Japanese Army Aircraft Carriers of WW2
Army Escort-Aircraft Carriers -- from Wikipedia
Due to the poor relations between the Imperial Japanese Army and
Imperial Japanese Navy, the Army found it necessary to procure and
operate their own aircraft carriers for the purposes of providing escort
and protection for Army transport shipping convoys and to ferry Army
aircraft that could fly-off when close to the destination. These
escort/transport carriers, were converted from small passenger liners or
merchant ships. These escort carriers possessed the capacity to carry
from eight to 38 aircraft, depending on type and size, and were also
used to transport personnel, landing craft, and tanks.
These thriteen vessels included the Taiyo Maru, Unyo Maru, Chuyo
Maru, Kaiyo Maru, Shinyo Maru, Kamakura Maru, Akitsu Maru, Nigitsu Maru,
Kumano Maru, Yamashiro Maru, Chigusa Maru, Shimane Maru, and Otakisan Maru and were operated by civilian crews with Army personnel manning the light and medium anti-aircraft guns.
Akitsu Maru was a passenger liner taken over before completion by
the Imperial Japanese Army. The ship was fitted with a flight deck
above the hull, but had no hangar so the aircraft were stored below the
flight deck on the original main deck. Conventional aircraft were able
to fly off from her deck but could not land aboard due to the short deck
length and lack of landing mechanisms. She could also carry 27 47-foot
landing craft. Classed as a
Japanese landing craft depot ship and escort aircraft carrier.
Akitsu Maru completed January 1942 and her sister ship Nigitsu Maru completed March 1943 may be considered as the first amphibious assault ships.
Yamashiro Maru was a 8,258 ton tanker converted to
auxiliary escort carrier. She commissioned on 27 January 1945 but was
sunk by U.S. aircraft before becoming operational. Her sister ships, Chigusa Maru and Zuiun Maru, were incomplete when Japan surrendered and served after the war as tankers
Kumano Maru wartime cargo ship was taken over by the Army
during construction, redesigned as a landing craft transport, and
designated a Type B landing ship completed 31 March 1945. It could carry
up to two dozen landing craft in its hold. They were launched on
rails through two large doors in the stern. The ship was also designed
to transport anywhere from 8 to 37 aircraft, depending on their size and
the number of landing craft aboard. A small flight deck was mounted
above the main deck with an elevator aft. This permitted the stored
aircraft to be flown off the ship to onshore airfields.
Landing Craft Carriers
Shinshu Maru was completed in 1935 and modified in 1936 to
include a floodable well dock. She was the world's first ship
specifically designed to carry and launch landing craft. She introduced
stern and side gates to launch landing craft for the 2,200 soldiers she
carried. She demonstrated the advantages of the concept at the invasions
of Shanghai, Malaya and Java.
The Ko- type were 11,910-ton, 20.8 knots, diesel-engined ships fitted
with stern ramp gates for launching twenty 47-foot landing craft stored
in floodable holds. At the time, this launching method was
unprecedented. Both were troop carriers sunk by submarines with very
heavy loss of life, about 4,000 each.
Mayasan Maru was completed in December 1942. Sunk by USS Picuda on 17 August 1944.
Tamatsu Maru was completed in January 1944. Sunk by USS Spadefish 19 August 1944
Later production was Hitachi's standard Type-M steam ship, 994 tons,
modified to carry twelve 58-foot landing craft. The landing craft were
launched from rails which ran along the main deck down to the waterline
through large hinged doors at the stern. Settsu Maru survived for use as a repatriation ship,
but her sister-ships were sunk in air raids on Japanese ports.
Kibitsu Maru was completed in December 1943.
Hyuga Maru was completed in November 1944.
Settsu Maruwas completed as a 12 knots coal-burner in January 1945.
Takatsu Maru was a 5,656-ton, Otsu-type, 19-knot steam ship
completed in January 1944 with icebreaker capability, and used
conventional cranes rather than gates for handling nine
class landing craft. She was sunk by United States aircraft in Ormoc Bay
during the invasion of the Philippines.
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Last updated October 4, 2015