Japanese seaplane carrier Wakamiya

Wakamiya was a seaplane 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...

 and the first Japanese 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...

. She was converted from a transport ship into a seaplane carrier and commissioned in August 1914. She was equipped with four Japanese-built French Maurice Farman seaplanes (motorized with Renault
Renault S.A. is a French automaker producing cars, vans, and in the past, autorail vehicles, trucks, tractors, vans and also buses/coaches. Its alliance with Nissan makes it the world's third largest automaker...

 70 HP engines). In September 1914, she conducted the world's first naval-launched air raids.

Early career

Wakamiya was initially the Russian freighter Lethington, built by Duncan in Port Glasgow, United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, laid down in 1900 and launched 21 September 1900. She was captured on a voyage from Cardiff
Cardiff is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales and the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for...

 to Vladivostok
The city is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.The highest point is Mount Kholodilnik, the height of which is 257 m...

 during the Russo-Japanese war
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 near Okinoshima
Okinoshima, Shimane
is a town located on Dōgo, one of the Oki Islands, in Shimane, Japan.Japan considers the disputed Liancourt Rocks to be a part of Okinoshima.As of January 2008, the town has an estimated population of 16,214. The total area is 242.97 km²....

 in 1905 by the Japanese torpedo boat TB No. 72. She was acquired by the Japanese government, renamed Okinoshima-Maru until given the official name of Wakamiya-Maru on 1 September, and from 1907 was managed as a transport ship by NYK
Nippon Yusen
Japan-based or NYK Line, is one of the largest shipping companies in the world. It is a core Mitsubishi company. The company has its headquarters in Chiyoda, Tokyo.-1870-1900:...


In 1913 she was transferred to the Imperial Japanese Navy and converted to a seaplane carrier, being completed on 17 August 1914. She was a 7,720-ton ship, with a complement of 234. She had two seaplanes on deck and two in reserve. They could be lowered onto the water with a crane, from where they would take off, and then retrieved from the water once their mission was completed.

Siege of Tsingtao

From 5 September 1914, she conducted the world's first naval-launched air raids from Kiaochow Bay off Tsingtao. Her seaplanes bombarded German-held land targets (communication centers and command centers) in the Tsingtao
' also known in the West by its postal map spelling Tsingtao, is a major city with a population of over 8.715 million in eastern Shandong province, Eastern China. Its built up area, made of 7 urban districts plus Jimo city, is home to about 4,346,000 inhabitants in 2010.It borders Yantai to the...

 peninsula of Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

 province and ships in Qiaozhou Bay from September to 6 November 1914, during the Siege of Tsingtao.

British officers also serving in the Battle of Tsingtao commented on the operations of the Wakamiya:
On 30 September, Wakamiya struck a German mine and had to be repaired for a week. On this occasion, her seaplanes were transferred on land at Shazikou (沙子口海岸), from where they accomplished further scouting and attack missions:

Altogether, the seaplanes made 49 attacks, dropping 190 bombs on German defenses until the German surrender on 7 November. According to the British Naval Attaché to Tokyo, Captain Hon. Hubert Brand
Hubert Brand
Admiral Sir Hubert George Brand GCB, KCMG, KCVO was a senior Royal Navy officer who went on to be Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel.-Background:...

, who had been stationed for three months on Imperial Japanese Navy warships throughout the battle, the bombs used by the seaplanes were about equivalent to 12 pdr. shells.

Later developments

Wakamiya was modified as a regular aircraft carrier with a launch platform on the foredeck in April 1920 (when she was renamed Wakamiya-kan 若宮艦). She accomplished in June 1920 the first Japanese take-off from an aircraft carrier. It is thought she had a pioneering role in developing aircraft carrier techniques for the Japanese aircraft carrier Hosho
Japanese aircraft carrier Hosho
Hōshō |phoenix]]") was the world's first commissioned ship that was designed and built as an aircraft carrier,The HMS Argus 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...

, the first purpose-built aircraft carrier in the world.

She was used as a trials ship after 1924, stricken 1 April 1931 and later scrapped.

The second seaplane carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy was the 1920 Notoro.

External links

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