Chitose Aircraft Carrier


Chitose Aircraft Carrier / Chitose Seaplane Tender Cruiser

Aircraft carrier Chitose in 1944.

Aircraft carrier Chitose in 1944.

Chitose Aircraft carrier origin

Chitose-class vessels of the Imperial Japanese Navy had an unusual history because of the Washington Naval Treaty. Under strict tonnage restrictions and to maximize performance and flexibility, the Imperial Japanese Navy designed two seaplane tenders called Chitose-class, which could eventually be converted to aircraft carrier without much technical and engineering difficulties. The resulting vessels, the Chitose light aircraft carrier and Chiyoda light aircraft carrier were operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy after the Battle of Midway and both participated in major naval battles in late pacific war such as Battle of Philippine Sea and Battle of Leyte Gult, in which they were used to decoy the main body of the American fleet away from the landing beaches in the Philippines during the operation Sho-ichi. In the same battle, they suffered massive aerial attacks and were sunk by american carrier based aircrafts.

 

Chitose light carrier being bombed in Leyte Gulf battle in 1944.

Chitose light carrier being bombed in Leyte Gulf battle in 1944.

Chitose seaplane tender design and major operations

Chitose light aircraft carrier was first laid down as a seaplane tender in 1934 at Kure Navy yard. In the original design, several floatplanes were assigned to her such as:  Kawanishi E7K Type 94 “Alf” and Nakajima E8N Type 95 “Dave” . The midget submarine deployment capability was also owned by her twin Chiyoda. As manjor operations as seaplane tender, the Chitose was covering the Japanese landings in the East Indies and New Guinea from January–April 1942, and suffered damage in the Eastern Solomons in August 1942.

Seaplane Tender Cruiser Chitose before conversion in 1938.

Seaplane Tender Cruiser Chitose before conversion in 1938.

 

Chitose light aircraft carrier conversion.

After the defeat of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Battle of Miday, conversion works to aircraft carrier quickly started. She was recommissioned on 1 November 1943 as light carrier and completed as a carrier on 1 January 1944. It is unclear whether she could really performe tasks as carrier rather than light carrier. Possibly, she only was able to operate as light carrier support operations. She was assigned to the 3rd Carrier Division as part of the Japanese Third Fleet.

Chitose light carrier and seaplane tender technical specifications

Name: Chitose (千歳)
Namesake: Japanese for “thousand years”
Laid down: 26 November 1934
Launched: 29 November 1936
Commissioned: 25 July 1938
Reclassified: 15 December 1943 as light carrier
Refit: 1942 to 1944
Reinstated: 1 January 1944
Fate: Sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, 25 October 1944.
Class and type: Chitose-class aircraft carrier
Displacement:
  • 11,200 long tons (11,400 t) (standard)
  • 15,300 long tons (15,500 t) (full load)
Length: 192.5 m (631 ft 7 in)
Beam: 20.8 m (68 ft 3 in)
Draft: 7.5 m (24 ft 7 in)
Installed power: 56,000 shp (42,000 kW)
Propulsion:
  • 2 × geared steam turbines
  • 2 × shafts
Speed: 28.9 kn (53.5 km/h; 33.3 mph)
Complement: 800
Armament:
  • Seaplane Tender: 4 × 12.7 cm/40 Type 89 naval guns
  • 12 × Type 96 25 mm AA gunss
  • Aircraft carrier 8 × 12.7 cm/40 Type 89 naval guns
  • 30-48 × Type 96 25 mm AA guns
Aircraft carried:
  • Seaplane Tender 24 × floatplanes
  • Aircraft Carrier: 30 × aircraft
Aviation facilities:
  • Seaplane Tender: 4 × catapults
  • Aircraft Carrier: 2 × elevators

 

Several manufacturers have constructed model ships for this interesting vessels in both seaplane tender cruiser and light aircraft carrier configurations as follows:

1/700 IJN Seaplane Carrier “Chitose”

Skywave 1/700 IJN Aircraft Carrier Chitose Class Chiyoda Model Kit

Skywave 1/700 IJN Aircraft Carrier Chitose Class Chitose Model Kit

1/700 Water Line Series seaplane carrier Chitose

1/700 Water Line Series Japanese Navy seaplane carrier Chitose

1/700 Water Line Series Japanese Navy aircraft carrier Chitose

No.18 Kanmusume light aircraft carrier Chitose 1/700 ship by Aoshima

 


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