Japanese aircraft carrier Taiyō

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Japanese aircraft carrier Taiyō cropped.JPG
Taiyō at anchor
Empire of Japan
Name: Kasuga Maru
Namesake: Kasuga Shrine
Operator: Nippon Yusen (NYK)
Builder: Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering Co., Nagasaki, Japan
Laid down: 6 January 1940
Fate: Transferred to the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1940
Namesake: Goshawk
Launched: 19 September 1940
Acquired: 1940
Commissioned: 2 September 1941
Renamed: Taiyō (大鷹)
Fate: Sunk by the submarine USS Rasher off Cape Bolinao, Luzon, 18 August 1944
General characteristics
Class & type: Taiyō-class escort carrier
  • 18,116 t (17,830 long tons) (standard)
  • 20,321 t (20,000 long tons) (normal)
Length: 180.2 m (591 ft 4 in) (o/a)
Beam: 22.5 m (73 ft 10 in)
Draft: 7.7–8.0 m (25.4–26.25 ft)
Installed power:
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph)
Range: 6,500 or 8,500 nmi (12,000 or 15,700 km; 7,500 or 9,800 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Complement: 747
Aircraft carried: 23 (+ 4 spares)

The Japanese aircraft carrier Taiyō was one of four ocean liners converted to escort carriers by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during World War II. She was the lead ship of her class of three carriers. She was initially used to transport aircraft to distant air bases, and for training pilots to land on conventional aircraft carriers. The ship was later used to escort convoys of merchant ships until she was sunk by an American submarine in 1944.

Civilian service

The Kasuga Maru (春日丸?) was a 17,100 long tons (17,400 t) Japanese ocean liner owned by Nippon Yusen Kaisha. When first launched, this ship was named after an important Shinto shrine.[1]

The ship was built by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Nagasaki, Japan. Work on the Kasuga Maru was completed in 1939.[2] The vessel's pre-war design anticipated passenger service; but when work was completed, the onset of war resulted in different priorities.

The 17,150-ton vessel had a length of 591 feet (180 m), and her beam was 73 feet (22 m). The ship's steam turbines and twin screw propulsion produced an average speed of 18-knots.[2] It was laid down in January 1940 and launched in September of the same year.

File:Kasuga Maru.gif
Bow of the Kasuga Maru in drydock.

Military service

In February 1941, before she was completed as a passenger ship, Kasuga Maru was requisitioned for transportation of military stores and personnel.[3] In 1942, its sister ship Yawata Maru was recommissioned as the Japanese aircraft carrier Unyō and the Nitta Maru was recommissioned as the Japanese aircraft carrier Chūyō.[4]

After she completed a few personnel transport voyages, it was decided to convert her to an escort carrier. The conversion took place in Sasebo from May–September 1941. Her flight deck measured 150 m × 23 m (492 ft × 75 ft) and was equipped with two elevators. With no island, catapults or recorded arresting gear, Kasuga Maru was classified as an auxiliary carrier. On 31 August 1942, she was renamed Taiyō (大鷹, “goshawk”) and reclassified as a warship. The recorded lack of arresting gear on the Taiyo and her sisters has been disputed as, while photographic evidence is lacking, the Taiyo had aircraft which required arresting gear to land aboard a carrier.

Taiyō was used primarily for flight training and aircraft transport. She was torpedoed and hit by United States Navy submarines on several occasions: on 28 September 1942, south of Truk by USS Trout, then on 9 April 1943 by USS Tunny and on 24 September 1943 by USS Cabrilla. Each time, she was repaired and put back to service. During her career, Taiyō's anti-aircraft armament was upgraded several times. On 18 August 1944 off Cape Bolinao, Luzon, while escorting convoy Hi-71 headed for Manila, Taiyō was hit by a torpedo fired by the submarine USS Rasher. The hit caused the carrier’s avgas and oil tanks to explode, and Taiyō sank in 26 minutes, with few survivors.

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