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Taiho Class, Japanese Fleet Carrier


Photograph of aircraft carrier Taiho
Wikipedia Commons


Specifications:


Tonnage 29,300 tons standard displacement
Dimensions 853' by 90'10" by 31'5"
260.00m by 27.69m by 9.58m
Maximum speed       33.3 knots
Complement 1751
Aircraft 844' (257m) flight deck
2 elevators
60 aircraft
Armament 6x2 3.9"/65 AA guns
17x3 25mm AA guns
Protection 8800 tons:
2.2" (55mm) machinery belt
6.5" (165mm) magazine belt
1.3" (32mm)  armor on 0.6" (16mm) plating lower hangar deck over machinery
2.9" (74mm) armor on 0.6" (16mm) plating lower hangar deck over magazines
1" (25mm) Ducol hangar sides
0.8" Ducol plate on 3" CNC (20mm Ducol on 75mm CNC)  flight deck, resistant to 1100 lb (500 kg) dive bomber bombs
1"+1" (25mm+25mm) Ducol elevators
1" (25mm) uptakes
1.6" (40mm) CNC conning tower
0.8"+0.8" (22mm+22mm) Ducol torpedo holding bulkhead designed against a 660lb (300kg) charge
Immune zones
Magazines: 13,000 to 22,000 yards (12,000 to 20,000 meters) vs. 8" shell
Machinery: 13,000 to 22,000 yards (12,000 to 20,000 meters) vs. 5" shell
Magazines: Below 10,000 feet (3000 meters) vs. 2200 lb (1000 kg) armor-piercing bomb
Machinery: Below 10,000 feet (3000  meters) vs. 1760 lb (800kg) armor-piercing bomb.
Machinery
4-shaft geared turbines (160,000 shp)
8 Kampon boilers
Bunkerage 5700 tons fuel oil
160,000 gallons (600,000 liters) aviation gasoline
Range 8,000 nautical miles (13,000 km) at 18 knots
Sensors
Type 21 radar (two sets)

Taiho was the first Japanese fleet carrier completed since Zuikaku and probably the finest Japanese carrier design.  She had ample protection (over 8,000 tons of armor), including thickly armored flight and hangar decks designed to stop a 1000 lb (500 kg) bomb, and she achieved this without sacrificing speed.  The antiaircraft battery was probably the best in the Imperial Navy.  Her air group, while not quite as large as the Shokakus, was still ample at 60 aircraft, and her flight deck was the longest of any Japanese aircraft carrier to see service.

The Japanese Navy conception for Taiho was a carrier intended to operate close to the battle line, where it would need superior protection even at the cost of a smaller air group. This was envisioned as consisting mostly of fighters and dive bombers. The hangar decks could be divided into five (upper) or four (lower) compartments by fire walls of thin Ducol plating, and the armored sides of the hangars had shuttered openings designed to allow any hangar explosion to vent to the outside. Taiho also featured an island that incorporated the funnel in order to improve stability.

The hangar deck protection did not constitute an armored box like that of British carriers, but more closely resembled the American Midway-class carriers, being virtually unprotected on the sides. However, as was typical of Japanese carrier design, the hangar was fully enclosed. With armor constituting 30% of displacement, Taiho was as heavily armored as some battleships in proportion to her tonnage.

The official capacity of 60 aircraft reflected plans to ship the B7A "Grace", a rather large multirole attack aircraft, but this was never available in any number. Taiho could probably have operated an air group of 75 older model carrier aircraft. Her actual complement when she sortied for the Battle of the Philippine Sea was likely 65.

Unfortunately for the Japanese, Taiho was not commissioned until 7 March 1944, and by then the Japanese were short on skilled pilots and fuel. She was lost 19 June 1944 under circumstances similar to those of the Lexington two years earlier:  Hit by a single torpedo from Albacore 180 nautical miles north-northwest of Yap, she was only lightly damaged, but inept damage control spread explosive fumes from gasoline and fuel oil throughout the ship.  The subsequent blast blew out the flight deck and the bottom of the ship, which quickly sank.

The Japanese might have done well to build several sisters to Taiho, and in fact two more were ordered but never laid down. Instead, work continued on the third Yamato-class battleship and on the inferior Unryus.  But it can be argued that the paucity of trained aircrew would have rendered more carriers, however well designed, of little use.

References

Chesneau (1992)

Gogin (2008; accessed 2012-11-22)

Jentschura, Jung, and Mickel (1977)

Parry (accessed 2013-2-2)

Worth (2001)



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