Shoho

IJN
Shoho Class
Light Aircraft Carrier

Tons
13,950

Aircraft
24-30

Crew
Captain Izawa Ishinosuke
631 crew KIA

Click For Enlargement
1941

 

Ship History
Originally built as fast submarine support ship Tsurugisaki, which had been completed at Yokosuka Dockyard in 1939 and served in this role for two years. The ship was renamed and converted to an aircraft carrier begun in 1941. On November 30, 1941 commissioned at Nagasaki. Captain Izawa Ishinosuke assigned as commanding officer. Listed as Special Duty Ship. On December 22, At Yokosuka, Shoho was assigned to 1st Air Fleet, Carier Division 4.

Shuttle Runs to Truk
The carrier made several suttle runs between Truk and Rabaul to deliver aircraft at a top speed of 28 knots, including the first A6M2 Zeros to Lakunai. In late April was assigned to operation "MO" the seaborne invasion of Port Moresby, sailing with Crudiv 6, RAdm Goto.

Air Cover For Occupation of Tulagi
On May 3, 1942, Shoho launched aircraft to cover the landings at Tulagi, this proved to be a sucessful mission without any losses.

Attacked By B-17s
At 1030 6 May B-17s flying from Australia located and bombed the Shoho south of Bougainville. Their bombs fall wide, but report its presence.

Battle of the Coral Sea
United States Navy search planes located a portion of the Japanese transport force including the aircraft carrier Shoho near Misma Island,

Sinking History
During the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 7, 1942 at 10:40am 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 CAP over the carrier.

At 11:10am, SBD Dauntless 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 lauched 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 tem more hits, but the Japanese reported only two more. Leaving the target, they were intercepted by the CAP but F4F Wildcats from VF-3 calimed two A5M Claudes and an A6M2 Zero shot down.

Captain Izawa ordered the ship abandoned at 1131. She sank four minutes later, stern first on an even keel, with three CAF A6M2 Zeros still airborne. Afterwards, the remaining Japanese ships turned to the north to avoid further attacks and the invasion force turned back to Rabaul.

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

Rescue
Roughly 300 crew successfully abandoned the ship. 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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