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Light Aircraft Carrier
844.1' x 85.4' x 29.1'
5 x 127mm Guns
4 x 25mm
24 x 13mm
IJN June 4, 1942
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.
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.
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.
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 and deployed 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.
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