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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
Built by Yokosuka Naval Arsenal at Yokosuka in Japan. Laid down on July 8, 1936. Launched on November 16, 1937. Comissioned on July 5, 1939 as Hiryū 飛龍 meaning "Flying Dragon". Also spelled Hiryu in English sources. 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.

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

On July 29-30, 1941 stopped at Condor and St. James. On August 1, 1941 arrives at Sama. On August 7, 1941 arrives at Sasebo and remains until the end of the month and enters dry dock until September 10, 1941.

On September 15, 1941 departs Sasebo bound for Kagoshima.

On September 22, 1941 receive flag from Soryu and becomes flagship of Carrier Division 2. Hiryu remains in the vicinity of Kagoshima until the end of October. On October 26, 1941 the flag is returned to Soryu.

On November 18, 1941 departs Kyushu arriving at Hitokappu Bay on November 22, 1941 with Soryu. On November 26, 1941 assigned to Striking Force Main Body, Carrier Division 2. On November 27, 1941, departs Hitokappu Bay to participate in the Hawaii Operation.

Pearl Harbor Attack
On December 7, 1941 Hiryū was part of the carrier strike force that attacked Pearl Harbor and Oahu. During the first wave of the attack, Hiyu launched ten B5N1 Kates targeted USS Arizona BB-39 and USS California BB-44. Eight B5N1 Kates that targeted USS West Virginia, USS Oklahoma, and USS Helena CL-50 and six A6M2 Zeros that attacked Wheeler Field and Barbers Point.

Between December 21-23, 1941 she launched air strikes against Wake Island. In January 1942 she supported the invasion of Ambon Island.

On February 19, 1942 Hiyu and Soryu launched carrier aircraft to attack Darwin in Northern Territory in Australia. Lost is A6M2 Zero 5349 pilot Hajime Toyoshima that force lands and is captured becoming Australia's first Prisoner Of War (POW).

During March 1942 Hiryu partiicpated in the Battle of the Java Sea attacking Allied shipping at Tjilatjap and Christmas Island and sinking the Dutch freighter Poelau Bras.

In April 1942 Hiryu participated in the Indian Ocean raid with her carrier aircraft attacking Royal Navy bases at Colombo and Trincomalee on Ceylon and helping to sink the cruisers Cornwall, Dorsetshire, aircraft carrier Hermes, and her escort destroyer Vampire.

On April 19, 1942 she pursued USS Hornet and USS Enterprise after they launched the "Doolittle Raid" of B-25 Mitchells that bombed Japan but failed to catch the carrier force.

Battle of Midway
Hiryu participated in the Battle of Midway with an aircraft complement of 21 x A6M2 Zeros, 21 x D3A Val dive bombers and 21 x B5N Kate torpedo bombers. On June 4, 1942 at 4:30am Hiryu launched a strike against Midway Airfield destroying planes and damaging ground installations.

At 7:55am sixteen U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) SBD Dauntless led by SBD Dauntless 2129 piloted by Major Lofton R. Henderson attacked Hiryu without result and was lost leading the attack.

After Kaga, Sōryū and Akagi were disabled by aerial attacks by 10:25am, Hiryu was the last undamaged carrier in the Japanese force. At 10:50am and 12:45pm she launched two waves of planes against USS Yorktown (CV-5). Her A6M2 Zeros escorting D3A Vals scored three bomb hits damaging the carrier.

During the afternoon, a formation of four B-17 Flying Fortress 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).

Japanese search planes had located the remaining American aircraft carriers, and all surviving aircraft from the Carrier Striking Force had landed on Hiryu and were refueled and armed; but while preparing to launch a third strike against them.

At 5:03pm Hiryu was attacked by 13 SBD Dauntless from USS Enterprise sustained four 1,000 pound bomb hits, three on the forward flight deck and one on or near the forward elevator. The explosions started fires among the aircraft in the hangar deck and the forward half of the flight deck collapsed into the hangar bay. Although the carrier's propulsion were not affected, the raging fires could not be brought under control. At 9:23pm her engines stopped.

Sinking History
On June 5, 1942 at 1:58an a major explosion rocked the ship. Shortly afterwards, the order to abandon ship was given.Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi and Captain Kaku elected to remained on aboard the carrier and would go down with the ship.

At 5:10am Makigumo fired torpedoes that scuttled the damaged carrier and she sank at 9:12am. Aboard were 35 crew members including Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi and Captain Kaku. Admiral Yamaguchi's insistence on going down with the carrier robbed the Japanese of one of their most experienced and brilliant admirals. On September 25, 1942 Hiryu was officially stricken from the Navy registry.

Fates of the Crew
The surviving crew were rescued by destroyers Kazagumo and Makigumo.

Memorials
Afterwards, Admiral Yamaguchi's was honroed in the painting "Last moments of Admiral Yamaguchi" by Kita Renzo.

Fates of the Crew
During the attack another 350 or so had been killed during the attack by bombs, fires and explosions. Thirty-five were rescued by the U. S. Navy (USN) and became Prisoners Of War (POW).

References
Also spelled Hiryu in English sources
"Last moments of Admiral Yamaguchi" by Kita Renzo
Combined Fleet - IJN Hiryu: Tabular Record of Movement

Fortress Against The Sun page 192

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Last Updated
August 18, 2018

 

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