Japanese aircraft carrier Shōkaku

Japanese aircraft carrier Shōkaku

"Shōkaku" (Japanese: 翔鶴 "shōkaku" meaning "flying crane") was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the lead ship of her class. Along with her sister ship "Zuikaku", she is most famous for taking part in many key engagements of the World War II Pacific Theatre, including the battles of Pearl Harbor and the Coral Sea.cite web
url= http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-fornv/japan/japsh-s/shokaku.htm
title= Japanese Navy Ships — "Shokaku" (Aircraft Carrier, 1941–1944)
date= 4 June 2000 |work= |publisher= U.S. Naval Historical Center
accessdate= 2008-02-13


"Shōkaku" was laid down at Yokosuka Dockyard on December 12, 1937, launched on June 1, 1939, and commissioned on August 8, 1941. The "Shōkaku" class were part of the same program that also included Yamato-class battleships. With an efficient modern design, a displacement of about 30,000 tons, and a top speed of 34 knots (63 km/h), "Shōkaku" could carry 70 to 80 aircraft. Her enhanced protection compared to contemporary Allied aircraft carriers enabled "Shōkaku" to survive serious battle damage during Coral Sea and Santa Cruz, although she met her end from submarine torpedoes.

"Shōkaku" and her sister ship "Zuikaku", forming the Japanese 5th Carrier Division, acquired their aircraft shortly before the Pearl Harbor attack and were ready just in time for it. Her aircraft complement consisted of 15 Mitsubishi A6M fighters, 27 Aichi D3A dive bombers, and 27 Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers.

WWII service

With "Zuikaku", "Shōkaku" joined the "Kido Butai" (Pearl Harbor attack force) and participated in Japan's series of early wartime naval offensives, including an attack on Rabaul in January 1942, and the Battle of the Coral Sea in May.

In the Indian Ocean raid of March 1942, she joined the aircraft carriers "Akagi", "Zuikaku", "Sōryū", and "Hiryū" in raiding Colombo. There Admiral Chuichi Nagumo succeeded in extensively damaging support facilities.

That task completed, the task force found and sank the British carrier "Hermes", and two cruisers ("Cornwall" and "Dorsetshire"), prior to moving on to the Coral Sea. Here she helped to sink USS "Lexington", but was herself severely damaged by USS "Yorktown"'s aircraft in return.

After repairs, "Shōkaku" took part in two further 1942 battles, both in concert with her sister: the battle of the Eastern Solomons, where they damaged USS "Enterprise", and the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, where they sank USS "Hornet" but "Shōkaku" was once again seriously damaged by dive bombers.

In 1943 under the command of Captain Matsubara Hiroshi, she resumed her role as one of the Japanese Navy's most important fleet carriers. She was assigned to a counter-attack against the Aleutian Islands, but the operation was cancelled after the Allied victory at Attu. For the remainder of 1943 she was based at Truk.


In 1944 she was based at Lingga near Singapore. On 15 June 1944 she departed with the Mobile Fleet for Operation A-Go, a counterattack against allied forces in the Mariana Islands. During the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19 June 1944 she was hit at 11:23 by three (possibly four) torpedoes from the U.S. submarine "Cavalla" (Commander Herman J. Kossler). As "Shōkaku" had been in the process of refueling aircraft and was in an extremely vulnerable position, the torpedoes started fires that proved impossible to control. At 14:08 an aerial bomb exploded, detonating aviation fuel. "Shōkaku" sank quickly at position coord|11|40|N|137|40|E, killing 1,272 men. The "Yahagi", "Urakaze", "Wakatsuki", and "Hatsuzuki" rescued Captain Matsubara and 570 men.

Commanding Officers

* (Chief Equipping Officer) Capt. Michio Sumikawa: 20 May 194015 October 1940
* (Chief Equipping Officer) Capt. Takatsugu Jojima: 15 October 19408 August 1941
* Capt. / RADM Takatsugu Jojima: 8 August 194125 May 1942 (Promoted to Rear Admiral on 1 May 1942.)
* Capt. Masafumi Arima: 25 May 194216 February 1943
* Capt. / RADM Tametsugu Okada: 16 February 194317 November 1943 (Promoted to Rear Admiral on 1 November 1943.)
* Capt. Hiroshi Matsubara: 17 November 194319 June 1944



External links

* [http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-fornv/japan/japsh-s/shokaku.htm US Navy photos of "Shokaku"]
* [http://www.combinedfleet.com/shokaku.htm Tabular record of movement] from [http://www.combinedfleet.com/ combinedfleet.com]
* Anthony Tully, Jon Parshall and Richard Wolff, [http://www.combinedfleet.com/shoksink.htm The Sinking of "Shokaku" — An Analysis]

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