Hiryu file photo

Hiryu

CountryJapan
Ship ClassSoryu-class Aircraft Carrier
BuilderYokosuka Naval Arsenal
Laid Down8 Jul 1936
Launched16 Nov 1937
Commissioned5 Jul 1939
Sunk5 Jun 1942
Displacement17300 tons standard; 20250 tons full
Length746 feet
Beam73 feet
Draft26 feet
Machinery8 Kampon boilers, 4 sets geared turbines, 4 shafts
Bunkerage4,400t oil, 150,000gal aviation fuel
Power Output153000 SHP
Speed34 knots
Range10,330nm at 18 knots
Crew1103
Armament12x5-in, 31x25mm anti-aircraft
Armor3.5-in belt, 1-in deck, 2.2-in magazines
Flight Deck711.5 ft x 88.5 ft
Arrester Wires6 aft, 3 forward, all hydraulic
Elevators3
Hangar Decks2
Aircraft73

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.

When it was ascertained that the ship was in a sinking condition, Admiral Yamaguchi and Captain Kaku decided that they would go down with the ship. They all shared some naval biscuits and rank a glass of water in a last ceremony. Admiral Yamaguchi gave his hat to one of his staff officers and asked him to give it to his family; then there was some joking among them, the captain and the admiral, that their duties were finished when the ship sank.

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.

Photographs

Carrier Hiryu running speed trials off Tateyama, Chiba, Japan, 28 Apr 1939Carrier Hiryu shortly after commissioning at Yokosuka, Japan, 5 Jul 1939Aircraft carrier Akagi shortly after leaving Port Stirling, Celebes for the Indian Ocean, 26 Mar 1942; note B5N torpedo bombers on flight deckHiryu maneuvering to avoid three sticks of bombs dropped by B-17 bombers, off Midway Atoll, shortly after 0800 hours, 4 Jun 1942, photo 1 of 2
See all 9 photographs of Aircraft Carrier Hiryu



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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Mike Dunne says:
    28 Jan 2007 12:44:39 AM

    Soryu and Hiryu were truly first class carriers, probably the best in the world in their day. Pity the dangfool IJN wasted them at Midway...
  2. DENNIS says:
    28 Feb 2007 02:54:48 AM

    NO WERE THE IJN WAS FOOLISH IS EXSPECTING THE US NAVY WOULD REACT AS THEY THOUGHT THEY WOULD AND TAKEING TO LONG WITH CRUCIAL DESIONS!
  3. John S. Halbert says:
    17 Sep 2013 09:22:57 PM

    The Americans always considered Soryu and Hiryu as being small carriers; actually, they were comparable in size to the USN Yorktown Class and were faster by about three knots (35Kn/hr) due to more powerful propulsion plants. Hiryu 153,000 HP; Yorktown 120,000 HP. Hiryu HP only exceeded by the two Shokakus (Shokaku, Zuikaku) that had 160,000 HP and were probably the best IJN carriers overall.

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More on Hiryu
Personnel:
» Takahisa Amagai
» Tomeo Kaku
» Yoshimi Minami
» Tamon Yamaguchi
» Mineo Yamaoka

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

Partner Sites Content:
» Hiryu Tabular Record of Movement

Aircraft Carrier Hiryu Photo Gallery
Carrier Hiryu running speed trials off Tateyama, Chiba, Japan, 28 Apr 1939
See all 9 photographs of Aircraft Carrier Hiryu



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