Japanese aircraft carrier Shōkaku

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Shōkaku (Japanese: 翔鶴 "Flying Crane") was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the lead ship of her class. Along with her sister ship Zuikaku, she is most well known for taking part in several key naval battles during the Pacific War, including the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of the Coral Sea.[1]

Contents

Design

Shōkaku was laid down at Yokosuka Dockyard on 12 December 1937, launched on 1 June 1939, and commissioned on 8 August 1941.

The Shōkaku class were part of the same program that also included Yamato-class battleships. With an efficient modern design, a displacement of about 30,000 tons, and a top speed of 34 knots (63 km/h), Shōkaku could carry 70 to 80 aircraft. Her enhanced protection compared to contemporary Allied aircraft carriers enabled Shōkaku to survive serious battle damage during Coral Sea and Santa Cruz, although she met her end from submarine torpedoes.

Shōkaku and Zuikaku formed the Japanese 5th Carrier Division, acquiring their embarked aircraft shortly before the Pearl Harbor attack. Each carrier's aircraft complement consisted of 15 Mitsubishi A6M fighters, 27 Aichi D3A dive bombers, and 27 Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers.

World War II

Shōkaku and Zuikaku joined the Kido Butai ("Mobile Unit/Force", the Combined Fleet's main carrier battle group) and participated in Japan's early wartime naval offensives, including Pearl Harbor and the attack on Rabaul in January 1942.

In the Indian Ocean raid of March-April 1942, aircraft from Shōkaku, along with the rest of the Kido Butai, attacked Colombo, Ceylon on 5 April 1942, sinking two ships in harbor and severely damaging support facilities. The task force also found and sank two Royal Navy heavy cruisers (HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire) on the same day, as well as the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes on 9 April 1942 off Batticaloa.

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