© 2001 Anthony P. Tully
(Revised June 2007)
7 March 1944:
Completed at Kobe; Captain Kikuchi Tomozo assigned as commanding officer. Assigned to Third Fleet, CarDiv 1, Mobile Fleet.
12 March 1944:
Depart Kure, sailing around Inland Sea area.
19 March 1944:
Return to Kure.
24 March 1944:
Depart Kure; arrive Iwakuni.
27 March 1944:
28 March 1944:
Depart Heigun-shima with HATSUZUKI and WAKATSUKI to join Mobile Fleet at Lingga.
4 April 1944:
Arrive with SHOKAKU at Seletar Naval Base, Singapore.
5 April 1944:
Arrive at Lingga.
15 April 1944:
Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo, ComThirdFleet, transfers flag from SHOKAKU to TAIHO and she becomes flagship, CarDiv 1, Third Fleet, Mobile Fleet.
12 May 1944:
Depart Lingga for Tawi Tawi anchorage.
15 May 1944:
1030: Arrive at Tawi Tawi anchorage.
18 May 1944:
Depart Tawi Tawi for aircraft training; return in the evening.
22 May 1944:
Carrier CHITOSE attacked by submarine outside Tawi Tawi while CarDiv 3 is engaged in pilot training. Henceforth, training voyages sharply curtailed, but continue.
13 June 1944:
0930: Depart Tawi Tawi anchorage for advance base at Guimaras to be in advantageous position since enemy forcers were now attacking Saipan and invasion seemed possible. At 1830 Combined Fleet gives the order activating `A-GO' operation
14 June 1944:
1400: Arrive at Guimaras for overnight layover, with most of the Mobile Fleet and commence refueling.
15 June 1944:
Following receipt of "A-GO" execute order at 0717, depart Depart Guimaras at 0800, leading the Mobile Fleet through San Bernardino Straits toward Saipan.
19 June 1944:
Battle of the Marianas. While launching part of `Raid I' against TF 58 in position 12-24'N, 137-20'E the TAIHO at 0810 is hit in the starboard side forward abreast No.1 elevator by one of six torpedoes fired by USS ALBACORE. The impact punches a hole in the hull which floods the forward elevator well and gives the TAIHO a 1.5 meter trim by the bow, but she maintains speed at 26 knots. The forward elevator, which was raised for launching operations is jarred loose and falls two meters, disrupting take-off operations and the torpedo hit cracks the av-gas tanks underneath it as well. As a result, free gasoline mixes with the water flooding the forward elevator well and av-gas vapor builds up in the space. Within a half-hour damage control has planked over the settled No.1 elevator and the remaining planes were launched. However, the gas vapor builds in the closed hanger and enclosed bow area and becomes serious. Efforts to free the mounting vapor by knocking holes in the ship's side or to ventilate the hangar are made. ("ventilate may not refer to the actual ventilation system, but just the d/c efforts). At 1350 CarDiv 1's strike wave begins to return. With SHOKAKU ablaze and bow awash, all planes must land on either ZUIKAKU or TAIHO. The gas vapor danger aboard TAIHO is so great that most opt for ZUIKAKU; the terrible losses attacking TF 58 having left the space to be accomodated. Possibly a few planes of SHOKAKU's as well as some of TAIHOs do land on her.
- Sunk: At 1432 a tremendous induced explosion of gas vapor occurs forward, buckling the armored flight deck upward and blowing out the sides of the hangar deck. The precise force and cause of the explosion are somewhat ambiguous (see Note 1 for details:), but the shock of the blast ruptured the hull below the waterline, and all power failed. TAIHO goes dead in the water immediately. For this reason, it is understood at once the ship has received a terrible and probably mortal blow. By 1500 the TAIHO is a blazing wreck shaken by explosions and with fire raging from the island forward. Though damage control manages to keep the fire forward initially, Admiral Ozawa is compelled to transfer his flag within the next thirty minutes. The WAKATSUKI comes alongside to starboad and sends a boat. However, the HAGURO moves up and Ozawa soon transfers to her from the destroyer in turn, hoisting his flag at 1606. In the meantime the TAIHO continues to burn furiously and starts to list slightly to port and settle slowly by the head. Oil leaking from the tanks and covering the sea catches on fire, adding to the inferno and peril. Any possibility of HAGURO taking in tow is out of the question. Realizing that she can't be saved, Captain Kikuchi orders all remaining personal evacuated.
Sunk: At 1628, still settling upright, leans over to port and nodding by the bow, sinking "horizontally" and "levelly" bodily below the waves on a semi-even keel in position 12-05'N, 138-12'E. Destroyers ISOKAZE, WAKATSUKI and HATSUZUKI rescue over 1,000 officers and men, including Captain Kikkuchi Tomozo; but about 1/3 of the complement - 28 officers and 632 petty officers and men - are lost. Almost all the engine room personnel are reportedly lost, but some of the firemen from 2 and 6 boiler rooms managed to escape topside through holes blasted in the overhead decks.
22 June 1944:
Survivors are transferred from rescue ships to carrier ZUIKAKU at Nakagasuku Bay, Okinawa.
24 June 1944:
ZUIKAKU returns to Hashirajima with TAIHO survivors.
26 August 1945:
Removed from Navy List.
Note 2: The above casualty figure is considerably less than usually quoted figure of "1,650 from a crew of 2,150" , but comes directly from Japanese sources and arguably fits the facts of the sinking better. As further proof, the SHOKAKU is expressly stated as having suffered far greater loss and this does not accord if the conventional figure was accepted. In addition, though TAIHO is said to have sunk by the stern and capsized, Japanese records are unaninmous that she remained nearly on an even keel and settled bodily with head down, (Ugaki for example says "nearly horizontal") in a fashion remarkably similar to USS LEXINGTON (CV-2) at Coral Sea. Once again, this accords better with the facts that put the greatest explosion forward.