Japanese Aircraft Carrier Soryu
Launched. The name of Soryu means “Blue or Green Dragon”, and sge was one of two large carriers approved for construction under the Imperial Japanese Navy’s 1931–32 Supplementary Program (the other being her near-sister Hiryū). As main feature compared to earlier Japanese carriers, such as Akagi and Kaga, which were conversions of battlecruiser and battleship hulls respectively, Sōryū was designed from the keelup as an aircraft carrier and incorporated the techniques learned from the light carrier Ryūjō.
Sino-Japanese War. Sōryū‘s aircraft were employed in operations during the Second Sino-Japanese War in the late 1930s and supported the Japanese invasion of French Indochina in mid-1940.
Early war operations. During the first months of the Pacific War, she took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Wake Island, and supported the conquest of the Dutch East Indies. In February 1942, her aircraft bombed Darwin, Australia, and she continued on to assist in the Dutch East Indies campaign. In April, Sōryū‘s aircraft helped sink two British heavy cruisers and several merchant ships during the Indian Ocean raid.
Midway Battle. After a brief refit, Sōryū and three other carriers of the 1st Air Fleet (Kidō Butai) participated in the Battle of Midway in June 1942. After bombarding American forces onMidway Atoll, the carriers were attacked by aircraft from the island and the carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown. Dive bombers from Yorktown crippled Sōryū and set her afire. Japanese destroyers rescued the survivors but the ship could not be salvaged and was ordered to be scuttled so as to allow her attendant destroyers to be released for further operations. She sank with the loss of 711 officers and enlisted men of the 1,103 aboard. The loss of Sōryū and three other IJN carriers at Midway was a crucial strategic defeat for Japan and contributed significantly to the Allies’ ultimate victory in the Pacific.
Soryu attacks. Desperate and brave air-air battle. The CAP defeated the next American air strike from Midway, shooting down three of the eleven Vought SB2U Vindicator dive bombers from VMSB-241, which attacked the battleship Haruna unsuccessfully, starting at 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 news, received at 08:20, of the sighting of American carrier forces to his northeast. Around 08:30 Sōryū launched one of her D4Ys on a mission to confirm the location of the American carriers.
Soryu CAP defends well. Sōryū began recovering her Midway strike force at around 08:40 and finished shortly by 09:10.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 were interrupted at 09:18 when the first American carrier aircraft to attack were sighted. These consisted of fifteen Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bombers of VT-8, led by Lieutenant Commander John C. Waldron from the Hornet. The three airborne CAP Zeros were landing aboard at 09:30 when the Americans unsuccessfully attempted a torpedo attack on Soryū, but three of the morning’s escort fighters were still airborne and joined the eighteen CAP fighters in destroying Waldron’s planes. All of the American planes were shot down, leaving George H. Gay, Jr.—the only surviving aviator—treading water.
Again Soryu CAP behaves. Shortly afterwards, fourteen Devastators from Torpedo Squadron 6 (VT-6) from the Enterprise, led by Lieutenant Commander Eugene E. Lindsey, attacked. Lindsey’s aircraft tried to sandwich Kaga, but the CAP, reinforced by three more Zeros launched by Sōryū at 09:45, shot down all but four of the Devastators, and Kaga dodged the torpedoes. Sōryū launched another trio of CAP Zeros at 10:00 and another three at 10:15 after Torpedo Squadron 3 (VT-3) from Yorktown was spotted. A Wildcat escorting VT-3 shot down one of her Zeros.
CAP is exhausted While VT-3 was still attacking Hiryū, American dive bombers arrived over the Japanese carriers almost undetected and began their dives. The carrier received three direct hits from 1000 lb (454 kg) bombs: one penetrated to the lower hangar deck amidships, and the other two exploded in the upper hangar deck fore and aft. The hangars contained armed and fueled aircraft preparing for the upcoming strike, resulting in secondary explosions and rupturing the steam pipes in the boiler rooms. Within a very short time the fires on the ship were out of control. At 10:40 she stopped and her crew was ordered to abandon ship five minutes later. The destroyers Isokaze and Hamakaze rescued the survivors. Sōryū was still afloat and showed no signs of beginning to sink by early evening, so Isokaze was ordered to scuttle her with torpedoes so as to allow the destroyers to be used for possible operations that night. Captain Yanagimoto chose to remain on board when sinking. This was the highest mortality percentage of all the Japanese carriers lost at Midway, due largely to the devastation in both hangar deck.
|Length:||227.5 m (746 ft 5 in) (o/a)|
|Beam:||21.3 m (69 ft 11 in)|
|Draught:||7.6 m (24 ft 11 in)|
|Speed:||34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph)|
|Range:||7,750 nmi (14,350 km; 8,920 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)|