Soryu file photo

Soryu

CountryJapan
Ship ClassSoryu-class Aircraft Carrier
BuilderKure Naval Arsenal
Laid Down20 Nov 1934
Launched23 Dec 1935
Commissioned29 Dec 1937
Sunk4 Jun 1942
Displacement15900 tons standard; 18800 tons full
Length746 feet
Beam70 feet
Draft25 feet
Machinery8 Kampon boilers, 4 sets geared turbines, 4 shafts
Bunkerage3,670t oil, 15,000gal aviation fuel
Power Output152000 SHP
Speed34 knots
Range7,750 at 18 knots
Crew1103
Armament12x5-in, 28x25mm anti-aircraft
Armor1.8-in belt, 1-in deck, 2.2-in magazines
Flight Deck711.5 ft x 85.3 ft
Arrester Wires9
Elevators3
Hangar Decks2
Aircraft68

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

Soryu was launched from Kure, Japan in Dec 1937. As the lead ship of her class of fleet carriers, she was built around a sleek cruiser-style hull and powerful engines, enabling her to outrun the carrier Kaga at only about 40% power. In fact, at the time of her launch, Soryu was the fastest aircraft carrier in the world. She participated in many early Pacific War battles as one of the main fleet carriers of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's Mobile Force, including the attack on Pearl Harbor. During the Battle of Midway, her aircraft were responsible for attacking the Midway islands, and was caught by American carrier Yorktown's SBD Dauntless aircraft as her own were caught in the middle of refueling and rearming. Commander Hisashi Ohara, the Soryu's executive officer, just received the reports that Soryu's attack aircraft were ready to be launched when the American dive bombers were spotted. By then, it was already too late. He recalled:

Our planes were being made ready for a second sortie (against Midway Island) and were all lined up on the flight deck ready to take off. The planes in the hangar below decks were loaded with bombs and fuel, ready to be brought to the flight deck, so that the first bomb started all these planes burning. The bombs loaded aboard the planes went off one by one by induced explosion.... Due to the large fires aboard the ship, the large gasoline storage area in the stern of the ship exploded, leaving only the bow afloat, after which the gasoline storage tanks in the forward part of the ship exploded and sank the ship.

Not unlike other unfortunate ships that fell victim in naval engagements, the boiler room was often the most dangerous place to be. The seamen who worked in Soryu's boiler room were literally cooked alive by steam when the pipes bursted from the pressure of the explosions, which also immediately rendered the ship immobile. Despite the raging fires after receiving three direct bomb hits (first through the flight deck, second near the forward elevator, three near the after elevator), the watertight hull of the carrier remained in tact, therefore had she been left alone, she would remain afloat indefinitely. At 1045, abandon ship order was given, but the hull continued to hold the ship together. No official records exist as to what contributed to her ultimate sinking, but Ohara and other survivors noted a possible torpedo hit around 1915 that day. That torpedo possibly originated from a friendly destroyer that began scuttling Soryu prematurely. After the battle Nagumo claimed that Soryu sank from battle damage; it was likely that he provided altered information in order to save the face of the task force.

Sources: Interrogations of Japanese Officials, Midway Dauntless Victory, the Pacific Campaign, Shattered Sword, US Navy Naval Historical Center..

Aircraft Carrier Soryu Interactive Map

Soryu Operational Timeline

29 Dec 1937 Soryu was commissioned into service.

Photographs

Carrier Soryu fitting out at the Kure Naval Arsenal, Japan, early 1937View of SoryuCarrier Soryu, date unknownCarrier Soryu running trials, 22 Jan 1938, photo 1 of 2
See all 9 photographs of Aircraft Carrier Soryu



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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Edward Chen says:
    26 Nov 2005 09:38:58 PM

    Good entry. Just to point out:
    - the bomb hits were 1,000lb bombs delivered by Yorktown SBDs
    - From Shattered Sword: Soryu was scuttled by destroyer Isokaze. USS Nautilus attacked carrier Kaga but scored only one dud hit.
  2. Anonymous says:
    19 Dec 2005 12:47:49 PM

    thanks so much for not forgetting the Soryu and Midway and our guys too
  3. DOUGLAS JONES says:
    17 Jun 2010 07:36:29 PM

    FROM SHATTERED SWORD: NONE OF THE JAPANESE CARRIERS HAD STRIKE AIRCRAFT ON DECK (SPOTTED) AT THE TIME OF THE DECISIVE HITS. ALL WERE STILL IN THE HANGER BEING ARMED AND FUELED. THIS WAS STANDARD JAPANESE DOCTRINE AND THIS IS WHAT CAUSED THE MASSIVE DAMAGE TO NOT ONLY SORYU, BUT AKAGI AND KAGA AS WELL.

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More on Soryu
Personnel:
» Kaname Harada
» Kiichi Hasegawa
» Hisashi Ohara
» Tamon Yamaguchi
» Ryusaku Yanagimoto

Event(s) Participated:
» Guangdong Operation
» Attack on Pearl Harbor
» Battle of Wake Island
» Attack on Darwin
» Raids into the Indian Ocean
» Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Islands

Partner Sites Content:
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Aircraft Carrier Soryu Photo Gallery
Carrier Soryu fitting out at the Kure Naval Arsenal, Japan, early 1937
See all 9 photographs of Aircraft Carrier Soryu



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