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HIJMS Shinano was a large aircraft carrier that was used by the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Named after the Shinano Province in Japan, it could carry about seventy aircraft and had a crew of 2,400 men.[1]

Description

The completion date for the Shinano was brought forward from January 1945 to November 1944.[2]With a standard displacement of 66,000 metric tons, and full load displacement of 73,200 metric tons, Shinano had an overall length of 266.1 meters. Beam was 36.3 meters and full load draught was 10.3 meters. The flight deck measured 256.2 meters by 40.3 meters. The ship was powered by geared steam turbines with 12 boilers and four shafts, designed to produce 112,000 kW, giving Shinano a top speed of 27 knots. She carried 9,060 metric tons of fuel, enough to travel 18,520km at 18 knots. Standard complement was 2,400 crew, and between 50 and 120 aircraft.[3]

History

Originally planned as the third battleship in the Yamato-class, it was then decided that, due to the loss of most of Japan's existing aircraft carriers at the Battle of Midway in 1942, Shinano should be converted into an aircraft carrier.

Shinano was commissioned on 19 November 1944.[N 1] At the time of her commissioning, the ship was limited to 20 knots because four of her boilers were unfinished. In addition, many of the holes made in the bulkheads for the passage of electrical cables, ventilation ducts and pipes had not been sealed, and the fire and drainage systems were incomplete due to the late delivery of vital pumps.[2]

After ten days taking on stores and ammunition, the Navy decided that Shinano should be moved to the Inland Sea due to the threat of air raids. Despite the inadequate water-tightness of the ship, and the fact that nearly three quarters of the crew had no sea going experience, Shinano left Yokusuka Naval Shipyard on the night of 28th November 1944, bound for Kure Naval Base, where she'd collect her airwing and commence training exercises while construction was finished.[2]

Unknown to her crew, the giant carrier and her escorts were detected by the American submarine USS Archerfish (SS-311), which had been patrolling the entrance to Tokyo Bay. Archerfish tracked the Japanese vessels until 0300hrs on 29th November 1944, at which point Shinano turned and directly faced Archerfish. Twenty minutes later, Archerfish fired six torpedoes at Shinano, with four striking at various points on the carrier's starboard side. [2]

The impact of the four torpedoes resulted in severe damage to the underwater defence system which, combined with the lack of effective damage control measures due to the inexperience of most of the crew, resulted in severe flooding. At 0800hrs the remaining crew transferred to the escorting destroyers. Shinano finally capsized shortly after 1000hrs, before going down stern first, taking her captain and three quarters of the crew with her.[4]

The subsequent investigation found that the rapid demise of the ship was due to a decrease of build quality resulting from pressure to finish the vessel as quickly as possible, combined with the unfinished condition of several pieces of key equipment on Shinano, as well as the lack of experienced crew-members. [2]

At the time of her sinking, Shinano was carrying 50 completed examples of the Yokosuka MXY 7 Okha manned flying bomb.[5]

Notes

  1. The Illustrated Guide to Aircraft Carriers of the World States Shinano was commissioned on 8th October 1944.

References

  1. http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_shinano.html
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Ruscoe, Ian. Tamiya Model Magazine. February/March 2000 Issue, Page 12
  3. Ireland, Bernard. Illustrated Guide to Aircraft Carriers of the world. Arness Publishing Ltd. 2012. ISBN 1 78019 217 7 Page 205
  4. Ruscoe, Ian. 2000. Pages 12-13
  5. The World at War - Partwork accompanying the ITV Series.


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