.B Engine(s) output: 66,270 hp
.B Top Speed: 29 knots
.B Main armament: 8 x 5-inch (127mm), 22 x 25mm guns
.B Aircraft: 48 (Operational Maximum 37)
.B Displacement (full load): 13,650 tons
.B Thickest armour: Light plating only
.P By 1929, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) had three aircraft carriers
completed: Akagi, Kaga and the experimental Hosho. Under the terms of the 1922
Washington Naval Treaty this left just 30,000 tons available for further aircraft
.P The IJN's desire for three more carriers meant that they would need to cram a
lot of carrier onto a very limited displacement, and what followed next was
perhaps predictably, a rather unsuccessful design.
.P The brief for Ryujo was to use just 8,000 tons of the remaining allowance and
yet achieve a fast, aircraft carrier that was capable of carrying forty-eight
aircraft. The result was a ship that was highly unstable, and Ryujo required much
work after completion to rectify this inherent instability.
.P Her original design allowed for just a single hangar, but the desire for forty
-eight aircraft meant that a second hangar was belatedly built into the design;
adding greatly to the stability problems mentioned above.
.P Ryujo's hangars were served by two lifts, although one of the lifts was
sufficiently small so as to make it practically unusable. In keeping with
standard practice, no catapult was fitted to assist take-off, but six arrester
wires were available to bring her aircraft down safely. Operationally, the
designed number of aircraft proved too much to handle, and thirty-seven aircraft
was considered optimal.
.P Defensive armament was to have been six twin 5-inch anti-aircraft (AA) guns,
but this was reduced to four due to the need to reduce top weight. Close-range AA
weaponry came courtesy of twenty-two 25mm guns.
.P Ryujo had no island structure; the bridge being sited below the forward edge
of the flight deck. At the time of her completion she had sufficient top speed to
operate with IJN's battlefleet, but by the time of the Second World War, 29 knots
had become inadequate for a frontline carrier.
.P Armoured protection was negligible; just light plating being fitted to protect
the machinery and magazine spaces.
.P Ryujo means Prancing Dragon in English.
.P At the outbreak of war in December 1941 Ryujo was part of the 4th Carrier
Division (CarDiv). Operating from Palau, she was a key component in the Japanese
attack on the Philippines (see Amphibious Counter 4435 and Transport Counter
4443). The opening moves of this operation began on the first day of the Pacific
War, and Ryujo's aircraft launched an air strike against Davao that day. Later
that month Ryujo was part of the covering force for the landings by the 15th and
16th Infantry Divisions at Davao, on the large Philippine island of Mindanao.
.P On the 22nd December Ryujo took part in the invasion of Jolo, a small island
halfway between Mindanao and Sarawak. Ryujo was part of the escorting force for
the nine transports that carried men of the 56th Brigade to the island, which was
important as the Japanese intended to use it to base their 23rd Naval Air
Flotilla for the assault on the Dutch East Indies.
.P With the initial landings on the Philippines having been successfully
undertaken, the Japanese sought to finish off the British and Commonwealth forces
in Malaya and Singapore. To aid this operation, Ryujo was deployed in the South
China Sea as part of a covering force protecting the supply convoys to Thailand
and Malaya. Just about everything at this stage of the war went smoothly for the
Japanese and their opponents were falling back everywhere in the face of such
determined opposition. Neither the Philippines nor Malaya were secured before the
Japanese started to look further south; the oil resources of the Dutch East
.P The invasion of the NEI had begun in the eastern islands of the Dutch colony
in December. By the middle of February 1942, the Japanese turned their attention
to the large island of Sumatra, located west of the Malayan peninsular. The first
target was Palembang, on the southeast coast. An invasion convoy set out from
Camranh Bay on the 9th February (see Transport Counter 4447). Ryujo was part of
the covering force for this convoy. As the invasion fleet approached Sumatra,
they came across Allied evacuation convoys and Ryujo's aircraft were used
alongside land based bombers to attack the Allied shipping. Many Allied vessels
were sunk or damaged during these actions.
.P In a vain attempt to stop the Japanese invasion of Sumatra the Allies
despatched a cruiser and destroyer force to intercept the Japanese fleet, but
once again Ryujo's aircraft were extensively used to beat off the Allied ships.
Having found the enemy on the morning of the 14th, Ryujo again launched her
aircraft to attack the Allied ships. Although no Allied warships were sunk in
this engagement, the intensity of the air attacks forced the Allied vessels to
.P For the invasion of Java, at the end of February 1942, the Japanese used two
invasion forces. Ryujo provided air cover to the Western Force that was
responsible for landing troops east and west of Batavia, the capital (see
Amphibious Counter 4439). On the 1st March, her aircraft were used to sink the
American destroyer USS Pope. Destroyers USS Pope and HMS Encounter had
been escorting the damaged heavy cruiser HMS Exeter when the British ships
were sunk at the Second battle of the Java Sea (see Myoko).
.P After the operations against Java, Ryujo was deployed with the Malay Force to
provide air cover for the invasion of northern Sumatra on the 12th March. She
then provided cover for the operation to reinforce units in Burma and for the
assault against the Andaman Islands two weeks later (see Kashii).
.P During early April, the IJN launched a raid in the Indian Ocean using five of
the six carriers of the 1st Air Fleet. The intention was to destroy the Royal
Navy's Eastern Fleet at anchor in Colombo, but the main portion of that fleet was
hundreds of miles to the west and the raid had only limited effect. Ryujo was
part of Second Fleet for this operation and she led attacks on enemy shipping in
the Bay of Bengal (see Hiryu).
.P Ryujo's next operation was AL, the attack on the Aleutian Islands in the
Northern Pacific. For this operation, that was timed to coincide with the attack
on Midway Island at the start of June 1942, she was part of the Second Carrier
Striking Force, commanded by Rear-Admiral Kakuji Kakuta. Although the Japanese
occupied the Aleutian islands of Attu and Kiska, the operation proved
nothing more than an unnecessary dilution of resources from the main task at
hand; the destruction of the American carrier fleet, and at Midway the IJN was to
lose four of their fleet carriers (see ASW Carrier Counter 4430).
.P After the reverse at Midway, the IJN was reorganised. The 3rd Fleet, which now
contained the main carrier force, was placed under the command of Vice-Admiral
Chuichi Nagumo and consisted of the 1st Carrier Squadron: Shokaku, Zuikaku and
Zuiho; the 2nd Carrier Squadron: Junyo, Hiyo and Ryujo; the battleships Hiei and
Kirishima; the heavy cruisers Chikuma, Kumano, Suzuya and Tone; the light cruiser
Nagara and the 10th Destroyer Flotilla.
.P On the 7th August the Americans invaded the island of Guadalcanal in the
Solomons chain. Apart from a naval victory at Savo Island (see Kako) the Japanese
response to the invasion was poor. They underestimated the strength of the
American presence on the island. They were also wrong about how quickly the
Americans could get an airstrip, one that the Japanese had themselves almost
completed prior to the invasion, finished and in working order. As a consequence,
by mid-August, the Americans had established themselves on the island and had air
superiority in the local area. By day, the waters around Guadalcanal were a no-go
area to the Japanese. But the recognition of this American air superiority only
came about as a result of the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, fought on the 24th
August 1942, largely as a result of a Japanese attempt to get a substantial troop
convoy to Guadalcanal.
.P The convoy set out from Truk on the 16th August carrying 1,500 men and their
supplies aboard three transports. The light cruiser Jintsu, flagship of
Rear-Admiral Raizo Tanaka, and ten destroyers escorted them.
.P Knowing that there were a number of American carriers operating southeast of
the Solomons, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander of the Combined Fleet, still
desperately hoped for the "decisive battle" that would win the war for the
Japanese. He agreed to deploy a large number of warships in the Eastern Solomons,
centred around the fleet carriers Zuikaku and Shokaku, in the hope of fighting
such a battle. He was in theory also responsible for the safety of Tanaka's
convoy, although in practice, this element of the operation was very low
.P The forces deployed were: Third Fleet's Main Body consisting of the carriers
Shokaku (flagship of Vice-Admiral Chuichi Nagumo), Zuikaku, and ten destroyers.
Operating ahead of the carriers was the Vanguard Force under Rear-Admiral Hiroaki
Abe aboard the battleship Hiei with sister ship Kirishima; the heavy cruisers
Kumano, Suzuya and Chikuma; and four destroyers. To guard against a threat to
Nagumo's carriers from the east, the Second Fleet, commanded by Vice-Admiral
Nobutake Kondo, was deployed on the left flank of the Main Body. Kondo had the
heavy cruisers Atago, Haguro, Maya, Myoko and Takao; the light cruiser Yura, the
Seaplane carrier Chitose and six destroyers to hand. Last but not least, to
protect Tanaka's convoy, the IJN deployed the Detached Carrier Striking Force,
commanded by Rear-Admiral Chuichi Hara. Hara had just Ryujo, the heavy cruiser
Tone and two destroyers for this purpose. Ryujo was equipped with twenty-four
Zero fighters and nine Kate torpedo-bombers.
.P For once, the American intelligence network failed them and they had no idea
of the whereabouts of Nagumo's carriers as they entered the Eastern Solomons. The
failure to locate the carriers led to a potentially disastrous decision; thinking
they must still be at anchor in Truk, Rear-Admiral Frank Fletcher allowed one of
his three carriers to leave the Solomons for refuelling. This meant that when the
battle came, the US Navy would actually have around twenty fewer carrier aircraft
available. Fletcher's force for the Battle of the Eastern Solomons was as
follows: the carriers Enterprise and Saratoga, the battleship North Carolina, the
heavy cruisers Minneapolis, New Orleans and Portland, the light cruiser Atlanta
and eleven destroyers.
.P Generally poor weather in the region meant that it was not until late in the
afternoon of the 23rd August that Tanaka's convoy was sighted by American patrol
planes. This poor weather came to the Japanese aid as aircraft flown from
Saratoga failed to locate the convoy and had to return to the airfield at
.P Early on the morning of the 24th both sides launched search aircraft, while
Saratoga's aircraft returned to the carrier after their enforced overnight stay
on Guadalcanal. The Americans found three of the Japanese forces, although
Nagumo's carrier force was not spotted. The Japanese reconnaissance planes on the
other hand were completely unsuccessful.
.P However, it was only in the early afternoon that Fletcher ordered an air
strike against Ryujo as he waited for further proof that Japanese flat-tops
really were in the area. It was only after the order was given and aircraft were
on their way to Ryujo that Fletcher then received reports that Zuikaku and
Shokaku were in the Eastern Solomnons.
.P At around 1520hrs aircraft from Saratoga found Ryujo. With only limited
fighter cover, and few ships around her to mount an adequate AA defence, Ryujo
was doomed. Numerous bomb and torpedo hits ensured there was no chance of saving
the carrier and she was later to sink along with 120 of her officers and crew. By
the time of the attack, Ryujo had already launched twenty-one aircraft to attack
the airstrip on Guadalcanal. This operation, designed to try and keep the
American island-based planes from attacking Tanaka's convoy, caused little damage
however. By the time the surviving aircraft returned to where Ryujo had once
been, there was no choice available to the pilots other than to ditch in the sea.
.P While Ryujo fought her doomed battle for survival, the Japanese had at last
found Enterprise. From the decks of the two fleet carriers two waves of aircraft
were launched; the first numbering thirty-seven and the second thirty-six. The
Japanese attackers were picked up by the enemy's radar and fifty-three Wildcat
fighters were put into the sky to meet them. Still twenty miles from the
carriers, a fierce battle ensued as the Americans sought to beat off the
attacking aircraft before they could reach the ships. Many of the Japanese
attackers got through and launched strikes on Enterprise and North Carolina, but
no attacks were launched against Saratoga as so many Japanese aircraft were shot
down before even reaching the American ships. Enterprise was hit by three bombs
and was badly damaged. However, excellent work by her crew meant that she was
never in danger of being sunk and she would live to fight another day. North
Carolina suffered just one near miss and was only lightly damaged in the attack.
.P The Americans, having sunk one carrier and inflicted the loss of seventy-five
aircraft of all types on the IJN and Army air forces, withdrew that evening after
launching one more attack on the Japanese warships. Little damage was done,
however there was to be more agony in store for Japanese the next day.
.P Not realising they had failed to neutralize American airpower on Guadalcanal
the day before, and thinking the battle had been more successful than it actually
was, Tanaka continued south toward Guadalcanal with his convoy. Early on the
morning of the 25th an American patrol plane spotted the Japanese ships
and Wildcats and Dauntless dive-bombers were sent to intercept. The first target
was Tanaka's flagship, Jintsu, which was hit twice by bombs. Tanaka switched his
flag to the destroyer Kagero and ordered Jintsu to sail north to safety. The
transport Kinryu Maru was the next victim, and she was set ablaze by a single
bomb. The destroyer Mutsuki went to her assistance but in so doing became a
target for an attack by a B-17 bomber later that morning. A single bomb struck
her engine room and she sank with the loss of 40 men. After fellow destroyer
Mochizuki had picked up survivors from the two ships Kinryu Maru was scuttled.
The remaining transports and their escorts retreated north; the reinforcements
so desperately needed on Guadalcanal would not be delivered this time around, and
Japanese attempts to get troops to the island would grow ever more desperate in
the months to come (see Jintsu).
April 10, 1941 ~ Flagship of 4th Carrier Division, 1st Air Fleet
Defensive armament was to have been been six twin 5-inch anti-aircraft (AA) guns,
but this was reduced to four due to the need to reduce top weight.
Close-range AA weaponry came courtesy of twenty-two 25mm guns.
8 × 127 mm (5 in) guns,
4 × 25 mm anti-aircraft guns,
24 × 13 mm machine guns
Nihon Kaigun (Combined Fleet)
8 x 5"/40
4 x 25mm/60
24 x 13mm/76
World War II Database
My Post#: 592
CVL Ryûjô ("Prancing Dragon") (1933-1942) ex-tender Taigei
Displacement: 12,732 tons Dimensions: 167 x 20.32 x 5.56 meters. Propulsion: Steam turbines, 6 boilers, 2 shafts, 65,000 hp (48.5 MW) Speed: 29 knots (54 km/h) Range: 10,000 nautical miles at 14 knots (19,000 km at 26 km/h) Complement: 924. Armament: 8 x 5 inch (127mm) AA guns (in dual mounts), 4 x 25mm AA guns, 24 x 13mm AA guns. Aircraft: 38
Ryûjô was laid down in 1929, launched in 1931 and commissioned in 1933. She first saw action in the Second Sino-Japanese War supporting land operations of the Japanese Army in China. Where her aircraft complement consisted of 27 aircraft. During World War II, she was the flagship of Carrier Division 4. In 1941 she supported several landings in the Philippines. In 1942 she supported the conquest of Malaya and attacked the Allied forces around Java. She was part of the Indian Ocean raid during April her and her escort were credited with the sinking of 23 merchant ships. She was part of the Northern Force that attached the Aleutians where one of her Mutsubishi A6M Zero's crashed. The intelligence gained from this crash helped the United States to develop the F6F Hellcat.
During the Battle of the Eastern Solomon’s she was sunk by U.S. carrier aircraft with a loss of 120 of the crew.
University of Science Music and Culture (USMC) class of 71 and 72 ~ Extraneous (AKA Mziln)