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Japanese aircraft carrier Soryu

Japanese aircraft carrier Soryu

Overview

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...

. During the Second World War, she took part in 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...

, Wake Island, Port Darwin and raids in the Indian Ocean before being sunk at 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...

.

Sōryū was one of two large carriers approved for construction under the 1931-32 Supplementary Programme (the other being her sister-ship Hiryū
Hiryu
Hiryū *Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryū*Strider Hiryu, a ninja-like video game character*Hiryu Ken Twin, video game series...

). She was laid down at Kaigun Kosho, Kure
Kure, Hiroshima
is a city in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan.As of October 1, 2010, the city has an estimated population of 240,820 and a population density of 681 persons per km². The total area is 353.74 km².- History :...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 on 20 November 1934, launched on 21 December 1935 and finally commissioned on 29 December 1937.
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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...

. During the Second World War, she took part in 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...

, Wake Island, Port Darwin and raids in the Indian Ocean before being sunk at 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...

.

Design


Sōryū was one of two large carriers approved for construction under the 1931-32 Supplementary Programme (the other being her sister-ship Hiryū
Hiryu
Hiryū *Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryū*Strider Hiryu, a ninja-like video game character*Hiryu Ken Twin, video game series...

). She was laid down at Kaigun Kosho, Kure
Kure, Hiroshima
is a city in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan.As of October 1, 2010, the city has an estimated population of 240,820 and a population density of 681 persons per km². The total area is 353.74 km².- History :...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 on 20 November 1934, launched on 21 December 1935 and finally commissioned on 29 December 1937. As opposed to some earlier Japanese carriers, which were conversions of battlecruiser (Akagi
Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi
Akagi was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy , originally begun as an . She was converted while still under construction to an aircraft carrier under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty...

) or battleship (Kaga
Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga
Kaga was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy , named after the former Kaga Province in present-day Ishikawa Prefecture...

) hulls, Sōryū was designed from the keel up as an aircraft carrier and incorporated lessons learned from the light carrier Ryujo
Japanese aircraft carrier Ryujo
Ryūjō was a light aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy. She was laid down by Mitsubishi at Yokohama in 1929, launched in 1931 and commissioned on 9 May 1933. Her final design resulted in a top-heavy unstable vessel and within a year she was back at Kure Naval Yard for modification...

.

Hull


Sōryū featured a slim cruiser-type hull with a length-to-beam ratio of 10:1. Primary protection from horizontal fire came from a 46 mm (1.8 in) waterline armor belt of Ducol Steel plate along with a separate internal anti-splinter bulkhead. Vertical protection consisted of 25 mm (0.984251968503937 in) of armor over the ship's machinery and 55 mm (2.2 in) over the fore and aft magazines and aviation fuel tanks. There were no bulges on the hull for anti-torpedo defense.

Machinery


Sōryūs machinery was similar to that of the Mogami-class heavy cruisers and consisted of four sets of geared turbines, developing 200000 shp, connected to four propeller shafts. Steam power was generated from eight oil-fired Kampon boilers. With a maximum bunkerage capacity of 3670 tons of fuel oil, Sōryū could cruise 7750 nautical miles (14,353 km) at 18 knots (9.8 m/s).

Corrosive exhaust gases were trunked upward through the ship and vented out a pair of downward-curving horizontal funnels located amidships on the starboard side, just abaft the carrier's island. This arrangement prevented smoke from interfering with flight operations in most wind conditions.

The carrier's slender hull and powerful machinery resulted in a high maximum speed. Reaching close to 65 km/h (35 kts) during initial sea trials, Sōryū was the fastest carrier in the world at the time of her commissioning.

Flight Deck & Hangars


The carrier's 217 m (711.9 ft) long flight deck overhung both ends of the hangar box but stopped short of the bow and stern. It was supported fore and aft by steel girders.
Sōryūs diminutive island sat atop a starboard-side extension jutting beyond the side of the hull and therefore did not encroach on the width of the flight deck.

Nine Type 4 electrically operated arrester wires were capable of stopping a 6000 kilogram aircraft at speeds of 60-78 knots.

To facilitate rapid transfer of aircraft from hangar to flight deck and back, Sōryū was designed with three elevators. The largest of these was located along the ship's center line abreast the island. Two somewhat smaller elevators were offset to starboard, one just abaft the ship's funnels and one located further aft. They were capable of transferring aircraft weighing up to 5000 kilogram.

Sōryū had two fully enclosed aircraft hangars, arranged one atop the other, with the 160 m (524.9 ft) upper hangar being approximately 30.5 m (100.1 ft) longer than the lower. Overhead clearance was limited to 4.5 m (14.8 ft) in the upper hangar (where the wings of a Nakajima B5N Kate
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....

 torpedo bomber could therefore not be spread for maintenance purposes) and less than 4.25 m (13.9 ft) in the lower one where the top of the engine cowling of a Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter came within 1.2 m (3.9 ft) of the deck-head.

AA Armament


Heavy AA armament consisted of six twin batteries of 127 mm (5 in) dual-purpose guns mounted below flight deck level on either side of the ship (three sited forward and three aft). Each was controlled by a Type 94 fire-control director. A seventh director was mounted atop the island and could control all six batteries if necessary though at a reduced rate of fire.

Close-in AA armament consisted of fourteen twin 25 mm (0.984251968503937 in) AA guns distributed along the sides of the ship, again below flight deck level. Three of them were sited on a platform just below the bow end of the flight deck.

Pearl Harbor


At the outbreak of the Pacific War
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

, commanded by Captain Ryusaku Yanagimoto
Ryusaku Yanagimoto
- Notes :...

, Sōryū, in Carrier Division 2, was one of six carriers comprising the Kido Butai (Striking Force) that attacked 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...

 on 7 December 1941. She launched two waves of air strikes against the U.S. naval base. Her first wave targeted Nevada
USS Nevada (BB-36)
USS Nevada , the second United States Navy ship to be named after the 36th state, was the lead ship of the two Nevada-class battleships; her sister ship was...

, Tennessee
USS Tennessee (BB-43)
USS Tennessee , the lead ship of her class of battleship, was the third ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the 16th US state. During World War II in the Pacific Theater, she was damaged during the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 but was repaired and modernized...

, and West Virginia
USS West Virginia (BB-48)
USS West Virginia , a , was the second ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the 35th state.Her keel was laid down on 12 April 1920 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Virginia. She was launched on 17 November 1921 sponsored by Miss Alice Wright Mann,...

 with armour-piercing bombs and Utah
USS Utah (BB-31)
USS Utah was a battleship that was attacked and sunk in Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. A Florida-class battleship, she was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the U.S. state of Utah...

, Helena
USS Helena (CL-50)
USS Helena was a St. Louis-class light cruiser of the United States Navy, damaged in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and subsequently active in the Pacific War until she was sunk at the battle of Kula Gulf in 1943...

, California
USS California (BB-44)
USS California , a Tennessee-class battleship, was the fifth ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the 31st state. Beginning as the flagship of the Pacific Fleet, she served in the Pacific her entire career. She was sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor at her moorings in Battleship Row,...

, and Raleigh
USS Raleigh (CL-7)
USS Raleigh was an Omaha-class light cruiser of the United States Navy. She was the third Navy ship named for the city of Raleigh, North Carolina....

 with torpedoes, and also attacked parked aircraft at Barbers Point
Kalaeloa Airport
Kalaeloa Airport , also called John Rodgers Field and formerly Naval Air Station Barbers Point, is a joint civil-military regional airport of the State of Hawaii established on July 1, 1999 to replace the Ford Island NALF facilities which closed on June 30 of the same year...

. Her second wave targeted California, Raleigh, Kaneohe and Navy Yard installations. One of her Kate aircraft was claimed to have sent the last torpedo that eventually sank the .

Wake Island / Port Darwin


From 21 December to 23 December 1941 Sōryū launched air strikes against Wake Island
Wake Island
Wake Island is a coral atoll having a coastline of in the North Pacific Ocean, located about two-thirds of the way from Honolulu west to Guam east. It is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior...

. In January 1942 she supported the invasion of the Palau Islands and the Battle of Ambon
Battle of Ambon
The Battle of Ambon occurred on the island of Ambon in the Dutch East Indies , on 30 January – 3 February 1942, during World War II. A Japanese invasion was resisted by Dutch and Australian forces...

. On 19 February 1942 Sōryū 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 March 1942 she took part in the Battle of the Java Sea
Battle of the Java Sea
The Battle of the Java Sea was a decisive naval battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, that sealed the fate of the Netherlands East Indies....

, helping sink the US tanker Pecos
USS Pecos (AO-6)
thumb|right|300px|USS Pecos in portUSS Pecos was laid down as Fuel Ship No. 18 on June 2, 1920 by the Navy Yard, Boston, Mass.; reclassified AO–6 on July 17, 1920; launched April 23, 1921; sponsored by Miss Anna S. Hubbard; and commissioned August 25, 1921...

.

Indian Ocean


In April 1942 Sōryū 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...

, launching air strikes against the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 base at Ceylon on 5 April 1942, and assisted in sinking the Royal Navy cruisers Cornwall
HMS Cornwall (56)
HMS Cornwall was a County class heavy cruiser of the Kent subclass built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1920s. She was built at Devonport Dockyard .-History:...

 and Dorsetshire
HMS Dorsetshire (40)
HMS Dorsetshire was a heavy cruiser of the County class of the Royal Navy, named after the English county . She was launched on 29 January 1929 at Portsmouth Dockyard, UK. During the Second World War, she was last commanded by Captain Augustus Agar V.C....

. On 9 April her aircraft contributed to torpedoes that sank the British carrier Hermes and the escorting Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire
HMAS Vampire (D68)
HMAS Vampire was a V class destroyer of the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy . Launched in 1917 as HMS Wallace, the ship was renamed and commissioned into the RN later that year. Vampire was loaned to the RAN in 1933, and operated as a depot tender until just before World War II...

.

On 19 April 1942 she pursued the American carriers 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...

 and Enterprise
USS Enterprise (CV-6)
USS Enterprise , colloquially referred to as the "Big E," was the sixth aircraft carrier of the United States Navy and the seventh U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. Launched in 1936, she was a ship of the Yorktown class, and one of only three American carriers commissioned prior to World War II to...

 after they 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...

, but without success.

Midway


In June 1942 Sōryū was one of four carriers with 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 First Carrier Striking Force in 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...

. Her aircraft complement consisted of 21 Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" fighters, 21 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, and 21 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. http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq81-6.htm On 4 June 1942 she launched her first wave of planes against the American base 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...

. At 10:25 AM while preparing to launch a second strike against an American carrier group, she was attacked by thirteen SBD Dauntless
SBD Dauntless
The Douglas SBD Dauntless was a naval dive bomber made by Douglas during World War II. The SBD was the United States Navy's main dive bomber from mid-1940 until late 1943, when it was largely replaced by the SB2C Helldiver...

 dive bombers from the American carrier Yorktown
USS Yorktown (CV-5)
was an aircraft carrier commissioned in the United States Navy from 1937 until she was sunk at the Battle of Midway in June 1942. She was named after the Battle of Yorktown in 1781 and the lead ship of the Yorktown class which was designed after lessons learned from operations with the large...

. Sōryū received three direct hits from 454 kg (1000 lb) bombs: one penetrated to the lower hangar deck, and the other two exploded in the upper hangar deck. The hangars contained armed and fueled aircraft preparing for the upcoming strike, resulting in secondary explosions. Within a very short time the fires on the ship were out of control. At 10:40 AM she stopped and her crew were taken off by the destroyers Isokaze
Japanese destroyer Isokaze
Isokaze was a of the Imperial Japanese Navy. It is the second ship to carry the name after the lead ship from Isokaze-class destroyer.On 7 April 1945, Isokaze escorted the battleship from the Inland Sea on her Operation Ten-Go attack on the Allied forces on Okinawa...

 and Hamakaze
Japanese destroyer Hamakaze
was a of the Imperial Japanese Navy.On 7 April 1945, Hamakaze escorted the battleship from the Inland Sea on her Operation Ten-Go attack on the Allied forces on Okinawa. She was sunk by aircraft of Task Force 58 and sank 150 miles southwest of Nagasaki .-External links:**...

. Sōryū sank at 7:13 PM at position 30°38′N 179°13′W
. Losses were 711 crew of her nominal complement of 1103, including Captain Yanagimoto, who chose to remain on board. This was the highest mortality percentage of all the Japanese carriers lost at Midway, due largely to the devastation in both hangar decks.

The official record (the Nagumo Report) implies that Sōryū sank of her own accord. Later research has revealed 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...

 with torpedoes by Isokaze
Japanese destroyer Isokaze
Isokaze was a of the Imperial Japanese Navy. It is the second ship to carry the name after the lead ship from Isokaze-class destroyer.On 7 April 1945, Isokaze escorted the battleship from the Inland Sea on her Operation Ten-Go attack on the Allied forces on Okinawa...

.

External links