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  Hōshō 鳳翔
IJN
Aircraft Carrier

7,470 Tons (standard)
9,494 Tons (normal)
552' x 59' x 20' 3"
As Built
4 x 14cm guns
2 x 8cm AA guns
15 Aircraft

(Added 1935)
6 x Twin 13mm AA guns

(Added 1943)
20 x 25mm AA guns


IJN c1929–1932


IJN October 16, 1945
Ship History
Built by Asano Shipbuilding Company at Tsurumi-ku in Yokohama. Laid down December 16, 1920 as a designed as a seaplane carrier but was revised to become Japan's first aircraft carrier with a flight deck based on Japanese observes reports about Royal Navy aircraft carrier development. Designed with the flight deck built above the hull and with two aircraft hangers and two elevators. Launched November 13, 1921 as Hōshō 鳳翔, meaning "phoenix flying". In English sources spelled Hosho. Afterwards, towed to to Yokosuka Naval Arsenal at Yokosuka for completion. Commissioned December 27, 1922 in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) but lacked aviation equipment.

On February 22, 1923 began sea trials with the first carrier landings by British pilots flying under contract with the British Aviation Mission that trained the first Japanese pilots. Based on flight experience, modified between June 6, 1924 until August 20, 1924 at Yokosuka Navy Arsenal at Yokosuka. During this modification, the island, tripod mast, and aircraft crane were removed because they obstructed the flight deck and obscured visibility for pilots landing. Other modifications were made including moving the 8cm guns and the flight deck made horizontal. Instead of the island, flight operations were controlled from from a platform to the side. Afterwards, assigned to the 1st Fleet until late 1924.

As Japan's first aircraft carrier, Hosho provided valuable experience and insights about carrier operations and design and was used to test equipment for the remainder of the 1920s. The developed the design of future aircraft carriers including Ryujo, Akagi and Kaga were influenced from lessons learned.

Initially, Hosho was equipped with fifteen carrier aircraft including nine Type 10 fighters in the forward hanger and six Type 13 torpedo bombers in the rear hanger. In 1925, the fighters were upgraded to Type 90 fighters and Type 89 torpedo bombers. In 1938 upgraded again to Type 95 fighters and Type 92 bombers. In 1940, modernized again with Type 96 Claude fighters and B4Y1 Jean bombers.

Shanghai Incident
In January 1932 during the "Shanghai Incident" the 1st Carrier Division including Hosho with the 3rd Fleet were deployed to China. Starting February 1, 1932 Hosho operated off the mouth of the Yangtze River. On February 5, 1932 three fighters escorting two bombers engaged in the first air combat over China when the fighters engaged Chinese aircraft and resulted in damage to one. On February 7, 1932 some of her aircraft were flown to Kunda Airfield and operated land based to support the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). Later that month, land based carrier aircraft from Hosho and Kaga conducted strikes against Chinese airfields at Hangzhou and Suzhou and engaged in air combat. On March 2, 1932 a ceasefire was declared ending the incident. On March 20, 1932 departed to rejoin the Combined Fleet.

Fourth Fleet Incident
During September 1935 attached to the 4th Fleet and participated in maneuvers with the Combined Fleet. On September 23, 1935 the force was caught in a typhoon that resulted in a number of ships sustaining damage. During the storm, Hosho's forward flight deck collapsed and had to be cut off before returning to Yokosuka for repairs and changes to improve the aircraft carrier with flight deck reinforcement and other changes including the removal of upper deck fuel tanks and funnels fixed in the horizontal position with their mouths angled downward plus reinforcements to the forward hanger and hull. Six twin Type 93 machine guns for anti-aircraft defense.

Sino-Japanese War
On July 11, 1937 during the Sino-Japanese War, Hosho was assigned to the 3rd Fleet to support Japanese Army operations in China. On July 16, 1937 began operations from the East China Sea with Ryujo and later Kaga. During the conflict, her carrier aircraft flew ground support missions in the vicinity of Shanghai. On July 25, 1937 her fighters engaged two B-10 bombers and shot down one.

On September 1, 1937 departed with Ryujo to refuel then proceeded to southern China. On September 21, 19387 began carrier aircraft attack targets near Canton and continued to operate in the vicinity until the remainder of the month. On October 3, 1937 both carriers returned to Shanghai and her carrier aircraft were flown to Kunda Airfield to operate land based and later were assigned to Ryujo and the carrier returned to Japan.

On December 1, 1937 placed into reserve status. During 1939 the aircraft elevator size was increased. On August 12, 1939 became a training carrier and was only capable of a support role with obsolete Type 95 fighters and Type 96 torpedo bombers. On September 5, 1941 Captain Kaoru Umetani took command.

Wartime History
At the start of the Pacific War, Hosho was assigned to the 3rd Carrier Division, 1st Fleet and with Zuiho provided air support, scouting and anti-submarine patrols to support the Combined Fleet "Main Body" of battleships including Nagato, Mutsu, Fusō, Yamashiro, Ise, and Hyūga. On December 7, 1941 departed the Inland Sea to provide cover for the "Main Body" that proceeded 300 nautical miles east of Japan. On December 10, 1941 while conducting anti-submarine patrols, Hosho became separated due to radio silence but was located the next day and returned with the Main Body to Kure on December 12, 1941.

Battle of Midway
On May 29, 1942 Hosho departed with eight B4Y torpedo bombers that were obsolete to support the Combined Fleet to provide supporting air cover, scouting and anti-submarine patrols for the Main Body battleships including Yamato, Nagato, and Mutsu during the Battle of Midway. During the battle, the main body remained 300 nautical miles west of the strike force and did not participate in most of the battle. On June 5, 1942 Hosho aircraft helped the remainder of the strike group to rendezvous with the main body and one of her aircraft spotted and photographed Hiryu burning before it sank. Afterwards, withdrew with the force to Hashirajima arriving June 14, 1942.

Afterwards, assigned to the 3rd Fleet and was assigned to the Mobile Force Training Force as a training ship. In the Inland Sea conducted flight training for land based aircraft. On January 15, 1943 the 50th Air Flotilla with Hōshō and Ryūhō was established to train air crews for carrier landing exercises and as targets for torpedo runs operating between Kure and the Inland Sea. The flight deck was extended 6 meters / 19' 8" to handle modern carrier aircraft plus modern arresting gear and a new crash barrier. These modifications resulted in poor stability and restricted use in bad weather. Later, her 8cm guns were removed and twenty 25mm anti-aircraft guns in single mounts for anti-aircraft defense.

On March 19, 1945 at 5:30am at Kure attacked by U. S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft from Task Group 58 (TG-58) and sustained three bombs that killed six crew. Afterwards, emergency repairs were made that were completed by April 10, 1945 to keep the carrier ready for operations. Instead, on April 12, 1945 became a reserve ship with her crew transferred off to other duty.

In April 1945, Hōshō was taken out of reserve. On June 1, 1945 designated as a "special guard ship" with some of her crew returned to the carrier and was camouflaged and moored off Nishinomi Shima to the south of Kure Harbor. During July 1945 Hōshō was slightly damaged by a bomb or aerial rocket when U. S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft attack and was repaired within fifteen days and survived until the end of the Pacific War. On September 20, 1945 Captain Kaneoka Kunizo took command.

Postwar
On October 5, 1945 officially removed from the Navy List and turned over to the Allies for use as a transport to repatriate Japanese Prisoners Of War (POW) and civilians from overseas back to Japan. In this role, Hosho had a Japanese crew including 25 officers, 10 special duty officers, 6 warrant officers and 369 petty officers and crew. As a transport, Hosho undertook two repatriation voyages.

On October 10, 1945 departs Kure Harbor on her first repatriation trip with Kashima. On October 16, 1945 arrives Wotje and embarks 700 passengers then departs for Eniwetok. On October 22, 1945 arrives Jaluit and embarks 311 Japanese POWs and departs the next day and arrives at Uraga on November 3, 1945 and disembarks the 1,011 personnel and resupplies. On December 5, 1945 enters drydock at Hidachi Innoshima shipyard for repairs and removal of portions of the flight deck to clear visibility from the bridge.

On January 5, 1946 departs Kure Harbor on her second repatriation trip traveling via Saeki to Wewak. In late January 1946 embarks 5,000 Japanese POWs from Fauro Island then departs for Japan.

Fate
On August 31, 1946 struck off charge and transfered to the Ministry of the Interior for disposal by Kyôwa Shipbuilding Company in Osaka. Scrapped between September 2, 1946 until May 1, 1947.

References
Combined Fleet IJN Hosho: Tabular Record of Movement
The Hard Slog (2012) by Karl James page 264, 297 (footnote 57)

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Last Updated
October 22, 2020

 

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