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Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku

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Japanese.aircraft.carrier.zuikaku.jpg
Zuikaku at Kobe on 25 September 1941 after commissioning
History
Empire of Japan
NameZuikaku
BuilderKawasaki Shipyards
Laid down25 May 1938
Launched27 November 1939
Commissioned25 September 1941
Stricken26 August 1945
FateSunk by air attack in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, 25 October 1944
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type Shōkaku-class aircraft carrier
Displacement29,800 normal tons, 32,000 tons full load
Length257.5 m (844 ft 10 in)
Beam26 m (85 ft 4 in)
Draft8.9 m (29 ft 2 in)
Propulsion
  • Kampon geared turbines,
  • 8 boilers,
  • 160,000 hp (119 MW),
  • 4 shafts
Speed34.5 knots (63.9 km/h)
Range7,581 mi (6,588 nmi) at 18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h) Fuel: 4100 tons
Complement1,660
Armament
Aircraft carried

Zuikaku (Japanese: 瑞鶴 "Auspicious Crane") was the second and last Shōkaku-class aircraft carrier built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) shortly before the beginning of the Pacific War. Her aircraft took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor that formally brought the United States into the war, and she fought in several of the most important naval battles of the war, before being sunk during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.[2]

Zuikaku was one of six carriers to participate in the Pearl Harbor attack and was the last of the six to be sunk in the war (Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Sōryū in the Battle of Midway, Shōkaku in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and Zuikaku in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.)

Discover more about Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku related topics

Japanese language

Japanese language

Japanese is spoken as a native language by about 128 million people, primarily Japanese people and primarily in Japan, the only country where it is the national language. Japanese belongs to the Japonic or Japanese-Ryukyuan language family. There have been many attempts to group the Japonic languages with other families such as the Ainu, Austroasiatic, Koreanic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.

Shōkaku-class aircraft carrier

Shōkaku-class aircraft carrier

The Shōkaku class consisted of two aircraft carriers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in the late 1930s. Completed shortly before the start of the Pacific War in 1941, the Shōkaku and Zuikaku were called "arguably the best aircraft carriers in the world" when built. With the exception of the Battle of Midway, they participated in every major naval action of the Pacific War, including the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Indian Ocean Raid, the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Guadalcanal Campaign, the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Aircraft carrier

Aircraft carrier

An aircraft carrier is a warship that serves as a seagoing airbase, equipped with a full-length flight deck and facilities for carrying, arming, deploying, and recovering aircraft. Typically, it is the capital ship of a fleet, as it allows a naval force to project air power worldwide without depending on local bases for staging aircraft operations. Carriers have evolved since their inception in the early twentieth century from wooden vessels used to deploy balloons to nuclear-powered warships that carry numerous fighters, strike aircraft, helicopters, and other types of aircraft. While heavier aircraft such as fixed-wing gunships and bombers have been launched from aircraft carriers, these aircraft have not landed on a carrier. By its diplomatic and tactical power, its mobility, its autonomy and the variety of its means, the aircraft carrier is often the centerpiece of modern combat fleets. Tactically or even strategically, it replaced the battleship in the role of flagship of a fleet. One of its great advantages is that, by sailing in international waters, it does not interfere with any territorial sovereignty and thus obviates the need for overflight authorizations from third-party countries, reduces the times and transit distances of aircraft and therefore significantly increase the time of availability on the combat zone.

Imperial Japanese Navy

Imperial Japanese Navy

The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1868 to 1945, when it was dissolved following Japan's surrender in World War II. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) was formed between 1952–1954 after the dissolution of the IJN.

Pacific War

Pacific War

The Pacific War, sometimes called the Asia–Pacific War, was the theater of World War II that was fought in eastern Asia, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and Oceania. It was geographically the largest theater of the war, including the vast Pacific Ocean theater, the South West Pacific theater, the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the Soviet–Japanese War.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

Attack on Pearl Harbor

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States against the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, just before 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 7, 1941. The United States was a neutral country at the time; the attack led to its formal entry into World War II the next day. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.

Battle of Leyte Gulf

Battle of Leyte Gulf

The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the largest naval battle of World War II and by some criteria the largest naval battle in history, with over 200,000 naval personnel involved. It was fought in waters near the Philippine islands of Leyte, Samar, and Luzon from 23 to 26 October 1944 between combined American and Australian forces and the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), as part of the invasion of Leyte, which aimed to isolate Japan from the colonies that it had occupied in Southeast Asia, a vital source of industrial and oil supplies.

Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi

Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi

Akagi was an aircraft carrier built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), named after Mount Akagi in present-day Gunma Prefecture. Though she was laid down as an Amagi-class battlecruiser, Akagi was converted to an aircraft carrier while still under construction to comply with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty. The ship was rebuilt from 1935 to 1938 with her original three flight decks consolidated into a single enlarged flight deck and an island superstructure. The second Japanese aircraft carrier to enter service, and the first large or "fleet" carrier, Akagi and the related Kaga figured prominently in the development of the IJN's new carrier striking force doctrine that grouped carriers together, concentrating their air power. This doctrine enabled Japan to attain its strategic goals during the early stages of the Pacific War from December 1941 until mid-1942.

Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga

Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga

Kaga (加賀) was an aircraft carrier built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and was named after the former Kaga Province in present-day Ishikawa Prefecture. Originally intended to be one of two Tosa-class battleships, Kaga was converted under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty to an aircraft carrier as the replacement for the battlecruiser Amagi, which had been irreparably damaged during the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. Kaga was rebuilt in 1933–1935, increasing her top speed, improving her exhaust systems, and adapting her flight decks to more modern, heavier aircraft.

Japanese aircraft carrier Sōryū

Japanese aircraft carrier Sōryū

Sōryū was an aircraft carrier built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during the mid-1930s. A sister ship, Hiryū, was intended to follow Sōryū, but Hiryū's design was heavily modified and she is often considered to be a separate class. 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. 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.

Battle of Midway

Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II that took place from 4–7 June 1942, six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea. The U.S. Navy under Admirals Chester W. Nimitz, Frank J. Fletcher, and Raymond A. Spruance defeated an attacking fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy under Admirals Isoroku Yamamoto, Chūichi Nagumo, and Nobutake Kondō north of Midway Atoll, inflicting devastating damage on the Japanese fleet. Military historian John Keegan called it "the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare", while naval historian Craig Symonds called it "one of the most consequential naval engagements in world history, ranking alongside Salamis, Trafalgar, and Tsushima Strait, as both tactically decisive and strategically influential".

Battle of the Philippine Sea

Battle of the Philippine Sea

The Battle of the Philippine Sea was a major naval battle of World War II that eliminated the Imperial Japanese Navy's ability to conduct large-scale carrier actions. It took place during the United States' amphibious invasion of the Mariana Islands during the Pacific War. The battle was the last of five major "carrier-versus-carrier" engagements between American and Japanese naval forces, and pitted elements of the United States Navy's Fifth Fleet against ships and aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy's Mobile Fleet and nearby island garrisons. This was the largest carrier-to-carrier battle in history, involving 24 aircraft carriers, deploying roughly 1,350 carrier-based aircraft.

Service history

Zuikaku in November 1941.
Zuikaku in November 1941.

In 1941, Zuikaku, under the command of Captain Yokokawa Ichibei, and her sister ship Shōkaku comprised Carrier Division 5. On 26 November 1941, she left Hitokappu Bay for the attack on Pearl Harbor as part of the Kido Butai ("Mobile Force"). Her aircraft complement consisted of 18 Mitsubishi A6M fighters, 27 Aichi D3A dive bombers, and 27 Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers. On 7 December, she launched two waves of aircraft against American military installations on the island of Oahu. In the first wave, 25 Val dive bombers attacked Wheeler Army Airfield and five Zero fighters attacked the airbase at Kaneohe. In the second wave, 27 high-level Kate bombers attacked the airbase at Hickam Field.

Zuikaku's aircraft also attacked the Australian bases at Rabaul on 20 January 1942 and Lae in New Guinea on 21 January. In April 1942, she took part in the Indian Ocean raid, striking the British naval bases at Colombo and Trincomalee on Ceylon, and sinking the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and the heavy cruisers HMS Cornwall and Dorsetshire, also with the help of Shōkaku.

Battle of the Coral Sea

In May 1942, she was assigned along with Shōkaku to support Operation Mo, the invasion of Port Moresby, New Guinea. Alerted by intercepted and decrypted Japanese naval messages, the Americans dispatched the carriers USS Yorktown and Lexington to stop this operation. On 8 May 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea, the main carrier forces located one another and launched maximum-effort raids, which passed each other in the air. Hidden by a rain squall, Zuikaku escaped detection, but Shōkaku was hit three times by bombs and was unable to launch or recover her aircraft. In return, torpedo and dive bombers from both ships hit Lexington, which was later scuttled by torpedoes from an escorting destroyer. Zuikaku was undamaged in the battle, but sustained severe losses in aircraft and aircrew. This required her to return to Japan with her sister ship for resupply and aircrew training, and neither carrier was able to take part in the Battle of Midway in June 1942, where every carrier that participated in the Pearl Harbor attack besides the two Shōkaku class ships were sunk by American carrier based aircraft.

Battle for Guadalcanal

In August 1942, commanded by Captain Tameteru Notomo, Zuikaku was dispatched as part of the First Carrier Division along with the repaired Shōkaku and the light carrier Zuihō to oppose the American offensive in the Solomon Islands. On 24 August 1942, in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, her aircraft severely damaged the carrier USS Enterprise. She was based at Truk for the next few months.

On 26 October 1942, in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, her aircraft again damaged the repaired Enterprise, and crippled USS Hornet (Hornet was abandoned after a failed scuttling attempt and later sunk by Japanese destroyers). However, Shōkaku and Zuihō were both severely damaged by American air attacks, and Zuikaku had to recover their surviving aircraft in addition to her own. Of the 110 aircraft launched by the three Japanese carriers, only 67 returned to Zuikaku. She then returned to the home islands via Truk for training and aircraft ferrying duties.

Zuikaku cruising toward Hitokappu Bay, Iturup, in November 1941. The carrier Kaga is seen in the background.
Zuikaku cruising toward Hitokappu Bay, Iturup, in November 1941. The carrier Kaga is seen in the background.

In February 1943, she covered the evacuation of Japanese ground forces from Guadalcanal. In May, she was assigned to a mission to counterattack the American offensive in the Aleutian Islands, but this operation was cancelled after the Allied victory on Attu on 29 May 1943. Later in 1943, under the command of Captain Kikuchi Tomozo, she was again based at Truk and operated against U.S. forces in the Marshall Islands.

Battle of the Philippine Sea

In 1944, she was based at Singapore. In June, she was assigned to Operation A-Go, an attempt to repulse the Allied invasion of the Mariana Islands. On 19 June, in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Taihō and Shōkaku were both sunk by American submarines, leaving Zuikaku, the only survivor of Carrier Division One, to recover the Division's few remaining aircraft. On 20 June, a bomb hit started a fire in the hangar, but Zuikaku's experienced damage control teams managed to get it under control, and she was able to escape under her own power. After this battle, Zuikaku was the only survivor of the six fleet carriers that had launched the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Battle off Cape Engaño

Zuikaku and destroyer Wakatsuki underway during U.S. carrier plane attacks. The carrier Zuiho is in the background.
Zuikaku and destroyer Wakatsuki underway during U.S. carrier plane attacks. The carrier Zuiho is in the background.

In October 1944, she was the flagship of Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's decoy Northern Force in Operation Shō-Gō 1, the Japanese counterattack to the Allied landings on Leyte. On 24 October, as part of the depleted (just 108 aircraft across four carriers) Third Carrier Division, she launched aircraft along with the light carriers Zuihō, Chitose, and Chiyoda in an ineffective strike against the U.S. Third Fleet. Several of these aircraft were shot down, and the majority of the surviving aircraft did not return to the carriers, instead landing at Japanese land bases on Luzon. However, some of her aircraft made kamikaze attacks and helped sink the light carrier USS Princeton; and most of the others were sent to other surviving carriers and air bases, to later sink the escort carrier USS St. Lo during the Battle off Samar after again using the new kamikaze tactics.

The next day, during the Battle off Cape Engaño, she launched her few remaining aircraft for combat air patrol, search, or to join the aircraft already on Luzon. She then came under heavy air attack and was hit by seven torpedoes and nine bombs. With Zuikaku listing heavily to port, Ozawa shifted his flag to the light cruiser Ōyodo. The order to abandon ship was issued at 13:58 and the naval ensign was lowered. Zuikaku rolled over and sank stern-first at 14:14, taking the lives of Rear Admiral (promoted from captain 10 days earlier) Kaizuka Takeo and 842 of the ship's crew; 862 officers and men were rescued by the destroyers Wakatsuki and Kuwa. Before her loss, Zuikaku was the last surviving Japanese carrier to have attacked Pearl Harbor. She was also the only Japanese fleet carrier (as opposed to a light carrier) to have been sunk by aircraft-launched torpedoes, as all others were sunk by dive bombers or submarine-launched torpedoes.[2]

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Sister ship

Sister ship

A sister ship is a ship of the same class or of virtually identical design to another ship. Such vessels share a nearly identical hull and superstructure layout, similar size, and roughly comparable features and equipment. They often share a common naming theme, either being named after the same type of thing or person or with some kind of alliteration. Typically the ship class is named for the first ship of that class. Often, sisters become more differentiated during their service as their equipment are separately altered.

Japanese aircraft carrier Shōkaku

Japanese aircraft carrier Shōkaku

Shōkaku was the lead ship of her class of two aircraft carriers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) shortly before the Pacific War. Along with her sister ship Zuikaku, she took part in several key naval battles during the war, including the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Battle of the Coral Sea, and the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, before being torpedoed and sunk by the U.S. submarine USS Cavalla at the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

Fighter aircraft

Fighter aircraft

Fighter aircraft are fixed-wing military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat. In military conflict, the role of fighter aircraft is to establish air superiority of the battlespace. Domination of the airspace above a battlefield permits bombers and attack aircraft to engage in tactical and strategic bombing of enemy targets.

Aichi D3A

Aichi D3A

The Aichi D3A Type 99 Carrier Bomber is a World War II carrier-borne dive bomber. It was the primary dive bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and was involved in almost all IJN actions, including the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Dive bomber

Dive bomber

A dive bomber is a bomber aircraft that dives directly at its targets in order to provide greater accuracy for the bomb it drops. Diving towards the target simplifies the bomb's trajectory and allows the pilot to keep visual contact throughout the bomb run. This allows attacks on point targets and ships, which were difficult to attack with conventional level bombers, even en masse.

Nakajima B5N

Nakajima B5N

The Nakajima B5N was the standard carrier-based torpedo bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) for much of World War II. It also served as a high level bomber.

Torpedo bomber

Torpedo bomber

A torpedo bomber is a military aircraft designed primarily to attack ships with aerial torpedoes. Torpedo bombers came into existence just before the First World War almost as soon as aircraft were built that were capable of carrying the weight of a torpedo, and remained an important aircraft type until they were rendered obsolete by anti-ship missiles. They were an important element in many famous Second World War battles, notably the British attack at Taranto, the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Oahu

Oahu

Oahu, also known as "The Gathering Place", is the third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is home to roughly one million people—over two-thirds of the population of the U.S. state of Hawaii. The island of O’ahu and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands constitute the City and County of Honolulu. The state capital, Honolulu, is on Oʻahu's southeast coast. Oʻahu had a population of 1,016,508 according to the 2020 U.S. Census, up from 953,207 in 2010.

Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Mitsubishi A6M Zero

The Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" is a long-range carrier-based fighter aircraft formerly manufactured by Mitsubishi Aircraft Company, a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and was operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1940 to 1945. The A6M was designated as the Mitsubishi Navy Type 0 carrier fighter , or the Mitsubishi A6M Rei-sen. The A6M was usually referred to by its pilots as the Reisen, "0" being the last digit of the imperial year 2600 (1940) when it entered service with the Imperial Navy. The official Allied reporting name was "Zeke", although the name "Zero" was used colloquially as well.

Hickam Air Force Base

Hickam Air Force Base

Hickam Air Force Base is a United States Air Force (USAF) installation, named in honor of aviation pioneer Lieutenant Colonel Horace Meek Hickam. The installation merged in 2010 with Naval Station Pearl Harbor to become part of the newly formed Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam, on the island of Oʻahu in the State of Hawaiʻi. The base neighbors Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and currently shares runways with the airport for its activities and operations.

Australia

Australia

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of 7,617,930 square kilometres (2,941,300 sq mi), Australia is the largest country by area in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country. Australia is the oldest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soils. It is a megadiverse country, and its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes and climates, with deserts in the centre, tropical rainforests in the north-east, and mountain ranges in the south-east.

Battle of Rabaul (1942)

Battle of Rabaul (1942)

The Battle of Rabaul, also known by the Japanese as Operation R, an instigating action of the New Guinea campaign, was fought on the island of New Britain in the Australian Territory of New Guinea, from 23 January into February 1942. It was a strategically significant defeat of Allied forces by Japan in the Pacific campaign of World War II, with the Japanese invasion force quickly overwhelming the small Australian garrison, the majority of which was either killed or captured. Hostilities on the neighbouring island of New Ireland are usually considered to be part of the same battle. Rabaul was significant because of its proximity to the Japanese territory of the Caroline Islands, site of a major Imperial Japanese Navy base on Truk.

Gallery

Source: "Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 28th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_aircraft_carrier_Zuikaku.

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Notes
  1. ^ Bōeichō Bōei Kenshūjo (1967), Senshi Sōsho Hawai Sakusen. Tokyo: Asagumo Shimbunsha, p. 344
  2. ^ a b Zuikaku @ Archived 18 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine www.history.navy.mil
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External links


Coordinates: 19°20′N 125°51′E / 19.333°N 125.850°E / 19.333; 125.850

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