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  Akagi 赤城
IJN
Amagi class battlecruiser
Aircraft carrier

37,100 Tons (redesigned)
41,300 Tons (deep load)
855' 3" x 102' 9" x 28' 7"
10 x 200mm guns
6 x 120mm guns
14 x 25mm AA guns
Aircraft: 66
18 x A6M2 Zeros
18 x D3A Vals
27 x B5N Kate
Plus 25 reserve aircraft

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IJN 1925

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IJN 1941

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IJN November 1941

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IJN December 7, 1941

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USAAF June 4, 1942

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Roy Grinell 2005
Ship History
Built by Kure Naval Arsenal at Kure. Laid down December 6, 1920 as an Amagi-class battlecruiser. After Japan signed the Washington Naval Treaty on February 6, 1922, the incomplete hulls of Amagi and Akagi were selected to become aircraft carriers. On September 1, 1923 a 8.3 magnitude earthquake hit the Kanto area but did not significantly damage Akagi and construction continues. On November 9, 1923 begins conversion into an aircraft carrier with three flight decks to allow as many aircraft to be launched as quickly as possible and without an island. Launched April 22, 1925 as Akagi 赤城 named for Mount Akagi meaning "Red Castle". Commissioned March 25, 1927 into the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) under the command of Captain Ryutaro Kaizu.

Afterwards, begins sea trials. On June 17, 1927 achieves a speed record of 32.5 knots. On August 1, 1927 assigned to the Combined Fleet with 12 x Type 10 1MF3 plus 4 spares, 24 Type 13 B1M attack planes plus +4 spares and 12 x Type 10 2MR reconnaissance aircraft. During August 1927 to October 1927 participates in maneuvers at sea with the fleet. On November 1, 1927 at Yokosuka Naval Yard at Yokosuka undergoes an overhaul for changes during the trail period. On December 1, 1927 Captain Seizaburo Kobayashi takes command.

On April 1, 1928 becomes the flagship for Rear Admiral Sankichi Takahashi for Carrier Division 1 and participates in maneuvers at sea as a defensive force. On December 10, 1928 Carrier Division 1 was disbanded and Akagi was placed in reserve status and Captain Isoroku Yamamoto takes command. On April 1, 1929 Carrier Division 1 was reformed for more fleet maneuvers. During severe storms her carrier aircraft divert to Saishutoshima and the exercise is canceled and on April 22, 1929 arrives Sasebo.

On November 1, 1929 Captain Kiyoshi Kitagawa takes command and at the end of the month placed in reserve status and removed from Carrier Division 1. On October 26, 1930 Captain Goro Hara takes command. On December 1, 1930 Captain Hideo Wada takes command. On August 18, 1931 a carrier aircraft crash lands and injures Captain Wada. On August 28, 1931 Captain Jiro Onishi takes command. On December 1, 1931 placed in reserve status and Captain Masaki Shibayama takes command.

During December 1931 arrives at Yokosuka Navy Yard at Yokosuka for an extensive refit with arresting gear replaced with a cable system and the ventilation system overhauled plus improved radio communications. On December 1, 1932 the refit was completed and Captain Eijiro Kondo takes command.

On April 25, 1933 returns to Carrier Division 1. On October 20, 1933 Captain Nishizô Tsukahara takes command. On October 15, 1934 arrives at Osaka. On November 1, 1934 Captain Rokuro Horie takes command. On November 15, 1934 becomes the flagship of the newly formed Carrier Division 2.

On October 24, 1935 enters dry dock at Sasebo Navy Yard at Sasebo for extensive reconstruction including a new, single flight deck 817.5' / 249.17m spanning nearly the length of the carrier that is capable of handling larger aircraft plus the capacity to store 91 aircraft (66 operational and 25 in storage). Also, a third aircraft elevator is added amidships and new Type 1 system. Finally, an island is added to the port port side with a new displacement of 37,100 Tons. A series of captains take command during the construction phase. On November 15, 1935 Captain Toshio Matsunaga takes command. On December 1, 1936 Captain Kokichi Terada takes command. On August 27, 1937 Captain Shinichi Moizumi takes command. On December 1, 1937 Captain Junichi Mizuno takes command. On August 31, 1938 the reconstruction and modernization was completed making Akagi the first fleet carrier with a large flight deck. During September 1938 to October 1938 undergoes sea trails. On November 15, 1938 Captain Kinpei Teraoka takes command. On December 15, 1938 returns to Carrier Division 1.

On January 30, 1939 departs Sasebo bound for southern China. The Akagi air group includes 12 x A5M2 Claudes plus 4 spares, 17 x D1A2 Susie plus 5 spares and 36 B4Y1 Jeans plus 16 spares. On February 2, 1939 arrives Hainan Island. On February 9, 1939 Akagi provides air cover for the Japanese occupation of Hainan Island and departs ten days later to Japan.

On April 27, 1939 arrives Sukumo Bay. On November 11, 1939 begins providing air cover for the Japanese force. On November 15, 1939 covered landings at Guangxi and that same day Captain Ryûnosuke Kusaka takes command and in late November returns to Japan. During December 1939 to March 1940 based at Ariake Bay off Kyushu. On March 26, 1940 returns to China with 18 x A5M4 Claudes plus 6 spares, 27 B5N1 Kates plus 9 spares and 17 D1A2 Susie plus 6 spares. After supporting operations returns to Japan on April 2, 1940.

On June 1, 1940 departs Yokosuka bound for Ariake Bay. On June 25, 1940 arrives Beppu Bay. On July 15, 1940 returns to Yokosuka. On August 10, 1940 arrives Ariake Bay. On September 4, 1940 arrives Yokosuka and the next day departs. On September 18, 1940 arrives Hiroshima Bay then two days later Kure. On October 11, 1940 participates in the Navy Review off Yokohama then arrives Yokosuka. On October 14, 1940 Captain Ko Ito takes command.

During November 1940 to March 1941 part of the Yokosuka Naval District and undergoes inspections. On March 25, 1941 Captain Kiichi Hasegawa takes command. On April 10, 1941 becomes flagship of Carrier Division 1 with Kaga. On April 11, 1941 Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo embarks as CINC, Air Fleet 1. On April 22, 1941 departs Yokosuka and two days later arrives Kagoshima Bay. During late April 1941 until May 1941 conducts training at Ariake Bay against former battleship Settsu. On May 22, 1941 arrives Sasebo and the next day enters dry dock for maintenance.

On June 5, 1941 arrives Kushikino off Kyushu and conducts training for torpedo and bombing attacks between Carrier Division 1 and Carrier Division 2 operating as attackers and defenders. On July 15, 1941 returns to Yokosuka for maintenance.

On July 1941 departs Yokosuka bound for Ariake Bay. On August 25, 1941 departs Ariake Bay and LtCdr Mitsuo Fuchida becomes Akagi air group commander. On August 27, 1941 arrives Yokosuka for maintenance and refueling. On September 16, 1941 arrives Ariake Bay. During October 1941 arrives Yokosuka for minor repairs. On October 23, 1941 departs Yokosuka and four days later arrives Ariake Bay then to Kagoshima Bay and afterwards returns to Ariake Bay. On November 1, 1941 departs Ariake Bay and returns the same day. On November 4, 191 conducts two days later conducts training air raids over Saekai and later that day Admiral Yamamoto holds a conference aboard Akagi about the the upcoming Operation Z and training schedules.

On November 7, 1941 arrives Kagoshima Bay then departs the next day and then to Sasebo. On November 13, 1941 departs Sasebo and arrives the same day at Kagoshima Bay. On November 15, 1941 departs Kagoshima Bay and the next day arrives Saeki Bay where at 3:00pm Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto briefs his staff about Operation Z against Hawaii and after sunset departs. For the operation, the Akagai air group consists of 18 x A6M2 Zeros, 27 B5N2 Kates and 18 x D3A1 Vals

On November 22, 1941 arrives Hittokappu Bay the secret assembly point for Operation Z. On November 23, 1941 during the early morning Admiral Nagumo conducts a briefing for all warship captains about the operation and LtCdr Minoru Genda specifies targets for air crews. On November 25, 1941 a ceremonial banquet is held aboard Akagi for future victory. On November 26, 1941 departs Hittokappu Bay crossing the north Pacific Ocean. On December 2, 1941 the force receives the signal "Niitakayama nobore 1208" (Climb Mt. Niitaka 1208)" and despite rough seas and bad weather the force reaches their designated position.

Operation Z - Pearl Harbor and Oahu
On December 7, 1941 at 6:18am the first first wave of 108 carrier aircraft launch against Pearl Harbor and Oahu. The Akagi air group provides 12 x B5N1 Kates armed with torpedoes and 15 x B5N2 Kates armed with 800kg bombs plus 9 x A6M2 Zeros that attack Hickam Field and Ewa Field. Lost was A6M2 Zero 5289 (KIA).

At 8:40am the second wave launches with 167 aircraft. The Akagi air group provides 18 x D3A1 Vals that target warships in Pearl Harbor plus 9 x A6M2 Zeros attack Hickam Field and return by 9:45am. In total, five Akagi aircraft Lost were four D3A1 Vals.

On December 23, 1941 arrives Hashirajima and later departs arriving Kure two days later. On January 5, 1942 departs Hashirajima and arrives later that day at Iwakuni then three days later departs. On January 14, 1942 arrives Truk.

Operation R - Rabaul and New Ireland
On January 17, 1942 departs Truk for Operation R against New Britain and New Ireland. On January 20, 1942 carrier aircraft attack Rabaul with Akagi air group contributing 20 B5N2 Kate and 9 A6M2 Zeros and hit Herstein with three bombs causing it to catch fire and drift. On January 21, 1942 carrier aircraft attack Kavieng. On January 22, 1942 again attack Rabaul as part of a 45 carrier plane strike with Akagi air group contributing 18 D3A1 Vals and 6 A6M2 Zeros then afterwards departs. On January 27, 1942 returns to Truk.

On February 1, 1942 Akagi, Kaga and Zuikaku depart Truk in an attempt to catch the U. S. Navy carrier force that attacked the Marshall Islands but the next abort the pursuit. On February 8, 1942 the the force arrives at Palau. On February 15, 1942 departs for the attack on Darwin.

On February 19, 1942 at 8:30am launches 99 carrier aircraft against Darwin. Akagi contributes 18 x B5N1 Kates and 18 x A6M2 Zeros. At 9:00am a second wave is launches with 89 aircraft including 18 x D3A1 Vals plus 9 x A6M2 Zeros.

On February 21, 1942 arrives Staring Bay off Celebes to refuel then departs four days later to support the invasion of Java. On March 1, 1942 at noon USS Pecos (AO-6) is spotted and at 3:20pm Akagi launches 9 x D3A1 Vals to sink the tanker. On March 5, 1942 Akagai launches strikes against Tjilatjap including 18 x B5N1 Kates and 9 x A6M2 Zeros without loss. On March 10, 1942 returns to Staring Bay off Celebes.

Operation C - Indian Ocean Raids
On March 26, 1942 departs Staring Bay off Celebes via Timor Sea into the Indian Ocean. On April 4, 1942 spotted by a Catalina from RCAF 413 Squadron that is intercepted by Zeros from each carrier and forced down. On April 5, 1942 carrier aircraft attack Colombo on Ceylon with Akagi contributing 17 x B5N2 Kates and 6 x A6M2 Zeros without loss. Later that afternoon, a force of 53 Vals including 17 x D3A1 Vals from Akagai attack and sink HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire without loss. On April 9, 1942 carrier aircraft attack Trincomalee on Ceylon. Akagi contributes 17 x D3A1 Vals and 3 x A6M2 Zeros without loss. At 12:30pm while recovering her aircraft Akagi is straddled by bombs dropped by 9 x Blenheim IV from Colombo, although all bombs miss this is the first time the Kido Butai has been attacked since the start of the Pacific War. Afterwards, the force retires eastward.

On April 13, 1942 passes Singapore and enters the South China Sea. On April 22, 1942 arrives Hashirajima and later to Yokosuka. On April 25, 1942 Captain Aoki Taijiro assumes command. On May 17, 1942 departs Yokosuka and the next day to Hashirajima with her air group to Kagoshima for training.

Operation MI - Midway Operation
For Operation MI the planned invasion of Midway Atoll, Akagi was the flagship of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo First Mobile Force, Carrier Strike Force with Hiryu and Soryu escorted by battleships, cruisers and destroyers. Akagi air group consisted of 18 A6M2 Zekes, 18 D3A1 Vals and 18 B5N2 Kates. Also aboard are six A6M2 Zeros from the 6th Kokutai that were to be based at Midway Airfield after it was captured by Japanese forces.

On May 27, 1942 departs Hashirajima across the Pacific Ocean bound for Midway Atoll. On June 3, 1942 at 3:07am the carrier strike force is again refueled and increased speed to 24 knots by 10:25am to reach their launch position.

On June 4, 1942 at 4:30am at the start of the Battle of Midway Akagi launched 18 D3A Vals, 9 A6M2 Zeros led by Lt. Tomonaga Joichi on a strike against Midway Atoll. Lost was one A6M2 Zero. Badly damaged was one D3A2 Val that was put out of commission.

Between 7:00am to 10:26am, Akagi was targeted during three different attacks by American U. S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft and U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) land based aircraft but was undamaged by the first two attacks. During the third attack, sustains two bomb hits and a near miss.

At 7:10am, Akagi spots six TBF Avengers approaching low then four B-26 Marauders from Midway Airfield that attempted a torpedo attack. Intercepting, the Akagi Combat Air Patrol (CAP) of A6M2 Zeros and defensive anti-aircraft fire shot down two bombers: B-26 "Satan's Playmate" 40-1424 (MIA) and B-26B 41-17570 (MIA). Lost was one CAP A6M2 Zero. The two remaining B-26s released their torpedoes, but both were evaded by the carrier. Afterwards, B-26 "Suzy-Q" 40-1391 piloted by 1st Lt. James P. Muri flew down the flight deck while his gunners strafe and manages to land safely but his damaged bomber sustained 500 bullet holes and was written off.

At 7:54am, Akagi crew spotted a formation of B-17 Flying Fortress led by Lt. Col Walter C. Sweeney at high altitude that released their bombs but again Akagi evaded all their bombs.

At 10:26am, Akagi is attacked by three SBD-3 Dauntless led by Lt. Cdr Richard H. Best from VB-6 from USS Enterprise CV-6. Attempting to evade the attacks, Akagi was engaged in a evasive maneuver of a 20° turn to port.

The dive bombers scored a direct hit amidships near the island and causes a fire in both hanger deck levels. This hit mortally damaged the carrier. A second bomb hit passes through the net-guards of the fantail and explodes under the port quarter. A third bomb is a near-miss port-side amidships-forward.

Although the single bomb hit normally would not have been fatal, the carrier was in the preparing to mount another strike and caused aircraft, fuel and armaments to begin exploding and started a fire fueled by aviation fuel. Also, her rudder jammed at 20° port turn resulting in a counter-clockwise circle with her engines starting and spotting erratically. During the attack, a total of 263 crew were lost.

At 11:46, Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo transfers his flag to destroyer Nowaki then to light cruiser Nagara. By 4:00pm, all non-essential crew were evacuated while Captain Aoki and a damage control party remain aboard. During the evening and overnight, Akagi continues to burn but remains afloat. After midnight, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto orders the damaged carrier to be scuttled.

Rescue
Afterwards, more than 1,070 of the crew were rescued by the four destroyers, including Captain Aoki Taijiro although he had been ordered off the ship he opted to stay aboard. Afterwards, the surviving crew were transfered aboard Mutsu.

Sinking History
On June 5, 1942 at 5:20am Japanese destroyers Arashio, Hagikaze, Maikaze and Nowaki fired four torpedoes that scored two or three hits causing the damaged carrier to sink stern first at roughly Lat 30-30N, Long 178-40W. On September 25, 1942 officially removed from the Navy list.

Shipwreck
During October 2019, RV Petrel conducted weeks of grid searches for the shipwreck of Akagi that included 500 square nautical miles within the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and the use of an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). Aboard was Robert Kraft, director of undersea operations and Frank Thompson, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHC). On October 19, 2019 the discovery of Kaga was reported as identified by high frequency sonar.

The shipwreck is at a depth of 18,011' / 5,490m upright and largely intact atop the bottom that shows signs of disturbance from when it impacted the sea floor. Some of the flight deck is missing.

References
Combined Fleet - IJN Akagi: Tabular Record of Movement
Artwork "A Shot Across The Bow" by Roy Grinnell
Shattered Sword (2007) by Jon Parshall and Anthony Tully
Associated Press (AP) "Researchers find second warship from WWII Battle of Midway" October 19, 2019

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019

 

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Map
June 4, 1942


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