Soryu, Japanese Fleet Carrier

 Photograph of Soryu


Tonnage 15,900 tons standard displacement
18,800 tons fully loaded
Dimensions 746'4" by 69'11" by 25'
227.48m by 21.31m by 7.62m
Maximum speed    
34.5 knots
Complement 1100
Aircraft 711' by 85'4" (216.7m by 26m) flight deck
3 elevators
57 aicraft operational
68 aircraft total
Armament 6x2 5"/40 dual-purpose guns
14x2 25mm AA guns
Protection 1.6" (41mm) Ducol belt with splinter bulkhead
1" (25mm) hangar deck over machinery
2.2" (56mm) hangar deck over magazines and aviation fuel bunkers
4-shaft geared Kampon turbines with HP, IP, and LP turbines plus cruising turbine (152,000 shp)
8 Kampon Ro boilers
Bunkerage 3670 tons fuel oil
150,000 gallons (570,000 liters) aviation gasoline
Range 7750 nautical miles (14,350 km) at 18 knots

The Soryu was completed in 1937.  She was originally envisioned as a hybrid cruiser-carrier to evade the restrictions of the naval disarmament treaties, but with Japan preparing to withdraw from the treaty system, she was redesigned as a high-speed carrier with a large air group.  She retained the cruiser hull and machinery, which gave her nearly 35 knots of speed. Drawing on the lessons of earlier Japanese carrier design, she was built with a small island well forward, a single long flight deck, two hangar decks to accommodate a large air group, and exhaust funnels trunked over the side. However, her speed and aircraft capacity came at the cost of being poorly protected. particularly underwater. She was originally to have been protected against 8" shellfire, but the final protection scheme was barely adequate against destroyer gunfire. The designers seem to have oriented the protection scheme against bombs and torpedoes rather than gunfire. In many respects she reflected the Japanese military ideal of emphasizing speed and offensive power over defensive capability.

The hangar decks were divided into three bays by fire doors located just forward of the bow and amidships elevators. The large aft bays served torpedo bombers, the middle bays served dive bombers, and the smaller forward bays served fighters. This arrangement also allowed fighters to be more easily brought to the forward flight deck and torpedo bombers to the aft flight deck, accommodating their relative takeoff run requirements. Soryu was also the first Japanese carrier to be equipped with a crash barrier, and its aviation stores were blanketed with carbon dioxide as a fire prevention measure.

The ship was formally authorized in 1934, but by then the Navy had already prepared plating at the yard (Kure Naval Arsenal). In spite of this eagerness to put her in service, Soryu did not commission until 29 December 1937, a year later than the Navy had hoped. This was largely due to redesign in the wake of the Tomozuru and 4 Fleet incidents, which revealed stability problems in Japanese warship designs. Welding was used extensively as a weight-saving measure.

Soryu was part of the Pearl Harbor Attack Force when war broke out in the Pacific.  She was sunk by dive bombers during the Battle of Midway.  Three bombs penetrated her hangar deck and set off uncontrollable fires among aircraft being readied for launch.

Photo Gallery

Profile of carrier Soryu

U.S. Navy

Soryu from forward quarter

Wikimedia Commons

View from stern of Soryu during sea trials

U.S. Navy

Soryu under construction

Wikimedia Commons


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