The HIJMS Zuikaku was an aircraft carrier used by Japan during the Pacific War. The Zuikaku had a total displacement of around 26,000 metric tons and a total eight boilers powering at speeds of up to 63 km/h. Its total length was around 260 metres, its beam was 26 metres, and its draught was 8.8 metres.

For armament, the Zuikaku had sixteen 127 mm anti-air guns and thirty-six 25 mm anti-air guns. Furthermore, it could carry up to a maximum of 72 to 84 aircraft on board, namely the Mitsubishi A6M Rei-sen, the Aichi D3A, and the Nakajima B5N.

To man the vessel, the Zuikaku had a crew of 1,600 men on board and had a total sea range of 18,000 km.[1] The Zuikaku was particularly heavy due to the inclusion of armoured decks and hull, though it was designed so that heavy aircraft could still be launched.


The second ship of the Shōkaku-class, Zuikaku was, like her sister ship, laid down during 1937-1938 as an updated version of the HIJMS Akagi class, following Japan's withdrawal from the Second London Navel Conference. Both ships were so central to naval planning that their completion determined the date for the Bombing of Pearl Harbor. Commissioned on September 25th 1941, Zuikaku was one of the carriers used for the attack on Pearl Harbor. [2]

In May 1942 she was part of the escort for an invasion force dispatched to seize Port Moresby, as part of the Battle of the Coral Sea.[3]Alongside her sister ship, Zuikaku also participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in August 1942.[4]

On October 26th, Zuikaku was spotted 200 miles (322 km) north west of the Santa Cruz islands by a patrolling PBY Catalina. During the subsequent battle, Zuikaku sent a number of small formations, together with aircraft from the HIJMS Jun'yō, to attack the American carrier Hornet.[5]

Zuikaku was eventually lost at Cape Engaño, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.[6]


  2. Ireland, Bernard. Illustrated Guide to Aircraft Carriers of the world. Arness Publishing Ltd. 2012. ISBN 1 78019 217 7 Page 200
  3. Ireland, Bernard. Page 56
  4. Ireland, Bernard. Page 201
  5. Ireland, Bernard. Pages 64-65
  6. Ireland, Bernard. Page 69

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