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Japan's Imperial Navy flag

Japan's Ryujo "heavenly dragon" light aircraft carrier

Photos

Ryujo light aircraft carrier in 1933:
Japan's Ryujo light aircraft carrier in 1933
US Naval Historical Center, NH 42271
Ryujo light aircraft carrier in September 1938:
Japan's Ryujo light aircraft carrier in September 1938
US Naval Historical Center, NH 73072
Ryujo light aircraft carrier under attack from B-17s in the Battle of Eastern Solomons, August 24, 1942:
Japan's Ryujo light aircraft carrier under attack from B-17s in the Battle of Eastern Solomons, August 24, 1942
US Navy Photo, 80-G-88029

Design

Experience with the Akagi and Kaga influenced the Ryujo's design.1,2 Japan was limited to 80,000 tons of aircraft carriers due to the limitations of the Washington Treaty, but aircraft carriers under 10,000 tons were not counted towards that limit.2,4,6,7,8

Ryujo was ordered under the 1927 Program.8

Just under the forward flight deck was the bridge.8

Engines

The exhaust went out two downward facing funnels.8

Hangar Deck

The Ryujo's design initially had only one hangar, which kept it well under the 10,000 ton limit, but that was changed to two hangars to store more aircraft.1,2,3,4,6,7,8 This contributed to the Ryujo being top heavy.1,2,3,4,6,8 This also resulted in the Ryujo being 2,500 tons over the treaty limits.6,7

Top Heavy

Because of being top heavy with two hangars two pairs of 5" guns were removed and a ballast keel was added.1,2

Ships

IJN Ryujo, IJN Ryuzyo5, (heavenly dragon7)

  • Manufacturer: Yokohama7,8, Yokosuka Navy Yard1,2, Yokosuka Dock Company2, Yokohama Company3
  • November 26, 1929: Laid down.7,8
  • April 2, 1931: Launched1,2,3,5,7,8
  • May 9, 1933: Commissioned2,3,5,6,8
  • 1934 - 19368, August 1934, 19351, May 19362,6,7: Refit at Yokohama.2,6,7,8 Two pairs of 5" guns removed and two 25 mm twin mounts installed in their place.2,6,7,8 Ballast keel added.2,6,7 Deck added to the forecastle.1,2,6,7 Bridge built to lower wind resistance.1,2,8 Hull made stronger.8
  • December 1941: Member of Carrier Division 4.1 Participated with Shoho around the Philippine Islands.1,7,8
  • 1942: Six 25 mm triple mounts guns added.3,8
  • January 1942: East Indies.8
  • February 1942: Supported invasion of Java.6,7
  • March 1942: Sank USS Pope.8
  • April 1942: Attacked merchant ships in Indian Ocean.2,4,6,7
  • June 1942: Used in attacks on the Aleutians.2,4,6,7,8
  • August 24, 1942: Sunk in Battle of the East Solomons Sea / Battle of Eastern Solomons.1,2,3,4,6,7,8 Sunk off Bradley Reef.2

Usage

It was found that the Ryujo couldn't launch and recover aircraft as fast as the other carriers in the fleet.2,4

Findings from the Ryujo were later incorporated into the Hiryu and Shokaku classes.2,4

Philippine Islands

At the start of World War II the Ryujo was used to support operations in the Philippine Islands.2,4,6,8

Battle of Eastern Solomons

The Ryujo was carrying 24 A6M Zekes and 9 B5N Kates.7

Aircraft from the USS Saratoga2,8 and USS Enterprise sank the Ryujo in the Battle of the East Solomons Sea with four / ten4 bombs and one / two4 torpedo.1,2,3,4,6,7 Captain Kato and 300 of the crew survived.4

Specifications

  Ryujo pre-1936
Crew 6003,5,8
Displacement 7,100 tons5, 8,000 tons3,8
Displacement - Loaded  
Physical Characteristics  
Length 590' 3"8, 590' 4"3
179.9 m3,8
Length - Water Line 575' 5"3,8
175.39 m3,8
Length - Between Perpendiculars 548'5, 548' 7"3,8
167 m3, 168.48 m8
Beam 60' 6"5, 66' 8"3,8
20.32 m3,8
Draft / Height 15' 6"5, 18' 3"3,8
5.56 m3,8
Flight Deck 513' 6" x 75' 6"8
156.5 m x 23 m8
Performance  
Speed 25 knots5, 29 knots8
Range at 14 knots 10,000 nautical miles8
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 5"5: 125
5" Type 89: 66,7
5" twin mounts8, 5" L/40 twin mounts3: 63,8
Machine Guns3,5, 12.7 mm6,7, 13.2 mm machine guns8: 243,5,6,7,8
Aircraft 245, 483,8
Armor  
Engines  
Boilers Kanpon5,8: 68
Shafts 28
Turbines Geared5,8
HP 40,0005, 65,0008
Oil 2,490 tons8
  Ryujo
Crew 9001, 9242,3,4,6,7
Displacement 10,600 tons1,2,3,4,6,7,8
Displacement - Loaded 13,650 tons3,8, 14,000 tons4
Physical Characteristics  
Length 590'6,7, 590' 6"1,2,4
180 m2,4
Length - Water Line 580' 3"2
176.6 m2
Length - Between Perpendiculars 548'1, 564' 6"2
167.2 m2
Beam 68'6,7, 68' 2"3, 68' 3"2,4, 68' 6"1
20.78 m3, 20.8 m2,4
Draft / Height 23'6,7, 23' 3"3,8, 23' 4"4, 23' 6"1,2
7.08 m3, 7.1 m2,4
Flight Deck 503' 6" x 75' 6"2, 513' 6" x 75' 6"1,3
156.5 m x 23 m2
Performance  
Speed 29 knots1,2,3,4,6,7
Range 10,000 nautical miles6
Range at 14 knots 10,000 nautical miles2,7
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 5" twin mounts, 127 mm: 41,4
5" L/40 twin mounts: 42,3
25 mm: 41,3
25 mm twin mounts: 122,4
13 mm: 241,3
Anti-Aircraft - 1942 25 mm: 223
Aircraft 481,2
Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters: 244
Bombers: 124
Aircraft - 1942 A6M: 278
B5N: 68
Armor  
Engines  
Boilers 63
Kanpon: 62
Shafts 21,2,3,4
Turbines Geared Turbines1,3,4, Kanpon geared turbines2
HP 65,0002,3,4, 66,2691
Oil 2,490 tons3, 2,943 tons2

Sources:

  1. Japanese Warships of World War II, A. J. Watts, 1966
  2. The Imperial Japanese Navy, A. J. Watts and B. G. Gordon, 1971
  3. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  4. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  5. Janes' Fighting Ships of World War II, 1989
  6. Imperial Japanese Navy Aircraft Carriers 1921-45, Mark Stille, 2005
  7. The Imperial Japanese Navy in the Pacific War, Mark E. Stille, 2013
  8. The World's Aircraft Carriers 1914 - 1945, Roger Chesneau, 1986
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site