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Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi

Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi

Overview

Akagi ( "Red Castle") was an aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 of the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

 (IJN), originally begun as an . She was converted while still under construction to an aircraft carrier under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty
Washington Naval Treaty
The Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, was an attempt to cap and limit, and "prevent 'further' costly escalation" of the naval arms race that had begun after World War I between various International powers, each of which had significant naval fleets. The treaty was...

. Following Japan's renunciation of the Treaty, the ship was rebuilt from 1935 to 1938 with her original three flight deck
Flight deck
The flight deck of an aircraft carrier is the surface from which its aircraft take off and land, essentially a miniature airfield at sea. On smaller naval ships which do not have aviation as a primary mission, the landing area for helicopters and other VTOL aircraft is also referred to as the...

s consolidated into a single, enlarged flight deck and an island superstructure.

Akagis aircraft participated in the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 in the late 1930s, and she became the flagship
Flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

 of the First Air Fleet
1st Air Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy at the beginning of World War II contained the world's largest carrier fleet. At the centre, was the 1st Air Fleet which was a grouping of naval aircraft and aircraft carriers...

 or Kido Butai (Striking Force) in early 1941.
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Akagi ( "Red Castle") was an aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 of the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

 (IJN), originally begun as an . She was converted while still under construction to an aircraft carrier under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty
Washington Naval Treaty
The Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, was an attempt to cap and limit, and "prevent 'further' costly escalation" of the naval arms race that had begun after World War I between various International powers, each of which had significant naval fleets. The treaty was...

. Following Japan's renunciation of the Treaty, the ship was rebuilt from 1935 to 1938 with her original three flight deck
Flight deck
The flight deck of an aircraft carrier is the surface from which its aircraft take off and land, essentially a miniature airfield at sea. On smaller naval ships which do not have aviation as a primary mission, the landing area for helicopters and other VTOL aircraft is also referred to as the...

s consolidated into a single, enlarged flight deck and an island superstructure.

Akagis aircraft participated in the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 in the late 1930s, and she became the flagship
Flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

 of the First Air Fleet
1st Air Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy at the beginning of World War II contained the world's largest carrier fleet. At the centre, was the 1st Air Fleet which was a grouping of naval aircraft and aircraft carriers...

 or Kido Butai (Striking Force) in early 1941. She took part in the Pearl Harbor raid in December 1941, her aircraft torpedoing three American battleship
Battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

s, and the invasion of Rabaul
Battle of Rabaul (1942)
The Battle of Rabaul, also known by the Japanese as Operation R, was fought on the island of New Britain in the Australian Territory of New Guinea, in January and February 1942. It was a strategically significant defeat of Allied forces by Japan in the Pacific campaign of World War II...

 in the Southwest Pacific in January 1942. The following month her aircraft bombed Darwin, Australia. Akagi took part in the Indian Ocean raid
Indian Ocean raid
The Indian Ocean raid was a naval sortie by the Fast Carrier Strike Force of the Imperial Japanese Navy from 31 March-10 April 1942 against Allied shipping and bases in the Indian Ocean. It was an early engagement of the Pacific campaign of World War II...

, her aircraft sinking a British heavy cruiser
Heavy cruiser
The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range, high speed and an armament of naval guns roughly 203mm calibre . The heavy cruiser can be seen as a lineage of ship design from 1915 until 1945, although the term 'heavy cruiser' only came into formal use in 1930...

 and an Australian destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

. She was damaged so severely during the Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated...

 on 4 June 1942 that she was scuttled
Scuttling
Scuttling is the act of deliberately sinking a ship by allowing water to flow into the hull.This can be achieved in several ways—valves or hatches can be opened to the sea, or holes may be ripped into the hull with brute force or with explosives...

 by Japanese destroyers to prevent her falling into enemy hands. The loss of Akagi and three other IJN carriers at Midway was a crucial strategic defeat for Japan and contributed significantly to her ultimate defeat in the war.

Construction and launch


Akagi was laid down as an at Kure, Japan
Kure Naval Arsenal
was one of four principal naval shipyards owned and operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy. -History:The Kure Naval District was established at Kure, Hiroshima in 1889, as the second of the naval districts responsible for the defense of the Japanese home islands along with the establishment of the...

, on 6 December 1920. Construction was halted, however, when Japan signed the Washington Naval Treaty
Washington Naval Treaty
The Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, was an attempt to cap and limit, and "prevent 'further' costly escalation" of the naval arms race that had begun after World War I between various International powers, each of which had significant naval fleets. The treaty was...

 on 6 February 1922. The treaty placed restrictions on the construction of battleships and battlecruisers although it authorized conversion of two battleship or battlecruiser hulls under construction into aircraft carriers of up to 33000 long tons (33,529.7 t) displacement. The IJN had decided, following the launch of its first aircraft carrier, , to construct two larger, faster carriers for operations with major fleet units. The incomplete hulls of and Akagi were thus selected for completion as the two large carriers under the 1924 fleet construction program. ¥24.7 million was originally budgeted to complete the ship as a battlecruiser and that ¥8 million had likely been expended when construction stopped in February 1922. Shortly thereafter, the Diet
Diet of Japan
The is Japan's bicameral legislature. It is composed of a lower house, called the House of Representatives, and an upper house, called the House of Councillors. Both houses of the Diet are directly elected under a parallel voting system. In addition to passing laws, the Diet is formally...

 approved an additional ¥90 million to complete Akagi and Amagi (later replaced by Kaga), as carriers.

Construction of Akagi as an aircraft carrier began on 19 November 1923. Amagis hull was damaged beyond economically feasible repair in the Great Kantō Earthquake
1923 Great Kanto earthquake
The struck the Kantō plain on the Japanese main island of Honshū at 11:58:44 am JST on September 1, 1923. Varied accounts hold that the duration of the earthquake was between 4 and 10 minutes...

 of 1 September 1923 and was broken up and scrapped. Akagi, the only remaining member of her class, was launched as a carrier on 22 April 1925 and commissioned at Kure Naval Arsenal
Kure Naval Arsenal
was one of four principal naval shipyards owned and operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy. -History:The Kure Naval District was established at Kure, Hiroshima in 1889, as the second of the naval districts responsible for the defense of the Japanese home islands along with the establishment of the...

 on 25 March 1927, although trials continued through November 1927. She was the second carrier to enter service with the IJN, after Hōshō and before (which replaced Amagi).

Since Akagi was initially conceived as a battlecruiser, the prevailing ship naming conventions
Japanese ship naming conventions
Japanese ship naming conventions are different from those in the West. Japanese warships have never been named after people. Prior to World War II, Japanese ship naming conventions underwent several changes before being settled.- Merchant ships :...

 dictated that she (like her sister ships) be named after a mountain. Akagi came from Mount Akagi
Mount Akagi
is a mountain in Gunma Prefecture, Japan.The broad, low dominantly andesitic stratovolcano rises above the northern end of the Kanto Plain. It contains an elliptical, 3 x 4 km summit caldera with post-caldera lava domes arranged along a NW-SE line. Lake Ono is located at the NE end of the...

, a dormant volcano in the Kantō region
Kanto region
The is a geographical area of Honshu, the largest island of Japan. The region includes the Greater Tokyo Area and encompasses seven prefectures: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa. Within its boundaries, slightly more than 40 percent of the land area is the Kantō Plain....

 (the name literally means "red castle"). After she was redesignated as an aircraft carrier, her mountain name remained, in contrast to ships like that were originally built as aircraft carriers, which were named after flying creatures. The name was previously given to the Maya-class gunboat Akagi
Japanese gunboat Akagi
| was an early steam gunboat, serving in the fledgling Imperial Japanese Navy. She was the fourth and final vessel to be completed in the four vessel , and was named after Mount Akagi in Gunma Prefecture.-History:...

.

Akagi was completed at a length of 261.21 metre overall. She had a beam
Beam (nautical)
The beam of a ship is its width at the widest point. Generally speaking, the wider the beam of a ship , the more initial stability it has, at expense of reserve stability in the event of a capsize, where more energy is required to right the vessel from its inverted position...

 of 31 metre and, at deep load, a draft of 8.08 metre. She displaced 26900 long tons (27,331.7 MT) at standard load, and 34364 long tons (34,915.5 MT) at full load, nearly 7000 long tons (7,112.4 MT) less than her designed displacement as a battlecruiser. Her complement totaled 1,600 crewmembers.

Flight deck arrangements


Akagi, like Kaga, was completed with three superimposed flight decks, the only carriers ever to be designed so. The British carriers converted from "large light cruisers", , , and , each had two flight decks, but there is no evidence that the Japanese copied the British model. It is more likely that it was a case of convergent evolution as a means to launch as many aircraft as quickly as possible. Akagis main flight deck was 190.2 metre long, her middle flight deck (beginning right in front of the bridge) was only 15 metre long and her lower flight deck was 55.02 metre long. The utility of her middle flight deck was questionable as it was so short that only some of the lightly loaded aircraft could use it, even in an era when the aircraft were much lighter and smaller during World War II. The upper flight deck sloped slightly from amidships toward the bow and toward the stern to assist landings and takeoffs for the underpowered aircraft of that time.

As completed, the ship had two main hangar decks and a third auxiliary hangar with a total capacity of 60 aircraft. The third, and lowest hangar deck was only used for storing disassembled aircraft. The two main hangars opened onto the middle and lower flight decks to allow aircraft to take off directly from the hangars while landing operations were in progress on the main flight deck above. The upper and middle hangar areas totaled about 80375 square feet (7,467.1 m²), the lower hangar about 8515 square feet (791.1 m²). No catapults were fitted. Her forward aircraft lift was offset to starboard and 11.8 metre in size. Her aft lift was on the centerline and 12.8 metre. The aft elevator serviced the upper flight deck and all three hangar decks. Her arresting gear
Arresting gear
Arresting gear, or arrestor gear, is the name used for mechanical systems designed to rapidly decelerate an aircraft as it lands. Arresting gear on aircraft carriers is an essential component of naval aviation, and it is most commonly used on CATOBAR and STOBAR aircraft carriers. Similar systems...

 was an unsatisfactory British longitudinal system used on their aircraft carrier Furious that relied on friction between the arrester hook and the cables. The Japanese were well aware of this system's flaws, as it was already in use on their first carrier, Hōshō, but had no alternatives available when Akagi was completed. It was replaced during the ship's refit in 1931 with a Japanese-designed transverse cable system with six wires and that was replaced in turn before Akagi began her modernization in 1935 by the Kure Model 4 type (Kure shiki 4 gata). There was no island superstructure when the carrier was completed; the carrier was commanded from a space below the forward end of the upper flight deck. The ship carried approximately 150000 gallons (567,811.8 l) of aviation fuel
Aviation fuel
Aviation fuel is a specialized type of petroleum-based fuel used to power aircraft. It is generally of a higher quality than fuels used in less critical applications, such as heating or road transport, and often contains additives to reduce the risk of icing or explosion due to high temperatures,...

 for her embarked aircraft.

As originally completed, Akagi carried an air group of 28 Mitsubishi B1M3 torpedo bombers
Mitsubishi B1M
-See also:-External links:**http://www.csd.uwo.ca/~pettypi/elevon/gustin_military/db/index.html...

, 16 Nakajima A1N fighters and 16 Mitsubishi 2MR
Mitsubishi 2MR
|-See also:-External links:...

 reconnaissance aircraft.

Armament and armor


Akagi was armed with ten 50-caliber
Caliber (artillery)
In artillery, caliber or calibredifference in British English and American English spelling is the internal diameter of a gun barrel, or by extension a relative measure of the length....

 20 cm 3rd Year Type No. 1 guns
20 cm/50 3rd Year Type naval gun
Third year type 20 cm/50 caliber guns formed the main battery of Japan's World War II heavy cruisers. These guns were also mounted on two early aircraft carriers...

, six in casemates aft and the rest in two twin gun turret
Gun turret
A gun turret is a weapon mount that protects the crew or mechanism of a projectile-firing weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in many directions.The turret is also a rotating weapon platform...

s, one on each side of the middle flight deck. They fired 110 kilograms (242.5 lb) projectiles at a rate of 3–6 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity is the speed a projectile has at the moment it leaves the muzzle of the gun. Muzzle velocities range from approximately to in black powder muskets , to more than in modern rifles with high-performance cartridges such as the .220 Swift and .204 Ruger, all the way to for tank guns...

 of 870 m/s (2,854.3 ft/s); at 25°, this provided a maximum range between 22600 and 24000 m (24,715.7 and 26,246.7 yd). The turrets were nominally capable of 70° elevation to provide additional anti-aircraft fire, but in practice the maximum elevation was only 55°. The slow rate of fire and the fixed 5° loading angle minimized any real anti-aircraft capability. This heavy gun armament was provided in case she was surprised by enemy cruisers and forced to give battle, but her large and vulnerable flight deck, hangars, and superstructure made her more of a target in any surface action than a fighting warship. Carrier doctrine was still evolving at this time and the impracticality of carriers engaging in gun duels had not yet been realized.
She was given an anti-aircraft
Anti-aircraft warfare
NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces...

 armament of six twin 45-caliber 12 cm 10th Year Type gun
12 cm/45 10th Year Type naval gun
The 12 cm/45 10th Year Type naval gun was a Japanese high-angle weapon introduced after World War I, derived from the 12 cm/45 3rd Year Type naval gun. It served as the secondary armament in a number of Japanese aircraft carriers and cruisers between the wars and as the primary armament in...

 mounts fitted on sponson
Sponson
Sponsons are projections from the sides of a watercraft, for protection, stability, or the mounting of equipment such as armaments or lifeboats, etc...

s below the level of the funnels, where they could not fire across the flight deck, three mounts per side. These guns fired 20.3 kilograms (44.8 lb) projectiles at a muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity is the speed a projectile has at the moment it leaves the muzzle of the gun. Muzzle velocities range from approximately to in black powder muskets , to more than in modern rifles with high-performance cartridges such as the .220 Swift and .204 Ruger, all the way to for tank guns...

 of 825–830 m/s (2,706.7–2,723.1 ft/s); at 45° this provided a maximum range of 16000 metres (17,497.8 yd), and they had a maximum ceiling of 10000 metres (10,936.1 yd) at 75° elevation. Their effective rate of fire was 6–8 rounds per minute.

Akagis waterline armored belt
Belt armor
Belt armor is a layer of heavy metal armor plated on to or within outer hulls of warships, typically on battleships, battlecruisers and cruisers, and on aircraft carriers converted from those types of ships....

 was reduced from 254 millimetre and placed lower on the ship than originally designed. The upper part of her torpedo bulge
Anti-torpedo bulge
The anti-torpedo bulge is a form of passive defence against naval torpedoes that featured in warship construction in the period between the First and Second World Wars.-Theory and form:...

 was given 102 mm (4 in) of armor. Her deck armor
Deck (ship)
A deck is a permanent covering over a compartment or a hull of a ship. On a boat or ship, the primary deck is the horizontal structure which forms the 'roof' for the hull, which both strengthens the hull and serves as the primary working surface...

 was also reduced from 96 to 79 mm (3.8 to 3.1 in). The modifications improved the ship's stability by helping compensate for the increased topside weight of the double hangar deck.

Propulsion


On Akagi predecessor Hōshō, the hot exhaust gases vented by swivelling funnels posed a danger to the ship, and wind-tunnel testing had not suggested any solutions. Akagi and Kaga were given different solutions to evaluate in real-world conditions. Akagi was given two funnels on the starboard side. The larger, forward funnel was angled 30° below horizontal with its mouth facing the sea, and the smaller one exhausted vertically a little past the edge of the flight deck. The forward funnel was fitted with a water-cooling system to reduce the turbulence caused by hot exhaust gases and a cover that could be raised to allow the exhaust gases to escape if the ship developed a severe list and the mouth of the funnel touched the sea. Kaga adopted a version of this configuration when she was modernized during the mid-1930s.

Akagi was completed with the four Gihon geared steam turbine
Steam turbine
A steam turbine is a mechanical device that extracts thermal energy from pressurized steam, and converts it into rotary motion. Its modern manifestation was invented by Sir Charles Parsons in 1884....

s, with a total of 131000 shp on four shafts, that were called for in her original design. As a battlecruiser her expected speed with these turbines would have been 28.5 knots (15.5 m/s), but the reduction in displacement from 41200 to 34000 LT (41,861.3 to 34,545.7 MT) increased her maximum speed to 32.5 knots (17.7 m/s), which was reached during her sea trial
Sea trial
A sea trial is the testing phase of a watercraft . It is also referred to as a "shakedown cruise" by many naval personnel. It is usually the last phase of construction and takes place on open water, and can last from a few hours to many days.Sea trials are conducted to measure a vessel’s...

s on 17 June 1927. She had nineteen Type B Kampon boilers with a working pressure of 20 kg/cm2, some of which were oil-fired, and the others used a mix of oil and coal. She carried 3900 long tons (3,962.6 MT) of fuel oil and 2100 long tons (2,133.7 MT) of coal to give her a range of 8000 nmi (14,816 km) at 14 knots (7.6 m/s).

Early service


Akagi joined the Combined Fleet
Combined Fleet
The was the main ocean-going component of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Combined Fleet was not a standing force, but a temporary force formed for the duration of a conflict or major naval maneuvers from various units normally under separate commands in peacetime....

 in August 1927 and was assigned to the First Carrier Division
First Carrier Division
was an aircraft carrier unit of the Imperial Japanese Navy's First Air Fleet. At the beginning of the Pacific Campaign of World War II, the First Carrier Division consisted of the fleet carriers Akagi and Kaga. The division participated in the Attack on Pearl Harbor and Indian Ocean Raid...

 upon its formation on 1 April 1928, serving as the division's flagship under Rear Admiral Sankichi Takahashi
Sankichi Takahashi
was an Admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy. After the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 Takahashi, an important figure of IJN's Fleet Faction, made a swift career, from commander of an obsolete cruiser in 1923 to commander of the Combined Fleet in 1934...

. The carrier's early career was uneventful, consisting of various training exercises. From 10 December 1928 to 1 November 1929 the ship was commanded by Isoroku Yamamoto
Isoroku Yamamoto
was a Japanese Naval Marshal General and the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II, a graduate of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy and a student of Harvard University ....

, future commander of the Combined Fleet.

Akagi was reduced to second-class reserve status on 1 December 1931 in preparation for a short refit in which her arresting gear was replaced and her radio and ventilation systems were overhauled and improved. After completion of the refit, Akagi became a first-class reserve ship in December 1932. In 25 April 1933 she resumed active service and joined the Second Carrier Division
Second Carrier Division
was an aircraft carrier unit of the Imperial Japanese Navy's First Air Fleet. At the beginning of the Pacific Campaign of World War II, the Second Carrier Division consisted of the fleet carriers Sōryū and Hiryū...

 and participated in that year's Special Fleet Maneuvers.

At this time, the IJN's carrier doctrine was still in its early stages. Akagi and the IJN's other carriers were initially given roles as tactical force multipliers supporting the fleet's battleships in the IJN's "decisive battle
Kantai kessen
The was a naval strategy adopted by the Imperial Japanese Navy following the Russo-Japanese War. It called on the use of a strong battleship force, which would destroy an invading fleet as it approached Japan after suffering losses through attrition as it penetrated Japanese perimeter defenses.The...

" doctrine. In this role, Akagi's aircraft were to attack enemy battleships with bombs and torpedoes. Aerial strikes against enemy carriers were later, beginning around 1932–1933, deemed of equal importance, with the goal of establishing air superiority during the initial stages of battle. The essential component in this strategy was that the Japanese carrier aircraft must be able to strike first with a massed, preemptive aerial attack. In fleet training exercises the carriers began to operate together in front of or with the main battle line. The new strategy emphasized maximum speed from both the carriers and the aircraft they carried as well as larger aircraft with greater range. Thus, longer flight decks on the carriers were required in order to handle the newer, heavier aircraft which were entering service. As a result, on 15 November 1935 Akagi was placed in third-class reserve to begin an extensive modernization at Sasebo Naval Arsenal
Sasebo Naval Arsenal
was one of four principal naval shipyards owned and operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy. -History:The Sasebo Naval District was established at Sasebo, Nagasaki in 1886, as the third of the naval districts responsible for the defense of the Japanese home islands. After the establishment of the...

.

Reconstruction


Akagis modernization involved far less work than that of Kaga, but took three times as long due to financial difficulties related to the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

. The ship's three flight decks were judged too small to handle the larger and heavier aircraft then coming into service. As a result, the middle and lower flight decks were eliminated in favor of two enclosed hangar decks that extended almost the full length of the ship.The upper and middle hangar areas' total space increased to about 93000 square feet (8,640 m²), the lower hangar remained the same size. The upper flight deck was extended to the bow, increasing its length to 249.17 metre and raising aircraft capacity to 86 (61 operational and 25 in storage). A third elevator midships, 11.8 metre in size, was added. Her arrester gear was replaced by a Japanese-designed, hydraulic, Type 1 system with 9 wires. The modernization added an island superstructure on the port side of the ship, which was an unusual arrangement; the only other carrier to share this feature was a contemporary, the . The port side was chosen as an experiment to see if that side was better for flight operations by moving the island away from the ship's exhaust outlets. The new flight deck inclined slightly fore and aft from a point about three-eighths of the way aft.

Akagis speed was already satisfactory and the only changes to her machinery were the replacement of the mixed coal/oil-fired boilers with modern oil-fired units and the improvement of the ventilation arrangements. Although the engine horsepower increased from 131,200 to 133,000, her speed declined slightly from 32.5 to 31.2 kn (17.7 to 17 ) on trials because of the increase in her displacement to 41300 long tons (41,962.9 MT). Her bunkerage was increased to 7500 long tons (7,620.4 MT) of fuel oil
Fuel oil
Fuel oil is a fraction obtained from petroleum distillation, either as a distillate or a residue. Broadly speaking, fuel oil is any liquid petroleum product that is burned in a furnace or boiler for the generation of heat or used in an engine for the generation of power, except oils having a flash...

 which increased her endurance to 10000 nautical mile at 16 knots (8.7 m/s). The rear vertical funnel was changed to match the forward funnel and incorporated into the same casing.

The two twin turrets on the middle flight deck were removed and fourteen twin 25 mm (0.984251968503937 in) Type 96 gun mounts were added on sponsons. They fired 0.25 kilogram (0.551155655462194 lb) projectiles at a muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity is the speed a projectile has at the moment it leaves the muzzle of the gun. Muzzle velocities range from approximately to in black powder muskets , to more than in modern rifles with high-performance cartridges such as the .220 Swift and .204 Ruger, all the way to for tank guns...

 of 900 m/s (2,952.8 ft/s); at 50°, this provided a maximum range of 7500 m (8,202.1 yd), and an effective ceiling of 5500 m (18,044.6 ft). The maximum effective rate of fire was only between 110–120 rounds per minute due to the frequent need to change the 15-round magazines. Six Type 95 directors were fitted to control the new 25 mm guns and two new Type 94 anti-aircraft directors replaced the outdated Type 91s. After the modernization Akagi carried one Type 89 director for the 20 cm (7.9 in) guns; it is uncertain how many were carried before then. The ship's crew increased to 2,000 after the reconstruction.
The ship's anti-aircraft guns were grouped amidships and placed relatively low on the hull. Thus, the guns could not be brought to bear directly forward or aft. Also, the island blocked the forward arcs of the port battery. As a result, the ship was vulnerable to attack by dive bombers. The ship's 12 cm 45-caliber 10th Year Type guns were scheduled to be replaced by more modern 12.7 cm (5 in)/40 Type 89 gun mounts in 1942. The anti-aircraft sponsons were to be raised one deck to allow them some measure of cross-deck fire as was done during Kagas modernization. Subsequent events, however, prevented the ship from surviving combat long enough for the upgrade to take place.

Several major weaknesses in Akagi's design were not rectified. Akagi's aviation fuel tanks were incorporated directly into the structure of the carrier, meaning that shocks to the ship, such as those caused by bomb or shell hits, would be transmitted directly to the tanks, resulting in cracks or leaks. Also, the fully enclosed structure of the new hangar decks made firefighting difficult, at least in part because fuel vapors could accumulate in the hangars. Adding to the danger was the requirement of the Japanese carrier doctrine that aircraft be serviced, fueled, and armed whenever possible on the hangar decks rather than on the flight deck. In addition, the carrier's hangar and flight decks carried little armor protection. Furthermore, there was no redundancy in the ship's fire-extinguishing systems. These weaknesses would later be crucial factors in the loss of the ship.

Lead-up to World War II


Akagis modernization was completed on 31 August 1938. She was reclassified as a first reserve ship on 15 November, but did not rejoin the First Carrier Division until the following month. In her new configuration, the carrier embarked 12 Mitsubishi A5M
Mitsubishi A5M
The Mitsubishi A5M, Japanese Navy designation was "Type 96 carrier-based fighter" was a Japanese carrier-based fighter aircraft. It was the world's first monoplane shipboard fighter and the direct ancestor of the famous Mitsubishi A6M 'Zero'...

 "Claude" fighters with four dissembled spares, 19 Aichi D1A
Aichi D1A
|-See also:-External links:*...

 dive bombers with five spares, and 35 Yokosuka B4Y
Yokosuka B4Y
-References:NotesBibliography* Francillon, Ph.D., René J. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1970 . ISBN 0-370-30251-6....

 horizontal/torpedo bombers with 16 spares. She sailed for southern Chinese waters on 30 January 1939 and supported ground operations there until 19 February, when she returned to Japan. Akagi supported operations in central China between 27 March and 2 April 1940. She was reclassified as a special purpose ship (Tokubetse Ilomokan) on 15 November 1940, while she was being overhauled.

The Japanese experiences off China had helped further develop the IJN's carrier doctrine. One lesson learned in China was the importance of concentration and mass in projecting naval air power ashore. Therefore, in April 1941, the IJN formed the Kido Butai to combine all of its fleet carriers under a single command. On 10 April 1941 Akagi and Kaga were assigned to the First Carrier Division as part of the new carrier fleet, which also included the Second (with carriers Hiryū and Sōryū), and Fifth
Fifth Carrier Division
was an aircraft carrier unit of the Imperial Japanese Navy's First Air Fleet. At the beginning of the Pacific Campaign of World War II, the Fifth Carrier Division consisted of the fleet carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku. These two ships participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor, using their aircraft...

 (with Shōkaku and Zuikaku) carrier divisions. The IJN centered its doctrine on air strikes that combined the air groups of entire carrier divisions, rather than individual carriers. When multiple carrier divisions were operating together, the divisions' air groups were combined. This doctrine of combined, massed, carrier-based air attack groups was the most advanced of its kind in the world. The IJN, however, remained concerned that concentrating all of its carriers together would render them vulnerable to being wiped out all at once by a massive enemy air or surface strike. Thus, the IJN developed a compromise solution in which the fleet carriers would operate closely together within their carrier divisions but the divisions themselves would operate in loose rectangular formations, with approximately 7000 metres (7,655.3 yd) separating each carrier. The Japanese doctrine held that entire carrier air groups should not be launched in a single massed attack. Instead, each carrier would launch a "deckload strike" of all its aircraft that could be spotted at one time on each flight deck. Subsequent attack waves consisted of the next deckload of aircraft. Thus, 1st Air Fleet air attacks would often consist of at least two massed waves of aircraft. The First Air Fleet was not considered to be the IJN's primary strategic striking force. The IJN still considered the First Air Fleet an integral component in the Combined Fleet's decisive battle task force centered on battleships. Akagi was designated as the flagship for the First Air Fleet, a role the ship retained until her sinking 14 months later.

Although the concentration of so many fleet carriers into a single unit was a new and revolutionary offensive strategic concept, the First Air Fleet suffered from several defensive deficiencies that gave it, in Mark Peattie
Mark Peattie
Mark R. Peattie is an American academic and Japanologist. Peattie is a specialist in modern Japanese military, naval, and imperial history.-Career:...

's words, a glass jaw': it could throw a punch but couldn't take one." Japanese carrier anti-aircraft guns and associated fire-control systems had several design and configuration deficiencies that limited their effectiveness. Also, the IJN's fleet combat air patrol
Combat air patrol
Combat air patrol is a type of flying mission for fighter aircraft.A combat air patrol is an aircraft patrol provided over an objective area, over the force protected, over the critical area of a combat zone, or over an air defense area, for the purpose of intercepting and destroying hostile...

 (CAP) consisted of too few fighter aircraft and was hampered by an inadequate early warning system, including lack of radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

. In addition, poor radio communications with the fighter aircraft inhibited effective command and control of the CAP. The carriers' escorting warships were also not trained or deployed to provide close anti-aircraft support. These deficiencies, combined with the shipboard weaknesses previously detailed, would eventually doom Akagi and other First Air Fleet carriers.

Pearl Harbor and subsequent operations



Commanded by Captain Kiichi Hasegawa
Kiichi Hasegawa
-Notes:...

, Akagi was Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo
Chuichi Nagumo
was a Japanese admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II and one time commander of the Kido Butai . He committed suicide during the Battle of Saipan.-Early life:...

's flagship for the Striking Force for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

 that attempted to cripple the United States Pacific Fleet
United States Pacific Fleet
The United States Pacific Fleet is a Pacific Ocean theater-level component command of the United States Navy that provides naval resources under the operational control of the United States Pacific Command. Its home port is at Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii. It is commanded by Admiral Patrick M...

 in December 1941. Akagi launched two waves of aircraft off Oahu
Oahu
Oahu or Oahu , known as "The Gathering Place", is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands and most populous of the islands in the U.S. state of Hawaii. The state capital Honolulu is located on the southeast coast...

. In the first wave, 27 Nakajima B5N
Nakajima B5N
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Bridgwater, H.C. and Peter Scott. Combat Colours Number 4: Pearl Harbor and Beyond, December 1941 to May 1942. Luton, Bedfordshire, UK: Guideline Publications, 2001. ISBN 0-9539040-6-7....

 "Kate" torpedo bombers torpedoed the battleships , , and ; nine of the ship's Mitsubishi A6M Zero attacked the air base at Hickam Field
Hickam Air Force Base
Hickam Field, re-named Hickam Air Force Base in 1948, was a United States Air Force facility now part of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, named in honor of aviation pioneer Lt Col Horace Meek Hickam.- History :...

. In the second wave, 18 Aichi D3A
Aichi D3A
The , Allied reporting name "Val") was a World War II carrier-borne dive bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy . It was the primary dive bomber in the Imperial Japanese Navy, and participated in almost all actions, including Pearl Harbor....

 "Val" dive bombers targeted the battleship , the light cruiser and the destroyer , while 9 "Zeros" attacked various American airfields.

In January 1942, together with the rest of the First and Fifth Carrier Divisions, Akagi supported the invasion of Rabaul
Battle of Rabaul (1942)
The Battle of Rabaul, also known by the Japanese as Operation R, was fought on the island of New Britain in the Australian Territory of New Guinea, in January and February 1942. It was a strategically significant defeat of Allied forces by Japan in the Pacific campaign of World War II...

 in the Bismarck Islands, as the Japanese moved to secure their southern defensive perimeter against attacks from Australia. She provided 20 B5Ns and nine Zeros for the initial airstrike on Rabaul
Rabaul
Rabaul is a township in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea. The town was the provincial capital and most important settlement in the province until it was destroyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption. During the eruption, ash was sent thousands of metres into the air and the...

 on 20 January 1942. The First Carrier Division attacked Allied positions at nearby Kavieng
Kavieng
Kavieng is the capital of the Papua New Guinean province of New Ireland and the largest town on the island of the same name. The town is located at Balgai Bay, on the northern tip of the island. As of 2000, it had a population of 10,600....

 the following day, of which Akagi contributed 9 A6M Zeros and 18 D3As. On the 22nd, Akagis D3As and Zeros again attacked Rabaul before returning to Truk on 27 January. The Second Carrier Division, with Sōryū and Hiryū, had been detached to support the invasion of Wake Island
Battle of Wake Island
The Battle of Wake Island began simultaneously with the Attack on Pearl Harbor and ended on 23 December 1941, with the surrender of the American forces to the Empire of Japan...

 on 23 December 1941 and did not reunite with the rest of the carrier mobile striking force until February 1942.

She sortied, along with Kaga and the carrier in search of American forces attacking the Marshall Islands
Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...

 on 1 February, before being recalled. On 7 February Akagi and the carriers of the First and Second Carrier Divisions were ordered south to the Timor Sea
Timor Sea
The Timor Sea is a relatively shallow sea bounded to the north by the island of Timor, to the east by the Arafura Sea, to the south by Australia and to the west by the Indian Ocean....

, where on 19 February 1942 they launched air strikes against Darwin, Australia
Darwin, Northern Territory
Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory, Australia. Situated on the Timor Sea, Darwin has a population of 127,500, making it by far the largest and most populated city in the sparsely populated Northern Territory, but the least populous of all Australia's capital cities...

, in an attempt to destroy its port and airfield facilities to prevent any interference with the invasion of Java
Battle of Java (1942)
The Battle of Java was a battle of the Pacific theatre of World War II. It occurred on the island of Java from 28 February-12 March 1942. It involved forces from the Empire of Japan, which invaded on 28 February 1942, and Allied personnel...

. Akagi contributed 18 B5Ns, 18 D2As, and nine Zeros to the attack, which caught the defenders by surprise. Eight ships were sunk, including the American destroyer , and fourteen more were damaged. On 1 March the American oiler was sunk by D3As from and Akagi. Later that same day the American destroyer was attacked and sunk by D3As from Akagi and Sōryū, in combination with gunfire from two battleships and two heavy cruisers of the escort force. Akagi and her consorts covered the invasion of Java, although her main contribution appears to have been providing 18 "Kates" and 9 "Zeros" for the 5 March 1942 air strike on Tjilatjap. This was very successful, sinking eight ships in the harbor there and none of Akagis aircraft were lost. The Kido Butai then sailed for Staring Bay on Celebes Island
Sulawesi
Sulawesi is one of the four larger Sunda Islands of Indonesia and is situated between Borneo and the Maluku Islands. In Indonesia, only Sumatra, Borneo, and Papua are larger in territory, and only Java and Sumatra have larger Indonesian populations.- Etymology :The Portuguese were the first to...

 to refuel and recuperate. On 26 March Akagi set sail for the Indian Ocean raid
Indian Ocean raid
The Indian Ocean raid was a naval sortie by the Fast Carrier Strike Force of the Imperial Japanese Navy from 31 March-10 April 1942 against Allied shipping and bases in the Indian Ocean. It was an early engagement of the Pacific campaign of World War II...

 with the rest of the Kido Butai. The Japanese intent was to defeat the British Eastern Fleet and destroy British airpower in the region in order to secure the flank of their operations in Burma.
On 5 April 1942, Akagi launched 18 B5Ns and six Zeros in an air strike against Colombo
Colombo
Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital of the country, since Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is a satellite city of Colombo...

, Ceylon, which damaged the port facilities. None of the aircraft were lost and some of the Zeros may have shot down some of the defending British fighters. Later that day 17 D3As from Akagi helped to sink the British heavy cruiser . On 9 April she struck at Trincomalee
Trincomalee
Trincomalee is a port city in Eastern Province, Sri Lanka and lies on the east coast of the island, about 113 miles south of Jaffna. It has a population of approximately 100,000 . The city is built on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours. Overlooking the Kottiyar Bay,...

 and, later that day, twelve of her D3As sank the Australian destroyer , and three more of her D3As sank the oil tanker
Oil tanker
An oil tanker, also known as a petroleum tanker, is a merchant ship designed for the bulk transport of oil. There are two basic types of oil tankers: the crude tanker and the product tanker. Crude tankers move large quantities of unrefined crude oil from its point of extraction to refineries...

 British Sergeant without loss. During the day's actions, the carrier narrowly escaped damage when nine British Bristol Blenheim
Bristol Blenheim
The Bristol Blenheim was a British light bomber aircraft designed and built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company that was used extensively in the early days of the Second World War. It was adapted as an interim long-range and night fighter, pending the availability of the Beaufighter...

 bombers from Ceylon penetrated the CAP and dropped their bombs from 10000 feet (3,048 m), just missing the carrier. Four of the Blenheims were subsequently shot down by CAP fighters and one was shot down by aircraft from the carriers' returning air strike. After the raid, the carrier mobile striking force began a return journey to Japan to refit and replenish.

On 19 April 1942, while near Taiwan during the transit to Japan, Akagi, Sōryū, and Hiryū were sent in pursuit of the American carriers and , which had launched the Doolittle Raid
Doolittle Raid
The Doolittle Raid, on 18 April 1942, was the first air raid by the United States to strike the Japanese Home Islands during World War II. By demonstrating that Japan itself was vulnerable to American air attack, it provided a vital morale boost and opportunity for U.S. retaliation after the...

. They found only empty ocean, however, for the American carriers had immediately departed the area to return to Hawaii. Akagi and the other carriers shortly abandoned the chase and dropped anchor at Hashirajima
Hashirajima
is an island in southern Hiroshima Bay of the Inland Sea, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Located 26 kilometers southeast of Iwakuni, it is part of the Kutsuna Islands within the Bōyō Islands group....

 anchorage on 22 April. On 25 April, Captain Taijiro Aoki
Taijiro Aoki
Taijiro Aoki(青木泰二郎) was a Japanese Captain of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Aoki graduated from the Naval Academy at Etajima in 1910. In April 1942, he became the captain of the . He was in command of ship at the time of her sinking at the battle of Midway in 1942, and attempted to go down with his...

 relieved Hasegawa as skipper of the carrier. Having been engaged in constant operations for four and a half months, the ship, along with the other three carriers of the First and Second Carrier Divisions, was hurriedly refitted and replenished in preparation for the Combined Fleet's next major operation, scheduled to begin one month hence. The Fifth Carrier Division, with Shōkaku and Zuikaku, had been detached in mid-April to support Operation Mo
Operation Mo
Operation Mo or the Port Moresby Operation was the name of the Japanese plan to take control of the Australian Territory of New Guinea during World War II as well as other locations in the South Pacific with the goal of isolating Australia and New Zealand from their ally the United States...

, resulting in the Battle of the Coral Sea
Battle of the Coral Sea
The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought from 4–8 May 1942, was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval and air forces from the United States and Australia. The battle was the first fleet action in which aircraft carriers engaged...

. While at Hashirajima, Akagi's air group was based ashore in Kagoshima and conducted flight and weapons training with the other 1st Air Fleet carrier units.

Midway raid



Concerned by the US carrier strikes in the Doolittle, Marshall Islands, and Lae-Salamaua
Invasion of Lae-Salamaua
The Invasion of Lae-Salamaua, called Operation SR by the Japanese, was an operation by Imperial Japanese forces to occupy the Salamaua-Lae area in the Territory of New Guinea 8–13 March 1942 during the Pacific campaign of World War II...

 raids, Yamamoto determined to force the US Navy into a showdown to eliminate the American carrier threat. Yamamoto decided to invade and occupy Midway Island, which he was sure would draw out the American carrier forces to battle. The Japanese codenamed the Midway invasion Operation MI.

On 25 May 1942, Akagi set out with the Combined Fleet's carrier striking force in the company of carriers Kaga, , and , which constituted the First and Second Carrier Divisions, for the attack on Midway Island
Midway Atoll
Midway Atoll is a atoll in the North Pacific Ocean, near the northwestern end of the Hawaiian archipelago, about one-third of the way between Honolulu, Hawaii, and Tokyo, Japan. Unique among the Hawaiian islands, Midway observes UTC-11 , eleven hours behind Coordinated Universal Time and one hour...

. Once again, Nagumo flew his flag on Akagi. Because of damage and losses suffered during the Battle of the Coral Sea
Battle of the Coral Sea
The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought from 4–8 May 1942, was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval and air forces from the United States and Australia. The battle was the first fleet action in which aircraft carriers engaged...

, the Fifth Carrier Division with carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku was absent from the operation. Akagis aircraft complement consisted of 24 Zeros, 18 D3As, and 18 B5Ns.

With the fleet positioned 250 nautical miles (463 km) northwest of Midway Island at dawn (04:45 local time) on 4 June 1942, Akagis portion of the 108-plane combined air raid was a strike on the airfield on Eastern Island with eighteen dive bombers escorted by nine Zeros. The carrier's B5Ns were armed with torpedoes and kept ready in case enemy ships were discovered during the Midway operation. The only loss during the raid from Akagis' air group was one Zero shot down by AA fire, but three others were damaged; four dive bombers were damaged as well, although only one was non-repairable. Unknown to the Japanese, the US Navy had divined the Japanese MI plan from signals intelligence and had prepared an ambush using its three available carriers, positioned northeast of Midway.

One of Akagis torpedo bombers was launched to augment the search for any American ships that might be in the area. The carrier contributed three Zeros to the total of 11 assigned to the initial combat air patrol over the four carriers. By 07:00 the carrier had 11 fighters with the CAP which helped to defend the Kido Butai from the first US attackers from Midway Island at 07:10.

At this time, Nagumo's carriers were attacked by six US Navy TBF Avenger
TBF Avenger
The Grumman TBF Avenger was a torpedo bomber developed initially for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, and eventually used by several air or naval arms around the world....

s from VT-8
VT-8
Torpedo Squadron 8 was a United States Navy squadron of World War II torpedo bombers assigned initially to the Air Group operating from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet , until after her loss in October 1942 during the Battle of Santa Cruz Island...

 squadron and four United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 (USAAF) B-26 Marauders, all carrying torpedoes. The Avengers went after Hiryū while the Marauders attacked Akagi. The 30 CAP Zeroes in the air at this time, including the 11 from Akagi, immediately attacked the American airplanes, shooting down most of them in quick succession. One of Akagis Zeroes, however, was shot down by defensive fire from the B-26s. Two or more of the Marauders survived long enough to drop their torpedoes, but all missed. One of the B-26s strafed
Strafing
Strafing is the practice of attacking ground targets from low-flying aircraft using aircraft-mounted automatic weapons. This means, that although ground attack using automatic weapons fire is very often accompanied with bombing or rocket fire, the term "strafing" does not specifically include the...

 Akagi after dropping its torpedo, killing two men. Another, either attempting a suicide ramming or unnavigable due to battle damage or an incapacitated pilot, narrowly missed crashing into Akagis bridge and killing or injuring Nagumo, before it cartwheeled into the sea.

At 07:15 Admiral Nagumo ordered the B5Ns on Kaga and Akagi rearmed with bombs for another attack on Midway itself. This process was limited by the number of ordnance carts used to handle the bombs and torpedoes and the limited number of ordnance elevators. This meant that the torpedoes could not be struck below until after all the bombs were moved up from their magazine
Magazine (artillery)
Magazine is the name for an item or place within which ammunition is stored. It is taken from the Arabic word "makahazin" meaning "warehouse".-Ammunition storage areas:...

, assembled and mounted on the aircraft. This process normally took about an hour and a half; more time would be required to bring the aircraft up to the flight deck, warm up and launch the strike group. Around 07:40 he reversed his order when he received a message from one of his scout aircraft that American warships had been spotted. Depleted of ammunition, three of Akagis CAP Zeroes landed aboard the carrier at 07:26. At 07:40, the carrier's lone scout plane returned from its search mission, having sighted nothing.

Sinking


At 07:55, the next American strike from Midway arrived in the form of 16 Marine SBD-2 Dauntless dive-bombers of VMSB-241 under Major Lofton R. Henderson
Lofton R. Henderson
Lofton R. Henderson was a naval aviator in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He was the commanding officer of VMSB-241 at the Battle of Midway and is recognized as the first Marine aviator to die during that battle while leading his squadron to attack the Japanese carrier...

. Akagis three remaining CAP fighters were among the nine still aloft that attacked Henderson's planes, shooting down six of them as they executed a fruitless glide bombing attack on Hiryū. At roughly the same time, the Japanese carriers were attacked by 12 USAAF B-17 Flying Fortresses, bombing from 20000 feet (6,096 m). The high altitude of the B-17s gave the Japanese captains enough time to anticipate where the bombs would land and successfully maneuver their ships out of the impact area. Four B-17s attacked Akagi, but missed with all their bombs.

Akagi reinforced the CAP with launches of three Zeros at 08:08 and four at 08:32. These fresh Zeros helped defeat the next American air strike from Midway, 11 Vought SB2U Vindicator from VMSB-241, which attacked the battleship starting around 08:30. Although all the American air strikes had thus far caused negligible damage, they kept the Japanese carrier forces off-balance as Nagumo endeavored to prepare a response to word, received at 08:20, of the sighting of American carrier forces to his northeast.

Akagi began recovering her Midway strike force at 08:37 and finished shortly after 09:00. The landed aircraft were quickly struck below, while the carriers' crews began preparations to spot aircraft for the strike against the American carrier forces. The preparations, however, were interrupted at 09:18 when the first American carrier aircraft were sighted. These consisted of 15 TBD Devastator
TBD Devastator
The Douglas TBD Devastator was a torpedo bomber of the United States Navy, ordered in 1934, first flying in 1935 and entering service in 1937. At that point, it was the most advanced aircraft flying for the USN and possibly for any navy in the world...

 torpedo bombers of VT-8
VT-8
Torpedo Squadron 8 was a United States Navy squadron of World War II torpedo bombers assigned initially to the Air Group operating from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet , until after her loss in October 1942 during the Battle of Santa Cruz Island...

, led by John C. Waldron
John C. Waldron
John Charles Waldron was a United States Navy aviator who led a squadron of torpedo bombers in World War II...

 from the carrier Hornet
USS Hornet (CV-8)
USS Hornet CV-8, the seventh ship to carry the name Hornet, was a of the United States Navy. During World War II in the Pacific Theater, she launched the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and participated in the Battle of Midway and the Buin-Faisi-Tonolai Raid...

. The six airborne Akagi CAP Zeroes joined the other 15 CAP fighters currently aloft in savaging Waldron's planes. All 15 of the American planes were shot down as they attempted a torpedo attack on Soryū, leaving one surviving aviator treading water.

Shortly afterwards 14 Devastators from VT-6 from the US carrier , led by Eugene E. Lindsey
Eugene E. Lindsey
Eugene E. Lindsey, born in Sprague, Washington, 2 July 1905, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1927. After duty in Nevada and Saratoga he completed flight training in 1929, and served with a bombing squadron in Lexington and an observation squadron in Maryland...

, attacked. Lindsey's aircraft tried to sandwich Kaga, but the CAP, reinforced by an additional eight Zeros launched by Akagi at 09:33 and 09:40, shot down all but four of the Devastators, and Kaga dodged the torpedoes. Defensive fire from the Devastators shot down one of Akagis Zeros.
Minutes after the torpedo plane attacks, American carrier-based dive bombers arrived over the Japanese carriers almost undetected and began their dives. It was at this time, around 10:20, that in the words of Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully, the "Japanese air defenses would finally and catastrophically fail." Twenty-eight dive bombers from Enterprise, led by C. Wade McClusky
C. Wade McClusky
Rear Admiral Clarence Wade McClusky, Jr., was a United States Navy aviator during World War II. He is credited with playing a major part in the Battle of Midway...

, began an attack on Kaga, hitting her with at least four bombs. At the last minute, one of McClusky's elements of three bombers from VB-6, led by squadron commander Richard Best
Richard Halsey Best
Lieutenant Commander Richard Halsey Best, USN, was a dive-bomber pilot in the United States Navy, during World War II.-Early career :...

 who deduced Kaga to be fatally damaged, broke off and dove simultaneously on Akagi. At approximately 10:26, the three bombers hit her with one 1000 pounds (453.6 kg) bomb and just missed with two others. The first near-miss landed 5 metre to port, near her island. The third bomb just missed the flight deck and plunged into the water next to the stern. The second bomb, likely dropped by Best, landed at the aft edge of the middle elevator and detonated in the upper hangar. This hit set off explosions among the fully armed and fueled B5N torpedo bombers that were being prepared for an air strike against the American carriers, starting large fires.

At 10:29 Captain Aoki ordered the ship's magazine
Magazine (artillery)
Magazine is the name for an item or place within which ammunition is stored. It is taken from the Arabic word "makahazin" meaning "warehouse".-Ammunition storage areas:...

s flooded. The forward magazines were promptly flooded, but not the aft magazines because of valve damage, likely caused by the near miss aft. The ship's main water pump appears to have been damaged, greatly hindering fire fighting efforts. On the upper hangar deck, at 10:32 damage control teams attempted to control the spreading fires by employing the one-shot CO2 fire-suppression system. It is not known whether the system functioned or not but, regardless, the burning aviation fuel proved impossible to control, and serious fires began to advance deeper into the interior of the ship. At 10:40 additional damage caused by the rear near-miss made itself known when the ship's rudder jammed 30 degrees to starboard during an evasive maneuver.

Shortly thereafter, the fires broke through the flight deck and heat and smoke made the ship's bridge unusable. At 10:46 Admiral Nagumo transferred his flag to the light cruiser . Akagi stopped dead in the water at 13:50 and her crew, except for Captain Taijiro Aoki
Taijiro Aoki
Taijiro Aoki(青木泰二郎) was a Japanese Captain of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Aoki graduated from the Naval Academy at Etajima in 1910. In April 1942, he became the captain of the . He was in command of ship at the time of her sinking at the battle of Midway in 1942, and attempted to go down with his...

 and damage-control personnel, was evacuated. She burned through the night but did not sink as her crew fought a losing battle against the spreading fires. The damage-control teams were eventually evacuated as well, as was (under duress) Aoki.

At 04:50 on 5 June, Yamamoto ordered Akagi scuttled, saying to his staff, "I was once the captain of Akagi, and it is with heartfelt regret that I must now order that she be sunk." Destroyers Arashi
Japanese destroyer Arashi
Arashi was a of the Imperial Japanese Navy.The Arashi ship played a vital role in World War II by inadvertently guiding US attack planes to the Japanese carrier fleet at the Battle of Midway. It had been separated from the fleet during an attack on the USS Nautilus and was steaming to join them...

, Hagikaze
Japanese destroyer Hagikaze
Hagikaze was a of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Participating at the Battle of Midway, the heavily damaged was scuttled by her two torpedoes, Kaga being fatally damaged by US aircraft of during the battle....

, Maikaze
Japanese destroyer Maikaze
Maikaze was a of the Imperial Japanese Navy.On 17 February 1944, while evacuating convoys to Yokosuka from Truk following Allied attack on Truk, Maikaze, the cruiser , and the auxiliary cruiser Akagi Maru were sunk by gunfire from the cruisers and 40 miles northwest of Truk...

, and Nowaki
Japanese destroyer Nowaki
was a Kagero-class destroyer of the Imperial Japanese Navy.On 3 March 1942 the Nowaki help sink the gunboat . In the Battle off Samar on 25 October 1944, Nowaki took part in the torpedo attack on the U.S. escort carriers and assisted in sinking of...

each fired one torpedo into the carrier and she sank, bow first, at 05:20 at 30°30′N 178°40′W. Two hundred and sixty-seven men of the ship's crew were lost, the fewest of any of the Japanese fleet carriers lost in the battle. The loss of Akagi and the three other IJN carriers at Midway, comprising two thirds of Japan's total number of fleet carriers and the experienced core of the First Air Fleet, was a crucial strategic defeat for Japan and contributed significantly to Japan's ultimate defeat in the war. In an effort to conceal the defeat, Akagi was not immediately removed from the Navy's registry of ships, instead being listed as "unmanned" before finally being struck from the registry on 25 September 1942.

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