Japanese aircraft carrier Taiyō

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Japanese aircraft carrier Taiyō cropped.JPG
Taiyō
Career (Japan) Civil naval ensign ([Hinmaru])
Name: Kasuga Maru
Namesake: Kasuga Shrine
Operator: Nippon Yusen (NYK)
Builder: Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Nagasaki, Japan
Laid down: 1938
Completed: 1939
Out of service: 1941
Fate: converted to military use and renamed Taiyō
Career (Japan)
Name: Taiyō
Laid down: 6 January 1940
Launched: 19 September 1940
Commissioned: 2 September 1941
Fate: Sunk by the United States Navy submarine USS Rasher off Cape Bolinao, Luzon, 18 August 1944
General characteristics
Class & type: Taiyō-class escort carrier
Displacement: 17,830 long tons (18,120 t) (standard)
19,500 long tons (19,800 t) (maximum)
Length: 173.7 m (569 ft 11 in) w/l
180.4 m (591 ft 10 in) o/a
Beam: 22.5 m (73 ft 10 in)
Draft: 8 m (26 ft 3 in)
Installed power: 25,200 shp (18,800 kW)
Propulsion: 2 × Kampon geared steam turbines
4 × Kampon water-tube boilers
2 × shafts
Speed: 21 kn (39 km/h; 24 mph)
Range: 6,500 nmi (12,000 km; 7,500 mi) at 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Complement: 747
Armament:

Upon completion as escort carrier: 4 × 120 mm L/45 10th Year Type anti-aircraft guns
4 × 25 mm L/60 Type 96 anti-aircraft cannons (2x2)
8 × 13.2 mm L/76 Type 96 anti-aircraft machine guns (2x4)
From 30 July 1942: 4 × 120 mm L/45 10th Year Type anti-aircraft guns
18 × 25 mm L/60 Type 96 anti-aircraft cannons (2x3, 4x2)
From 14 July 1943: 4 × 120 mm L/45 10th Year Type anti-aircraft guns
30 × 25 mm L/60 Type 96 anti-aircraft cannons (6x3, 4x2)

From 18 April 1944: 4 × 120 mm L/45 10th Year Type anti-aircraft guns
56 × 25 mm L/60 Type 96 anti-aircraft cannons (8x3, 2x2, 28x1)
8 × Type 95 depth charges
Armor: 2.5 cm (0.98 in) side belt over machinery spaces and magazines
Aircraft carried: 27

Taiyō was one of three ocean liners converted to troopships during World War II. She became the lead ship of further conversion to the Taiyō-class of escort carriers operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy. They were initially used to transport short-range aircraft to distant Pacific island air bases, and for training pilots to land on conventional aircraft carriers. They were later used to provide anti-submarine warfare aircraft protection for convoys of merchant ships; and all were sunk by submarines.

Civilian service[edit]

The Kasuga Maru (春日丸?) was a 17,100 long tons (17,400 t) Japanese ocean liner owned by Nippon Yusen Kaisha. When first launched, this ship was named after an important Shinto shrine.[1]

The ship was built by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Nagasaki, Japan. Work on the Kasuga Maru was completed in 1939.[2] The vessel's pre-war design anticipated passenger service; but when work was completed, the onset of war resulted in different priorities.

The 17,150-ton vessel had a length of 591 feet (180 m), and her beam was 73 feet (22 m). The ship's steam turbines and twin screw propulsion produced an average speed of 18-knots.[2] It was laid down in January 1940 and launched in September of the same year.

Bow of the Kasuga Maru in drydock.

Military service[edit]

In February 1941, before she was completed as a passenger ship, Kasuga Maru was requisitioned for transportation of military stores and personnel.[3] In 1942, its sister ship Yawata Maru was recommissioned as the Japanese aircraft carrier Unyō and the Nitta Maru was recommissioned as the Japanese aircraft carrier Chūyō.[4]

After she completed a few personnel transport voyages, it was decided to convert her to an escort carrier. The conversion took place in Sasebo from May–September 1941. Her flight deck measured 150 m × 23 m (492 ft × 75 ft) and was equipped with two elevators. With no island, catapults or recorded arresting gear, Kasuga Maru was classified as an auxiliary carrier. On 31 August 1942, she was renamed Taiyō (大鷹, “goshawk”) and reclassified as a warship. The recorded lack of arresting gear on the Taiyo and her sisters has been disputed as, while photographic evidence is lacking, the Taiyo had aircraft which required arresting gear to land aboard a carrier.

Taiyō was used primarily for flight training and aircraft transport. She was torpedoed and hit by United States Navy submarines on several occasions: on 28 September 1942, south of Truk by USS Trout, then on 9 April 1943 by USS Tunny and on 24 September 1943 by USS Cabrilla. Each time, she was repaired and put back to service. During her career, Taiyō's anti-aircraft armament was upgraded several times. On 18 August 1944 off Cape Bolinao, Luzon, while escorting convoy Hi-71 headed for Manila, Taiyō was hit by a torpedo fired by the submarine USS Rasher. The hit caused the carrier’s avgas and oil tanks to explode, and Taiyō sank in 26 minutes, with few survivors.

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