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IJN Zuiho Class Light Aircraft Carriers


In 1936, while the submarine depot ship Takasaki was under construction, the decision was made to complete the ship as a carrier. Work on this project was not started until January 1940, but was completed in December that year. The carrier was renamed Zuiho ("Happy Phoenix"). She displaced 11,200 tons standard, sailed at 28 knots, and carried 30 aircraft. She was armed with eight five inch guns.

A sister ship, Shoho (“Lucky Phoenix”) a 13,950-ton light aircraft carrier, entered service in January 1942. Originally the fast submarine support ship Tsurugisaki, which had been completed at Yokosuka Dockyard in 1939, the ship was renamed and her conversion to an aircraft carrier begun in 1941. Both ships were equipped with one hangar and their original diesel motors were replaced with destroyer level turbines and boilers. The hangar was serviced by two lifts to the flight deck.

On 7 May 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea, Shoho was sunk by an overwhelming dive bombing and torpedo attack delivered by aircraft from USS Lexington (CV-2) and USS Yorktown (CV-5). She was the first carrier loss to the Japanese navy in the Pacific War. The Zuiho lasted until 25 October 1944, when she was destroyed via a combination of torpedoes and bombs at the Battle of Cape Engano.




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