Kaga file photo

Kaga

CountryJapan
Ship ClassKaga-class Aircraft Carrier
BuilderYokosuka Naval Arsenal
Laid Down19 Jul 1920
Launched17 Nov 1921
Commissioned1 Nov 1929
Sunk4 Jun 1942
Displacement38200 tons standard; 42541 tons full
Length812 feet
Beam107 feet
Draft31 feet
MachineryKanpon geared turbines, four screws
Bunkerage8,208t oil, 600t aviation fuel
Power Output127400 SHP
Speed28 knots
Range10,000nm at 16 knots
Crew1708
Armament10x8-in, 16x5-in, 22x25mm anti-aircraft
Armor6-in belt, 3.1-in deck
Arrester Wires9
Hangar Decks3
Elevators3
Aircraft91

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

Kaga was Japan's first heavy carrier, converted from a battleship due to be scrapped under the terms of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty. She was built at Kobe and Yokosuka in Japan, launched in 1926, and reconstructed (extended the flight deck) in 1934-1935. While her speed was not top-notch, her tall flight deck provided a large and dry platform for takeoffs and landings, making it a welcoming home for her aircrafts. She was active off China during the Sino-Japanese War, and was one of the main carriers that launched the planes that attacked Pearl Harbor.

She was lost at the Battle of Midway after being attacked by about thirty dive bombers. The first hit damaged the aft area of the flight deck, while the second crushed into the forward elevator, causing major damage below decks. By this point, Kaga had lost all her steering capabilities. Flight commander Takahisa Amagai was probably the luckiest of all senior officers at the bridge at that time, for that the next bomb probably landed close or squarely on it, and he was the only one who survived. The fourth and probably final hit landed amidships, but there was so much confusion that there could had been another. Amagi recalled:

There was so much debris flying around.... Huge fires were started on the flight deck and in the hangar.... For about twenty minutes we tried to put out the fire but it became impossible, so I abandoned the ship.... The Kaga was burning fiercely from stem to stern, and the anti-aircraft batteries were firing from induced explosion of their magazines. Even the paint on the side of the hull were burning.

The uncontrollable fire aboard Kaga could partly be attributed to Japanese carrier design of the time. According to plan, to fight fire in the enclosed hangar, the damage control team was to pull heavy fire curtains that were placed in the hangar designed to isolate. However, the fires occurring in multiple areas of the hangar made isolation impossible. Furthermore, a single water main running along the ship that supplied water for firefighting was destroyed when multiple bombs exploded near the lone water main. Finally, the hangar at the time was filled with ammunition; in this enclosed hangar, without an opening directly to the exterior, the crew simply had no way to move the heavy bombs and torpedoes away from the fires (only a few men remained alive in the hangar at this time, in any case). With aviation fuel continued flowing, there was no stopping of the conflagaration. Kaga's demise would have been just a bit quicker if American torpedoes were a bit more reliable: while Kaga was ablaze, USS Nautilus found the carrier and fired four torpedoes at her. The first was stuck in the tube, while the second and the third missed widely. The fourth hit Kaga squarely, scaring the swimming sailors near by, but it failed to detonate. Ironically, the torpedo broke in half and provided floatation tools for the Japanese sailors.

The crew of Kaga removed the Emperor's portrait at 1325 as it was determined that the carrier was now beyond repair, though gallant efforts to keep her alive continued for several more hours. By 1640, the order to abandon ship was finally given. At 1925, the escorting destroyer Hagikaze launched two torpedoes at the carrier after rescuing all the remaining survivors. A minute later, both 1,000-pound warheads hit Kaga's starboard side amidships. Commander Seiji Nakasugi stood on the deck of Hagikaze and witnessed his ship's last moment; "it was a horrendous sight to see a huge warship like this vanish. But she went nobly." At 1925, she went completely under the waves. Amagai lamented "I should have died with her".

Part of Kaga's wreck was discovered in Sep 1999 by a team that included members of Nihon Kaigun website (http://www.combinedfleet.com). The wreckage, laying 17,000 feet below the surface, consists of two gun tubs and a section of the upper hanger deck, located on the starboard aft machine-gun gallery of Kaga. For more information, please see the original article at Combinedfleet.com.

Source: Imperial Japanese Navy Page, Midway Dauntless Victory, the Pacific Campaign, Shattered Sword, US Navy Naval Historical Center.

Aircraft Carrier Kaga Interactive Map

Kaga Operational Timeline

1 Nov 1929 The conversion of a Tosa-class battleship hull to a fleet carrier completed at Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Japan. She was commissioned into Japanese Navy service as Kaga. In her original configuration, she sported three flight decks that form a series of ramps at the bow.
4 Oct 1937 Kaga departed Sasebo, Japan.
7 Oct 1937 Kaga arrived off Guangdong Province, China.
24 Oct 1937 Kaga departed waters south of Guangdong Province, China.
21 Nov 1937 Kaga departed Sasebo, Japan.
24 Nov 1937 Kaga arrived off Guangdong Province, China and began launching aircraft against Chinese positions near Guangzhou.
29 Nov 1937 Kaga departed waters south of Guangdong Province, China; some of her aircraft were left behind to operate from airfields in southern China.
10 Dec 1937 Kaga departed Sasebo, Japan.
14 Dec 1937 Kaga arrived off Guangdong Province, China.
28 Feb 1938 Kaga departed Yokosuka, Japan.
3 Mar 1938 Kaga arrived off Guangdong Province, China.
4 Apr 1938 While off Guangdong Province, China, Kaga's aircraft which had detached from the carrier in late 1937 were reassigned back to her.
13 Apr 1938 Kaga launched 18 D1A2 bombers at 0830 hours, with 6 fighters in escort, to attack Tienhe airfield near Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China; Gladiator fighters of Chinese 28th Pursuit Squadron and 29th Pursuit Squadron intercepted the group, shooting down 2 A4N1 fighters and 2 D1A2 bombers; 4 Chinese fighters were also lost in combat.
11 Dec 1938 Kaga arrived at Sasebo, Japan.
15 Oct 1940 Captain Sadayoshi Yamada was named the commanding officer of Kaga.
10 Apr 1941 Kaga was assigned to Carrier Division 1 of the Japanese Navy First Air Fleet.
1 May 1941 Kaga entered the drydocks at Sasebo, Japan.
14 May 1941 Kaga departed the drydocks at Sasebo, Japan.
21 May 1941 Kaga was made the flagship of Carrier Division 1 of the Japanese Navy First Air Fleet at Sasebo, Japan.
21 Jun 1941 Kaga departed Sasebo, Japan.
1 Jul 1941 Kaga arrived at Yokosuka, Japan.
8 Jul 1941 Kaga departed Yokosuka, Japan.
11 Jul 1941 Kaga arrived at Ariake Bay at Kyushu, Japan.
15 Sep 1941 Captain Jisaku Okada was named the commanding officer of Kaga.
23 Oct 1941 Kaga was relieved as the flagship of Carrier Division 1 of the Japanese Navy First Air Fleet.
11 Nov 1941 Kaga entered the drydocks at Sasebo Naval Shipyard, Japan.
14 Nov 1941 Kaga exited the drydocks at Sasebo Naval Shipyard, Japan.
17 Nov 1941 Kaga arrived at Saeki Bay off Oita, Japan and embarked 100 aerial torpedoes.
19 Nov 1941 Kaga departed Saeki Bay off Oita, Japan for Etorofu Island, Kurile Islands.
22 Nov 1941 Kaga arrived at Hitokappu Bay, Etorofu Island, Kurile Islands.
26 Nov 1941 Kaga departed Hitokappu Bay, Etorofu Island, Kurile Islands.
23 Dec 1941 Kaga arrived at Hashirajima in Hiroshima Bay, Japan.
9 Jan 1942 Kaga departed Iwakuni, Japan.
15 Jan 1942 Kaga arrived at Truk, Caroline Islands.
17 Jan 1942 Kaga departed Truk, Caroline Islands.
25 Jan 1942 Kaga arrived at Truk, Caroline Islands.
1 Feb 1942 Kaga departed Truk, Caroline Islands in search of US carriers near the Marshall Islands.
2 Feb 1942 Kaga set sail for Palau Islands, Caroline Islands.
8 Feb 1942 Kaga arrived at Palau Islands, Caroline Islands.
9 Feb 1942 Kaga accidentally hit a reef in the Palau Islands, Caroline Islands, damaging her bilges.
15 Feb 1942 Kaga departed Palau Islands, Caroline Islands.
21 Feb 1942 Kaga arrived at Staring Bay near Kendari, Celebes, Dutch East Indies.
25 Feb 1942 Kaga departed Staring Bay near Kendari, Celebes, Dutch East Indies.
5 Mar 1942 Kaga launched aircraft in support of operations in Tjilatjap in central Java, Dutch East Indies.
11 Mar 1942 Kaga arrived at Staring Bay near Kendari, Celebes, Dutch East Indies.
15 Mar 1942 Kaga departed Staring Bay near Kendari, Celebes, Dutch East Indies.
22 Mar 1942 Kaga arrived at Sasebo, Japan.
27 Mar 1942 Kaga entered the drydocks of Sasebo, Japan to repair the damage caused by striking reefs in the Palau Islands, Caroline Islands on 9 Feb 1942.
4 May 1942 Kaga exited the drydocks of Sasebo, Japan and departed for the Inland Sea to join Carrier Division 1.
27 May 1942 Kaga departed Hashirajima in Hiroshima Bay, Japan for Midway Atoll.
4 Jun 1942 Kaga was struck by at least four bombs during the Battle of Midway and suffered a great fire. She was scuttled at 1925 hours by two torpedoes from destroyer Hagikaze. 814 were killed in her loss.
10 Aug 1942 Kaga was removed from the Japanese Navy list.

Photographs

Kaga during trials, off Tateyama, Japan, 15 Sep 1928Carrier Kaga at Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, Japan, 20 Nov 1928Carrier Kaga off Yokosuka, Japan, 1929Carrier Kaga during training off Japan, 1930; note B1M Type 13 aircraft on upper deck and A1N Type 3 aircraft on lower deck
See all 26 photographs of Aircraft Carrier Kaga



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More on Kaga
Personnel:
» Takahisa Amagai
» Jisaku Okada
» Takijiro Onishi

Event(s) Participated:
» Second Battle of Shanghai
» Battle of Xiamen
» Guangdong Operation
» Attack on Pearl Harbor
» New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 1, Bismarck Islands
» Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Islands

Partner Sites Content:
» Kaga Tabular Record of Movement
» Wreckage from Japanese aircraft carrier sunk at Battle of Midway identified!


Aircraft Carrier Kaga Photo Gallery
Kaga during trials, off Tateyama, Japan, 15 Sep 1928
See all 26 photographs of Aircraft Carrier Kaga



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