Phoenix"). She displaced 11,200 tons standard, sailed at 28 knots, and carried 30 aircraft. She was armed with eight five inch guns.

    A sister ship, Shoho ("Lucky Phoenix") a 13,950-ton light aircraft carrier, entered service in January 1942. Originally the fast submarine support ship Tsurugisaki, which had been completed at Yokosuka Dockyard in 1939, the ship was renamed and her conversion to an aircraft carrier begun in 1941. Both ships were equipped with one hangar and their original diesel motors were replaced with destroyer level turbines and boilers. The hangar was serviced by two lifts to the flight deck.

    On 7 May 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea, Shoho was sunk by an overwhelming dive bombing and torpedo attack delivered by aircraft from USS Lexington (CV-2) and USS Yorktown (CV-5). She was the first carrier loss to the Japanese navy in the Pacific War. The Zuiho lasted until 25 October 1944, when she was destroyed via a combination of torpedoes and bombs at the Battle of Cape Engano.



    Taiyo class


    Chuyo (A Hawk Going Speedily To Heaven)



    Unyo (A Hawk In The Clouds)



    Taiyo (Great Hawk)




    Displacement: 20,000 tons normal
    Dimensions: 570 x 74 x 25 feet/183.7 x 22.5 x 7.6 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 591.5 x 74 x 25 feet/180.3 x 22.5 x 7.6 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 25,200 shp, 21 knots
    Crew: 850 (Taiyo: 747)
    Armor: none
    Armament: 4 dual 5/40 DP (Taiyo 6 4.7/45 AA), 8 25 mm
    Aircraft: 27


    The three ships in this class were originally laid down as liners of the NYK line. In September, 1940 the Taiyo was launched at the Mitsubishi (Nagasaki) Yard. On May 1, 1940 she was towed to the Sasebo Navy Yard where she was completed in September, 1941 as an aircraft carrier. The Unyo and Chuyo were completed as liners then moved to the Kure Navy Yard and there completed as aircraft carriers (Unyo converted January-May 1942, Chuyo May-November 1942). They were the first merchantships to be converted as aircraft carriers.

    As aircraft carriers they were larger, faster, and carried more aircraft than any merchant vessels similarly converted by the Allied Navies. Lacking as they did important items of equipment for aircraft handling, they were unsuitable for their role as fleet aircraft carriers. As a result they saw very little action with the Combined Fleet. They were used mostly to ferry aircraft to distant island bases and for training pilots in aircraft techniques.

    All three of these carriers were sunk by US submarines. The Chuyo was sunk off the coast of Japan in a typhoon by the USS Sailfish. The Taiyo was sunk in the Luzon Straits while escorting an important convoy HI-71 by the USS Rasher. The Unyo was also sunk in the Luzon Straits by the USS Barb while she was escorting another convoy.



    Hiyo class


    Hiyo (Flying Falcon)




    Junyo (Peregrine Falcon)





    Displacement: 28,300 tons full load
    Dimensions: 706 x 87.5 x 26.5 feet/215 x 26.7 x 8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 719.5 x ?? x 26.5 feet/219 x ?? x 8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 6 boilers, 2 shafts, 56,250 shp, 25.5 knots
    Crew: 1187-1224
    Armor: 1 inch over machinery
    Armament: 6 dual 5/40 DP, 24 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 53



    Junyo, first of a class of two 24,100-ton aircraft carriers, was built by Mitsubishi at Nagasaki, Japan. She was begun as the civilian passenger liner Kashiwara Maru but was taken over by the Japanese Navy in 1940, while still on the shipways, and converted to a carrier. She was equipped with two aircraft hangars, two lifts, and was the first class of Japanese carriers to have the funnel incorporated into the structure of the island.

    Completed in May 1942, early in June she participated in the attacks on U.S. Alaskan bases that accompanied the Battle of Midway. As one of four large aircraft carriers remaining after the Midway action, Junyo was an important unit of the Japanese fleet during the next two years, even though she had a lower speed (about 23 knots) and smaller air group (about fifty planes) than built-for-the-purpose fleet carriers.

    In late October 1942, during the intense Guadalcanal Campaign, Junyo took part in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. In that action, her planes attacked the U.S. carrier Enterprise, battleship South Dakota and light cruiser San Juan, scoring hits on the latter two. In mid-November, she played a covering role in the three-day-long Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The following Spring, her planes were sent to Rabaul, with those of other Japanese carriers, for land-based attacks on the Allied forces gathering at Guadalcanal. In June 1943, Junyo helped protect a important convoy sent to reinforce the Japanese garrison on Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands.

    A year later, as the U.S. assaulted the Mariana Islands, Junyo joined the rest of Japan's aircraft carriers in the sortie that produced Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19-20 June 1944. After that action, her air group was so depleted that she was unable to participate in the great Battle of Leyte Gulf in October. While operating off southern Japan on 9 December 1944, Junyo was badly damaged by torpedoes from the U.S. submarines Redfish (SS-395) and Sea Devil (SS-400). Since Japan's strategic situation was now so bad as to eliminate any need for a carrier fleet, she was not repaired for seagoing service. At the end of the Pacific War, Junyo was moored at Sasebo, where she was scrapped in 1947 after servicing as a repatriation vessel. Her sister ship, the Hiyo, was sunk in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.



    Chiyoda class


    Chiyoda (a city)




    Chitose (a city)



    Displacement: 15,300 tons full load
    Dimensions: 610 x 68 x 24.5 feet/186 x 20.7 x 7.5 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 631.5 x 75.5 x 24.5 feet/192.5 x 23 x 24.5 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines plus diesels, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 44,000 shp, 12,800 bhp, 29 knots
    Armor: none (?)
    Crew: 800
    Armament: 4 dual 5/50 DP, 30 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 30


    The Chitose and her sister ship the Chiyoda both were laid down, launched, and completed as seaplane tenders prior to the outbreak of war with the United States. A year into the war it was decided to convert the two into light aircraft carriers. The Chitose underwent conversion at the Sasebo Naval Yards and was completed in New Years Day, 1944. The Chiyoda was completed approximately two months earlier at the Yokosuka Naval Yards. Both ships were outfitted with a single hangar and an additional 6 feet 7 inches were added to their beams. The added flight deck was serviced by two lifts.
    Both the Chitose and the Chiyoda were sunk at the Battle of Cape Engano, which occurred during the Japanese Navy's "Sho-Go" operation that produced the Battle of Leyte Gulf. In charge of the operation was Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, commander of the operation's northern force. Ozawa's was a desperate mission -- provide an attractive target for U.S. Admiral William F. Halsey's Third Fleet, hopefully pulling the powerful American "fast carriers" north so that Japanese surface ships could slip in and attack U.S. invasion forces off Leyte. His ships were not expected to survive their diversionary employment.
    Among Ozawa's ships were the Chitose and the Chiyoda, which steamed south from Japan on 20 October. With two other carriers in the group, they carried only 116 planes, much less than their normal capacity and nowhere close to a match for the aircraft of Halsey's task forces.
    Despite their role as "bait", the Japanese carriers sighted Halsey first and launched a strike in the late morning of 24 October. This accomplished nothing, and only a few planes returned to the carriers, leaving them with less than thirty. The Japanese ships tried hard to be conspicuous, and U.S. aircraft finally spotted them in mid-afternoon. Admiral Halsey, believing that his aviators had driven the other Japanese forces away, headed north to attack.
    At about 0800 on the morning of 25 October, American carrier planes began a series of attacks and succeeded insinking the Chitose. A second strike came in around 1000 and permanently stopped the Chiyoda, at 1624 attacked by gunfire of U.S. Navy TG 38.3 (four cruisers, nine destroyers) surface forces, and stubbornly returns fire. At 1655 - hit repeatedly - she rolled onto her beam ends and sank.



    Kaiyo class


    Kaiyo (Sea Hawk)





    Displacement: 16,483 tons normal
    Dimensions: 523.5 x 72 x 26.5 feet/159.6 x 22 x 8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 546.5 x 72 x 26.5 feet/166.5 x 22 x 8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 52,000 shp, 23 knots
    Crew: 829
    Armor: none
    Armament: 4 dual 5/40 DP, 24 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 24


    The Kaiyo, a 16,748-ton escort aircraft carrier, was built at Nagasaki, Japan, as a civilian passenger liner for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha Line. Completed in 1939, she was taken over for use as a troop transport in 1941, serving under her original name, Argentina Maru. In December 1942, she began conversion to an aircraft carrier, and was renamed Kaiyo.

    Conversion was completed in November 1943, and the ship served during the rest of the Pacific War as an escort carrier, aircraft transport and training carrier. She was seriously damaged by British Royal Navy planes in Beppu Bay, Kyushu, on 24 July 1945. Kaiyo was stricken from the Japanese naval register in November 1945 and was scrapped at Beppu Bay in 1946-48.

    A sister ship, the Brazil Maru was scheduled for conversion as well but sunk before it could occur.



    Shinyo class


    Shinyo (Godly Hawk)





    Displacement: 20,586 tons trial
    Dimensions: 621 x 84 x 27 ft
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 4 boilers, 2 shafts, 26,000 shp, 22 knots
    Crew: 942
    Armor: none
    Armament: 4 dual 5/40 DP, 30 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 33


    The Shinyo began as the Norddeutscher Lloyd passenger liner the "Scharnhorst," but was bought by Japan in February 1942 with the intention to convert her into an aircraft carrier. Conversion occurred at the Kure Naval Yard between 1942 and 1943 and during the process, steel originally slated for the fourth battleship of the Yamato class was used. She was formally completed on 15 December 1943, though almost a year later she was sunk by the American submarine USS Spadefish.

    A sister ship, the Kamakura Maru was sunk before she could be converted from a passenger liner to an aircraft carrier.



    Taiho class


    Taiho (Great Phoenix)





    Displacement: 37,720 tons full load
    Dimensions: 830 x 91 x 31.5 feet/253 x 27.7 x 9.6 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 855 x 98.5 x 31.5 feet/260.6 x 30 x 9.6 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 160,000 shp, 33.3 knots
    Crew: 1751
    Armor: 2.2-5.9 inch belt, 3.1 inch flight deck, 4.9 inch hangar deck
    Armament: 6 dual 3.9/65 AA, 51 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 53 (84 maximum)


    The Taiho was the first Japanese carrier built with an armored deck and was based off the designs of the Shokaku class carriers. She was ordered in 1939 and laid down by Kawasaki on 10/7/41 at the shipyards at Kobe. The Taiho had one deck for stability concerns and its funnel was incorporated into the structure of her island. In addition, her hull plating was pushed out from the bow to reach the edge of her flight deck, which was 844 feetlong and 98 1/2 feet wide.

    Completed on 7 March 1944, the Taiho spent her first several months training, but was otherwise soon put into action. She was sunk on 19 June of that year during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, when a torpedo attack from the USS Albacore resulted in damage that lead to the ignition of fuel vapors that had spread throughout the ship as a result of poor damage control.



    Shinano class


    Shinano (a province)





    Displacement: 71,890 tons full load
    Dimensions: 840 x 119 x 34 feet/256 x 36.3 x 10.3 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 872.5 x 131 x 34 feet/266 x 40 x 10.3 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 12 boilers, 4 shafts, 150,000 shp, 27 knots
    Crew: 2400
    Armor: 8.1-15.7 inch belt, 7.5 inch armored deck
    Armament: 8 dual 5/40 DP, 145 25 mm AA, 12 28-barrel AA rocket launchers
    Aircraft: 47 (120 maximum)

    The Shinano was originally laid down as the third ship of the Yamato class battleships. After the disaster at the Battle of Midway, plans were changed and the Shinano was converted to an aircraft carrier. The Shinano was completed in November, 1944. Fitted with an armored flight deck and an open hanger, it was planned to use the Shinano as an mobile air base, where the Shinano could replenish, repair, and maintain aircraft from other carriers. In this role she would carry few planes, but would carry large stocks of bombs, torpedoes, fuel and other supplies of replenishment. It was decided to move the Shinano to the Inland Sea to complete her fitting out because of the B-29 raids around Tokyo Bay. During her voyage from Tokyo Bay to the Inland Sea, she was torpedoed and sunk by the USS Archerfish.



    Unyru class


    Unyru (Cloud Dragon)




    Amagi (a town)




    Katsuragi (a castle)




    Kasagi (a town)



    Aso ( a town)




    Ikoma (a town)





    Displacement: 22,400-22,800 tons full load
    Dimensions: 731.5 x 72 x 25.5 feet/223 x 22 x 7.8 meters
    Extreme Dimensions: 746 x 88.5 x 25.5 feet/227.4 x 27 x 7.8 meters
    Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 boilers, 4 shafts, 152,000 shp, 34 knots (Katsuragi, Aso: 104,000 shp, 32 knots)
    Crew: 1595
    Armor: 1.8-5.9 inch belt, 1-2.2 inch deck
    Armament: 6 dual 5/40 DP, 51+ 25 mm AA
    Aircraft: 65


    The design of this class closely followed that of the Hiryu class, but with the bridge on the starboard side. The keels were laid down for this class of ships in 1942-43, but only three of them ever reached completion. Work stopped on the Kasagi in April, 1945 when she was 84% complete, no armament having been fitted. Work also stopped on the Iso and the Ikoma in January, 1945 due to lack of building materials. They only had been completed to hanger deck level (60% complete with no hanger or armament fitted). All ships had been launched and left in their incomplete state until August, 1945 when they were surrendered and then later scrapped. The hull of the Aso had been used as a Kamikaze test-bed and she was in a poor state of repair, half sunk in shallow water when surrendered. The Unyru was sunk by the USS Redfish in the East China Sea in December, 1944.



    Akitsu Maru class


    Akitsu Maru



    Nigicu Maru

    No picture available


    AKITSU MARU
    Shipyard: Marima
    Keel Laid: 17. Nov., 1939
    Launched: 24. Nov., 1941
    Entered service: 30. Jan., 1942


    NIGICU MARU
    Shipyard: Marima
    Keel Laid: June 1941
    Launched: 1942
    Entered service: March 1943
    Builded as transport ships.


    Displacement: 11,800 t, 11,980 t max.
    Complement:
    Length: 152m
    Beam: 19,5m
    Draught: 7,85m
    Flight deck: 123x22,5m
    Aircraft: 20
    Speed: 20 knots
    Guns:
    12 - 76mm
    Machinery: 2 sets geared turbines. 4 Boilers, 2 shafts,


    Imperial Japanese Navy was not the only service to operate with carriers. In early 1941, the Imperial Army projected to convert some merchant ships into assault ships under their command. These vessels could be used both as troop transports and aircraft's transports

    Reconstruction was limited to redirecting boiler uptakes to the starboard side to emerge in a single funnel. A small flight deck was fitted over the superstructure. JAAF aircrafts could not only be transported, but also flown off to assist landing forces in the rapid establishment of a land-based air defense unit. Twenty standard landing crafts could be carried.

    Details of wartime operations are not known. Both ships, Akitsu Maru and Nigitsu Maru, were sunk by submarines during 1944.



    At the beginning of WW II the carriers that made up Kido Butai or the Mobile Striking Force had the best planes and pilots in the world. Until the the battles of Carol Sea and Midway the six carriers of the Kido Butai roamed the Pacific at will and nothing could stand in their way.



    tambor198
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  3. #3
    fred8615's Avatar Senior Member
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">A second strike came in around 1000 and permanently stopped the Chiyoda, which was later destroyed by a bombing raid. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Chiyoda was actually sunk by naval gunfire from USN Task Group 30.3. They were sent forward with the express purpose of finding and sinking any "cripples" from the day's airstrikes.
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  4. #4
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by fred8615:
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">A second strike came in around 1000 and permanently stopped the Chiyoda, which was later destroyed by a bombing raid. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Chiyoda was actually sunk by naval gunfire from USN Task Group 30.3. They were sent forward with the express purpose of finding and sinking any "cripples" from the day's airstrikes. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>



    Thanks for pointing that out, Fred8615. I've made the appropriate correction.



    tambor198
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  5. #5
    The Japanese didn't worry much about the looks of a ship did they.

    Now I know why Toyota's look like they do.
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  6. #6
    It seems like the Japanese did more conversions of ships to aircraft carriers than building from the ground up. I kinda like'em, they have a unique design.



    tambor198
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  7. #7
    wow, that's a lot of aircraft carriers!
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  8. #8
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">wow, that's a lot of aircraft carriers </div></BLOCKQUOTE>



    In the end though, it still didn't do them much good.
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  9. #9
    Realjambo's Avatar Senior Member
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    Great work, Tambor! Keep it up!
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  10. #10
    Having a lot of fighting units does no good unless they are used apropriatley.
    How many japanese carriers did actually fight in WW2? I'm to lazy to add all the numbers mentioned above.
    P.S Superb article.
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