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  Shōhō (祥鳳)
IJN
Zuihō-class aircraft carrier

11,443 Tons (standard)
674' 2" x 59' 8" x 21' 7"
4 × Twin 12.7 cm AA guns
4 × Twin 25mm AA guns
Aircraft: 30

Click For Enlargement
IJN 1941

Ship History
Laid down by the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal on December 3, 1934 as a submarine tender ship named Tsurugisaki. Launched on June 1, 1935. Completed January 15, 1939. During 1941, converted into an aircraft carrier with the superstructure removed and a flight deck and hangar installed. Renamed Shōhō (祥鳳) meaning Happy Phoenix and commissioned at Nagasaki on November 30, 1941 with Captain Izawa Ishinosuke assigned as commanding officer. On December 22, 1942 assigned to 1st Air Fleet, Carrier Division 4 at Yokosuka.

Wartime History
Shōhō made several shuttle runs between Truk and Rabaul to deliver aircraft at a top speed of 28 knots, including a delivery of the first A6M2 Zeros to Lakunai Airfield. During late April 1942 assigned to Crudiv 6 under the command of RAdm Goto for "Operation MO", the seaborne invasion of Port Moresby.

On April 29, 1942 arrives at Truk to join the Coral Sea operation escorted by Sazanami. On April 30, 1942 departs Truk as part of Operation MO, the invasion of Port Moresby, sailing with Crudiv 6 (RAdm Goto) with Aoba, Kinugasa, Furataka, Kako and destroyer Sazanami.

On May 3, 1942, Shoho launched aircraft to cover the Japanese landings at Tulagi. The mission was successful and without any losses.

On May 6, 1942 at 10:30am while off southern Bougainville, attached by B-17 Flying Fortresses from Australia. Their bombs fell wide, but radioed the location of the carrier.

During the Battle of the Coral Sea, U. S. Navy search aircraft spotted a portion of the Japanese transport force including Shoho off Misma Island,

Sinking History
On May 7, 1942 at 10:40am during the Battle of the Coral Sea spotted by carrier aircraft from the USS Lexington (CV-2) near Misima Island. At the time, two A6M Claudes and one A6M2 Zero were flying Combat Air Patrol (CAP) over the carrier.

At 11:10am, SBD Dauntles dive bombers from VS-2 began dive bombing and were intercepted by the fighters and missed the carrier which maneuvering and one Dauntless was shot down by the Zero. Shoho launched three additional A6M2 Zeros as other SBDs began dive bombing at 11:18 and scored two hits with 1,000 lbs bombs on the flight deck that exploded inside the hanger igniting fuel and aircraft. After his attack, Lieutenant Commander Robert E. Dixon, commander of VS-2, radioed his famous message to the American carriers: "Scratch one flat top!" US Navy Admiral Fletcher aboard USS Yorktown. At the same time, Devastators from VT-2 launched torpedoes from both sides of the carrier, scoring five hits and knocking out steering and power, flooding the engine and boiler rooms.

Next, carrier aircraft from USS Yorktown attacked, with SBDs diving at 11:25 and scored hits with eleven more 1,000 lbs bombs leaving the carrier dead in the water. Devastators from VT-3 attacked at 11:29 and claimed ten more hits, but the Japanese reported only two more. Leaving the target, they were intercepted by the CAP but F4F Wildcats from VF-3 claimed two A5M Claudes and an A6M2 Zero shot down.

Captain Izawa ordered the ship abandoned at 11:31 and the carrier sank stern first on an even keel at 11:35, with the three CAF A6M2 Zeros still airborne. Afterwards, the remaining Japanese ships turned to the north to avoid further attacks and the invasion force aborted the attack and returned to Rabaul.

Shōhō was the first Japanese aircraft carrier lost during the Pacific War. In total, she was attacked by 92 carrier aircraft over 23 minutes. At least 13-14 bombs and 7 torpedoes hit the carrier. In total, three SBD Dauntless were lost attacking Shōhō including SBD Dauntless 4679.

Rescue
Roughly 300 crew successfully abandoned the carrier. The remaining Japanese ships departed the area to avoid further attacks. Around 2pm, destroyer Sazanami to return to the scene and rescue 203 survivors (131 plus 72 wounded) including Captain Izawa. The other 834 crew died during the attack, went down with the ship or drown awaiting rescue.

References
IJN Shoho: Tabular Record of Movement

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Last Updated
May 24, 2014

 

 

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