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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 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. Arrives at Sama on July 16, 1942 then departs on July 25, 1942.

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 B5N1 Kates targeted USS Arizona and USS California. Eight B5N1 Kates targeted West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Helena and six A6M2 Zeros attacked 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
During May 1942, Hiryū departed for with an aircraft complement consisted of 21 Mitsubishi A6M Zeros, 21 Aichi D3A Val dive bombers, and 21 B5N Kate torpedo bombers.

On June 4, 1942 Hiryu participated in the Battle of Midway. At 4:30am she launched a strike against Midway Airfield destroying planes and damaging ground installations.

Around 7:55am sixteen Marine SBD Dauntless led by SBD Dauntless 2129 piloted by Major Lofton R. Henderson attacked Hiryū without result.

After Kaga, Sōryū and Akagi were disabled by air attack by about 10:25am, Hiryu was the only carrier left 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-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).

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 5:03pm by 13 SBD Dauntless dive bombers from USS Enterprise and hit by four 1,000 pound 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.

Although Hiryū's propulsion was not affected, the fires could not be brought under control. At 9:23pm her engines stopped, and on June 5, 1942 at 1:58am a major explosion rocked the ship. The order to abandon ship was given shortly afterwards survivors were taken aboard destroyers Kazagumo and Makigumo. Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi and Captain Kaku elected to remained on aboard the carrier.

Sinking History
On June 5, 1942 at 5:10am scuttled by torpedoes fired by Makigumo and sank at 9:12am, taking 35 men down with her 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. Hiryu was officially stricken from the Navy registry on September 25, 1942.

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
"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
June 8, 2017

 

 

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