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Zuikaku at Kobe on 25 September 1941 after launching, awaiting delivery to the Imperial Japanese Navy.
Career (Japan)
Name: Zuikaku
Namesake: Japanese: ずいかく Kanji: 瑞鶴 "fortunate crane")
Laid down: 25 May 1938
Launched: 27 November 1939
Commissioned: 25 September 1941
Struck: 26 August 1945
Fate: Sunk by air attack in the Battle of Cape Engaño on 25 October 1944
General characteristics
Class and type: Shōkaku-class aircraft carrier
Displacement: 29,800 normal tons, 32,000 tons full load
Length: 257.5 m (844 ft 10 in)
Beam: 26 m (85 ft 4 in)
Draught: 8.9 m (29 ft 2 in)
Propulsion: Kanpon geared turbines,
8 boilers,
160,000 hp (119 MW),
4 shafts
Speed: 34.5 knots (63.9 km/h)
Range: 9,700 nmi. at 18 knots
  (18,000 km at 33 km/h)
Complement: 1,660
Armament: 16 × 5 in (127 mm) guns
36(last 96) x 25 mm anti-aircraft guns
Aircraft carried: 72(+12)
18 Zeros, 27 Vals, 27 Kates (Dec. 1941)

Zuikaku (Japanese: 瑞鶴 "fortunate crane") was a Shōkaku-class aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Her planes took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor that formally brought the United States into the Pacific War, and she fought in several of the most important naval battles of the war, finally being sunk in the battle off Cape Engaño.[1]


WWII Service

In 1941 Zuikaku, under the command of Captain Yokokawa Ichibei, and her sister ship Shōkaku made up Carrier Division 5. On 26 November 1941 she left Hittokapu Bay for the attack on Pearl Harbor. Her aircraft complement consisted of 15 Mitsubishi A6M fighters, 27 Aichi D3A dive bombers, and 27 Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers. On 7 December she launched two waves of planes against the United States Navy base at Pearl Harbor. In the first wave, 25 Vals attacked the airbase at Wheeler Field and 5 Zeros attacked the airbase at Kaneohe. In the second wave, 27 Kates attacked the airbase at Hickam Field and 17 Vals targeted the California and the Maryland.

Her planes attacked Rabaul on 20 January 1942 and Lae in New Guinea on 21 January. In April 1942 she took part in the Indian Ocean raid, striking the British naval bases at Colombo and Trincomalee on Ceylon, and sinking the British aircraft carrier Hermes

In May 1942 she was assigned along with Shōkaku and Shōhō to cover Operation MO, the invasion of Port Moresby, New Guinea. Alerted by signal decrypts, the Allies were able to dispatch the carriers Yorktown and Lexington against the Japanese. On 8 May 1942, the main carrier forces located one another and launched maximum effort raids, which passed each other in the air. Hidden by a rain squall, Zuikaku escaped detection, but Shōkaku was hit three times by bombs and was unable to launch or recover her planes. Zuikaku was undamaged but had lost half her planes in the battle and had to return to Japan for resupply and aircrew training. Thus neither carrier was able to take part in the battle of Midway in June. (See Battle of the Coral Sea)[1]

Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku.jpg

In August 1942, commanded by Captain Tameteru Notomo, Zuikaku and Carrier Division One were dispatched to the Solomon Islands to drive away the U.S. fleet. On 24 August 1942, in the battle of the Eastern Solomons, her planes severely damaged Enterprise.

On 26 October 1942, in the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, her planes again damaged Enterprise, and crippled Hornet (Hornet was abandoned and later sunk by the Japanese destroyers Akigumo and Makigumo). However, Shōkaku and Zuihō were both severely damaged by American air attack, and Zuikaku had to pick up the surviving planes. Of the 110 planes launched by the Japanese carriers, only 44 returned to Zuikaku.

A view from the island of Zuikaku cruising toward Hitokappu Bay, Iturup, in November 1941.

In February 1943 she covered the evacuation of Guadalcanal. In May she was assigned to a mission to repulse the Allies from Attu in the Aleutian Islands, but after the Allied victory on 29 May 1943 the operation was cancelled. Later in 1943, under the command of Captain Kikuchi Tomozo, she was based at Truk and operated against U.S. forces in the Marshall Islands.

In 1944 she was based at Singapore. In June she was assigned to Operation A-Go, an attempt to repulse the Allied invasion of the Mariana Islands. On 19 June 1944, in the battle of the Philippine Sea, Taihō and Shōkaku were both sunk by submarine attack, leaving Zuikaku, the only survivor of Carrier Division One, to recover their few remaining planes. On 20 June a bomb hit started a fire in the hangar, but Zuikaku's experienced damage control teams managed to get it under control, and she was able to escape under her own power.

After the battle, Zuikaku was the only remaining survivor of the six fleet carriers that had launched the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In October 1944 she was the flagship of Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's decoy Northern Force in Operation Shō-1. On 24 October 1944 she took part in the battle off Cape Engaño. She launched her remaining aircraft in an ineffective strike against the U.S. Third Fleet: most were shot down by the American covering patrols, but a few stragglers made it safely to Luzon. Then she came under heavy air attack and was hit by seven torpedoes and nine bombs. With Zuikaku listing heavily to port, Ozawa shifted his flag to Ōyodo. The order to abandon ship was issued at 13:58 and the flag was struck. Zuikaku rolled over and sank at 14:14, taking Rear Admiral Kaizuka Takeo and 842 men with her. 862 men were rescued by Wakatsuki and Kuwa.[1]

Sailors winching up the anchor on the quarter-deck of Zuikaku, 26 November 1941.
A B5N2 Kate taking off Zuikaku to attack Pearl Harbor, 7 Dec 1941.
Zuikaku (left center) and Zuiho (right) under attack by U.S. Navy dive bombers during the battle off Cape Engaño, 25 October 1944.
The crew of the sinking Zuikaku salute as the flag is lowered on 25 October 1944.

Commanding officers

Chief Equipping Officer - Capt. Ichibei Yokokawa - 15 November 1940 - 25 September 1941

Capt. Ichibei Yokokawa - 25 September 1941 - 15 June 1942

Capt. Tameki Nomoto - 15 June 1942 - 21 June 1943

Capt. Tomozo Kikuchi - 21 June 1943 - 18 December 1943

Capt. / RADM / VADM* Takeo Kaizuka - 18 December 1943 - 25 October 1944 (KIA; promoted to Rear Admiral on 15 October 1944; posthumous promotion to Vice Admiral.)


  1. ^ a b c Zuikaku @

See also

External links

Coordinates: 19°20′N 125°51′E / 19.333°N 125.85°E / 19.333; 125.85

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