Carriers Imperial Japanese Navy

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Japanese Aircraft Carriers of the Imperial Japanese Navy


Kaga conducting air operations in 1930. On the upper deck are Mitsubishi B1M torpedo bombers preparing for takeoff. Nakajima A1N Type 3 fighters are parked on the lower deck forward.

Kaga conducting air operations in 1930. On the upper deck are Mitsubishi B1M torpedo bombers preparing for takeoff. Nakajima A1N Type 3 fighters are parked on the lower deck forward.


This page contains the most comprehensive information on the aircraft carriers, light carriers and escort carriers that were enlisted in the Imperial Japanese Navy. They are classified in two groups: As of December of 1941 and those built and enlisted after Pearl Harbor attack on December 1941. A comprehensive list of the Japanese aircraft carriers  organised by classes can also be found here.

Japanese Aircraft Carriers as of December 1941 



sphere Mitsubishi Zero A6M Carrier Fuselage Stripes and Tail Markings


sphere CVL light aircraft carrier Hosho (鳳翔) “Phoenix in Flight”


sphere CV aircraft carrier Akagi (赤城) “Red Castle”


sphere CV aircraft carrier Kaga (加賀), named after the former Kaga Province in present-day Ishikawa Prefecture.


sphere CV aircraft carrier Shokaku (翔鶴) “Soaring Crane”


sphere CV aircraft carrier Zuikaku (瑞鶴) “Auspicious Crane”


sphere CV aircraft carrier Hiryu (飛龍) “Flying Dragon”


sphere CV aircraft carrier Soryu (蒼龍) “Blue Dragon”


sphere CVL light aircraft carrier Zuiho (瑞鳳) “Auspicious Phoenix” or “Fortunate Phoenix


sphere CVL light aircraft carrier Shoho (祥鳳), “Auspicious Phoenix” or “Happy Phoenix”


sphere CVL light aircraft carrier Ryujo (龍驤) “Dragon Horse”)


sphere CVL light aircraft carrier Taiyo (大鷹) “goshawk”)


Japanese Aircraft Carriers After December 1941


sphere  CV aircraft carrier Junyo (1942, 24,150)  “Flying Hawk” (Hiyo-class)

sphere  CV aircraft carrier Hiyo (1942, 24,150)  “Peregrin Falcon” (Hiyo-class)

sphere  CV aircraft carrier Taiho (1944, 30,250) “Great Phoenix” (Taiho-class)

sphere  CV aircraft carrier Shinano (1944, 65,800). The Shinano (largest Japanese river) was a modified Yamato-class ship to become carrier.

sphere  CV aircraft carrier Amagi (1944, 17,480) “Heaven Castle” (Unryu-class)

sphere CV aircraft carrier Unryu (1944, 17,480) “Cloud Dragon” (Unryu-class)

sphere CV aircraft carrier Katsuragi  (1944, 17,480).(Unryu-class)


Japanese Light Aircraft Carriers


sphere  CVL light aircraft carrier Ryuho (1934/1942, 16,700): Taigei (“Great Whale) (1934~1941) Ryuho (“Dragon Phoenix”) (1942-1946)

sphere CVL light aircraft carrier Chitose (1943) / Seaplane Tender cruiser Chitose (1938, 11,200)

sphere CVL light aircraft carrier Chiyoda (1943) /Seaplane Tender cruiser Chiyoda (1938, 11,200).


Japanese Escort Aircraft Carriers (10):


sphere CVE escort aircraft carrier Kaiyo (“Sea Hawk”) (1943, 13,600)  

sphere CVE escort aircraft carrier Taiyou “Ghost Hawk”(Taiyou-class) (1941, 18,116) (Taiyou-class) (converted Kasuga-Maru ocean liner)

sphere CVE escort aircraft carrier Chuyou (Taiyou-class) “Hawk which soars” (1942, 18,116) (Taiyou-class) (converted Nitta-Maru ocean liner)

sphere CVE escort aircraft carrier Unyou “Cloud Hawk” (1942, 18,116) (Taiyou-class) (converted Yawata-Maru ocean liner)

sphere CVE escort aircraft carrier Shinyo “Divine Hawk”  (1943, 17,500) (Converted from German Ocean liner SS Scharnhorst) .

sphere CVE escort aircraft carrier Akitsu Maru (1942, 11,800) (Akitsu Maru-class)

sphere CVE escort  aircraft carrier Nigitsu Maru (1942, 11,800)  (Akitsu Maru-class)

sphere CVE escort aircraft carrier Shiname Maru (1945, 11,989) (4 projected ships from Shimane Maru-class).

Note: Only the Shimane Maru was completed and commissioned. The Ootakisan-Maru was 70 % completed but not commissioned; sunk by a mine on August 1945. The construction works on the Daiji Maru  were stopped before war ended but re-started after war in 1949. She was renamed as Ryuho Maru and scrapped in 1964. The final sister ship, the Taisha Maru was cancelled in 1944.

sphere CVE  escort aircraft Yamashio Maru (1945, 16,119). (Yamashio Maru-class) 

Note: Yamashiro Maru-class was also composed of two additional planned escort carriers Chigusa Maru and Zuiun Maru. They were re-converted to oil tankers after the war. They were scrapped in 1963 and 1964, respectively.

sphere CVE escort aircraft carrier Kumano Maru (1945, 8,258). (Kumano Maru-class)


Statistics of the Japanese Aircraft Carriers as of December of 1941.

ID Carrier Launched Comissioned Displacement (tons) Aircraft Crew End of Service Fate
1 Hosho 1921/11/13 1922/11/27 9,630 11 550 1947 Scrapped
2 Akagi 1925/4/22 1927/3/25 41,300 91 2000 1942/6/5 Sunk
3 Kaga 1921/11/17 1928/3/31 42,541 91 2016 1942/6/4 Sunk
4 Ryujo 1931/4/2 1933/5/9 12,732 48 924 1942/8/24 Sunk
5 Soryu 1935/12/21 1937/1/29 18,800 68 1100 1942/6/4 Sunk
6 Hiryu 1937/11/16 1939/7/5 20,250 73 1100 1942/6/4 Sunk
7 Shoho 1935/6/1 1942/1/26 13,950 30 785 1942/5/7 Sunk
8 Zuiho 1936/6/19 1940/12/27 13,950 30 785 1944/10/15 Sunk
9 Taiyo 1940/9/19 1941/9/15 20,000 27 747 1944/8/18 Sunk
10 Shokaku 1939/6/1 1941/8/8 29,800 84 1660 1944/6/19 Sunk
11 Zuikaku 1939/11/27 1941/9/25 29,800 84 1660 1944/10/25 Sunk

The following table shows the correspondence between the Empire of the Sun game counters with the real units. You can see that the values are well estimated when compared with real number of aircrafts, and launched/commissioned dates. Shokaku and Zuikaku were comparatively modern carriers. Only six carriers were attack carriers at that moment. Hosho is not represented because its contribution was mainly in training units.

Counter Units Attack Defense Range Total Aircrafts (real)
Akagi Kaga 12 12 3 182
Shokaku Zuikaku 14 12 3 168
Soryu Hiryu 10 12 3 141
Zuiho Shoho 8 8 3 60
Ryujo Taiyo 6 8 3 75




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