Unryu Japanese Aircraft Carrier Imperial Japanese Navy

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Unryu Japanese Aircraft Carrier Imperial Japanese Navy: Unryu-class fleet carrrier.

Unryu  Japanese Aircraft fleet carrier on training mission, summer 1944.

Unryu Japanese Aircraft fleet carrier on training mission, summer 1944.


The Unryū Japanese Aircraft carrier means “Cloud Dragon” and was the lead ship of her Unryu-class of aircraft carriers designed and constructed by the Imperial Japanese Navy, after the defeat in the Battle of Midway on summer 1942. However, due to the lack of experienced crew and air wing pilots, the carrier only performed trial, training and transport missions and did not operate as aircraft attack missions.

BB Kongô Class & CV Unryû Class


Hiryu carrier as a main inspiration for the future Unryu-class Japanese carrier fleet

Quickly after the defeat of Midway, the Imperial Japanese Navy chose the Hiryu carrier as a base to construct more powerful, reliable and fast carriers. A total of 16 Unryu-class fleet carrier was programmed, but only three of them were completed. Unryū was laid down at Yokosuka Naval Arsenal on 1 August 1942 and launched on 25 September 1943. Upon commissioning on 6 August 1944, she was assigned to the 3rd Fleet. Between 30 October and 7 November, the Unryu carrier served briefly as the flagship of Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa’s Mobile Fleet. Eight days later, the Mobile Fleet was disbanded and the ship was transferred to Carrier Division 1. By the same time, a few A6Ms and B6Ns were embarked for the first time.

The Unryu airwing was planned to operate 12 Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters, plus 3 in storage, 27 Aichi D3A Val dive bombers, plus 3 in reserve, and 18 Nakajima B5N “Kate” torpedo bombers plus 2 in crates. However, the hangars were not enough large. As a consequence 11 planes would be set up on the flight deck. A revision of the airwing decided that the modern planes should be part of the Unryu air group in 1943. This would include 18 Mitsubishi A7M “Sam” fighters (+2 in storage), 27 Yokosuka D4Y “Judy” dive bombers and 6 Nakajima C6N “Myrt” reconnaissance aircraft. However, when the carrier was completed in 1944, neither the A7M nor the C6Ns were yet in service, so the air group was temporally re-arranged to include 27 Zeros, 12 D4Ys, 3 of which were to be the reconnaissance version, and 9 Nakajima B6N “Jill” torpedo bombers.


The rescue mission to Luzon carrying special attack Ohka rocket planes.

The planned American invasion of Luzon forced to stop the training air wings missions and the staff of the Imperial Japanese Navy had to order the large Unryu carrier to transport aircraft and supplies to the Philippines in December. Among the transported items, she carried out 30 Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka kamikaze rocket planes with Manila as destination. Four days later, on 17 December 1944, Unryū departed Kure, Hiroshima escorted by the destroyers Shigure, Hinoki, and Momi. However, the convoy was detected promptly and the flagship Unryu was quickly torpedoed and sunk by the USS Redfish in the East China Sea. Only 145 men survived to be rescued by Shigure, which returned to Sasebo, Nagasaki on 22 December 1944.

Technical specifications:

Class and type: Unryū-class aircraft carrier
Displacement: 20,450 tonnes (20,130 long tons)
Length: 227.35 m (745 ft 11 in)
Beam: 22 m (72 ft 2 in)
Draft: 8.73 m (28 ft 8 in)
Installed power:
  • 152,000 shp (113,000 kW)
  • 8 Kampon water-tube boilers
  • 4 shafts
  • 4 geared steam turbine sets
Speed: 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph)
Range: 8,000 nmi (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Complement: 1,595
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • 2 × Type 2, Mark 2, Model 1 air search radars
  • 2 × Type 3, Mark 1, Model 3 air search radars
  • 1 × Type 93 sonar
  • 2 × Type 0 hydrophones
  • 6 × twin 12.7 cm (5 in) Type 89 AA guns
  • 16 × triple, 3 × single 25 mm (1 in) Type 96 AA guns
  • 6 × 28-tube 12 cm (4.7 in) AA rocket launchers
  • Belt: 46–140 mm (1.8–5.5 in)
  • Deck: 25–56 mm (0.98–2.20 in)
Aircraft carried: 48


The Unryu fleet carrier has attracted the attention of model kits manufacturers and some models have been made available at 1/700 scale for the waterline series of the Imperial Japanese Navy:

IJN Aircraft Carrier Unryu (Plastic model) Aoshima 1/700

IJN Aircraft CArrier Unryu from Fujimi at 1/700 scale.


1/700 Aircraft Carrier Unryu

Skywave 1/700 IJN Aircraft Carrier Unryu Class Amagi Model


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