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Description

The HIJMS Taihō (Great Pheonix) was an aircraft carrier used by Japan during the Pacific War.The Taihō-class aircraft carrier (大鳳型航空母艦) represented a complete revolution in Japanese carrier building. It was the first Japanese carrier to have an armored flight deck and hangar bay, as well as a hurricane bow design. It was laid down in Kobe,Japan in 10th July 1941. She was launched in 7th April 1943, and commissioned 7th March 1944. She was sunk two months later in 19th June 1944 during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Even though she was only hit by one torpedo by submarine USS Albacore, poor damage control and flaws in design and construction quality was the main cause of her sinking.

History

Taihō was first approved for construction in the 1939 Maru-4 Programme (マル4計画) . Her design was that of a modified Shōkaku-class aircraft carrier. Under the Kai-Maru-5 Programme (改マル5計画), Taihō was to be the first of a new generation of Japanese aircraft carriers, which would include Taihō, 15 of a modified Hiryū-class aircraft carrier design (which turned into the Unryū-class aircraft carrier) and five of an improved Taihō design (Project G15 or better known as Kai-Taihō-class).


Service History

Battle of the Philippine Sea: Taihō participated in the Battle of the Marianas in 19th June 1944. While launching part of `Raid I' against Task Force 58 the Taihō at 0810 is hit in the starboard side forward abreast No.1 elevator by one of six torpedoes fired by USS Albacore. The impact punches a hole in the hull which floods the forward elevator well and gives Taihō a 1.5 meter trim by the bow, but she maintains speed at 26 knots. The forward elevator, which was raised for launching operations is jarred loose and falls two meters, disrupting take-off operations and the torpedo hit cracks the av-gas tanks underneath it as well. As a result, free gasoline mixes with the water flooding the forward elevator well and av-gas vapor builds up in the space. Within a half-hour damage control has planked over the settled No.1 elevator and the remaining planes were launched. However, the gas vapor builds in the closed hanger and enclosed bow area and becomes serious. Efforts to free the mounting vapor by knocking holes in the ship's side or to ventilate the hangar are made.. At 1350, First Carrier Division's strike wave begins to return. With Shōkaku ablaze and bow awash (due to another Submarine USS Cavalla) , all planes must land on either Zuikaku or Taihō. The gas vapor danger aboard Taihō is so great that most opt for landing on Zuikaku.

At 1432 a tremendous induced explosion of gas vapor occurs forward, buckling the armored flight deck upward and blowing out the sides of the hangar deck. The precise force and cause of the explosion are somewhat ambiguous, but the shock of the blast ruptured the hull below the waterline, and all power failed. Taihō goes dead in the water immediately. For this reason, it is understood at once the ship has received a terrible and probably mortal blow. By 1500 the Taihō is a blazing wreck shaken by explosions and with fire raging from the island forward. Though damage control manages to keep the fire forward initially, Vice Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa is compelled to transfer his flag within the next thirty minutes. The Wakatsuki comes alongside to starboard and sends a boat. However, the Haguro moves up and Ozawa soon transfers to her from the destroyer in turn, hoisting his flag at 1606. In the meantime the Taihō continues to burn furiously and starts to list slightly to port and settle slowly by the head. Oil leaking from the tanks and covering the sea catches on fire, adding to the inferno and peril. Any possibility of Haguro taking in tow is out of the question. Realizing that she can't be saved, Captain Kikuchi orders all remaining personal evacuated.

At 1628, still settling upright, leans over to port and nodding by the bow, sinking "horizontally" and "levelly" bodily below the waves on a semi-even keel. Destroyers Isokaze, Wakatsuki and Hatsuzuki rescue over 1,000 officers and men, including Captain Kikkuchi Tomozo; but about 1/3 of the complement - 28 officers and 632 petty officers and men - are lost. Almost all the engine room personnel are reportedly lost, but some of the firemen from 2 and 6 boiler rooms managed to escape topside through holes blasted in the overhead decks.[1]

Taihō was struck from the Navy List in 26 August 1945.

References

  1. http://www.combinedfleet.com/Taiho.htm


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