Japanese aircraft carrier Ryūjō

Japanese aircraft carrier Ryūjō

"Ryūjō" (Japanese: 龍驤, "prancing dragon") was a light aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy. She was laid down by Mitsubishi at Yokohama in 1929, launched in 1931 and commissioned in 1933. Her small design — when launched she displaced only 8,000 tons — proved to be incapable of safe operation in heavy seas. In the late 1930s she was extensively modified to improve her seakeeping and increase her aircraft capacity, and in 1940 her low forecastle was built up one deck to make her less wet. Nonetheless, she was employed in operations in the Second Sino-Japanese War.


In August–December 1937, "Ryūjō" supported land operations of the Japanese Army in China, as flagship of Carrier Division 1. Her aircraft complement consisted of 12 Nakajima A4N fighters and 15 Aichi D1A dive bombers. [http://members.cox.net/bosco.bina1/afd/frameset.htm?http%3A//members.cox.net/bosco.bina1/afd/mainpage.htm] After her less than satisfactory performance there, "Ryūjō" received extensive reconstruction.

World War II service

In World War II, "Ryūjō" was commanded by Captain Kato Tadao and was the flagship of Carrier Division 4. The presence of large fleet carriers meant that she was initially assigned to secondary tasks. Her reconstruction proved successful and the performance of her air group, as well as the ship herself in high seas, was satisfactory.

In December 1941 "Ryūjō" supported the invasion of the Philippines, providing air cover for the landings at Davao on 20 December at Jolo on 25 December. Her aircraft complement consisted of 22 Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" fighters and 16 Aichi D3A "Val" dive bombers. In January 1942 she supported the conquest of Malaya and in February 1942 she attacked American-British-Dutch-Australian forces around Java. On 1 March 1942 she took part in the Battle of the Java Sea, assisting in the sinking of USS "Pope". In March she operated against the Andaman Islands and the coast of Burma.

In early April, as part of the Indian Ocean raid, "Ryūjō" attacked shipping in the Bay of Bengal. Together with the cruisers "Chōkai", "Kumano", "Suzuya", "Mogami", "Mikuma", "Yura", and four destroyers, she sank 23 merchant ships. On 6 April she launched air strikes against Cocanada and Vizagapatam in India.

In June 1942 "Ryūjō" was part of the Northern Force that attacked the Aleutian Islands. "Ryūjō's" planes struck Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island on 3 June and 4 June 1942. The strike on the Aleutian Islands is often seen as a diversion for Battle of Midway, but recent publications by historians Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully had made strong arguments that Operation AL was meant to be a concurrent operation instead of merely a diversion. During this operation, one of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters from the "Ryūjō", flown by Petty Officer Tadahito Koga, crashlanded on the island of Akutan. Koga was killed in the crash due to a broken neck, but the aircraft remained largely intact. This was the first Zero to fall into the hands of U.S. military intelligence.


The sinking of four of Japan's six fleet carriers in the Battle of Midway made "Ryūjō" much more important to the Japanese Navy.

In August 1942 she was reassigned to Carrier Division 2, and with "Shōkaku" and "Zuikaku" she was dispatched to the Solomon Islands. "Ryūjō's" role in the operation was to support a convoy of transports that were to reinforce and resupply Japanese troops on Guadalcanal, and to attack the Allied air base at Henderson Field, while the fleet carriers operated against the U.S. Navy's aircraft carriers. This operation resulted in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.

On 24 August 1942, "Ryūjō", escorted by the cruiser "Tone" and the destroyers "Amatsukaze" and "Tokitsukaze", launched two strikes on Guadalcanal from a position 161 km (100 mi) north of Tulagi. At 13:57 she was attacked by dive bombers and torpedo bombers from the USS "Saratoga", and was hit by several bombs (sources differ as to how many) and one torpedo. The torpedo hit flooded the starboard engine room and "Ryūjō" began to list. At 15:15 the order to abandon ship was given. At 18:00 she capsized and sank. One hundred twenty of the crew were killed. The survivors, including Captain Kato, were taken off by her escorts.

Commanding Officers

Chief Equipping Officer - Capt. Toshio Matsunaga - 1 December 1931 - 9 May 1933

Capt. Toshio Matsunaga - 9 May 1933 - 20 October 1933

Capt. Torao Kuwabara - 20 October 1933 - 15 November 1934

Capt. Ichiro Ono - 15 November 1934 - 31 October 1935

Capt. Shunichi Kira - 31 October 1935 - 16 November 1936

Capt. Katsuo Abe - 16 November 1936 - 1 December 1937

Capt. Jisaku Okada - 1 December 1937 - 15 December 1938

Capt. Kanae Kosaka - 15 December 1938 - 15 November 1939

Capt. Kiichi Hasegawa - 15 November 1939 - 21 June 1940

Capt. Ushie Sugimoto - 21 June 1940 - 25 April 1942

Capt. Tadao Kato - 25 April 1942 - 24 August 1942

External links

* [http://www.combinedfleet.com/ryujo.htm Tabular record of movement] from [http://www.combinedfleet.com/ combinedfleet.com]
* [http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-fornv/japan/japsh-r/ryujo2.htm United States Navy photos of "Ryūjō"]
* [http://www.geocities.com/jwarship/Ryujo.html Japanese warships - "Ryūjō"]

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