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Carriers of the Combined Fleet





Aircraft Carriers: 1923-1945

 Akagi Type
 Kaga Type
 Hiryu and Soryu
 Shokaku Class
 Taiho Class
 Hiyo Class
 Shinano Type
 Unryu Class
 Light Carriers
 Hybrid Battleship/Carriers


The pride of the combined fleet, the Japanese Navy was always a pioneer in naval aviation. After building the first aircraft carrier "Hosho" in 1918, the Combined Fleet went on the build the largest fleet carrier of her day, the Akagi and Kaga types.
Following these milestones, the Japanese naval commanders ordered the construction of the fastest and most powerful carriers of the 1930's, Hiryu and Soryu. Just before the great victory at Pearl Harbor, the 2 most advanced carriers to see service before  Midway were commissioned: Shokaku and Zuikaku. After this attack, the 6 carriers of Admiral Chiuchi Nagumo's 1st air fleet scored nothing but victory.
However Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto's promise of 6 months of victory against the USA was realized almost to the day, when on June 6, 1942 at Midway Atoll, all 4 large  carriers currently in the air fleet; Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu, were sent to the sea floor by American SBD "Dauntless" dive bombers from the carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown. Shortly thereafter Admiral Yamamoto was killed and after his defeat in the Solomons, Admiral Nagumo was succeeded by Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, a post he would hold until May 1945.
After a string of humiliating defeats, Japan was left with 3 large carriers, Zuikaku, Shokaku, and Taiho. However the latter 2 were sunk in the Mariana Islands in mid 1944. Zuikaku, the final veteran of Pearl Harbor, stood alone, as a decoy. She was finally sunk at Leyte Gulf in October, 1944. In desperation, the Unryu class was approved as Japan's final carriers. However, the constant air strikes, and fuel shortages, sunk almost every servicible ship in the Japanese Navy. After the surrender, only 2 ships had not been sunk or scuttled, Hiyo, and Hosho, the latter being the eldest carrier ever. So, in the end, Japan's carriers fought valiantly against an invincible enemy. Today, Japan possesses 2 helicopter carriers, which hold the now famous names of Haruna, and Hiei.
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