|Ship Class||Soryu-class Aircraft Carrier|
|Builder||Yokosuka Naval Arsenal|
|Laid Down||8 Jul 1936|
|Launched||16 Nov 1937|
|Commissioned||5 Jul 1939|
|Sunk||5 Jun 1942|
|Displacement||17300 tons standard; 20250 tons full|
|Machinery||8 Kampon boilers, 4 sets geared turbines, 4 shafts|
|Bunkerage||4,400t oil, 150,000gal aviation fuel|
|Power Output||153000 SHP|
|Range||10,330nm at 18 knots|
|Armament||12x5-in, 31x25mm anti-aircraft|
|Armor||3.5-in belt, 1-in deck, 2.2-in magazines|
|Flight Deck||711.5 ft x 88.5 ft|
|Arrester Wires||6 aft, 3 forward, all hydraulic|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Hiryu was completed at Yokosuka, Japan in 1939. She was a member of Chuichi Nagumo's dreaded Mobile Force, and was one of the fleet carriers that launched the deadly attack on Pearl Harbor in Dec 1941. She participated in the Battle of Midway and launched the aircraft that disabled the American carrier Yorktown. Hiryu then came under attack by Yorktown's SBD aircraft, which fought through Hiryu's combat air patrol fighters and a flak barrage. Captain Susumu Kawaguchi, air officer aboard Hiryu, recalled that Hiryu was hit six times during the fourth and final attack on her. One of the bombs struck the forward elevator, two just aft of the forward elevator, three just forward of the after elevator. All bombs were aimed at her hinomaru painted on her flight deck, a proud symbol of the rising sun that ironically doubled as the bull's-eye to the American pilots.
When he determined that Hiryu was unsaveable, her captain Tamon Yamaguchi gathered the 800 men who were still aboard the ship, including the wounded, on the flight deck near the bridge, and led them in yelling banzai three times toward Tokyo, followed by the playing of the national anthem. After the ceremony, the order to abandon ship was issued. It was recorded that Yamaguchi and Tomeo Kaku (Hiryu's captain) had this exchange as they shared naval biscuits and water while the ship being abandoned, the exchange signifying how much the two officers had in common.
"Let us enjoy the beauty of the moon", Yamaguchi said to Kaku.
"How bright it shines," Kaku responds.
"It must be in its 21st day."
Admiral Kusaka was aboard the Hiryu that day, and recalled Hiryu's commanders Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi and Captain Tomeo Kaku.
After the survivors were evacuated (without Yamaguchi, who remained on board to go down with the ship), destroyer Makigumo fired two torpedoes to scuttle her some time between 0905 and 0915 in the morning of 5 Jun 1942. The first torpedo passed under her, but the second hit her squarely in the hull.
Ensign Mandai, who floated in the water nearby when Hiryu sank, saw the giant propellers rose above the waves as the bow of the ship dipped into the ocean. He swam vigorously to escape the suction created when a ship sank; when he dared to look again, Hiryu was gone.
Sources: Imperial Japanese Navy Page, Midway Dauntless Victory, the Pacific War, Shattered Sword, US Navy Naval Historical Center.
Hiryu Operational Timeline
|5 Jul 1939||Carrier Hiryu was commissioned into service.|
|19 Jun 1942||US PBY Catalina aircraft discovered 35 survivors from the sunken Japanese carrier Hiryu; USS Ballard was dispatched to rescue them.|
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Winston Churchill, 1935