© Anthony P. Tully
© (Revised June 2007)
© (Revised September 2010)
Contact queries to:
tullyfleet - gmail.com
Note: All times Tokyo JST standard (Item 9) time unless noted otherwise in parenthesis.
Note 2: Linked flagships lead to related TROMS that give more in-depth information about that unit's activities.
Initial Command Structure:
25 May 1938:
Laid down at Kawasaki yard in Kobe.
30 September 1939:
Named ZUIKAKU (The `Happy or Fortunate Crane').
27 November 1939:
Hull completed to hangar deck level is launched. Fitting out begins.
15 November 1940
Captain Yokokawa Ichibei assigned as Chief Equipping Officer.
25 September 1941:
Commissioned. Equipping Officer Ichibei becomes Commanding Officer. ZUIKAKU assigned to Kure Naval Base, 1st Air Fleet. Departs Kobe. Portrait photograph taken of her from port forward.
26 September 1941:
Arrives at Kure.
Moving around in Kure, Oita, Saeki area.
7 October 1941:
Departs Kure for Oita Bight. 8 October 1941:
Arrives at Oita, joining sister-ship SHOKAKU for the first time.
16 October 1941:
Departs Oita for Saeki Bay.
20 October 1941:
Departs Saeki for Sukumo Bay.
24 October 1941:
Departs Sukumo Bay for Saeki Bay,arrives same day.
2 November 1941:
Departs Oita for training cruise.
3-5 November 1941:
Training cruise in Ariake Bay.
7 November 1941:
Returns to Oita Bight.
9 November 1941:
Departs Oita Bight for Kure.
13 November 1941:
Reassigned to CarDiv 5.
14 November 1941:
Flag of ComCardiv 5 RADM Hara Chuichi (39th Class) shifted from SHOKAKU to ZUIKAKU.
16 November 1941:
Departs Kure for Saeki Bay.
17 November 1941:
Departs Saeki for Oita Bight.
18 November 1941:
Departs Oita for Hitokappu Bay.
19 November 1941:
As flagship CarDiv 5 Departs Oita in Inland Sea with ZUIKAKU for Hittokappu Bay at Etorofu Island in the Kuriles to join the ships massing for the "Hawaii Operation". For this operation, the assigned complement of SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU had been increased beyond the standard 18 by reinforcement aircraft with aircrew temporarily assigned aboard from shore based training squadrons. ZUIKAKU carried 18 A6M, 27 D3A, and 27 B5N. Finally, an additional 12 spare aircraft of each type were embarked in a dis-assembled condition.
22 November 1941:
CarDiv 5 arrives at Hittokapu Bay as part of a last-minute addition to the Carrier Striking Force.
26 November: 1941
With VADM Nagumo Chuichi's First Air Fleet, departs Hittokappu Bay in the "Hawaii Operation" the attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Composition: CarDiv 1 AKAGI and KAGA; CarDiv 2 HIRYU and SORYU; CarDiv 5 SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU; BatDiv 3 first section HIEI and KIRISHIMA; CruDiv 8 TONE and CHIKUMA; and DesRon 1 ABUKUMA, Desdiv 17 ISOKAZE, URAKAZE, TANIKAZE, HAMAKAZE; DesDiv 18 ARARE, KAGERO, and SHIRANUHI.
8 December 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor ("Hawaii Operation")
Two strike waves launched against Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii at 0600 on Dec 7th local date. ZUIKAKU's first strike: 25 dive-bombers led by Lt.Cdr. Sakamoto Akira with 6 fighters. Second strike launched ninety minutes later, comprised of 27 bomb-armed torpedo planes led by LtCdr. Shimazaki Shigekazu. ZUIKAKU's planes assigned only land targets, due to inexperience. During the operations, ZUIKAKU launches her (now assembled) three spare Zeros to provide CAP over Kido Butai. Two aircraft out on reconnaissance were also lost, having to ditch because after failing to find the carriers when they diverged from the movement schedule. Nagumo orders a withdrawal following recovery of the second attack wave. ZUIKAKU has no aircraft damaged or lost in combat.
23 December 1941:
Return with AKAGI, KAGA, and SHOKAKU to Hashirajima.(CarDiv 2's HIRYU and SORYU had detached to hit Wake Island).
24 December 1941:
Arrive at Kure.
30 December 1941:
Dry-docked at Kure Navy Yard.
3 January 1942:
Undocked at Kure, proceeds to Hiroshima Bay on the 5th.
5 January 1942:
Departs Kure for Hiroshima Bay in company with SHOKAKU.
8 January 1942:
Depart Hiroshima for Truk to support capture of Rabaul.
14 January 1942:
Arrive at Truk.
16 January 1942:
Depart Truk assigned to "R" (Capture of New Britain) Operations from the 14th to 24th.
20 January 1942:
Operating With SHOKAKU off Kavieng, launch 6 fighters and 19 dive-bombers to attack Rabaul. Afterward head for eastern New Guinea.
21 January 1942:
Launch strikes with torpedo bombers Lae and Salamaua.
23 January 1942:
Covers the landings at Rabaul and Kavieng.
25 January 1942:
Operating 100 miles sougth of Truk, lands 16 A5M "Claude" fighters from Chitose Naval Air Group.
29 January 1942:
CarDiv 5 returns to Truk.
1 February 1942:
ZUIKAKU departs with the rest of the Striking Force (AKAGI and KAGA, HIEI, KIRISHIMA, CHIKUMA) for the pursuit of the enemy carrier force raiding the Marshall Islands. (SHOKAKU had departed the day before from Truk for Yokosuka. The move was coincidental and unrelated-- the Marshalls had not yet been raided). Destroyers SHIRANUHI, KASUMI, URAKAZE among screen. Upon abandonment of pursuit, head for Palau.
8 February 1942:
Assigned to Air Force under Combined Fleet, CarDiv 5.
9 February 1942:
Depart Palau for Yokosuka.
13 February 1942:
Arrive at Yokosuka. 16 February 1942:
Departs Yokosuka for a holding position in Mikawa Bay area, to be ready to intercept American carriers if they approach. Remains on alert there till the 28th.
28 February 1942:
Embarks her airgroup training at Suzuka Naval Base, then departs for Kure.
2 March 1942:
Arrives at Kure.
6 March 1942:
Departs Kure for Minami-Torishima (Marcus Island) area to intercept VADM W.F. Halsey's TF 16 after its raid. Unsuccessful.
10 March 1942:
Assigned to Striking Force, Screening Force, Main Body till the 15th.
11 March 1942:
With sister SHOKAKU, accompany ComFirstFleet VADM Shiro Takasu's ISE and HYUGA on a sortie to sweep for enemy believed to approaching the homeland.
16 March 1942:
Return to Yokosuka for resupply, no enemy contacts made.
17 March 1942:
Depart Yokosuka with SHOKAKU for Staring Bay to join "C" Operations. ARARE, KAGERO and AKIGUMO in screen.
24 March 1942:
Arrive at Staring Bay.
26 March 1942:
Depart Staring Bay for "C" Operations against the British in the Indian Ocean. Assignment, First Air Fleet, CarDiv 5, Striking Force, air attack force. Sortie with AKAGI, HIRYU, SORYU, ZUIKAKU; battleships KONGO, HIEI, HARUNA, KIRISHIMA; cruisers TONE, CHIKUMA, ABUKUMA and eleven destroyers: Desdiv 4 HAGIKAZE, MAIKAZE; Desdiv 17 URAKAZE, ISOKAZE, TANIKAZE, HAMAKAZE; Desdiv 18 KASUMI, SHIRANUHI, ARARE, KAGERO, with AKIGUMO;and fleet oiler SHINKOKU MARU.
3 April 1942:
Enters the Indian Ocean.
5 April 1942:
Launches 19 dive-bombers and 9 fighter against Colombo. Five dive-bombers lost in the operation.
9 April 1942:
Launches 18 torpedo bombers and 10 fighters against Trincomalee, Ceylon. Two fighters are lost. Later that day, launches 14 dive-bombers against British carrier HMS HERMES which participate in her sinking, claiming 13 hits.
10 April 1942:
As the carriers turn back for the Pacific, CinC Combined Fleet Yamamoto decides that CarDiv 5 will detach at Makou and participate in the MO Operation, the invasion of Port Moresby, New Guinea, in place of the KAGA, which had originally been presumed. The directive is made official 12 April.
18 April 1942:
While passing Formosa, SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU detach from Kido Butai with destroyers HAGIKAZE and MAIKAZE. Arriving at Makou the carriers embark provisions, while the destroyers are sent back to rejoin Nagumo.
19 April 1942:
Depart Mako to participate in "MO" Operation - the invasion of Port Moresby, New Guinea slated for 10 May - in the Coral Sea officially commencing 20 April. Screened by Desdiv 27 (ARIAKE, YUGURE, SHIGURE, SHIRATSUYU).
25 April 1942:
Arrive at Truk.
1 May 1942:
Carrying the flag of CarDiv 5 RADM Hara Chuichi depart Truk with SHOKAKU to participate in "MO" Operation as part of the The MO Striking Force. The force is under overall command of VADM Takagi Takeo (The victor of Java Sea) ComCruDiv 5 aboard MYOKO with HAGURO, with CarDiv 5 (RADM Hara Chuichi), six destroyers (Desdiv 27 ARIAKE, YUGURE, SHIGURE, SHIRATSUYU; Desdiv 7 USHIO, AKEBONO) and oiler TOHO MARU. The MO Striking Force's primary assignment is neutralize Australian air bases and to cover the Port Moresby invasion convoy's run-in. Takagi is also expected to deal with any U.S. carrier forces that might show up, but none were expected till CarDiv 5 was in stationed in the center of the Coral Sea.
2-3 May 1942
While waiting for the invasion to start, CarDiv 5 attempts to fly in 9 fighters to reinforce the Tainan Air Group at Rabaul, but is frustrated by bad weather. Further, this delays the MO Striking Force so that is is unable to intervene in TF 17's attack on Tulagi on 4 May.
Battle of the Coral Sea.
7 May 1942:
- 0610 Having reached a position some 300 miles southwest of Tulagi, and received sighting reports at 0522 and 0545 of enemy ships - including a carrier and cruiser -- well south of his position just where he expected them, Hara launches a full strike from his CarDiv 5 of 18 fighters, 36 dive-bombers and 24 torpedo planes under commmand of LtCdr. Takahashi Kikuichi (ZUIKAKU's share is 9 fighters, 18 dive-bombers, and 12 torpedo planes). Yet the strike is barely away when starting at 0620 and onwards the cruiser search planes begin sighting reports of forces south of Rossel Island and southwest of MO Striking Force, including enemy carriers. But these don't start reaching CarDiv 5 until about 0700 and Hara is not in a position to act on it yet. For logistical reasons it is undesirable to try to divert a mass strike in flight, and the original target is just as promsing as the new ones.
- 0915 Having reached the location of the supposed enemy task force and searched for two hours, but seeing only an oiler and destroyer reported earlier, LtCdr Takahashi gradually realize this is the "carrier and cruiser" reported Earlier. Resigned, Takahashi decides to attack it with his dive-bombers and sends the torpedo planes back to the carriers. At 0926 the Japanese dive bombers attack, sinking destoyer SIMs with three direct hits and gravely wounding the oiler, NEOSHO, with seven more, leaving her dead in the water and listing sharply to starboard.( Subsequently the embattled survivors of both NEOSHO and SIMs will endure a harrowing drift aboard a supposedly sinking vessel that nonetheless stays stubbornly afloat all the way to afternoon of May 11 when finally discovered by search flights and destroyer HENLEY reaches her. She then scuttles the gallant tanker. Others who abandoned ship too hastily on May 7 are never found, save for four picked up three days later). In the attack ZUIKAKU lost one D3A1; and another two were damaged upon landing back aboard.
- (Ironically, in this same time frame, the U.S. commander RADM Frank Fletcher in command of TF 17 with USS LEXINGTON and USS YORKTOWN had fallen into a similar, but more rewarding version of such an error. Acting on a mistaken report of the Japanese Louisiades invasion force as containing two carriers, both carriers of TF 17 had starting at 0725 launching a massive strike. By great fortune, on the way to the target one of the LEXINGTON planes happened to spot the Covering Force of RADM Goto Aritomo and the light carrier SHOHO first. Both waves pounced on the unlucky carrier, and the overwhelmed SHOHO went down at 0935. Furthermore, the carrier's sinking had another surprising effect. Earlier for a thrust westward, Fletcher had detached a three cruiser and three destroyer force of American, Australian and British ships under British Admiral J.C. Crace. This force managed to spectacularly beat off combined air attacks by the Japanese forces at Rabaul and Buna, and so disheartened Admiral VADM Inoue Shigeyoshi (CinC 4th Fleet and in overall charge) that at 0700 he gave the order for nothing less than the temporary suspension of the Port Moresby invasion operation. When news of SHOHO's sinking reached him a few hours later, it removed all doubt. His covering carrier lost, Inoue also lost all resolve. He even late that evening stripped the convoy of its escort, confirming his decision. Unaware the whole point of the contest had been decided, the Japanese and American carriers proceeded into grand action, the first carrier-to-carrier battle in history).
- 1430 CarDiv 5 launches to make a bold and risky nightfall attack on the reported American carriers. Admirals Takagi and Hara had made the decision in an effort to regain initiative, and selected their most night flying skilled pilots to participate. Sacrificing fighter cover (the Zeros aboard were not suited for night-flying escort) the 12 dive-bombers and 15 torpedo planes gamely fly to the very limits of their operational radius and well after twilight, only to find nothing and have to start back. Ironically, they had overflown TF 17, and ran into its CAP. Several are shot down, and even more amazingly, about six come within minutes of actually landing by mistake on YORKTOWN, only to spooked by gunfire at the last moment. To aid their return, Admiral Hara courageously orders CarDiv 5's searchlights switched on to give the planes a chance to land safely. But some are running out of fuel even then, and eleven crash or are damaged while landing. Only six of the strike lands intact. The rest shot down or operational losses.The cost of the dramatic twilight effort for ZUIKAKU was two D3A1 and 5 B5N2s.
8 May 1942
Carrier Battle of the Coral Sea.
- 0415 CarDiv 5 launches 7 attack planes for search; three from ZUIKAKU.
- 0620 CarDiv 5 is sighted by a scout bomber from LEXINGTON. Only two minutes later, one of the Japanese float planes sights TF-17 (YORKTOWN group). Hara received its message at 0630 and CarDiv 5 immediately responds by launching a strike at 0730 of 18 fighters, 33 bombers, and 18 torpedo planes commanded by Lt. Commander Takahashi Kakuichi of SHOKAKU. ZUIKAKU's share is 9 fighters, 14 dive-bombers, and 8 attack planes. The torpedo plane contingent of both carriers is led ZUIKAKU's by Lt.Cdr. Shimazaki Shigekazu.
- Just before 0900 the American strike closed on the southward steaming CarDiv 5. At the time ZUIKAKU was 9,000 meters ahead of SHOKAKU and by chance at that time with her screen of MYOKO and HAGURO and three destroyers found sanctuary in a rain squall, while ZUIKAKU launched 4 fighters to assist. This left SHOKAKU and her two cruisers (KINUGASA and FURUTAKA) to bear the brunt of the attack. SHOKAKU is hit by three bombs and severely damaged, but her speed is unimpaired. She is detached to head for home, while ZUIKAKU remains at the battlefield.
- In the meantime, CarDiv 5's strike had attacked the American carriers at almost exactly the same time, starting runs at 0910. Assisted by four ZUIKAKU attack planes, SHOKAKU's concentrated on LEXINGTON scoring two definite torpedo and bomb hits each and claiming more, while ZUIKAKU's went after YORKTOWN, hitting her with three bombs. Though LEXINGTON would later succumb to an unexpected series of induced av-gas vapor explosions, for ZUIKAKU's sister carrier the battle was over as well. At 1010 SHOKAKU had detached and left battle area at high speed.
- ZUIKAKU commenced recovering SHOKAKU's strike planes and her own at 1100. In all, it was a protracted process and ZUIKAKU took aboard forty-six planes from both carriers, while seven damaged ones were obliged to ditch. This was finished by 1230, after which it was planned to spot and launch a fresh attack. However, after taking inventory and finding his air strength too depleted, Takagi at 1300 cancels any further May 8 strike and at 1345 Inoue ordered Takagi to suspend attacks and retire, and at 1420 the invasion of Port Moresby was called off. Ending the Battle of the Coral Sea for ZUIKAKU too. In today's operations ZUIKAKU had lost 4 A6M2,6 D3A1, and 9 B5N2s.
9 May 1942:
Refueled from TOHO MARU during the day; then in afternoon steamed southward to attempt to renew contact.
10 May 1942:
1000 Having failed to locate any enemy other than the derelict NEOSHO drifting, Takagi breaks off any further probe and heads to off Rabaul to be in position to deliver fighters and cover the invasion of Ocean and Nauru Islands. (That venture is postponed, and ZUIKAKU ordered to Japan on May 12).That afternoon, the suspended Port Moresby invasion is officially postponed until July after the Midway operation. At battle's end heading back to Japan, ZUIKAKU has operational 13 dive-bombers, 8 torpedo planes, and 24 fighters. Non-operational were 1 fighter, 4 dive-bombers, and 2 attack planes. Thus in the two days, ZUIKAKU had lost 1 fighter, 8 dive-bombers, and 14 attack planes. Of these, the crew had been lost from the fighter, 4 dive-bombers, and 9 attack planes. As a result, her own air group had suffered heavy attrition.(Note 1)
14 May 1942:
Combined Fleet receives report that both CarDiv 5's carriers have suffered losses in air crews and wouldn't be available for the MI Operation.(Note 2).
15 May 1942:
Return to Truk for quick refuel and replenishment. Depart for Kure the next day with USHIO and AKEBONO in the screen.
16 May 1942:
- 1600 (1700 K-time kept by sub) GREENLING - submerged 1 mile east of reef marking southern edge of Northeast Pass sights ZUIKAKU "carrier with island" and four destroyers inside Truk Lagoon moving rapidly toward North Pass. Sub's position is 4.5 miles, bearing 080 from there, and begins to close to within 2 miles "in case the above movement sould be feint." However, interception proves impossible.
- 1822 (1922 K-time) GREENLING reports contact with carrier. (The next day, same thing happens with two Nachi-class or Atago-class cruisers at 1702 (King time).
21 May 1942:
- 0153 ZUIKAKU and destroyer are detected by USS POLLACK in position 31-71'N, 131-32'E on course 080 making 20 knots. Having initially mis-identified the target type and speed POLLACK has little time to close before ZUIKAKU crosses her path from left to right, and opts to fire four torpedoes at 2,000 yards at ZUIKAKU's starboard side at 0208, but all four miss.
- Arrive at Kure. Once back in Japan, her air crews are not immediately reconstituted. This was due to the fact that transfer of personnel to other units had already been scheduled before Coral Sea to replace other vacancies and transfers. Further, at this time, the rule of `one aircrew per aircraft' generally applied, and losses in either one could upset the balance. Such obstacles and shufflings could not be easily overcome or reversed. Since the Japanese felt they had sunk two carriers and won the Battle of Coral Sea, such measures seemed unnecessary. ZUIKAKU had thus also been dropped with her battle-damaged sister from the first phase of the Midway Operation line-up.
5 June 1942:
Captain Yokokawa relieved by Captain Nomoto Tameki (44th class).
11 June 1942:
ZUIKAKU departs Kure.
14 June 1942:
Arrives at Hashirajima anchorage.
15 June 1942:
Departs Hashirajima for Ominato to participate in the third phase of the Aleutian Operations.
20 Jun 1942:
Assigned to RADM Kakuta Kajuji's # 2 Striking Force, KdB 2.
23 June 1942:
Arrive at Ominato. There meet up with JUNYO, RYUJO, and ZUIHO.
25 June 1942:
Assigned to Kido Butai #2 Striking Force, 1st Air Fleet Cardiv 5 of Northern Force.
28 June 1942:
Depart Ominato with KdB2's RYUJO, JUNYO, and ZUIHO to patrol the waters south of Kiska.
6 July 1942:
Leave the waters south of the Aleutians and head for the homeland.
12 July 1942:
Arrives at Oita Bight.
13 July 1942:
Departs Oita for Hashirajima.
14 July 1942:
Reassigned to Striking Force, 3rd Fleet, CarDiv 1 with SHOKAKU and ZUIHO. In a ceremony conducted on the flight deck and photographed, the crew stand in honor as the flag of ComCarDiv 5 Hara is struck, and he leaves the carrier.
20 July 1942:
Departs Hashirajima for Kure.
30 July 1942:
Enter drydock at Kure.
12 August 1942:
Undocked from drydock.
15 August 1942:
At Hashirajima, today rejoined by repaired sister ship SHOKAKU. SHOKAKU is flagship of CarDiv 1 VADM Nagumo Chuichi.
16 August 1942:
Assigned to Main Body, Striking Force, 3rd Fleet, CarDiv 1. (Sister-ship SHOKAKU is flagship).
- 1800 Depart Hashirajima to support ground offensive operations on Guadalcanal (invaded by the allies on August 7) and interdict enemy carrier forces in the area with carriers SHOKAKU and RYUJO; BatDiv 11 (HIEI and KIRISHIMA); CruDiv 7 (KUMANO and SUZUYA); CruDiv 8 (TONE, CHIKUMA, NAGARA and destroyers of Desron 10's Desdiv 10 (MAKIGUMO, YUGUMO, KAZAGUMO, AKIGUMO; Desdiv 16 (AMATSUKAZE, TOKITSUKAZE, HATSUKAZE, ) and attached (AKIZUKI).
21 August 1942:
- Scheduled stopover at Truk is canceled by CinC Yamamoto who instructs that Nagumo refuel at sea from oilers in order to hasten on directly toward Guadalcanal.
- 0500 Nagumo fleet rendezvous temporarily with Kondo's Advanced Force, then they divide to advance to their assigned positions. Their mission is primarily to draw out into batle the three covering U.S. carriers of Admiral Fletcher's TF-61 known to be somewhere east or southeast of Guadalcanal. Secondarily, Kido Butai and the Advanced Force were to support the large three-transport reinforcement convoy bound for Guadalcanal led by ComDesRon 2 Tanaka Raizo aboard JINTSU.
23 August 1942:
- 0750 Tanaka's convoy is sighted by a Catalina, and Tanaka requests direct air cover. Combined Fleet demurs; Nagumo's carriers must be held in reserve in case the US carriers are found and a launch will betray their position. As compromise, it is agreed that if no American carriers were sighted in the morning of August 24, then Nagumo's carriers would launch protection for the convoy. The timing proves prescient.
- 1625 Having rec'd report of Kondo's Advanced Force being sighted, to avoid further detection Nagumo swings Kido Butai north for the night, and Kondo's follows the Main Body's lead.
24 August 1942:
Carrier Battle of the Eastern Solomons (IJN -"Second Solomons Sea Battle")
- 0200 No American carriers having been sighted yet, Nagumo detaches RYUJO, TONE and destroyers AMATSUKAZE and TOKITSUKZE under RADM Hara Chuichi in TONE to proceed independently due south to conduct direct support operations from a position ahead of it for Tanaka's inbound convoy scheduled to land the next day. Six destroyers: Desdiv 10 AKIGUMO, KAZAGUMO, MAKIGUMO,YUGUMO; with AKIZUKI and HATSUKAZE attached, form the modest direct screen for CarDiv 1.
- 0400 The Main Body and Advanced Force set course 150 degrees and increase speed to 20 knots to close the anticipated location where enemy carriers will be sighted.
- 0415 CarDiv 1 launches 19 torpedo bombers for search, augmented by 7 seaplanes from Kondo's cruisers. Nagumo orders a standby ready strike prepared comprised of dive-bombers. Torpedo armed planes are to be held in reserve till follow-up strikes.
- 1250 Upon receiving a CHIKUMA search plane sighting report of TF-61's carriers (SARATOGA and ENTERPRISE; TF-18's WASP had been detached south to refuel at 1623 23 August) CarDiv 1 launches a strike. Though the floatplane had been shot down before it could give a position, Nagumo's staff was able to accurately estimate the location from the search schedule. SHOKAKU puts up 18 dive-bombers and four fighters led by LtCdr. Seki Mamoru. ZUIKAKU launched nine dive-bombers led by Lt. Otsuka Reijiro and six fighters at 1300 to join them.
- 1315 While still launching the strike wave, SHOKAKU is suddenly dive-bombed by two ENTERPRISE search bombers. Though the new radar room had detected them and sent warning to the bridge in a radar "first" for Kido Butai, it is not received in time. But lookouts spot them at the last minute and Captain Arima turns full right and just evades the bombs. Because of this close-call as soon as the strike is away, SHOKAKU immediately commits her last 11 fighters to reinforce the CAP.
- 1400 CarDiv 1 launches a second strike. SHOKAKU sends 9 dive-bombers and 3 fighters, joining 18 dive-bombers and 6 fighters from ZUIKAKU. The strike is led by Lt. Takahashi Sadamu.
- 1440 CarDiv 1's first strike reaches the US carriers. Though the Japanese sighted and intended to atack both carriers, confusion results in all the strike attacking the ENTERPRISE's TF-16 group. Three bomb hits damage the carrier, but no torpedoes hit and the Japanese lose 18 dive-bombers and 6 fighters in the strike. A fair number of them downed by the massed AA batteries of the new battleship NORTH CAROLINA.
- 1630 Following an erroneous contact position, CarDiv 1's second strike led by Lt. Takahashi fails to locate the temporarily crippled ENTERPRISE or the SARATOGA and at this time reaches its closest point. Thereupon they are forced to make their way back to CarDiv 1 for a dangerous landing after sunset. Gamely, Admiral Nagumo orders searchlights turned on, and all but five dive-bombers return safely; one of those dive-bombers crew is at least rescued. After that, Nagumo orders a retirement to refuel, and the battle winds down.
- 1815 ZUIKAKU recovers her second strike, 6 fighters and 16 dive-bombers making it back.
- (In the overall sense, though they believed they had set afire and badly damaged two carriers, the Battle of Eastern Solomons was a clear defeat for the Japanese. The detached RYUJO had been pounced upon at 1400 and dispatched by SARATOGA's planes and throughout the battle and after Tanaka's hapless convoy was left almost to its own devices, and after air attacks at 0800 next morning mauled his flagship JINTSU and sank a transport, Combined Fleet canceled the reinforcement landing at 0730 August 25.)
25 August 1942:
TONE, AMATSUKAZE, and TOKITSUKAZE rejoin Kido Butai.
Assigned to Support force, striking force main body (3rd Fleet, CarDiv 1). In Truk area throughout.
5 September 1942:
Arrives at Truk.
10 September 1942:
Early morning depart Truk with Second and Third Fleets to operate north of Guadalcanal in support of operations.
23 September 1942:
Return to Truk, no attacks launched.
11 October 1942:
- 1000 As part of VADM Nagumo Chuichi's Main Body, Third Fleet (CarDiv 1: SHOKAKU, ZUIKAKU, ZUIHO; cruiser KUMANO; DesDiv 16: AMATSUKAZE, HATSUKAZE, TOKITSUKAZE, YUKIKAZE;DesDiv 4: ARASHI, MAIKAZE; and Attached: TERUZUKI and HAMAKAZE) ZUIKAKU departs Truk with the Second and Third Fleets for an extended sortie. The mission was to cover a major Guadalcanal convoy reinforcement and then in the following week, a projected major ground operations by the Imperial Japanese Army aimed at recapturing Henderson Field.(Note: For clarity - Not till after the end of the month and after the Battle of Santa Cruz would these units return to Truk). These forces were under the collective command as "Support Force" of VADM Kondo Nobutake, whose flagship was ATAGO. The Support Force was comprised two main sections: Kondo's own Second Fleet Advanced Force which included CarDiv 2 with the new carriers JUNYO and HIYO, and Admiral Nagumo's Kido Butai, CarDiv 1 (SHOKAKU, ZUIKAKU, ZUIHO). Operating at distances as great as 100 miles ahead of Nagumo's carriers, was the Vanguard Force of RADM Abe Hiroaki in HIEI. These three powerful formations took up long-term station northeast of the Solomons and north of the Santa Cruz Islands as any US carrier thrust was expected from the east.
15 October 1942
- 0937 Having received a sighting report of a small U.S. convoy to the east of Guadalcanal identified as a light cruiser and a 300-ton tugboat towing what looked like a floating dock, SHOKAKU launches a strike of 8 fighters, 21 dive-bombers, joined by 9 ZUIKAKU torpedo bombers. (ZUIHO did not participate). At 1025 they swarm upon the little force, comprised of destroyer MEREDITH and fleet tug VIREO towing a gasoline barge. The Japanese focus on the destroyer, sinking MEREDITH within ten minutes by multiple bomb and three torpedo hits for the loss of one dive-bomber and two torpedo planes.
25 October 1944:
- 1918 The Support Force received notice and instruction from CinC Yamamoto aboard YAMATO at Truk that allied forces including carriers would appear in the area northeast of the Solomons and that the fleet was to seek to destroy it on the 26th.(This notice was correct: in the forenoon on Oct 24 a powerful US fleet comprised of two carrier task forces (TF-16 ENTERPRISE and TF 17 HORNET) under tactical command of RADM Thomas Kinkaid as TF-61 aboard ENTERPRISE had been ordered by W.F. Halsey to conduct a bold sweep north around the Santa Cruz Islands and then ending up in the Coral Sea. This put the Japanese and American carrier forces on a collision course and the result was the Battle of Santa Cruz.)
26 October 1942:
Carrier Battle of Santa Cruz (IJN - "Naval Battle of the South Pacific"):
- 0050 A PBY makes a surprise attack on Kido Butai, dropping four 500 lb bombs 300 meters to starboard of ZUIKAKU. No damage to either CarDiv 1 carrier, but Nagumo orders the second wave planes in the hangars degassed and disarmed and for Kido Butai to reverse course north at 0130 for the time being.
- 0210 A message from the Japanese Army on Guadalcanal dashes hopes that they have re-taken Henderson Field. But though it seems the Army's effort has failed, by now Kido Butai is seeking battle with enemy carriers.
- 0245 Nagumo launches nine torpedo bombers on assigned search mission, four of them from ZUIKAKU. He then takes the precaution of keeping his pilots on flight deck beside a spotted and ready first strike on CarDiv 1's flight decks, awaiting word from his searches.
- 0450 But lookouts having detected enemy scout bombers, expecting attack, SHOKAKU is forced to launch immediately nine fighters including four detached from the strike to join the three already on CAP duty. ZUIKAKU also added eight as well.(The guess was correct - Two scouts from ENTERPRISE had sighted and reported Nagumo's position at this time. This drew other scout bombers to the area.).
- 0458 Nagumo receives sighting report from a SHOKAKU search plane of one Saratoga-class CV and 15 other ships bearing 125 degrees, distance 210 miles from Kido Butai. He orders immediate launch of the spotted strike, and also sends SHOKAKU's fast scout plane aloft to double-check the sighting.
- 0510 SHOKAKU launches 4 fighters and 20 torpedo planes. At 0525 ZUIKAKU launches 21 dive-bombers led by Lt. Takahashi Sadamu with 8 fighters led by Lt. Shirane Ayao. (This strike attacks HORNET in TF 17 at 0705 and scores four hits - one by a crashing dive-bomber whose bomb fails to detonate- with the loss of 12 dive-bombers.) Nagumo recovers some CAP, then orders the armed second-wave raised from the hangars to the flight decks for launch. At the same time Kondo's Advanced Force and the Vanguard Force of Abe turn hard eastward to close the enemy for surface battle. This puts them in the path to be attacked first by approaching American attacks.
- 0540 Kido Butai is suddenly bombed by two ENTERPRISE search bombers which attack ZUIHO then 8,000 meters abeam of SHOKAKU's port side. They score a remarkably effective 500 pound bomb hit on ZUIHO's fantail which makes her unable to recover aircraft. Her strike wave already aloft won't be able to return to their mother ship. This complicates CarDiv 1's flight operations load. Fearing a repeat of the Midway disaster, the Japanese expedite launch preparations for the second wave; fuel carts being simply rolled overboard to lessen danger while even aviators assist the deck personnel in loading torpedoes faster.
- 0610 SHOKAKU launches 3 CAP and her second strike wave of 5 fighters and 20 dive-bombers under command of Lt. Seki Mamoru. Though ZUIKAKU was not ready to launch yet, Nagumo decided to split the strike, bearing the lessons of Midway in mind. (In the event ZUIKAKU would not launch her second wave for almost an hour more).
- 0640 SHOKAKU's radar detects inbound enemy strike, 78 miles away. A CAP of twenty-three fighters is readied over the carriers. (This early example of IJN carrier using radar had detected USS HORNET's first strike wave of 15 dive-bombers with 8 fighters and 6 torpedo planes launched at 0530).
- 0650 Nagumo orders Kido Butai to turn and speed north, to open range, with the exception of ZUIKAKU which has to turn southeast into the wind to launch her strike and is detached for this purpose.
- 0700 As the HORNET strike approaches Kido Butai, the ZUIKAKU quickly begins launching her share of the second wave (4 fighters led by WO Katsuma Shigemi and 16 torpedo planes led by Lt. Imajuku Shigeichio. This second strike attacks ENTERPRISE in TF 16 at 0845 and lost 2 fighters and 8 torpedo planes; three torpedoes hit cruiser PENSACOLA, but all are duds.), then veers for the cover of low clouds.
- 0710 Even as American planes begin to attack Kido Butai, word is received that the first strike wave is attacking their target carrier (HORNET).
- 0730 SHOKAKU is put out of action by four to six direct bomb hits. While SHOKAKU continues to burn while maintaining full speed, word comes in of her own first strike wave's results. CarDiv 1's aircraft had attacked TF-17 at 0710, crippling HORNET with three bomb hits and two suicide crashes from ZUIKAKU dive-bombers and two torpedo hits from SHOKAKU torpedo planes that left her dead in the water. However, SHOKAKU lost 10 torpedo planes and one fighter in this strike.
- 0810 ZUIKAKU lands fighters, then launches 6 for CAP.
- At 0908 SHOKAKU's second strike attacked TF-16, severely damaging ENTERPRISE with two bomb hits, but the nimble U.S. carrier avoided all subsequent torpedo attacks.
- At 0818 Nagumo had ordered JUNYO to close ZUIKAKU and coordinate with her, and rather than delay ZUIKAKU's effort he doest not attempt to transfer his flag, but remains on crippled SHOKAKU to await opportunity for transhipment to a destroyer. At 0940 SHOKAKU and ZUIHO retire northwest at 28 knots guarded by ARASHI, MAIKAZE and HATSUKAZE, separating from ZUIKAKU which sets about landing "orphaned" aircraft at 0940. Of these, 5 SHOKAKU torpedo planes and 1 fighter are unable to do so, and ditch. ZUIKAKU does land 10 fighters, 1 dive-bomber, and 8 torpedo planes.
- 1106 ZUIKAKU launches her third strike of the day led by Lt. Tanaka Ichiro, with 5 fighters, 2 dive-bombers, and 7 torpedo-planes, the last armed not with torpedoes, but 800kg bombs.(This strike attacks crippled HORNET of TF 17 at 1341-1355, scoring one direct hit by 800 kg bomb, and one near-miss).
- 1120 After third strike is away, ZUIKAKU lands 5 fighters, 7 dive-bombers, and a recon torpedo plane from SHOKAKU, then 7 torpedo planes of her own.
- 1315 ZUIKAKU is placed officially under the command of ComCardiv 2 RADM Kakuta Kakuji and the two flattops plant to resume the battle, but intelligence reports now suggest that all the enemy carriers have been suk or damaged.
- After landing the returning third wave, ZUIKAKU had aboard 38 fighters, 10 dive-bombers, and 19 attack planes.
- 2300 Three radar-equipped PBYs armed with bombs and torpedoes attack the ZUIKAKU and JUNYO. A near-miss off the starboard beam damages destroyer TERUZUKI, but ZUIKAKU is not damaged.
27 October 1942:
1332 Flag of CarDiv 1 transferred to ZUIKAKU from destroyer ARASHI as Nagumo finally catches up with the carrier. Recalled, the battle over, ZUIKAKU and JUNYO head for Truk.
30 October 1942:
ZUIKAKU and JUNYO return to Truk.
4 November 1942:
- Depart Truk for Kure with MYOKO convoyed by HATSUKAZE and TOKITSUKAZE.
9 November 1942:
Arrive at Kure.
21 November 1942:
Transferred to Tokuyama Bay.
6 December 1942:
Arrives at Murozumi Bight. Throought December is engaged in air training exercises with MUSASHI, NAGATO, and YAMASHIRO.
10 December 1942:
Arrives at Tokuyama Bay.
16 December 1942:
Arrives at Kure.
22 December 1942:
Arrives at Iwaishima Island.
26 December 1942:
Depart Kure for Yokosuka via stopover at Oita Bight.
28 December 1942:
Arrive at Yokosuka.(It appears during this time ZUIKAKU had a type-21 radar fitted atop the Type-94 director; radar like that carried aboard sister SHOKAKU since August 1942. However, the ZUIKAKU's ensemble was now surrounded by a circular splinter shield which hereafter provides a way to distinguish the two sisters).(Note 3).
31 December 1942:
Depart Yokosuka for Truk ferrying the personnel of IJAAF 45th Sentai and its Kawasaki Ki-48 Type 99 ("Lily") light bombers. Accompanied by HATSUKAZE and TOKITSUKAZE.
4 January 1943:
Arrive at Truk.
7 January 1943:
Depart Truk for Japan with MUTSU, SUZUYA, and Des Div 6's INAZUMA, DesDiv 19's ISONAMI, DesDiv 27's ARIAKE. DesDiv 20's AMAGIRI also joins the escort from Saipan to Kure.
12 January 1943:
Arrive at Oita, then on the 14th shifts to Kure.
16 January 1943:
Departs Kure for Iwakuni Bight.
17 January 1943:
Arrives at Iwakuni.
18 January 1943:
Flying the flag of ComThirdFleet, depart Iwakuni for Truk with ZUIHO. Among the escorts is YUKIKAZE.
23 January 1943:
Arrive at Truk.
29 January- 8 February 1943:
Operation KE - Evacuation of Guadalcanal: Departed Truk for Ontong Java Island area north of Guadalcanal with carriers ZUIHO, JUNYO to cover withdrawl of ground forces. Returned to Truk. On 29 January, ZUIKAKU, ZUIHO, detached 36 fighter Advance Group to Rabaul to cover evacuation. Returned to Truk.
11 February 1943:
A segment of air group is flow into Buin.
A section of air group is detached to Kavieng.
1 April 1943:
ZUIKAKU and ZUIHO ordered by cinC Yamamoto to perform "Operation I-GO" the reinforcement of Rabaul, by delivering aircraft to reinforce the 11th Air Fleet at Rabaul.
Fighter and dive-bomber squadrons are detached to Rabaul and Buin, while the torpedo-bomber squadron is detached to Kavieng and Rabaul.
17 April 1943:
Returns to Truk.
3 May 1943:
Depart Truk for homeland with ZUIHO, convoyed by YUKIKAZE.
8 May 1943:
Arrive at Yokosuka.
Departs Kure for Yokosuka in response to the 12 May U.S. invasion of Attu in the Aleutians.
Departs Yokosuka for Kisarazu. Joins sister SHOKAKU, cruisers AGANO and OYODO. Other units massing in region as well eventually include CruDiv 7 MOGAMI, KUMANO, SUZUYA from Tokuyama; BatDiv 1's MUSASHI, Bat Div 3: KONGO, HARUNA, CarDiv 2: JUNYO, HIYO, CruDiv 8: TONE, CHIKUMA, all from Truk. Before force could sail to Aleutians, Attu fell to U.S. forces.
29 May 1943:
Returns to Yokosuka.
31 May 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for Kure with SHOKAKU.
2 June 1943:
Returned to Kure.
11 June 1943:
Drydocked at Kure.
19 June 1943:
Leave Kure drydock.
21 June 1943:
Captain Notomo releived by Captain Kikuchi Tomozo (45th class).
24 June 1943:
Departs Kure for a training cruise in western Inland Sea.
10 July 1943:
Depart Kure for Truk a few hours behind sister-ship SHOKAKU; they will be re-united at Truk.
15 July 1943:
Arrive at Truk.
18-25 September 1943:
As part of CarDiv 1 sortied from Truk to Brown Island (Eniwetok) with battleships YAMATO and NAGATO and cruisers TAKAO, ATAGO, MYOKO, HAGURO and destroyer screen. Fleet under VADM Ozawa Jisaburo's tactical command advancing in response to U.S. Task Force 15 carrier raids on Tarawa and Makin.
20 - 23 September 1943:
At Brown Island (Eniwetok Atoll), depart on the 23rd back for Truk.
25 September 1943:
Returned to Truk.
15 October 1943:
16 October 1943:
Return to Truk.
17-26 October 1943:
Sortied from Truk in a second advance to Brown Island (Eniwetok) with Combined Fleet under ADM Koga's command in response to U.S. Task Force 16 carrier raids on Wake Island. YAMATO, MUSASHI, FUSO, NAGATO, KONGO, HARUNA; cruisers TAKAO,, ATAGO, MAYA, CHOKAI, MOGAMI, SUZUYA, TONE, CHIKUMA, AGANO, OYODO and destroyer screen.
17 October 1943:
19 October 1943:
Arrives at Brown Island.
20 October 1943:
CinC Koga orders preparation for Operation RO; the reinforcement of the Rabaul and New Britain air forces with his carrier air groups.
22 October 1943:
Photograph taken of assembled fleet at Eniwetok on this day shows SHOKAKU to the right.
23 October 1943:
Departs Brown Island for Truk.
26 October 1943:
Returned to Truk.
30 October-13 November 1943 Operation RO - Reinforcement of Rabaul:
Transferred designated sections of air group ashore to Truk. They then departed the airfields commencing on 1 November and flew south to reinforce Rabaul's land-based units as required.
7 December 1943:
Depart Truk for Kure.
12 December 1943:
Return to Kure.
18 December 1943:
Captain Kikuchi releived by Captain Kaizuka Takeo (46th class).
8 January 1944:
Enter drydock at Kure.
17 January 1944:
Undocked from drydock.
Departs Kure for a training cruise in western Inland Sea.
6 February 1944:
Depart Sumoto Bay via Tokuyama with SHOKAKU for Singapore. Accompanied by cruisers CHIKUMA and YAHAGI escorted by five destroyers (DesDiv 61 HATSUZUKI and WAKAZUKI) and Desdiv 10 (AKIGUMO, KAZAGUMO, and ASAGUMO).
13 February 1944: Arrive at Singapore with SHOKAKU. Singapore designated the new advance base of "decisive operations". Air Group is landed.
15 February 1944:
Air Group 601 officially established for Cardiv 1.
20 February 1944:
ZUIKAKU (alone) departs Singapore for Kure.
27 February 1944:
Arrive at Kure.(Note: some sources link an aircraft from ZUIKAKU with assisting the apparent sinking of submarine USS GRAYBACK on this date in the East China Sea. However, the plane in question was land-based, a Type-97 B5N2 flying out of Oroku, on Okinawa.)[Grayback last known position 31-50'N, 127-45'E).
Departs Kure for a training cruise in western Inland Sea.
8 March 1944:
ZUIKAKU departs Sumoto Bay for Singapore in plane-ferry role, with several modern aircraft of B6N1s and A6M5s for service with Air Group 601 embarked. BatDiv 3 KONGO, HARUNA, cruiser MOGAMI, and DesDiv 10's AKIGUMO, KAZAGUMO, and ASAGUMO provide a strong screen.
11 March 1944:
At 1228 (1128 H-time kept by sub) the task Force is contacted by USS LAPON (SS-260), but despite closing the starboard flank to 3,200 yards and about to shoot, a sudden zig away at 1314 takes the opportunity away.
14 March 1944:
Arrive at Seletar with MOGAMI, the two having detached from the others proceeding to Lingga.
20 March 1944:
Depart Singapore; arrive Lingga.
25 March 1944:
Depart Lingga; arrive Singapore; enters drydock on the 26th at Seletar. Left behind at Lingga, sister SHOKAKU becomes flagship of ComThirdFleet.
31 March 1944:
Undocked at Seletar.
3 April 1944:
Departs Singapore for Lingga.
30 April 1944:
Arrives off Lubang.
2 May 1944:
Dry-docked at Seletar; undocked next day.
6 May 1944:
7 May 1944:
Arrives at Lingga.
12 May 1944:
Depart Lingga for Tawi-Tawi anchorage with TAIHO and SHOKAKU.
13 May 1944:
- 0618 (0818 G-time Z-7 kept by sub) Off the western coast of Borneo the USS LAPON (ss-260) confirms a contact made ten minutes prior as the Mobile Fleet. The submarine observes three carriers, apparently CarDiv 1, as one is TAIHO. The submarine is apparently detected, and depth-charged, but none are particularly close. LAPON surfaces at sunset and reports. A wolf-pack attempts to assemble.
14 May 1944:
- 1400 (1300 H-time kept by sub) The Mobile Fleet is spotted 40 miles northwest of Tawi Tawi by USS BONEFISH (SS-223). At 0120 May 15 the submarine reports the sighting.
15 May 1944:
- 1030 Arrive at Tawi-Tawi.
13 June 1944:
- With raids on Saipan the past two days, Ozawa anticipates the situation and orders departure to start the trek toward the Philippine Sea and Saipan beyond.
- Morning: ZUIKAKU departs Tawi-Tawi as part of CarDiv 1 with TAIHO and SHOKAKU screened by Crudiv 5 HAGURO, MYOKO; DesRon 10 YAHAGI, ASAGUMO, ISOKAZE, URAKAZE, HATSUZUKI, WAKAZUKI, AKIZUKI, and SHIMOTSUKI to go via stopover at Guimaras (Philippines) into the Philippine Sea to Saipan's defense.
- 1830 Combined Fleet orders "A-GO" preparations.
14 June 1944:
- Afternoon the `Alert' for "A-GO" Operation is received as ZUIKAKU arrives at Guimaras.
15 June 1944:
- 0717 "A-GO" Operation activated.
- 0800 Depart Guimaras toward the Visayan Sea with Mobile Fleet for the Battle of the Marianas. ComBatDiv 1 VADM Ugaki Matome's "KON" Force has not yet overtaken and rejoined them.(See next entry).
- 1730 CarDiv 1 passes through San Bernardino Straits into the Philippine Sea headed for Saipan.
16 June 1944:
- 1550 BatDiv 1 and the cancelled third Kon Force from Batjan rejoins, and now complete, the Mobile Fleet immediately commences refueling operations. (BatDiv 1's YAMATO and MUSUASHI had departed Tawi Tawi at 1600 10 June for a third operation aimed at relieving Biak, only for the imminence of the invasion of Saipan itself to become clear, leading to A-GO's implementation and their recall.)
17 June 1944:
- 1530 The full Mobile Fleet completes refueling operations and starts for the designated battle position.
- 2015 (Sub also using Tokyo time) The USS CAVALLA (SS-244) identfies a radar contact made as large carrier task force advancing in the Philippine Sea. Commendably, Cdr. H.J. Kossler passes up a chance to attack a large carrier to be sure to radio a contact warning report for TF 58. At 2245 after surfacing she transmits the message to Commander Submarines Pacific and Cominch (Nimitz) both, then sets off in pursuit.
18-20 June 1944 Battle of the Philippine Sea (IJN - Battle of the Marianas)
In company with flagship TAIHO and sister SHOKAKU participates as part of CarDiv 1 in all three days of the Battle of the Marianas.
18 June 1944:
- 1520 A SHOKAKU search plane reports an enemy task force 380 miles from Yap Island.
- 2000 Mobile Fleet splits up as planned, with the Vanguard Force pushing out ahead. Ozawa has also decided to wait till next morning to launch CarDiv 1's plane awaiting further clarification of the situation.
19 June 1944:
- 0530 On basis of a series of sighting reports of U.S carriers received now, Ozawa decides to launch major strike.
- 0756 CarDiv 1 (TAIHO, ZUIKAKU, SHOKAKU) commences launching its first big strike of 48 fighters, 53 bombers, and 27 torpedo armed planes led by Lt.Cdr. Tarui Akira.
- 0800 Narrowly avoids torpedo attack when the stalking submarine ALBACORE switches from ZUIKAKU to the TAIHO following on her port hand as target. At 0810 the TAIHO is hit by one torpedo in the starboard bow, but maintains pace and place in the formation. Destroyer HATSUZUKI is left behind to "hold the sub down" and Cardiv 1 Flight operations proceed as intended.
- 1020 ZUIKAKU launches a second strike of 4 fighters and 4 bmbers to join the fourth big raid on TF 58. TAIHO has suspended flight operations due to gas vapor issues, and SHOKAKU has CAP duty, and do not participate.
- 1122 ZUIKAKU's sister ship SHOKAKU at rear of formation is hit by three torpedoes from submarine CAVALLA and set afire. For a while she continues to follow, but flooding and fires increase and she stops and is left behind by ZUIKAKU and TAIHO. Cruiser YAHAGI detaches and stays with SHOKAKU with destroyer URAKAZE.
- 1350 As Raid I planes begin to return, ZUIKAKU is forced to try to accomodate what she can of her now sinking sister SHOKAKU's aircraft. By this time av-gas vapor leakage on TAIHO is so severe that most - but not all - of her planes try to land on ZUIKAKU as well.
- At 1432 the TAIHO is wracked by a truly tremendous explosion and immediately brought to a halt. A series of induced explosions and fires engulf the flagship, ultimately dooming her. ZUIKAKU proceeds alone, not requested to slow to receive the flag. With all carriers of Cardiv 1 sunk save for herself, ZUIKAKU is forced to try to accomodate as much of their aircraft as possible, made easier by the staggering losses suffered in today's air offensives: 244 of 374 planes launched in four strikes by the Mobile Fleet had been lost.
20 June 1944:
Battle of the Philippine Sea
- 1130 The Mobile Fleet gathers at the designated refueling point and after many delays, commences refueling from the tankers.
- 1202 HAGURO with TAIHO survivors aboard catches up and comes alongside, and ComThirdFleet Ozawa Jisaburo transfers his flag and surviving staff of TAIHO to ZUIKAKU.
- 1410 Anti-aircraft action against enemy recon planes. Prepare for attack. None comes.
- 1500 Upon receiving an intercept by ATAGO of an enemy recon report, Ozawa orders the fueling canceled, and to get underway to the northwest at 24 knots.
- 1725 Upon receipt of a report from a scout plane of a very large inbound American attack force, ZUIKAKU launches 9 fighters, all she had ready, to join 8 fighters already in CarDiv 1's CAP. Crudiv 5's HAGURO and MYOKO, together with YAHAGI and seven destroyers close in circle around her to provide a vigorous AA defense. Though no battleships are present in CarDiv 1's section, they prove enough.
- 1730-1746 Mobile Fleet subjected to massive attck just before dusk by large daring late afternoon strike launched by TF 58. Having flown over 275 miles, it now comprised about 95 fighters, 54 torpedo planes (most armed with bombs instead) and 77 dive-bombers. The strike from TG 58.1 single out their old adversary for attack, with planes from HORNET, YORKTOWN, and BELLEAU WOOD making concerted attacks, bracketing the carrier with bombs. Despite the fierce attack, because of the growing darkness, heavy AA and evasive action, ZUIKAKU received only one direct 250-kg bomb hit. It struck just aft of the island, and penetrated the flight deck edge on the starboard side near the twin funnels and HA gun position. The bomb exploded in the upper hangar, starting fires there and on the flight deck, but miraculously the new splinter shileds hold and the AA gun crew only 3 meters away are unharmed. Six close near misses by bombs, but the only two torpedoes dropped on her are avoided. A fire is started among aircraft in No.1 hangar. They had been de-gassed, but the MG ammo in them started cooking off. With fire raging, confusion ensues when explosion shatters water mains near the air ducts, causing water to pour into the radio room, boiler rooms, and secondary battery room. Because of this and reports of water coming in the machinery spaces, for a few moments the situation seemed worse than it was, and someone gave a premature order to Abandon Ship. However, it was almost immediately rescinded by the bridge. Damage control worked skillfully to master the fires, but it was necessary to activate the foam extinguisher system for a short burst to subdue it. By full dark, the situation was under control and the carrier remained fully navigable on her own power.
- However, two hours after the fire in No.1 hanger had subsided, another fire broke out. It had been started by overhead ceiling fixtures melting and falling down. This was quickly put out as well. Here, near the end of her career, ZUIKAKU had received her first real combat damage. Meantime, at 1846 and order from Combined Fleet for the Mobile Fleet to retire had been received, ending the battle. By battle's end, the Mobile Fleet had lost an incredible 426 aircraft. It is unknown how many remained aboard ZUIKAKU; but the fact is that only 25 fighters and 10 bombers or torpedo planes, and 12 floatplanes remained operational in the whole fleet.
22 June 1944:
1300 Arrive at Nakagasuku Bay, Okinawa. Survivors of HIYO and TAIHO are transferred to ZUIKAKU from the crowded rescue cruisers and destroyers. Departs next day.
24 June 1944:
Return to Hashirajima.
14 July 1944:
Enters drydock at Kure.
2 August 1944:
Leaves Kure drydock. Changes resulting from both battle damage and lessons learned from the Marianas battle include: a modified mainmast whose yardarms are angled up and back. A considerably augmented AA armamemnt, including anti-air rockets, is installed, and the final battery includes sixteen 127mm and 96 25mm guns, in addition to the new six 28-barrel 120 mm AA rocket launchers mounted on platforms at each end quarter of the flight deck. Finally, ZUIKAKU possibly now, and certainly by mid-September, received a coat of experimental camouflage design paint on hull and flight deck.(Note 4).
10 August 1944:
Assigned to 3rd Fleet, CarDiv 3, with ZUIHO, CHITOSE, and CHIYODA.
24 August 1944:
Departs Kure for a training cruise in western part of Inland Sea.
30 August 1944:
ZUIKAKU is inspected by Prince Takamatsu.
13 September 1944:
Arrive at Oita. Subsequently, undertakes training cruises outside Beppu Bay to train pilots in landings and take-offs.
19-21 September 1944:
Training in Inland Sea outside Beppu Bay. On these days famous newsreel footage of ZUIKAKU launching torpedo planes is filmed. This footage is for the propaganda film "Torpedo-bombers attack!", but are an important documentary record in their own right.
22 September 1944:
Following the filming, ZUIKAKU arrives at Oita Bight.
7 October 1944:
Arrives at Kure.
15 October 1944:
Captain Kaizuka Takeo promoted to Rear Admiral.
20 October 1944:
Depart Oita for "Sho" Operations as part of Ozawa's decoy force. ZUIKAKU has aboard 28 A6M5 "Zeke" fighters, 16 A6M fighter-bombers, 7 D4Y2 "Judy" recon planes, and 14 "Jill" B6N2 attack planes.
24 October 1944
- 1155 With the other three carriers of the Mobile Fleet, ZUIKAKU launches her share of a seventy-two plane strike that is the last offensive strike from a Japanese carrier force. ZUIKAKU launches 10 fighters, 11 fighter bombers, 6 "Tenzan" and two Type 2 recon planes.
- A total of seventy-two aircraft had been launched by the Ozawa carriers, but six of these were to reinforce the CAP, while a seventh had to ditch just after takeoff. After launch, fifteen soon aborted the mission and returned aboard. The remainder proceeded south to attack the enemy. Aided by intermittent heavy cloud cover, the attacking force suffers moderately, with only fourteen aircraft lost in action. Of the survivors, only three planes of the attack return to the carriers of the Mobile Force, the remaining thirty-four instead proceeding to land bases in the Philippines, or in one case, all the way to Takao.
25 October 1944 Battle off Cape Engano:
- 0555 ZUIKAKU launches 4 B6N2 for search mission.
- 0610 ZUIKAKU launches 5 A6M5s and 1 D4Y2 to fly to Nichols Field in the Philippines to join those already there from the prior day's attack.
- 0717 ZUIKAKU launches four A6M5s for CAP.
- 0804 ZUIKAKU's radar detects enemy planes bearing 230 degrees, distance 200 km. Two minutes later, she launches her last planes aboard, 9 fighters, to join the CAP. A large naval ensign is raised at the signal mast as battle flag, and ZUIKAKU makes 24 knots as the first attack from U.S. TF 38 begins. At 0830 ZUIKAKU comes under torpedo plane attack from both sides, and begins evading.
- 0835 Three 250 kg bombs hit the flight deck, port side amidships, starting a fire in the middle segment of the upper and lower hangars. Two minutes later ZUIKAKU is hit by torpedo in port side aft of amidships. The torpedo striking between No.2 and No.3 elevators, just forward of the port quarter HA guns in the No.4 generator room. It is immediately flooded "to the brim" and the adjoining port after engine room floods soon after. The port side forward shaft is damaged, bent, has to be shut down. The uneven rapid flooding produces a sharp port list of 29.5 degrees, but is misleading, as the list is swiftly corrected.
- By 0840 only No.2 starboard shaft is operational, but the outboard shaft resumes operation when list is corrected. Using two shafts ZUIKAKU is able to maintain 23 knots and the starboard boilers all retain steam. By 0850 the carrier's experienced damage control had extinguished the hangar deck fires, reduced the list to 6 degrees port, and restored the helm with emergency power. However, the flagship's transmitters are out of commission and plans are made to shift the flag to cruiser OYODO. Before this can take place, at 0953 second attack wave arrives. The action last about fifteen minutes, but mainly concentrates on CHIYODA in the second section, and the few torpedo attacks on ZUIKAKU are avoided or driven off by AA-fire.
- 1032 ZUIKAKU slows and heaves to, and OYODO comes alongside to port. ComThird Fleet Ozawa and staff transfer to a boat that is lowered and tranship by it over to the cruiser. The transfer is completed by 1100. OYODO and ZUIKAKU get back underway. Since Cardiv 3 can't recover planes (CHITOSE had sunk, CHIYODA was dead in the water) attempts are made to recover, but ZUIKAKU can only make 18 knots. Nine planes of the CAP ditch.
- 1209 ZUIKAKU's speed increased to 20 knots, and by the time the third attack wave - a big one -- is sighted at 1308, ZUIKAKU manages to increase speed still more and by 1309 is making 24 knots using the two starboard shafts. Bombers and torpedo planes swarm all over, catching ZUIKAKU in an `anvil' attack. The carrier manages to avoid the first few runs, but is quickly overwhelmed and in the space of eight minutes is all but disemboweled below by simultaneous impacts of a total of six torpedoes - two starboard, four port - on both sides.(Note 5).
- At 1315 the first of these hits came with a torpedo impact port side forward of the No.1 elevator, but failed to explode. Simultaneously another hit just forward of the island on the starboard side, flooding the torpedo maintenance shop and inflicting heavy casualties on the HA guns above the impact.
- Almost immediately a third torpedo hit the starboard side, flooding No.3 boiler room. Three bombs landed on the flight deck aft of the No.3 elevator, re-starting hangar fires. For a few minutes ZUIKAKU managed to evade more damage, but starting at 1321 three more torpedoes and a bomb slammed into her. The bomb struck the flight deck port side of the center line between the middle and rear elevators.
- The fourth and fifth torpedoes came together on the port side; one hit at the bulkhead joining the No.2 and No.4 boiler rooms, opening both to the sea. The other struck the already secured port forward engine room. ZUIKAKU listed 14 degrees to port.At 1323 the last torpedo hit the port quarter, flooding the main steering room and negating all control. The list to port increased to 20 degrees. By 1325 use of the engines and rudder became impossible and ZUIKAKU goes dead in the water.
- At 1325 the attack ended, but the ZUIKAKU was doomed; with massive flooding on both sides and fires in the hangar. Perhaps because of the torpedo holes to starboard, the list to port increased only gradually, but the carrier settled deeper in the water.
- 1327 All hands ordered to get up to the flight deck, the list to port is now 21 degrees. With the men gathered on the slanting flight deck, Captain Kaizuka addresses his crew from the island, states that he is going to share the carrier's fate, and all hands salute the formal lowering of the naval ensign as a bugler plays Kimigayo. Then Abandon Ship is ordered at 1358 as the list hits 23 degrees.
- At 1414 (AG 601 report says 1422) ZUIKAKU slowly "half-rolled" over to port onto her side and then sank stern first (Position 19'20 N, 125'15 E). Captain Kaizuka Takeo, forty-eight officers and 794 petty officers and men lost with the carrier. However, forty-seven officers and 815 pettyofficers and men are rescued by WAKATSUKI and KUWA. Among the survivors is ZUIKAKU's Air Group 601's officer (hikocho), LtCr. Aido Takahide, who did not fly out on the last strike.(Note 6)
26 August 1945:
Removed from Navy List.
Note 2: The pre-Coral Sea plans to transfers aviators of CarDiv 5 to other bases or carriers coupled with the lack of adequate ready replacement aircraft for Coral Sea losses was the main reason CarDiv 5 was not pressed to participate in the Midway Operation. No doubt this sentiment to proceed with the scheduled transfers was strengthened by the May 14 message sent to Combined Fleet that CarDiv 5's losses and that Zuikaku had lost 40% of her aviators precluded that carrier's ready use. At the time it was apparently felt that the addition of Zuikaku as a "one division ship" with weakened air complement was redundant and would raise more logistical and tactical problems than it would solve. Only hindsight makes it seem obviously a wrong decision.(The Japanese apparently did not think so even in hindsight, for well after Midway. When a similar situation obtained after the Santa Cruz battle, the same choice was made and an opportunity to reinforce Zuikaku's weakened air group with Hiyo's was not taken and she was instead sent home on November 4, 1942 two days after Shokaku, thus missing the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November.) As it was, Zuikaku was on May 25 allocated to the latter June phase of the projected Aluetians Operations should she be required.
Note 2: Some sources say the Type-21 radar was fitted to Zuikaku at Yokosuka in February 1944. However, her TROM does not clearly indicate her in that area at the time, but late December 1942 saw just such docking. On the other hand, the radar is definitely present by May 27, 1943 when the carrier is photographed during Navy Day ceremonies. As far as the distinction from Shokaku goes, some uncertainty remains. It appears the Type 94 director was removed entirely, and its place taken by the radar, and that this obtained till sunk. No clear indication of the ring splinter shield appears on photos most suspected to be Shokaku in the 1943 and 1944 period and even appears to be absent. Some well-researched modern Japanese source paintings of Shokaku do not show such either. The best available evidence then, suggests the circular shield around the director was unique to Zuikaku. That she had it is proved by some of the films and photos after Marianas and off Cape Engano.
Note 3: Though the date has not been verified, it appears very likely the camouflage was applied during the last half of July 1944, after Marianas and during the dock period. In favor of this is the fact that both Unryu and Amagi sported the new camouflage design when commissioning in the first part of August immediately after Zuikaku undocked. One other point is that the experiment may have owed something to observations of camouflage on U.S. carriers at the Mariana battle during analagous air attacks.
Note 4: The succession of torpedo and bomb hits on Zuikaku are recorded in her action report. In the matter of unit credits, given the short time frame and buffeting, it is possible even more struck home. However, her leisurely list and foundering suggests the number is probably close to correct as many more would have flooded her faster.
Note 5: Many accounts imply that the destroyers rescuing Zuikaku's survivors were all sunk; however, this is inaccurate. The main rescuers were Kuwa and Wakatsuki. The Hatsuzuki - the destroyer sunk subsequently - had begun rescue, but when a fifth attack began took up AA guard duty during much of the rescue. She made a gallant fight to the finish that enabled Isuzu , Wakatsuki, and Kuwa to escape. Hatsuzuki had taken some survivors aboard, however, and these were indeed lost with all the destroyer's crew, except for 17 Zuikaku and eight of the destroyer's crew in a boat which made their way to Luzon by 14 November, having been providentially cast off when Hatsuzuki got underway to engage the enemy.
Last Japanese fleet carrier that participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor to be sunk.
Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Mark Horan, John Lundstrom and Al Alsleben for Coral Sea insights, Jim Sawruk, Bill Somerville for additional details at Marianas, and to Sander Kingsepp for providing new TROM data from Gakkens.
- Anthony Tully.