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  Hiryū (飛龍)
IJN
Modified Sōryū-class aircraft carrier

17,300 tons (standard)
20,165 tons (full load)

12 × 127mm DP guns
31 × 25mm AA guns
Aircraft: 57

Click For Enlargement
Renzo 1942

Ship History
Laid down on July 8, 1936 at Yokosuka. Launched on November 16, 1937 and Comissioned on July 5, 1939. Built within the specifications of the Washington Naval Treaty that was in place at the time, which placed limits on its tonnage and armament and a port side island. Commanded by Captain Tomeo Kaku. Named Hiryū, meaning "Flying Dragon".

Wartime History
On April 10, 1942 assigned to Carrier Division 2. Next, on July 10, 1941 assigned to "FU" escort fleet and participated in "FU" operations from July 10-30 departing Yokosuka with Soryu and arrives at Sama on July 16 and departs on July 25.

29-30 July 1941:
Stop at Condor and St. James respectively.

1 August 1941:
Arrive at Sama.

7 August 1941:
Arrive at Sasebo, remain till end of month. Enter drydock.

10 September 1941:
Leave Sasebo drydock.

15 September 1941:
Depart Sasebo for Kagoshima.

22 September 1941:
Receive flag from SORYU and become flagship of ComCarDiv 2. Remain in Kagoshima vicinity through end of month and through October.

26 October 1941:
Flag of ComCarDiv 2 removed to SORYU.

18 November 1941:
Depart Kyushu for Hitokappu Bay.

22 November 1941:
Arrive Hitokappu Bay with SORYU.

26 November 1941:
Assigned to Striking Force Main Body, CarDiv 2.

On November 27, 1941, departs Hitokappu Bay for the "Hawaii" Operation.

Pearl Harbor Attack
On December 7, 1941 Hiryū was part of the Strike Force in the attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu. She launched one wave of planes against including: ten Kates targeted USS Arizona and USS California. Eight Kates targeted West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Helena and six Zeros attacked US air bases at Wheeler Field and Barbers Point.

Next, during December 21-23 she launched air strikes against Wake Island. In January 1942 she supported the invasion of Ambon Island. On 19 February 1942, together with Sōryū she launched aircraft against Darwin.

During March 1942 she took part in the battle of the Java Sea, attacking Allied shipping at Tjilatjep and Christmas Island and sinking the Dutch freighter Poelau Bras.

In April 1942 she took part in the Indian Ocean raid, striking Royal Navy bases at Colombo and Trincomalee Ceylon and helping to sink the cruisers Cornwall, Dorsetshire, the aircraft carrier Hermes, and her escort destroyer Vampire.

On 19 April 1942 she pursued the US carriers Hornet and Enterprise after they launched the Doolittle Raid, but failed to catch them.

Battle of Midway
In May 1942, Hiryū sailed on her final mission. Her aircraft complement consisted of 21 Mitsubishi A6M Zeros, 21 Aichi D3A Val dive bombers, and 21 B5N Kate torpedo bombers.

On June 4, 1942 she took part in the Battle of Midway. At 4:30 AM she launched a strike against Midway Island, destroying planes and damaging installations.

Around 07:55 sixteen Marine SBD Dauntless dive-bombers from Midway, led by SBD Dantless 2129 piloted by Lofton R. Henderson, attacked Hiryū without result.

After Kaga, Sōryū and Akagi were disabled by air attack about 10:25 AM, Hiryū was the only operational carrier left to the Japanese. She launched two waves of planes at 10:50 and 12:45 against USS Yorktown, heavily damaging the American carrier with bombs and torpedoes.

Japanese search planes had located the remaining American aircraft carriers, and all surviving aircraft from the Carrier Striking Force had landed on Hiryū and were refueled and armed; but while preparing to launch a third strike against them, Hiryū was attacked at 5:03 PM by 13 SBD Dauntless dive bombers from USS Enterprise and hit by four 1000 lb bombs, three on the forward flight deck and one on or near the forward elevator. The explosions started fires among the aircraft on the hangar deck. The forward half of the flight deck collapsed into the hangar bay.

Sinking History
Although Hiryū's propulsion was not affected, the fires could not be brought under control. At 9:23 PM her engines stopped, and at 1:58 AM a major explosion rocked the ship. The order to abandon ship was given shortly afterwards and the survivors were taken off by the destroyers Kazagumo and Makigumo.

Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi and Captain Kaku remained on board as Hiryū was scuttled at 5:10 AM by torpedoes from Makigumo. She sank at 9:12am, taking 35 men down with her (another 350 or so had been killed by the bombs, fires and explosions). Thirty-five were rescued by the US Navy and taken prisoner. Admiral Yamaguchi's insistence on going down with his carrier robbed the Japanese of one of their most experienced and brilliant carrier admirals.

During the afternoon, a formation of four B-17s led by B-17E "Yankee Doodle" 41-2463 spotted the burning wreckage of Hiryu and searched the area for a reportedly intact carrier. Forty minutes later, two B-17s piloted by Lt. Wuertele and Lt. Grundman also located Hiryu and Haruna and made bomb runs on both, claiming hits (but none were scored).

References
Fortress Against The Sun page 192

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Last Updated
August 27, 2014

 

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