Shokaku Japanese Aircraft Carrier

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Shokaku Aircraft Carrier


Japanese aircraft carrier shokaku 1941  Shōkaku at Yokosuka, 8 August 1941, shortly after she was completed

A view of the Japanese aircraft carrier shokaku 1941 Shokaku at Yokosuka, 8 August 1941, shortly after she was completed


 Shokaku aircraft carrier design


sphere The Japanese Shokaku Aircraft Carrier, which is Japanese language is written as 翔鶴 and literally means “Soaring Crane”) was one of the most important warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Shokaku-class had one more unit, called Zuikaku, and together play a crucial role in the main battle across the pacific as part of the Japanese aircraft carrier task forces. The shape of the Shokaku resembled that of the Hiryu, and could be considered as an improved or enlarged version of it. The forecastle had also been constructed to the level of the upper hangar deck. The heavily flared bow had been designed with the smart purpose to keep the flight deck dry even in bad sea conditions.


sphere However, in spite of similar shapes, the Shokaku’s displacement was 10,000 tons heavier than the Soryu-class aircraft carriers. It has additional armor which made them heavier. A comparison with British carrier indicated that while the British ones had the aviation fuel stored in separate cylinders protected completely by seawater, all constructed pre-war aircraft carriers by the Imperial Japanese Navy had their aviation fuel tanks constructed as a part integral of the ship’s hull.
This small detail had dramatic consequences when the carriers were hit by bombs. This problem was not only a vulnerability of the Shokaku-class, all the aircraft carriers shown the same problem. There were not data or experiences about how strongly the shocks and stresses originated by the near-misses were propagated to the carrier’s hull. Then, the energy would be transferred forward towards the fuel tanks. The lessons learnt in Midway could improve the design of the Shokaku-class to some extent. The spaces around the aviation fuel tanks were filled with concrete in order to increase the protection for them. The spread of volatile fumes spreading to the hangar decks when damage occurred was not solved though.

Shokaku aircraft carrier air groups


sphere The Japanese aircraft carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku belonged to the Japanese 5th Carrier Division. Typically, the air squadrons embarked in 1941 consisted of 15 Mitsubishi A6M2 “Zero”, 27 Aichi D3A1 “Val” dive bombers, and 27 Nakajima B5N1 “Kate” torpedo bombers.Both the Shōkaku and Zuikaku joined the Kido Butai are together participated in many naval battles and operations when the war started, including Pearl Harbor, the attack on Rabaul in January 1942 and the Indian Ocean raid of March 1942, in which Shokaku plans attacked Colombo sinking several vessels.

sphere In the battle of the Coral Sea, the Fifth carrier division had to use its maximum strength to achieve a tactical victory against the US Navy. Although the USS Lexington was sunk, the Shokaku was also hit by three bombs. More important, she lost most of he planes and had to spend long time in Japan for repairs. These delays prevented her to join Midway operation.

sphere In a row of battles with the sister carrier Zuikaku and the light carrier Zuiho, the Shokaku carrier could damaged the USS Enterprise and literally crippled the USS Hornet during the battle of the Eastern Solomons and Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, respectively. She was also damaged, however, which forced her to be under repairs again. She was back under the command of Matsubara Hiroshi in May 1943.

sphere However, the destiny was waiting to Shokaku in a different place. We are now in 1944 and the Japanese aircraft carrier Shōkaku is deployed to the Lingga Islands south of Singapore. She joins the Mobile Fleet for Operation “A-Go”, and leaves port on 15 June to attack American forces. In spite of intense AA fire some aircraft returned safely to the carrier. One of her D4Y Suisei could allegedly strike home with a bomb that damaged USS South Dakota (BB-57). Unfortunately, when the ship was refueling and reaming airplanes, three (possibly four) torpedoes from the submarine USS Cavalla (Commander Herman J. Kossler) hit her deadly. The fires could not be controlled and later an aerial bomb also exploded. It was the moment to order “Abandon Ship” but there was no time to evacuate the ship and quickly sunk bow-first at position 11°40′N 137°40′E. The light cruiser Yahagi could rescue Captain Matsubara and 570 out of a crew of 1,272 men.

Shokaku Aircraft carrier technical specifications:

Class and type: Shōkaku-class aircraft carrier
  • 25,675 long tons (26,087 t) (standard)
  • 32,105 long tons (32,620 t) (full load)
Length: 257.5 m (844 ft 10 in)
Beam: 26 m (85 ft 4 in)
Draft: 8.8 m (28 ft 10 in)
Installed power: 160,000 shp (120,000 kW)
  • 4 × Kampon geared steam turbines
  • 8 × boilers
  • 4 × shafts
Speed: 34.2 kn (63.3 km/h; 39.4 mph)
Range: 9,700 nmi (18,000 km; 11,200 mi) at 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Complement: 1,660
  • December 1941:
  • 16 × 127 mm (5 in) Type 89 dual purpose guns
  • 36 × 25 mm (1 in) Type 96 anti-aircraft guns
Aircraft carried:
  • 72 (+12 spares)
  • 7 December 1941:
  • 18 × Mitsubishi A6M2 “Zero”s
  • 27 × Aichi D3A1 “Val”s
  • 27 × Nakajima B5N1/2 “Kate”s


sphere The Fifth Carrier division: Shokaku and Zuikaku.

 Shokaku aircraft carrier Images

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