Chitose Class, Japanese Seaplane Carriers

Photograph of seaplane carrier Chitose
Wikipedia Commons
Diagram of seaplane carrier Chitose
ONI 41-42


Tonnage 11,023 tons standard
Dimensions 603'5" by 61'8" by 23'8"
183.92m by 18.80m by 7.21m
Maximum speed       29 knots
Aircraft 4 catapults
12 seaplanes
12 Type 'A' midget submarines
Armament 2x2 5"/40 dual-purpose guns
12 25mm AA guns
2-shaft mixed geared turbine (44,000 shp) and diesel (12,800 bhp)
4 Kampon boilers
Bunkerage 3600 tons fuel oil
Range 8000 nautical miles (15,000 km) at 18 knots

Photograph of light carrier Chitose
Wikipedia Commons

As aircraft carriers:

Displacement 13,647 tons standard
Dimensions 631'7" by 68'3" by 24'8"
192.51m by 20.80m by 7.52m
Maximum speed       28.9 knots
Aircraft 590'6" (180.0m) flight deck
2 elevators
30 aircraft
Armament 4x2 5"/40 dual-purpose guns
10x3 25mm AA guns
Machinery 2-shaft mixed geared turbine (44,000 shp) and diesel (12,800 bhp)
4 Kampon boilers
Bunkerage 1000 tons fuel oil
Range 11,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) at 18 knots
Modification Armament increased to 16x3 25mm guns in July 1943

The Chitoses were completed in 1938 as the first Japanese seaplane carriers built as such from the keel up. By the time of the Pacific War, they also carried midget submarines, which they could launch from two large steel doors in the stern. They had been designed as part of the "shadow fleet" of vessels that could be rapidly converted to oilers, submarine tenders, or light aircraft carriers should war break out, in an attempt to get around the limits imposed by naval disarmament treaties.

Among their unusual features was mixed propulsion, with diesel for economy and geared turbines for higher speed. The ships also had an unusual profile, with a very large seaplane handling area aft, a service area amidships which was covered by a large platform, and the bridge superstructure well forward.

The Chitoses were taken in hand for conversion in 1942-1944 to light carriers. The service area platform and associated machinery was removed, the bridge superstructure cut down, and the main deck converted to a hangar deck, over which a flush flight deck was constructed. They were not particularly successful, in part because there were few carrier-qualified pilots left by 1944 to fly off of them.

Units in the Pacific:

Chiyoda       Hashirajima
Withdrawn 1943-2
Recommissioned 1943-12-21 (Yokosuka)     
Sunk by aircraft and gunfire 1944-10-25 off Cape Engano
Chitose with Fourth Surprise Attack Group (Legaspi) in the Palaus     
Withdrawn 1942-11-28
Recommissioned 1943-11-1 (Sasebo)
Sunk by aircraft 1944-10-25 off Cape Engano

Photo Gallery

Bow view of Chitose class seaplane carrier


Rear view of Chitose class seaplane carrier


Forward view of Chitose class seaplane carrier


ONI page on Chitose class

U.S. Navy


Chesneau (1992)

Jentschura, Jung, and Mickel (1977)

Morison (1948)

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