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IJN Soryu Class Aircraft Carriers

The two aircraft carriers laid down in 1934 and 1936 were the Soryu ("Blue Dragon") and Hiryu ("Flying Dragon"). They represented the next generation of Japanese carriers and all future ships were based off their design that emphacised speed, a light build, and offensive power at a trade off for defensive power.

The Soryu displaced about 18,000 tons standard, had a speed of 34.5 knots, and handled 63 aircraft. The Hiryu was heavier, 18,500 tons standard, and had a speed of 34.3 knots. Officially, both ships were carried on the books as of 10,050 tons standard; the true tonnage was not revealed until after WW II. Both ships carried the same number of planes and had the same armament, 12 five-inch guns.

Soryu built at Kure, Japan, was completed in December 1937. One of six carriers that delivered the Pearl Harbor attack on 7 December 1941, she also participated in other early Pacific War operations. Soryu was sunk on 4 June 1942, during the Battle of Midway, after SBD "Dauntless" aircraft from USS Yorktown (CV-5) hit her with several bombs which ingited fires that reached her fuel tanks with disastrous results.

Hiryu, built at Yokosuka, Japan, was completed in July 1939. Active throughout the first six months of the Pacific War, she took part in the December 1941 Pearl Harbor attack as well as operations in the East Indies and Indian Ocean area. On 4 June 1942, during the Battle of Midway, Hiryu's aircraft inflicted serious bomb and torpedo damage to USS Yorktown (CV-5), causing her abandonment.

Later that day, Hiryu was hit by U.S. carrier dive bombers. Though she remained underway for a time, she had been fatally damaged. Abandoned early the following morning, Hiryu sank at about 0900 on 5 June, the last of four Japanese aircraft carriers to be lost in the battle.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:25:29 ZULU