Akagi file photo

Akagi

CountryJapan
Ship ClassAkagi-class Aircraft Carrier
BuilderKure Naval Arsenal
Laid Down6 Dec 1920
Launched22 Apr 1925
Commissioned25 Mar 1927
Sunk4 Jun 1942
Displacement36500 tons standard; 41300 tons full
Length855 feet
Beam103 feet
Draft29 feet
MachineryGijitsu Honbu geared turbines, 19 Kampon boilers, 4 shafts
Bunkerage5,775t fuel oil, 225gal aviation fuel
Power Output133000 SHP
Speed31 knots
Range8,000nm at 14 knots
Crew1630
Armament6x8-in, 12x4.7-in, 28x25mm anti-aircraft
Armor6-in belt, 3.1-in deck
Flight Deck Dimensions818ft x 100ft
Elevators3
Arrester Wires9
Hangar Decks3
Aircraft91

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

The Akagi was designed as a battlecruiser, much like her American Lexington-class contemporaries. She was converted into an aircraft carrier under the auspices of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty at a hefty price tag of 53 million Yen (USD$36 million). Based on a battlecruiser, Akagi was a unique looking aircraft carrier. At the time of her construction, there were not many air craft carriers in the navies around the world, hence there were no "standard design" at this early stage, which resulted in her unique configuration: triple-flight deck, unconventional port-side island, and six 8-in guns. Already being the most expensive ship in the Japanese fleet, she underwent an expensive refitting in 1935 that gave her the full-length flight deck configuration that she would enter the Pacific War with. The American pilots identified her as a carrier with a boxy superstructure and an improbably high flight deck that towered six-stories above the main deck.

After the 1935 refitting Akagi became the first Japanese carrier with a modern large flight deck, and it was the operational experiences aboard the Akagi that forged the Japanese naval airpower doctrine. She participated in every major action in the early part of the war, including Pearl Harbor, the attack against Port Darwin, operations in the Indian Ocean, and the Battle of Midway. Unfortunately, with her unique design came an unique weakness as well, and the weakness presented itself during the Battle of Midway. Aside from the fact that her anti-aircraft weaponry were of an older and slow-firing design, they were also positioned poorly. Her anti-aircraft batteries were positioned on the port and starboard sides of the ship, twenty or so feet below the flight deck, therefore guns on each side could only fire at targets on the same side of the ship. Additionally, port side guns are additionally blocked by the island, further reducing the effectiveness of the weapons. This was one of the many reasons why she was fatally attacked at Midway on 4 Jun 1942 at the hands of American dive bombers. The fatal shot was scored by American pilot Lieutenant Richard Best whose bomb landed at the aft edge of the middle elevator. "Nobody pushed his dive steeper or held it longer than Dick," commented Best's backseater James Murray. Best's 1,000-lb bomb crashed through the flight deck and exploded in the upper hangar, instantly killing many Japanese crewmen working in the enclosed hangar and hurling everything from men to aircrafts over the edge of the flight deck. When Captain Taijiro Aoki abandoned the ship (he was the last to leave her), she had already been burning for nearly nine hours. He remembered later:

The dive bombers attacked my ship while we were still taking evasive action from the torpedo bombers. We were unable to avoid the dive bombers because we were so occupied in avoiding the torpedo attacks.... We only received two hits.... Akagi was sunk by torpedoes from a Japanese destroyer early next morning because, as a result of the two hits, the whole ship was on fire.

Akagi took two bomb hits at 1026, tearing into below decks. The most damaging hit on Akagi came in the form of a near miss by Ensign Frederick Thomas Weber, which jammed the ship's port rudder, rendering her essentially unnavigable. Initially refusing to leave the ship, Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, in operational command, was finally convinced by Captain Taijiro Aoki to transfer his flag to another ship after explaining to the admiral that commanding a fleet would be impossible on a burning ship without working radio; they transferred to the light cruiser Nagara. Her engine somehow came back to life at 1203, but it was somewhat useless as she could only sail in circles to starboard due to rudder damage. At 1338, the Emperor's portrait was removed in preparation for abandoning ship, which commenced at 1350. Her hull remained afloat until 0200 the next morning when she was scuttled by two or three torpedoes from one or more of the Destroyer Division Four ships, Arashi, Nowaki, Hagikaze, and Maikaze; Akagi was the first Japanese capital ship in WW2 to be scuttled by her own fellow ships in the Pacific. As she went down, survivors aboard destroyers "Banzai! Akagi banzai!" from the safety of the destroyers.

Akagi was supposed to have a sister ship, Amagi. The Amagi project was abandoned after her under-construction hull was damaged beyond repair during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.

Sources: Imperial Japanese Navy Page, Midway Dauntless Victory, the Pacific Campaign, Shattered Sword.

Aircraft Carrier Akagi Interactive Map

Akagi Operational Timeline

25 Mar 1927 Akagi was commissioned into service.
10 Dec 1928 Captain Isoroku Yamamoto, future head of the Combined Fleet, became the new commanding officer of carrier Akagi.
1 Nov 1929 Captain Isoroku Yamamoto was relieved as the commanding officer of Akagi; the successor was unknown.
1 Apr 1937 Akagi was taken out of service and entered drydock for extensive modernization at Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan. Records showed the date of this event simply as "Apr 1937"; the exact date was not noted.
31 Aug 1938 Akagi completed her modernization, emerging with the three flight decks removed. In their place was one single flight deck running nearly the length of the ship. Aircraft capacity was increased from 61 to 91.
5 Sep 1940 Akagi departed Yokosuka, Japan.
18 Sep 1940 Akagi departed Kure, Japan.
15 Nov 1940 Akagi was assigned as special duty ship in Yokosuka Naval District, Japan.
25 Mar 1941 Captain Kiichi Hasegawa was assigned the commanding officer of Akagi.
10 Apr 1941 Akagi became the flagship of the newly organized First Air Fleet and assigned to Carrier Division 1. She spent the next few weeks in and around Yokosuka, Japan and off Kyushu.
9 Sep 1941 Joseph Rochefort's cryptanalytic team in US Territory of Hawaii noticed carrier Akagi was using new call signs in her radio communications.
9 Nov 1941 Akagi arrived at Sasebo, Japan.
22 Nov 1941 Akagi arrived at Hitokappu Bay at Etorofu Island, Kuriles Islands as part of the assembling Mobile Force.
26 Nov 1941 Akagi, flagship of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's First Air Fleet, departed Hitokappu Bay in the Kurile Islands leading the Carrier Striking Force ("Kido Butai") in the "Hawaii Operation", the surprise attack on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.
7 Dec 1941 Two strike waves were launched against Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Akagi's torpedo planes were instrumental in sinking the battleships USS Oklahoma and West Virginia. Vice Admiral Nagumo ordered a withdrawal following recovery of the second attack wave.
23 Dec 1941 Akagi returned to Hashirajima, Japan.
25 Dec 1941 Akagi arrived at Kure, Japan.
5 Jan 1942 Akagi departed with the Carrier Striking Force (Carrier Divisions 1 and 5) from Hashirajima for Iwakuni, Japan.
8 Jan 1942 Akagi departed Iwakuni, Japan for Truk, Caroline Islands.
14 Jan 1942 Akagi arrived at Truk, Caroline Islands.
17 Jan 1942 Akagi departed Truk, Caroline Islands.
20 Jan 1942 Akagi's aircraft carried out strikes against Rabaul, New Britain.
21 Jan 1942 Akagi's aircraft carried out strikes against Kavieng, New Ireland.
22 Jan 1942 Akagi's aircraft carried out strikes against Rabaul, New Britain.
27 Jan 1942 Akagi returned to Truk, Caroline Islands.
1 Feb 1942 Akagi departed Truk, Caroline Islands in an attempt to catch the enemy carrier force that attacked the Marshall Islands.
8 Feb 1942 Akagi arrived at the Palau Islands, having abandoned the pursuit of the American fleet.
15 Feb 1942 Akagi departed Palau with Kaga, Carrier Division 2, and Cruiser Division 8, screened by Destroyer Squadron 1 for the attacks on Davao and Port Darwin, Australia.
19 Feb 1942 Akagi's aircraft participated in the raid on Port Darwin, Australia and saw 9 ships damaged and 18 aircraft destroyed.
21 Feb 1942 Akagi arrived at Staring Bay, Celebes, Dutch East Indies.
25 Feb 1942 Akagi departed Staring Bay, Celebes, Dutch East Indies with the Striking Force to cover the invasion of Java.
9 Mar 1942 Akagi returned to Staring Bay, Celebes, Dutch East Indies after the fall of Java.
26 Mar 1942 Akagi departed Staring Bay, Celebes, Dutch East Indies with the Striking Force (less Kaga) together with Battleship Division 3, Cruiser Division 8, and Destroyer Squadron 1 for "Operation C", the raid into the Indian Ocean.
5 Apr 1942 Commander Mitsuo Fuchida of Akagi commanded a 125-aircraft raid against Colombo, Ceylon. Akagi's aircraft helped in the sinking of HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire.
9 Apr 1942 Akagi's aircraft struck Trincomalee, Ceylon, sinking HMS Hermes and her escorts.
19 Apr 1942 Less Carrier Division 5, which detached with screen to head for New Guinea for Operation MO, Akagi and the Striking Force departed Mako in high speed attempted pursuit of the carriers that had launched the Doolittle Raiders which had just struck the Tokyo Bay area on the previous day.
22 Apr 1942 Akagi arrived at Yokosuka, Japan.
25 Apr 1942 Captain Taijiro Aoki relieved Captain Hasegawa as the commanding officer of carrier Akagi.
27 May 1942 Akagi departed Hashirajima, Japan at 0600 hours for Battle of Midway as flagship of Vice Admiral Nagumo's Carrier Striking Force (Carrier Divisions 1 and 2).
4 Jun 1942 Akagi launched strikes against Midway Atoll. She was subsequently attacked by numerous enemy land and carrier-based aircraft. At 1026 hours, she was attacked by three aircraft from USS Enterprise, suffering one direct hit amidships in the vicinity of the island, starting a fire in the hangars. A second hit ripped through the fantail and exploded under the port quarter. The third bomb released at her was a near-miss port-side forward. Although normally the damage would had been moderate, the vessel was currently engaged in preparing a strike, with the result that the single bomb hit induced explosions among armed and fueled aircraft within hangars and start a raging aviation gasoline fire. Since she was in a maximum turn at the time, Akagi's rudder was damaged, and soon jammed at 20 degrees to port, leaving her going in wide circles. Unable to command the fleet from her now, at 1046 hours Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo transferred flag first to Nowaki, then to Nagara. Akagi's engines worked erratically, with the ship starting and stopping, but she went dead in the water for good at 1350 hours. By 1600 all non-essential personnel had left the ship, though Captain Aoki and a damage control party remained aboard. The vessel burned through the evening and next night, but remained afloat.
5 Jun 1942 Akagi was scuttled by direct order of Combined Fleet chief Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. At 0520 hours, she sank bow first after two or three torpedo hits out of four fired into her starboard side by Arashio, Hagikaze, Maikaze and Nowaki. She sank in position 30-30 N, 178-40 W. More than 1,070 survivors were rescued, including her skipper Taijiro Aoki, who had replaced Hasegawa in the spring, though he had to be ordered off the ship. Only 263 petty officers and men were lost. Survivors were subsequently transferred from destroyers to Mutsu, one of the battleships in Yamamoto's Main Body. Akagi became the first Japanese capital ship to be scuttled by own ships in the Pacific War.
25 Sep 1942 Akagi was removed from the Japanese Navy List.

Photographs

Aircraft carrier Akagi at Kure Naval Arsenal, Japan, 6 Apr 1925Carrier Akagi and battleship Nagato at Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, Japan, 15 Aug 1927Carrier Akagi off Osaka, Japan with B1M and B2M aircraft on board, 15 Oct 1934Akagi underway, circa 1927-1935; note the triple flight deck
See all 21 photographs of Aircraft Carrier Akagi



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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Anonymous says:
    28 Mar 2007 11:40:09 AM

    is the akagi a plane,boat,or submarine?
  2. Anonymous says:
    9 May 2007 08:58:30 PM

    Aircraft carrier ww2
  3. fcyam says:
    10 May 2007 12:34:33 AM

    Keep up the great work ,I am an avid fan of IJN vessels & part of the Malaysian Plastic model building society called scalemodelsmalaysia.
  4. bigjon says:
    29 Oct 2010 01:28:55 AM

    i am building a 1/72 scale model of akagi it is aprox 4 meters long i also have 1/450 kit not yet built i would any information that anybody has.regards bigjon.
  5. Model fan PT says:
    18 Dec 2013 06:51:07 AM

    Hello I woul dlike to know were can I access and see the colors of the AKAGI Aircraft Carrier? Pretend to build and paint the Model kit AKAGI but the colors are not defined for me. Thnak you for your attention and cooperation
  6. Spurwing Plover says:
    4 Feb 2014 09:23:13 AM

    I do bleive it was the flag ship of the japanses plans to invade and capture Midway
  7. Anonymous says:
    7 May 2014 07:04:48 AM

    The IJN flagship at Midway was Yamato
    Akagi was the flagship at Pearl Harbor
  8. David Stubblebine says:
    7 May 2014 08:42:56 PM

    I can find no sources supporting Yamato as the Japanese flagship at Midway, all sources agree that Akagi was the flagship. Nagumo was in overall command and he was aboard Akagi (the very definition of a flagship).

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Search WW2DB & Partner Sites
More on Akagi
Personnel:
» Taijiro Aoki
» Tatsunosuke Ariizumi
» Mitsuo Fuchida
» Kiichi Hasegawa
» Tadashi Kaneko
» Ryunosuke Kusaka
» Chuichi Nagumo
» Isoroku Yamamoto

Event(s) Participated:
» Battle of Hainan
» Winter Offensive
» Attack on Pearl Harbor
» New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 1, Bismarck Islands
» Attack on Darwin
» Raids into the Indian Ocean
» Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Islands

Partner Sites Content:
» Akagi Tabular Record of Movement

Aircraft Carrier Akagi Photo Gallery
Aircraft carrier Akagi at Kure Naval Arsenal, Japan, 6 Apr 1925
See all 21 photographs of Aircraft Carrier Akagi



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