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Japanese 1 Air Fleet

1 Air Fleet was organized on 10 April 1941 at the instigation of Combined Fleet commander Yamamoto Isoroku. The brilliant air officer of Carrier Division 1, Genda Minoru, had advocated such a move for five years, but Yamamoto hisitated at first because of the profound change it implied in Navy doctrine. The idea was further championed by Ozawa Jisaburo, who formally submitted it to Yamamoto and the Navy General Staff in April 1940. Yamamoto was angered by the breach of protocol but finally endorsed the proposal in December 1940.

1 Air Fleet  was an important tactical innovation, concentrating Japan's first-line naval air power into a single independent force rather than assigning it to provide air cover for the battle line. It was organized a few months before the attack on Pearl Harbor and intensively trained for that mission. Some of its destroyers were assigned to missions intended to clear the return path to Japan after the attack. 1 Air Fleet was not a balanced force, however, and it always operated with heavy surface escort provided by 1 and 2 Fleets.

Curiously, neither the commander of 1 Air Fleet, Nagumo Chuichi; his chief of staff, Kusaka Ryunosuke; nor his senior staff officer, Oishi Tamotsu, were aviators. However, the air officer was Genda, upon whom Nagumo came to heavily rely.

Administrative structure, 7 December 1941:

1 Air Fleet (Nagumo; at Hashirajima)
  Carrier Division 1 (Nagumo; with Pearl Harbor Attack Force)


  CV Akagi


  18 A6M Zero



27 B5N Kate



18 D3A Val


CV Kaga



27 A6M Zero



27 B5N Kate



27 D3A Val


Destroyer Division 7



DD Akebono (under repair at Hashirajima)



DD Sazanami (with Midway Neutralization Force)



DD Ushio (with Midway Neutralization Force)

Carrier Division 2 (Yamaguchi; with Pearl Harbor Attack Force)


CV Hiryu



25 A6M Zero



18 B5N Kate



18 D3A Val


CV Soryu



27 A6M Zero



18 B5N Kate



18 D3A Val


Destroyer Division 23 (with Guam Invasion Force)



DD Kikuzuki



DD Uzuki



DD Yuzuki

Carrier Division 4 (Kakuta)


CVL Ryujo (with Legaspi Support Force)



22 A5M Claude



18 B5N Kate


CVE Kasuga Maru (at Palaus) Just delivered a squadron of A5M Claude to Palaus


Destroyer Division 3



DD Hokaze (at Hashirajima)



DD Shiokaze (with Legaspi Support Force)

Carrier Division 5 (Hara; with Pearl Harbor Attack Force)


CV Shokaku



15 A6M Zero



27 B5N Kate



27 D3A Val


CV Zuikaku



15 A6M Zero



27 B5N Kate



27 D3A Val


DD Akigumo


DD Oboro (with Guam Invasion Force)

Task forces, 7 December 1941:

Pearl Harbor Attack Force (Nagumo; 210 nm north of Oahu)       Also described as Kido Butai  ("Strike Force")
  Carrier Division 1 (Nagumo)


  CV Akagi


  18 A6M Zero



27 B5N Kate



18 D3A Val


CV Kaga



27 A6M Zero



27 B5N Kate



27 D3A Val

Carrier Division 2 (Yamaguchi)


CV Hiryu



25 A6M Zero



18 B5N Kate



18 D3A Val


CV Soryu



27 A6M Zero



18 B5N Kate



18 D3A Val

Carrier Division 5 (Hara)


CV Shokaku



15 A6M Zero



27 B5N Kate



27 D3A Val


CV Zuikaku



15 A6M Zero



27 B5N Kate



27 D3A Val


DD Akigumo

First Section, Battleship Division 3 (Mikawa) On loan from First Fleet


BB Hiei


BBKirishima

Cruiser Division 8 (Abe) On loan from Second Fleet


CA Tone


CA Chikuma

Elements, Destroyer Squadron 1 (Omori) On loan from First Fleet


CL Abukuma


Destroyer Division 17



DD Hamakaze



DD Isokaze



DD Tanakaze



DD Urikaze


Elements, Destroyer Division 18 On loan from DesRon2



DD Kagero



DD Shiranuhi

Midway Neutralization Force (from DesDiv7, CarDiv1; north of Midway)

DD Sazanami

DD Ushio

First Supply Force (near 158W 31N)      
  DD Kasumi On loan from DesDiv18, Second Fleet

AOR Kyokuto Maru

AOR Kenyo Maru

AOR Kokuyo Maru

AOR Shinkoku Maru

AOR Akebono Maru

Second Supply Force (near 170W 40N)      
  DD Arare On loan from DesDiv18, Second Fleet

AOR Toho Maru

AOR Toei Maru

AOR Nippon Maru


References

Evans and Peattie (1997)

Morison (1948)

Prados (1995)
Prange (1981)



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