Japanese aircraft carrier Hosho
Hōshō .gif", event)' onMouseout='HidePop("58565")' href="/topics/Phoenix_(mythology)">phoenix
Phoenix (mythology)
The phoenix or phenix is a mythical sacred firebird that can be found in the mythologies of the Arabian, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Indian and Phoenicians....

") was the world's first commissioned ship that was designed and built as an aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

,The HMS Argus
HMS Argus (I49)
HMS Argus was a British aircraft carrier that served in the Royal Navy from 1918–1944. She was converted from an ocean liner under construction when the First World War began, and became the world's first example of what is now the standard pattern of aircraft carrier, with a full-length flight...

 pre-dated Hōshō and had a long landing deck, but was designed and initially built as an ocean liner.
and the first aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

 (IJN). Commissioned in 1922, the ship was used for testing carrier aircraft operations equipment, techniques, such as take-offs and landings, and carrier aircraft operational methods and tactics. The ship provided valuable lessons and experience for the IJN in early carrier air operations. Hōshō superstructure
A superstructure is an upward extension of an existing structure above a baseline. This term is applied to various kinds of physical structures such as buildings, bridges, or ships...

 and other obstructions to the flight deck were removed in 1924 on the advice of experienced aircrews.

Hōshō and her aircraft group participated in the Shanghai Incident in 1932 and in the opening stages of the Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

 in late 1937. During those two conflicts, the carrier's aircraft supported Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army
-Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

 ground operations and engaged in aerial combat with enemy aircraft. The small size of the ship and her assigned airgroups (usually around 15 aircraft) limited the effectiveness of her contributions to combat operations. As a result, the carrier was placed in reserve after her return to Japan from China and she became a training carrier in 1939.

During World War II Hōshō participated in the Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated...

 in June 1942 in a secondary role. After the battle, the carrier resumed her training role in Japanese home waters for the duration of the conflict and survived the war with only minor damage from air attacks. She was used as a repatriation transport after the war, making nine trips to bring some 40,000 Japanese soldiers and civilians to Japan from overseas locations. Hōshō was scrapped
Ship breaking
Ship breaking or ship demolition is a type of ship disposal involving the breaking up of ships for scrap recycling. Most ships have a lifespan of a few decades before there is so much wear that refitting and repair becomes uneconomical. Ship breaking allows materials from the ship, especially...

 in Japan beginning in 1946.

Design and description

Construction of a seaplane carrier was authorized by the Japanese government in its "eight-six" fleet program of 1918. A planned sister ship, named Shokaku, was cancelled in 1922 before any construction was started.Howarth (p. 148) and Jentschura, Jung, and Mickel (p. 41) state that Hōshō was initially laid down as a tanker named Hiryu. According to Milanovich, (pp. 10–11), this is only partially correct at best. The ship was ordered as one of six Special Ships (Tokumukan) as part of the "eight-six" fleet program; the other five ships were completed as oil tankers. Hōshō was the second warship after the British to be designed from the keel
In boats and ships, keel can refer to either of two parts: a structural element, or a hydrodynamic element. These parts overlap. As the laying down of the keel is the initial step in construction of a ship, in British and American shipbuilding traditions the construction is dated from this event...

 up as an aircraft carrier, but was launched and completed earlier than Hermes.

Hōshō was planned as a seaplane carrier like the British with a forward flying-off deck
Flight deck
The flight deck of an aircraft carrier is the surface from which its aircraft take off and land, essentially a miniature airfield at sea. On smaller naval ships which do not have aviation as a primary mission, the landing area for helicopters and other VTOL aircraft is also referred to as the...

, 32 aircraft, four low-angle 14 centimetres (5.5 in) guns, and four anti-aircraft
Anti-aircraft warfare
NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces...

 (AA) guns. The plan was revised after reports were received from Japanese observers with the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 in Europe about the desirability to be able to land aircraft on the ship. The new requirements were modeled on after she received her rear flight deck in 1918. The ship was to be capable of 30 knots (16.3 m/s) and fitted with a forward flight deck, superstructure
A superstructure is an upward extension of an existing structure above a baseline. This term is applied to various kinds of physical structures such as buildings, bridges, or ships...

 and funnels
Funnel (ship)
A funnel is the smokestack or chimney on a ship used to expel boiler steam and smoke or engine exhaust. They can also be known in as stacks.-Purpose:...

 amidships, and a large hangar aft. Shortly thereafter, however, based on observations of landing trials on Furious and , the world's first flush-decked
Flush deck
In naval architecture, a flush deck refers to when the upper deck of a vessel extends unbroken from stem to stern. There is no raised forecastle or lowered quarterdeck. Ships of this type may be referred to as "flush deckers", although this is often taken as referring to a series of United States...

 aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

, Hōshō's flight deck design was revised in April 1919. The superstructure was removed and the funnels were moved to one side to create an unobstructed, full-length flight deck, and the ship was reclassified as an aircraft carrier. The ship's hull was based on that of a large cruiser and she was given a small island. Her three funnels were mounted on the starboard
Port and starboard
Port and starboard are nautical terms which refer to the left and right sides, respectively, of a ship or aircraft as perceived by a person on board facing the bow . At night, the port side of a vessel is indicated with a red navigation light and the starboard side with a green one.The starboard...

 side and swivelled to lay horizontal during flight operations. Hōshōs designed speed was reduced to 25 knots (13.6 m/s), based on British experiences during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...


General characteristics

Hōshō was completed with an overall length of 168.25 metre. She had a beam
Beam (nautical)
The beam of a ship is its width at the widest point. Generally speaking, the wider the beam of a ship , the more initial stability it has, at expense of reserve stability in the event of a capsize, where more energy is required to right the vessel from its inverted position...

 of 17.98 metre and a mean draft of 6.17 metre. The ship displaced 7470 long tons (7,589.9 t) at standard load, and 9494 long tons (9,646.4 t) at normal load. Her crew totalled 512 officers and men. The ship was almost completely unarmored.


Hōshō had two Parsons
Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company
Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company was a British engineering company based in Wallsend, North England, on the River Tyne.-History:The company was founded by Charles Algernon Parsons in 1897 with £500,000 of capital, and specialised in building the steam turbine engines that he had invented for...

 geared turbine sets with a total of 30000 shp driving two propeller shafts. Eight Kampon Type B water-tube boiler
Water-tube boiler
A water tube boiler is a type of boiler in which water circulates in tubes heated externally by the fire. Fuel is burned inside the furnace, creating hot gas which heats water in the steam-generating tubes...

s with a working pressure of 18.3 kg/cm2 and a temperature of 138 °C (280.4 °F) provided steam to the turbines, although only four were oil-fired. The other four used a mix of oil and coal. The ship's designed speed was 25 knots, but she made 26.66 knots (14.5 m/s) from 31117 shp on her sea trial
Sea trial
A sea trial is the testing phase of a watercraft . It is also referred to as a "shakedown cruise" by many naval personnel. It is usually the last phase of construction and takes place on open water, and can last from a few hours to many days.Sea trials are conducted to measure a vessel’s...

s on 30 November 1922. She carried 2700 long tons (2,743 MT) of fuel oil
Fuel oil
Fuel oil is a fraction obtained from petroleum distillation, either as a distillate or a residue. Broadly speaking, fuel oil is any liquid petroleum product that is burned in a furnace or boiler for the generation of heat or used in an engine for the generation of power, except oils having a flash...

 and 940 long tons (955 MT) of coal, an extraordinary total for such a small ship, to give her a range of 8680 nautical miles (16,075.4 km) at 12 knots (6.5 m/s).

To reduce rolling and increase stability for aircraft operations, a gyrostabilizer produced by the American Sperry Gyroscope Company was installed. The installation initially proved unreliable as the Japanese technicians were badly trained by Sperry, but eventually the system proved its worth as the technicians gained experience.

Flight deck arrangements

Hōshōs flight deck was 168.25 metre long and 22.62 metre wide. The forward end sloped down at an angle of −5° to help aircraft accelerate during takeoff. A small island was mounted well forward on the starboard side and contained the ship's bridge and air operations control center. The island was fitted with a small tripod mast intended to mount the ship's fire-control system
Fire-control system
A fire-control system is a number of components working together, usually a gun data computer, a director, and radar, which is designed to assist a weapon system in hitting its target. It performs the same task as a human gunner firing a weapon, but attempts to do so faster and more...

. Fifteen different types of landing equipment were evaluated before the British longitudinal wire system was adopted. Low landing speeds of the time meant that aircraft had little difficulty in stopping, but their light weight made them vulnerable to wind gusts that could blow them over the side of the carrier, and the longitudinal wires helped to prevent that. Forward of the island was a collapsible crane for loading aircraft into the forward hangar.

The flight deck, unlike those on Royal Navy carriers, was superimposed on the ship's hull rather than constructed as a strength deck supporting the carrier's hull structure. A system of lights and mirrors along the flight deck assisted pilots in landing on the carrier.

Hōshō was the only Japanese aircraft carrier with two hangars. The forward hangar was 67.2 by and only one deck in height as it was intended to house nine small aircraft, such as fighters. The two-story rear hangar measured 16.5 by at the forward end and 29.4 by at the rear end. It was designed to house six large aircraft, such as torpedo bomber
Torpedo bomber
A torpedo bomber is a bomber aircraft designed primarily to attack ships with aerial torpedoes which could also carry out conventional bombings. Torpedo bombers existed almost exclusively prior to and during World War II when they were an important element in many famous battles, notably the...

s, as well as six reserve aircraft. Each hangar was served by an aircraft elevator. The forward elevator was 10.35 by and the aft elevator measured 13.71 by.

Air group

Hōshō had a normal capacity of fifteen aircraft, subject to the limitations of her hangars. She was first commissioned with an air group of nine Mitsubishi 1MF
Mitsubishi 1MF
|-See also:-External links:...

 (Type 10) fighters and three to six Mitsubishi B1M3
Mitsubishi B1M
-See also:-External links:**http://www.csd.uwo.ca/~pettypi/elevon/gustin_military/db/index.html...

 (Type 13) torpedo bombers. In 1928 the fighters were replaced by the A1N1 (Type 3). Three years later the air group consisted of Nakajima A2N
Nakajima A2N
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography...

 (Type 90) fighters and Mitsubishi B2M
Mitsubishi B2M
|-See also:-External links:**...

 (Type 89) torpedo bombers. In 1938 Nakajima A4N
Nakajima A4N
-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Mikesh, Robert C. and Shorzoe Abe. Japanese Aircraft, 1910–1941. London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1990. ISBN 0-85177-840-2....

 (Type 95) fighters and Yokosuka B3Y
Yokosuka B3Y
|-See also:-External links:...

 (Type 92) bombers flew from the ship. In 1940 the air group was modernized with Mitsubishi A5M
Mitsubishi A5M
The Mitsubishi A5M, Japanese Navy designation was "Type 96 carrier-based fighter" was a Japanese carrier-based fighter aircraft. It was the world's first monoplane shipboard fighter and the direct ancestor of the famous Mitsubishi A6M 'Zero'...

 (Type 96) "Claude" fighters and Yokosuka B4Y1 (Type 96) "Jean" bombers.


Hōshō was armed with four 50-caliber
Caliber (artillery)
In artillery, caliber or calibredifference in British English and American English spelling is the internal diameter of a gun barrel, or by extension a relative measure of the length....

 14 cm/50 3rd Year Type
14 cm/50 3rd Year Type naval gun
The 14 cm/50 3rd Year Type naval gun was a Japanese low-angle weapon introduced during World War I. It served as the secondary armament in a number of Japanese dreadnoughts and as the main armament in light cruisers and some auxiliary ships. It was also the most common Japanese coast defense...

 guns, two on each side. The two forward guns had a firing arc of 150°, including straight ahead, while the rear guns could fire 120° on either side. They fired 38 kilograms (83.8 lb) projectiles at a rate of six to ten rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity is the speed a projectile has at the moment it leaves the muzzle of the gun. Muzzle velocities range from approximately to in black powder muskets , to more than in modern rifles with high-performance cartridges such as the .220 Swift and .204 Ruger, all the way to for tank guns...

 of about 850 m/s (2,788.7 ft/s); at 35°, they had a maximum range of 19750 m (21,598.9 yd). A heavy gun armament was provided for Hōshō in case she was forced to give battle, but as carrier doctrine was just evolving at this time, the impracticability of carriers engaging in gun duels had not yet been realized. In addition, her large flight deck and lack of armor made her a vulnerable target in surface battles.The United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 did much the same with the provision of four twin 8 inches (20 cm) gun turrets on their carriers. (Gardiner and Grey, p. 110).

A pair of 40-caliber 8 cm/40 3rd Year Type
8 cm/40 3rd Year Type naval gun
The 8 cm/50 3rd Year Type naval gun was a Japanese naval anti-aircraft gun introduced during World War I.-External links:*...

 guns on disappearing mounts
Disappearing gun
A disappearing gun is a type of heavy artillery for which the gun carriage enabled the gun to rotate backwards and down into a pit protected by a wall or a bunker after it was fired...

 provided Hōshōs only anti-aircraft defense. They were positioned on the flight deck, just forward of the rear elevator. These guns fired 5.67–5.99 kg (12.5–13.2 lb) projectiles at a muzzle velocity of about 680 m/s (2,231 ft/s); at 45° this provided a maximum range of 10800 metres (11,811 yd), and they had a maximum ceiling of 7200 metres (23,622 ft) at 75° elevation. Their effective rate of fire was 13 to 20 rounds per minute.

Early career

Hōshōs keel
In boats and ships, keel can refer to either of two parts: a structural element, or a hydrodynamic element. These parts overlap. As the laying down of the keel is the initial step in construction of a ship, in British and American shipbuilding traditions the construction is dated from this event...

 was laid down by the Asano Shipbuilding Company in Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama
Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama
is one of the 18 wards of the city of Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. As of 2010, the ward had an estimated population of 270,433 and a density of 8,140 persons per km²...

, on 16 December 1920. She was launched on 13 November 1921 and towed to Yokosuka Naval Arsenal
Yokosuka Naval Arsenal
was one of four principal naval shipyards owned and operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy, and was located at Yokosuka city, Kanagawa prefecture on Tokyo Bay, south of Yokohama...

 for completion on 10 January 1922. Hōshō was delayed by repeated design changes and late deliveries of equipment, pushing the commissioning date from March to 27 December 1922. She was commissioned lacking much of her aviation equipment, and landing trials did not begin until 22 February 1923. The first landings were made by British pilots under contract, who were quickly replaced by Japanese pilots trained by the British Aviation Mission.Prados (p. 36) states that the first landing made on Hōshō was by Lieutenant Shunichi Kira on 16 March 1923.
After Hōshō was commissioned, experienced aircrews requested changes, and the ship was modified by the Yokosuka Navy Arsenal from 6 June to 20 August 1924. The island, tripod mast, and aircraft crane were removed since they partially obstructed the flight deck and obscured pilot visibility. The forward part of the flight deck was made horizontal, and the 8 cm AA guns were moved forward, close to the position of the former island and out of the way of landing operations.Another reason for removal of the island was that the navy found that it was too small to be of effective use in controlling air operations or conning the ship (Watts, p. 169). After the island was removed, the carrier's flight operations were controlled from a platform extending from the side of the flight deck, a design that would be repeated in subsequent Japanese aircraft carriers. The ship was then assigned to the 1st Fleet until 15 November 1924.

Hōshō was fitted with a net used as a crash barrier aft of the forward elevator between 10 March and 2 July 1925. The barrier was intended to prevent landing aircraft from colliding with aircraft preparing to take off, and stop them from falling into the open elevator well. The barrier was hydraulically operated and could be erected in three seconds.

As the first of her kind, Hōshō provided valuable experience and insight into carrier air operations for the IJN. The ship was used for testing aircraft and equipment, particularly various types of arresting gear
Arresting gear
Arresting gear, or arrestor gear, is the name used for mechanical systems designed to rapidly decelerate an aircraft as it lands. Arresting gear on aircraft carriers is an essential component of naval aviation, and it is most commonly used on CATOBAR and STOBAR aircraft carriers. Similar systems...

 and optical landing aids. The lessons learned influenced the design and construction of and the subsequent conversions of and into aircraft carriers. Hōshō was actively used to develop carrier operational methods and tactics for the IJN during the 1920s. She was assigned to the First Carrier Division with Akagi on 1 April 1928. During the 1930s Hōshō was fitted with three different types of transverse arresting gear for trials.Fighter pilot and future ace Isamu Mochizuki served in Hōshō's fighter unit sometime between 1926 and 1932 (Hata and Yasuho, p. 342).


Along with Kaga, Hōshō was assigned to the First Carrier Division and sent to China during the Shanghai Incident
January 28 Incident
The January 28 Incident was a short war between the armies of the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan, before official hostilities of the Second Sino-Japanese War commenced in 1937.- Naming :...

 that began in January 1932. Operating with the Third Fleet
IJN 3rd Fleet
The was a fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy, which was created on six separate occasions.-Russo-Japanese War:First established on 28 December 1903, the IJN 3rd Fleet was created by the Imperial General Headquarters as an administrative unit to manage various vessels considered too obsolete for...

, Hōshō arrived at the mouth of the Yangtze River
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

 on 1 February. Her aircraft participated in the IJN's first aerial combat on 5 February when three fighters, escorting two attack aircraft, were engaged by nine Chinese fighters; one Chinese fighter was damaged.Hata and Yasuho (p. 17) state that two carrier attack planes (bombers) commanded by Lieutenant Nagamoto Hirabayashi, escorted by three fighters led by Lieutenant Shigehachirō Tokoro, engaged the nine Chinese fighters over the "Shingū area." Hata and Yasuho explain that although the results were not verified, one Chinese aircraft was damaged and its pilot injured and forced to land. The aircraft took off again piloted by its other crewmember and subsequently crashed, killing the pilot. Two days later the two carriers sent some of their aircraft to Kunda Airfield where they flew ground attack missions in support of the Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army
-Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

. Between 23 and 26 February, Kaga and Hōshō bombers attacked Chinese airfields at Hangzhou
Hangzhou , formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Governed as a sub-provincial city, and as of 2010, its entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people...

 and Suzhou
Suzhou , previously transliterated as Su-chou, Suchow, and Soochow, is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, located adjacent to Shanghai Municipality. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part...

, destroying a number of Chinese aircraft on the ground. On 26 February six fighters from Hōshō, escorting nine attack aircraft from Kaga on one of the bombing raids, shot down two of five Chinese fighters that engaged them. The First Carrier Division rejoined the Combined Fleet on 20 March, after a ceasefire had been declared on 3 March.Peattie (p. 51) also describes a mission, without providing a date, in which six A1N2 fighters from Hōshō, escorting nine bombers from the same ship, engaged five Chinese aircraft and shot down three of them. Takijirō Ōnishi was the Third Fleet air officer who planned and coordinated the 26 February raid.

Fourth Fleet Incident

Hōshō participated in the Combined Fleet Maneuvers of 1935 where she was attached to the IJN Fourth Fleet. The fleet was caught out in a typhoon on 23 September. The Hōshō and a number of other Japanese ships were badly damaged in what was referred to as the "Fourth Fleet Incident." The ship's forward flight deck collapsed and part had to be cut away before the carrier could proceed to Yokosuka for repairs. The Fourth Fleet Incident and the Tomozuru Incident of 1934 in which a top-heavy torpedo boat
Torpedo boat
A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval vessel designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other large, slow and...

 capsized in heavy weather, caused the Japanese command to investigate the stability of all their ships, resulting in a number of design changes to improve stability and increase hull strength.

While the Hōshō was at the dockyard between 22 November 1935 and 31 March 1936, her stability was improved; the forward flight deck's supports were reinforced and increased in number; the ship's AA guns, aircraft crane and upper deck aviation fuel tanks were removed; the funnels were fixed in the horizontal position with their mouths angled slightly downwards; the front sides of Hōshōs forward hangar and bridge were reinforced; and the ship's hull was reinforced in the vicinity of her rear hangar to increase her longitudinal strength. At full load, her metacentric height
Metacentric height
The metacentric height is a measurement of the static stability of a floating body. It is calculated as the distance between the centre of gravity of a ship and its metacentre . A larger metacentric height implies greater stability against overturning...

 after these changes was 1.11 metre. Six twin 13.2 mm Type 93 Hotchkiss
13.2 mm Hotchkiss machine gun
The 13.2 mm Hotchkiss machine gun was a heavy machine gun designed and manufactured by Hotchkiss et Cie from the late 1920s until World War II where it saw service with various nation's forces, including Japan where the gun was built under licence....

 machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

s were also fitted.From 1936 until sometime between 1937 and 1939 the carrier was commanded by Ryūnosuke Kusaka (Parshall and Tully, p. 15). Fighter pilot and future ace Kiichi Oda served in Hōshō's fighter unit sometime between November 1932 and August 1937 (Hata and Yasuho, p. 346).

Sino-Japanese War

During the Sino-Japanese War, Hōshō returned to the Third Fleet and supported land operations of the army in China around August or October 1937 with Ryūjō, later joined by Kaga.The three carriers carried a total of 90 aircraft to the conflict in China, including 15 from Hōshō, 27 on Ryūjō, and the rest with Kaga (Howarth, p. 212). Hōshō's air unit began flying ground support missions in the Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

 area on 16 July. Three of the ship's Nakajima A2N fighters engaged two Martin B-10
Martin B-10
The Martin B-10 was the first all-metal monoplane bomber to go into regular use by the United States Army Air Corps, entering service in June 1934...

 heavy bombers on 25 July, shooting down one of them.

The ship departed on 1 September to refuel, but did not return to the Shanghai area. Accompanied by Ryūjō she sailed to the South China coast and began operations against Chinese forces near Canton on 21 September. On that day Hōshō contributed six fighters to escort bombers attacking airfields at Tienho and Paiyun. They claimed six enemy aircraft shot down, but the range proved to be too long. Five of the fighters ran out of fuel and had to ditch
Water landing
A water landing is, in the broadest sense, any landing on a body of water. All waterfowl, those seabirds capable of flight, and some human-built vehicles are capable of landing in water as a matter of course....

 in the sea, although the aircrews were rescued. Hōshō and Ryūjō bombers continued with almost daily attack missions until the end of September.According to Hata and Yasuho (p. 295), on 27 September during an air raid on Canton, Hōshō fighter pilot and future ace Akira Yamamoto
Akira Yamamoto
Akira Yamamoto was an officer and ace fighter pilot in the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific theater of World War II...

 singlehandedly engaged two Chinese Curtis Hawks and shot down one of them.
Hōshō and Ryūjō returned to the Shanghai area on 3 October and Hōshō's aircraft were temporarily transferred to Kunda airfield to support ground operations. On 17 October, Hōshō transferred all of her aircraft to Ryūjō and returned to Japan.

Hōshō was placed in reserve on 1 December 1937. Her aircraft elevators were enlarged in 1939: the forward elevator to 12.8 by and the rear elevator to 13.7 by. On 12 August 1939 Hōshō was deemed useful as a training carrier and, in critical battles, as a platform for A4N1 (Type 95) fighters and B4Y1 (Type 96) torpedo bombers, for as long as those planes remained serviceable. A later investigation determined on 23 December 1940 that she could not operate the latest aircraft types like the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, the Aichi D3A
Aichi D3A
The , Allied reporting name "Val") was a World War II carrier-borne dive bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy . It was the primary dive bomber in the Imperial Japanese Navy, and participated in almost all actions, including Pearl Harbor....

 "Val", or the Nakajima B5N
Nakajima B5N
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Bridgwater, H.C. and Peter Scott. Combat Colours Number 4: Pearl Harbor and Beyond, December 1941 to May 1942. Luton, Bedfordshire, UK: Guideline Publications, 2001. ISBN 0-9539040-6-7....

 "Kate" in combat. Also, the small size of the carrier's airgroup limited the ship's potential value to the fleet in any future conflicts.

Pearl Harbor and Midway

Hōshō began the Pacific War
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

 in the Third Carrier Division
Third Carrier Division
The was an seaplane tender unit of the Imperial Japanese Navy's Combined Fleet at first.-Organization:-Commander:-Bibliography:*"Monthly The Maru" series, and "The Maru Special" series, *"Monthly Ships of the World" series,...

 assigned to the 1st Fleet under Vice Admiral Shirō Takasu
Shirō Takasu
Admiral was a career naval officer in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.-Biography:Takasu was a native of Sakuragawa Village, , and graduated from the 35th class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, where his classmates included future admirals Nobutake Kondō and Naokuni Nomura...

. The carrier, captained by Karou Umetani, was tasked along with Zuihō
Japanese aircraft carrier Zuiho
was a light aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy. During the Second World War, she participated in many operations, including the battles of Santa Cruz, Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf where she was finally sunk by American aircraft.-Design:...

 to provide air support, including scouting, anti-submarine patrols, and combat air patrol
Combat air patrol
Combat air patrol is a type of flying mission for fighter aircraft.A combat air patrol is an aircraft patrol provided over an objective area, over the force protected, over the critical area of a combat zone, or over an air defense area, for the purpose of intercepting and destroying hostile...

 for the Combined Fleet's "Main Body" battleline of six battleships: Nagato
Japanese battleship Nagato
Nagato was a battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy; the lead ship of her class. She was the first battleship in the world to mount 16 inch guns, her armour protection and speed made her one of the most powerful capital ships at the time of her commissioning.She was the flagship of Admiral...

, Mutsu
Japanese battleship Mutsu
thumb|right|300px|Mutsu shortly after commissioning in c. 1922Mutsu , named after Mutsu Province, as per Japanese ship naming conventions, was the Imperial Japanese Navy's second Nagato class battleship...

, Fusō
Japanese battleship Fuso
The Japanese battleship Fusō , was a part of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the lead ship of the Fusō-class. She was laid down by the Kure Kaigun Koshō on 11 March 1912, launched on 28 March 1914 and completed on 18 November 1915...

, Yamashiro
Japanese battleship Yamashiro
Yamashiro was the Imperial Japanese Navy's second Fusō-class battleship, and was laid down at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal on November 20, 1913, launched on November 3, 1915, and commissioned on March 31, 1917. She was the first Japanese vessel equipped with aircraft catapults...

, Ise
Japanese battleship Ise
, was the lead ship of the two-vessel Ise-class battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, which saw combat service during the Pacific War. Ise was named after Ise Province, one of the traditional provinces of Japan, now part of Mie Prefecture....

, and Hyūga
Japanese battleship Hyuga
Hyūga , named for Hyūga Province in Kyūshū, was an of the Imperial Japanese Navy laid down by Mitsubishi on 6 May 1915, launched on 27 January 1917 and completed on 30 April 1918. She was initially designed as the fourth ship of the , but was heavily redesigned to fix shortcomings...

. With the Main Body, Hōshō sortie
Sortie is a term for deployment or dispatch of one military unit, be it an aircraft, ship, or troops from a strongpoint. The sortie, whether by one or more aircraft or vessels, usually has a specific mission....

d from the Inland Sea on 7 December 1941 to provide distant cover for the carrier forces under Chūichi Nagumo
Chuichi Nagumo
was a Japanese admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II and one time commander of the Kido Butai . He committed suicide during the Battle of Saipan.-Early life:...

 which were attacking Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

. The battleship force turned back 300 nautical miles (556 km) east of Japan, but Hōshō became separated on 10 December due to radio silence
Radio silence
In telecommunications, radio silence is a status in which all fixed or mobile radio stations in an area are asked to stop transmitting for safety or security reasons.The term "radio station" may include anything capable of transmitting a radio signal....

 restrictions while conducting anti-submarine air operations. The carrier was located by scout aircraft the next day 500 nautical miles (926 km) east of the Main Body and returned to port at Kure on 12 December.Fighter pilot and future ace Shigetaka Ōmori was assigned to Hōshō's fighter unit from the war's outbreak until May 1942 (Hata and Yasuho, p. 303). The carrier lost contact with the Main Body because it launched aircraft near dusk to investigate a submarine sighting. The aircraft returned after dark and landed safely after the carrier turned on its lights. In order to recover the aircraft, however, the carrier and three accompanying destroyers had to steam east and therefore lost sight of the Main Body in the darkness (Tully). There does not appear to have been any US or other enemy submarines in Japanese waters at this time (Ugaki, p. 50).

On 29 May 1942 Hōshō sortied from Japan with the rest of the fleet for the operation which resulted in the Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated...

, providing modest air protection, scouting, and anti-submarine support for the Main Body, now consisting of the battleships Yamato
Japanese battleship Yamato
, named after the ancient Japanese Yamato Province, was the lead ship of the Yamato class of battleships that served with the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. She and her sister ship, Musashi, were the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed, displacing...

, Nagato, and Mutsu. Her aircraft complement for the operation consisted of eight obsolete Yokosuka B4Y carrier attack aircraft (torpedo bombers).Commanding the carrier's air group was Lieutenant Yoshiaki Irikiin. The carrier's plane guard
Plane guard
A plane guard is a warship or helicopter tasked to recover the aircrew of planes or helicopters which ditch or crash in the water during aircraft carrier flight operations.-Ships:...

 for the operation was destroyer Yūkaze
Japanese destroyer Yukaze
was a destroyer, built for the Imperial Japanese Navy immediately following World War I. Advanced for their time, these ships served as first-line destroyers through the 1930s, but were considered obsolescent by the start of the Pacific War.-History:...

 (Parshall and Tully, p. 453). The B4Y bombers were later (late 1942) designated
World War II Allied names for Japanese aircraft
The World War II Allied names for Japanese aircraft were reporting names, often described as codenames, given by Allied personnel to Imperial Japanese aircraft during the Pacific campaign of World War II. The names were used by Allied personnel to identify Japanese aircraft for reporting and...

 "Jean" by the Americans. Yūkaze served as the carrier's plane guard for the duration of the Pacific War (Tully and Nevitt). Willmott (p. 458) states that Hōshō's airgroup at Midway also included nine Mitsubishi A5M Type 96 fighters. Matome Ugaki, in his diary, mentions only that Hōshō had six Type 96 bombers, but then states that Zuiho had nine fighters (Ugaki, p. 144).

With the Main Body trailing 300 nautical miles (556 km) behind the carrier striking force, Hōshō missed the major portion of the battle in which Nagumo's four fleet carriers were ambushed and fatally damaged by US carrier aircraft on 4 June. The next day, Hōshō aircraft helped guide the remnants of Nagumo's force to a rendezvous with the Main Body. Around the same time, one of Hōshō's aircraft, crewed by pilot Shigeo Nakamura and observer Kiyoshi Ōniwa, discovered the burning, sinking . Photographs of the abandoned carrier taken by Ōniwa have been described as "among the most dramatic of the war in the Pacific." With the battle lost, a significant strategic defeat for Japan, the carrier returned to Japan with the rest of the fleet, arriving at the Hashirajima
is an island in southern Hiroshima Bay of the Inland Sea, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Located 26 kilometers southeast of Iwakuni, it is part of the Kutsuna Islands within the Bōyō Islands group....

 anchorage on 14 June.Hōshō aircraft also helped locate and guide other Japanese warships to rendezvous during and after the battle, including the cruiser Sendai
Japanese cruiser Sendai
was a Sendai-class light cruiser in the Imperial Japanese Navy. She was named after the Sendai River in southern Kyūshū.-Background:Sendai was the lead ship of the three vessels completed in her class of light cruisers, and like other vessels of her class, she was intended for use as the flagship...

. Ōniwa reported seeing survivors left behind on Hiryū so the destroyer Tanikaze
Japanese destroyer Tanikaze
Tanikaze was a of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Her name means "Wind from the Mountain to the Valley".In June 1942 the ship participated in the battle of Midway where she was damaged by air attacks...

 was sent to unsuccessfully search for the wrecked carrier. Some of the abandoned Hiryū survivors were later captured by the Americans after their ship sank (Parshall and Tully, p. 359).

Training ship

After her return to Japan Hōshō was transferred to the Third Fleet, unofficially assigned to the training fleet (later called the Mobile Force Training Force), and officially assigned in October. She conducted flight training in the Inland Sea for aircraft that flew in from shore bases, since no aircraft were based on board Hōshō. On 15 January 1943, the 50th Air Flotilla was created for carrier aircrew training and both Hōshō and Ryūhō
Japanese aircraft carrier Ryuho
The was a Japanese Light aircraft carrier. Sole ship of her class, she was converted from a submarine tender. During World War II she operated mainly as aircraft transport but did participate in the First Battle of the Philippine Sea.-Conversion and commission:...

 were assigned to the new unit. The two ships provided carrier landing training and served as target ships for torpedo training. In January 1944, Hōshō was reassigned to the 12th Air Fleet, then to the Combined Fleet, but continued to perform the same mission of training fleet carrier pilots in the Inland Sea. In this role, Hōshō shuttled back and forth between Kure and the Western Inland Sea, spending equal amounts of time at each location.
In order to service new and larger aircraft like the Nakajima B6N
Nakajima B6N
The Nakajima B6N Tenzan was the Imperial Japanese Navy's standard carrier-borne torpedo bomber during the final years of World War II and the successor to the B5N "Kate"...

 "Jill" torpedo bomber and the Yokosuka D4Y
Yokosuka D4Y
The D4Y Navy Type 2 Carrier Dive bomber was operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Its Allied reporting name was "Judy". The D4Y was one of the fastest dive-bombers of the war, and only the delays in its development hindered its service, while its predecessor, the slower fixed gear Aichi D3A...

 "Judy" dive bomber, the flight deck was extended over 6 metre at each end to a total length of 180.8 metre from 27 March to 26 April 1944. Hōshō also received new arresting gear and a new crash barrier. The additional weight high up in the ship adversely affected her stability and she was restricted from operations in bad weather lest she capsize. At some point during the war the ship's 14 cm guns were removed and she received about twenty 25-millimeter Type 96 autocannon
An autocannon or automatic cannon is a rapid-fire projectile weapon firing a shell as opposed to the bullet fired by a machine gun. Autocannons often have a larger caliber than a machine gun . Usually, autocannons are smaller than a field gun or other artillery, and are mechanically loaded for a...

s in single mounts. They fired 0.25 kilogram (0.551155655462194 lb) projectiles at a muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity is the speed a projectile has at the moment it leaves the muzzle of the gun. Muzzle velocities range from approximately to in black powder muskets , to more than in modern rifles with high-performance cartridges such as the .220 Swift and .204 Ruger, all the way to for tank guns...

 of 900 m/s (2,952.8 ft/s); at 50°, this provided a maximum range of 7500 metres (8,202 yd), and an effective ceiling of 5500 metres (18,044.6 ft). The 15-round magazines needed to be changed frequently, and the maximum effective rate of fire was only between 110 and 120 rounds per minute.

After the modifications, Hōshō continued to provide training to navy pilots in the Inland Sea, including acting as a target ship for torpedo training. At 05:30 on 19 March 1945, possibly while berthed at Kure, the carrier was caught in an air raid by carrier aircraft from the United States Task Force 58
Fast Carrier Task Force
The Fast Carrier Task Force was the main striking force of the United States Navy in the Pacific Ocean theatre of World War II.The Fast Carrier Task Force was known under two designations. The Navy made use of two sets of upper command structures for planning the upcoming operations...

. Hōshōs flight deck was damaged by three bomb hits which killed six crewmen. Emergency repairs were made and her captain was ordered to keep her in readiness on 10 April. However, this order was revoked two days later and the carrier became a "4th reserve ship" with most of her crew transferred elsewhere. Hōshō was taken out of reserve as a "special guard ship" on 1 June and many of her crew were transferred back. During this time, the ship remained moored and camouflaged off Nishinomishima at Kure.Tully states that records, both Japanese and Allied, are unclear on the carrier's location during the 19 March airstrikes. The ship may not have been at Kure at the time, instead in the Inland Sea conducting training or possibly in Hiroshima Bay
Hiroshima Bay
is a bay in the Inland Sea, Japan. Administratively, the bay is divided between Hiroshima and Yamaguchi Prefectures. The bay's shore is a Ria. Its surface area is about 1,000 km², with a mean depth of 25 meters.-Municipalities:*Kure, Hiroshima...


Hōshō was slightly damaged by a single bomb or aerial rocket hit when the Allies attacked Kure again
Bombing of Kure (July 1945)
The bombing of Kure and surrounding areas by United States and British naval aircraft in late July 1945 led to the sinking of most of the surviving large warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy . The United States Third Fleet's attacks on Kure Naval Arsenal and nearby ports on 24, 25, and 28 July...

 in July 1945. Information is scarce on the extent of the ship's involvement in the action, but it appears the carrier's participation was minimal, as it embarked no aircraft at the time. Hōshō was repaired within 15 days, but the termination of hostilities in September 1945 found the carrier still docked at Kure.Tully states that on 26 July 1945 the ship relocated to Moji, Japan, but does not specify on which date the carrier returned to Kure.


After the war, Hōshō served as a repatriation transport to retrieve Japanese servicemen and civilians stationed overseas and return them to Japan. In October and November 1945, accompanied by the cruiser Kashima
Japanese cruiser Kashima
was the second vessel completed of the three light cruisers in Katori class, which served with the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. It is named after the noted Shinto shrine Kashima Jingu in Ibaraki prefecture, Japan.-Background:...

, she carried 700 passengers from Wotje Atoll
Wotje Atoll
Wotje Atoll is a coral atoll of 75 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands. Wotje's land area of , is one the largest in the Marshall Islands, and encloses a lagoon of . The atoll is oriented east and west and is at its longest...

, 311 from Jaluit Atoll
Jaluit Atoll
Jaluit Atoll is a large coral atoll of 91 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its total land area is only , but it encloses a lagoon with an area of . Most of the land area is on largest islet of Jaluit . Jaluit is located...

, and an undocumented number from Enewetak Atoll to Uraga, Kanagawa
Uraga, Kanagawa
is a subdivision of the city of Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is located on the south eastern side of the Miura Peninsula, at the northern end of the Uraga Channel, at the entrance of Tokyo Bay.-History:...


In December 1945, Hōshōs overhanging flight deck at the bow was cut off and her hangars were modified to carry more passengers. Thereafter, she undertook more repatriation missions beginning with one to Wewak
Wewak is the capital of the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea. It is located on the northern coast of the island of New Guinea. It is the largest town between Madang and Jayapura. It is the see city of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wewak....

 on 5 January 1946 and subsequent trips to China. In total, the carrier made nine repatriation trips before 15 August 1946 and transported about 40,000 passengers.

Hōshō was transferred to the Ministry of the Interior on 31 August for disposal. She was scrapped
Ship breaking
Ship breaking or ship demolition is a type of ship disposal involving the breaking up of ships for scrap recycling. Most ships have a lifespan of a few decades before there is so much wear that refitting and repair becomes uneconomical. Ship breaking allows materials from the ship, especially...

in Osaka from 2 September 1946 to 1 May 1947 by the Kyôwa Shipbuilding Company.

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