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  Ryūjō 龍驤
IJN
Light Aircraft Carrier

25,675 (standard)
32,000 (full)
844.1' x 85.4' x 29.1'
5 x 127mm Guns
4 x 25mm
24 x 13mm
Aircraft: 38
Click For Enlargement
IJN June 4, 1942

Construction
Built by Mitsubishi at Yokohama. Laid down by Mitsubishi at Yokohama in November 26, 1929, launched in April 2, 1931 and commissioned in 1933. Named Ryūjō meaning "prancing dragon" or "dragon phoenix". Also spelled Ryujo.

Wartime History
During the 1930s she was extensively modified to improve her stability in rough seas, and in 1940 her low forecastle was moved one deck level higher.

During August–December 1937, Ryūjō supported land operations of the Japanese Army in China, as flagship of Carrier Division 1. Her aircraft complement consisted of 12 Nakajima A4N fighters and 15 Aichi D1A dive bombers.

Captain Kato Tadao and was the flagship of Carrier Division 4. The presence of large fleet carriers meant that she was initially assigned to secondary tasks.

Philippines Operations
On December 8, 1941 Ryujo carrier aircraft attacked Davao, but found no opposition nor any American vessels in Davao Bay.  This was the first air raid against the Philippines, hours before Japanese aircraft attacked Clark Field, yet news of the attack did not to seem to reach Luzon. One bomber ditched due to engine trouble and the crew was recused. Returned on December 20, 1941 to provide air cover for the Japanese landing at Davao and on December 25, 1941 provided air cover over Jolo.

In January 1942 she supported the conquest of Malaya and in February 1942 she attacked American-British-Dutch-Australian forces around Java. On February 15, 1942 seven B5N Kates drop bombs on the force, but fail to score any hits.

On March 1, 1942 she took part in the Battle of the Java Sea, Her aircraft attacked USS Pope DD-225. In March she operated against the Andaman Islands and the coast of Burma.

In early April, as part of the Indian Ocean raid she attacked shipping in the Bay of Bengal. Together with the cruisers Chōkai, Kumano, Suzuya, Mogami, Mikuma, Yura, and four destroyers, she sank 23 merchant ships. On April 6, 1942 she launched air strikes against Cocanada and Vizagapatam in India.

Alaska Operation
On June 1, 1942 Ryūjō arrived at Paramushiro Island in the Kurile Islands and departs the same day as part of the Japanese task force "Northern Force / Second Carrier Striking Force" with Junyō bound for the Aleutian Islands.

On June 3, 1942 at 3:25am, Ryūjō launches a first strike including 15 B5N1 Kates and 3 A6M2 Zeros joined by 28 other planes from Junyō on a mission to attack Dutch Harbor and Unalaska Island. The weather was clear with clouds at 3,000m / 9,843'. Over the target, they attack a radio station, tank farm, barracks at Fort Mears and PBY Catalinas moored offshore. During their return flight, they were intercepted by P-40 Warhawks and spot USN destroyers in Makushin Bay. One B5N1 Kate was lost.

After returning to rearm and refuel, Ryūjō launches a second strike including 6 B5N1 Kates and 6 A6M2 joined by 35 other planes from Junyō. Due to bad weather and mechanical problems caused by freezing carburators causes the Japanese to abort the mission and return to their carriers.

On June 4, 1942 at 4:40pm Ryūjō launches a third strike including 9 B5N1 Kates and 6 A6M2 joined by 16 other planes from Junyō. At 6:10pm they bomb fuel tanks, anti-aircraft gun positions, hospital, peer and the Naval Air Station. A6M2 Zero 4593 piloted by Koga, crashed upside down on Akutan Island, killing the pilot but the aircraft was largely intact. Later, this Zero was located and salvaged, the first intact Zero captured by U. S. intelligence. The rest of the aircraft return to their carriers by 8:26pm. Afterwards, the Northern Force was ordered southward to join 2nd Carrier Strike Force under the command of Admiral Nagumo.

After the Japanese defeat during the Battle of Midway, Ryūjō became a more important asset to the Japanese Navy as one of their remaining undamaged carriers. During August 1942 she reassigned to Carrier Division 2 along with Shōkaku and Zuikaku were sent to the Solomon Islands. Ryūjō's role was to support a convoy of transports that were to reinforce and resupply Japanese troops on Guadalcanal and attack Henderson Field, while the fleet carriers operated against the U.S. Navy aircraft carriers during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.

Sinking History
On August 24, 1942 during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, Ryujo was escorted by cruiser Tone and the destroyers Amatsukaze and Tokitsukaze and proceeded to roughly 100 miles north of Tulagi where Ryūjō carrier aircraft launched two strikes against Guadalcanal. At 1:57pm Ryūjō was attacked by SBD Dauntless and TBF Avengers from USS Saratoga (CV-3, and hit by several bombs. A torpedo hit flooded the starboard engine room and Ryūjō began to list. At 3:15pm the order to abandon ship was given and at 6:00pm she capsized and sank. One hundred twenty of the crew were killed in the sinking.

Rescue
The survivors including Captain Kato, were rescued by her escorts.

References
Combined Fleet - IJN Ryujo: Tabular Record of Movement

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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