© 1999 Anthony P. Tully
Revised Enhanced Edition:
© March 2012 Anthony P. Tully and Gilbert Casse
26 November 1929:
Yokohama. Laid down at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Dockyard as a 8,000-ton light aircraft carrier.
25 April 1931:
Towed to Yokosuka Naval Yard for fitting-out.
E June-September 1933:
Undergoes further sea trials and training exercises for her air group consisting of 9 Mitsubishi Type 13 B1M2 (+3 spares) attack aircraft and 3 Nakajima Type 3 (+2 spares) A1N1 fighters. A maximum speed of 29 knots is achieved but the vessel is deemed very wet under moderate sea conditions due to much shipping water by the bows and a general lack of stability. September finds her operating with HOSHO in Ise Bay.
E September-October 1934:
Undergoes new trials that show some stability improvement but the carrier still ships much water in moderate sea conditions and seaworthiness shows only little improvment. Her aircraft complement consists of 9 Mitsubishi Type 13 B1M2 attack aircraft, 6 Nakajima Type 3 A1N1 and 6 Nakajima Type 90 A2N1 fighters.
15 November 1934:
Captain Kuwabara is relieved by Captain (later Vice Admiral) Ono Ichiro (38) (former XO of carrier KAGA) as Commanding Officer. RYUJO returns to active service as flagship of Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Wada Hideho’s (34) CarDiv 1 also consisting of light carrier HOSHO and DesDiv 5 ASAKAZE, HARUKAZE, MATSUKAZE and HATAKAZE.
10 April 1941:
Upon creation of the First Air Fleet, becomes Flagship of Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kuwabara Torao’s (37) CarDiv 4, 1st Air Fleet.
28 April 1941:
Arrives at Yokosuka.
25 May 1941:
9 June 1941:
13 June 1941:
Arrives at Truk, Central Carolines.
17 June 1941:
Departs Truk for Saipan, Marianas.
19 June 1941:
Arrives at Saipan, depart next day.
20 June 1941:
7 July 1941:
Departs Yokosuka for Inland Sea.
E July-October 1941:
Operates in Inland Sea. (RYUJO is probably fitted during this period with an external degaussing coil.)
E November 1941:
29 November 1941:
Tactically assigned to Southern Philippines Supporting Unit Air Attack Force; departs Saeki that same day for Koror, Palaus.
2 December 1941:
RYUJO receives the signal "Niitakayama nobore (Climb Mt. Niitaka) 1208" from the Combined Fleet. This signifies that X-Day hostilities will commence on 8 December (JST).
6 December 1941: Operation "M" - The Attack on the Southern Philippines:
Departs Palau to provide cover for the planned landings at Davao and Legaspi in Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo's (36) (former CO of KIRISHIMA) Third Fleet, Philippine Seizure Force, Southern Force. This includes destroyer SHIOKAZE acting as RYUJO’s plane-guard ship, CruDiv 5 NACHI (F) and MYOKO, Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka Raizo's (41) (former CO of KONGO) DesRon 2's light cruiser JINTSU and DesDiv 15's HAYASHIO, NATSUSHIO, OYASHIO and the KUROSHIO and DesDiv 16's YUKIKAZE, TOKITSUKAZE, HATSUKAZE and AMATSUKAZE.
8 December 1941:
At 0400, launches a strike against Davao led by Lt Aioi Takahide with 13 B5N “Kate” escorted by 9 A5M4 “Claude”. At 0710, the fighters strafe and destroy 2 Consolidated “PBY” but all bombs miss seaplane tender USS PRESTON (AVD-7). 1 A5M4 ditches on the return flight due to damage combat but the pilot is rescued. Later that same day another strike with 2 B5N1s escorted by 3 A5M4s bomb Davao’s tank farm. Another A5M4 is lost by flak over the target.
12 December 1941:
Engaged in guard duty for the invasion of Legaspi. No aerial opposition is encountered.
14 December 1941:
Returns to Koror, Palaus.
17 December 1941:
At 1400, Southern Philippines Attack Force of 17 transports departs Palau carrying MajGen Sakaguchi Shizou's 56th Regimental Group, the Kure No. 2 SNLF and a naval airfield maintenance unit. Air cover is provided by RYUJO and seaplane tender CHITOSE. Close escort is provided by Tanaka's light cruiser JINTSU and DesDivs 15 and 16, while Takagi's CruDiv 5 provide distant cover.
20 - 25 December 1941:
Cover the landings at Davao.
23 December 1941:
Departs for Jolo Island. 7 A5M4 and 2 B5N1 are temporarily detached to Davao’s airfield to protect the base against Dutch seaplanes raids.
28 December 1941:
1 January 1942:
Arrives at Mako.
3 January 1942:
Tactical assignment is changed to 3rd Air Force Malay Force (but remainsing in CarDiv 4, 1st Air Fleet).
4 January 1942:
Departs Mako for Camranh Bay.
7 January 1942:
Arrives at Camranh Bay. Her aircraft complement consists now of 12 A5M4 “Claude” and 15 B5N1 “Kate”. Earlier operational casualties account for 3 A5M4s and 2 B5N2s.
16 January 1942:
Departs Camranh Bay for the "S" operations: Aerial campaign against Singapore.
17-18 January 1942:
Only CAP patrols are launched with one Shotai maintained.
23 January 1942:
Departs Camranh Bay for Malay Occupation Operations (23-27 January).
23-27 January 1942:
Operates about 50 miles E of Redang Island. Two RAF Lockeed “Hudson” are shot down either by RYUJO’s CAP or 1st Sentai’s Ki-27 “Nate”.
30 January 1942:
Arrives back at Camranh Bay upon completion of the Malay operations.
10 February 1942:
Departs Camranh Bay to participate in the "L" Operations: the invasion of Palembang. RYUJO sails about 50 miles aft of the invasion convoy and provides air cover. Destroyer SHIKINAMI replaces SHIOKAZE as screen guard.
13 February 1942:
RYUJO’s aircraft begins attack on shipping fleeing Singapore making two strikes of 8 Kates each. 8,226-ton Dutch tanker MERULA is heavily damaged.(Taken in tow MERULA sinks later at 04-05S, 106-34E. Her survivors are rescued by Australian corvette HMAS TOOWOMBA.) 1,646-ton British auxiliary patrol vessel HMS GIANG BEE is bombed and damaged, later shelled by Japanese destroyers and sunk in the Banka Strait. British auxiliary anti-submarine vessel SIANG WO is also bombed and sunk that same day. Finally, 5,424-ton British steamer SUBADAR, whilst in transit from Singapore to Palembang with two Batteries of the 6th HAA and 10 3.7-inch AA guns and ammunition, is bombed and later beached W of Palembang.
14 February 1942: The Battle for Palembang:
Dutch Rear Admiral Karel W. F. M. Doorman mobilizes to attack the Japanese invasion force off Bangka Island. At 1105 Late afternoon, RYUJO’s is attacked by 11 RAF Bristol “Blenheim” from 84 Sq. and 211 Sq escorted by 15 Hawker “Hurricane”. Two bombers are shot down and six others damaged by A5M4s for no losses. Meantime, attack on shippingcontinue. At 1500 RYUJO launches 6 attack planes armed with 1 250 kg and 4 60 kg bombs each; and 4 attack planes at 1600 that each attack an hour after launch. The 8,237-ton Dutch tanker MANVANTARA appears to be a victim - she is bombed and sunk at 04-08S, 106-38E.
15 February 1942:
At 0848 RYUJO's fighters shoot down a flying boat spying on the force. Then at 1000, a floatplane from heavy cruiser CHOKAI discovers Doorman's ABDA naval force proceeding northward. At 0945 RYUJO had launched 4 planes armed with 1 250 kg bomb and 4 60 kg bombs on a search sweep. At 1020 they attack the enemy. At 1105, 7 B5N1s armed again with 1 250kg and 4 60 kg bombs each take off from RYUJO to attack ABDA naval force in Gaspar Strait east of Banka Island. They arrive at the target at 1320 and soon score a near-miss against heavy cruiser EXETER and damage her Supermarine “Walrus” floatplane. These return to RYUJO which promptly refuels, re-arms, and relaunches five of them at as a third strike at 1630; a second strike of six planes identically armed already having left at 1430. At 1529, 6 B5N1s from that second strike from RYUJO again attack EXETER without scoring any hits. Following this, land-based Genzan Kokutai Mitsubishi G3M2 “Nell” damage destroyers USS BARKER (DD-213) and BULMER (DD-222.) About 1630, the third wave from the carrier with 7 B5N1s attacks but is again unsuccessful. RYUJO had again promptly recovered her second wave and relaunched it at 1845, and this last attack from the carrier of 6 B5N1s bombs the ABDA force at 1900, concentrating on DE RUYTER which they believed to be a battleship. However, once again they score no hits. Final attacks by land-based Kanoya Kokutai Mitsubishi GAM1 “Betty” do no further harm to the now retiring ABDA Force. In these strikes, two of RYUJO's aircraft are slightly damaged but made operational again the following day. The carrier had aggessively launched four strikes in one day, but despite this effort, had hit nothing.
19 February 1942:
Arrives at St. Jacques, near Saigon (now Vung Tau, near Ho Chi Minh City).
20 February 1942:
RYUJO with CHOKAI arrives at Saigon.
27 February 1942:
Assigned to the Netherlands Indies Force charged with the occupation of Batavia. Departs St. Jacques to participate in the "J" Operations activated that same day, escorted by destroyer SHIKINAMI. RYUJO is assigned to cover the invasion convoy.
28 February 1942:
0800 In position 07-40'N, 108-10'E, headed south at 20 knots. The landings at Bantam Bay begin. During them, in the early evening RYUJO and CruDiv 7 hold position 20 miles to the north of the Bay to cover it. When word arrives of the attack by cruisers HMAS PERTH and USS HOUSTON on the transports at Bantam Bay late that night, RYUJO is unable to assist as she has no night aircraft, but prepares to pursue shipping in the morning.
1 March 1942:
Assists in intercepting fleeing enemy warships in the aftermath of the Battle of the Java Sea and the invasion of Java commencing that morning. Learning of CruDiv 5 and Main Force's engagement with the `HMS EXETER' group RYUJO turns and races eastward. At 1200, launches a strike of six B5N1s Type-97s armed with one 250kg and four 60kg bombs each that arrive at the battle site three hours later. They assist in the sinking of USS POPE. At 1505 they sight the American destroyer already crippled by bombing from a mixture of seaplanes and land-based air just prior; and close in to make a level bombing attack. No direct hits are scored, but several more near-misses hasten the abandonment and scuttling of the vessel. POPE founders shortly before 1540, finished off by gunfire from heavy cruisers ASHIGARA and MYOKO. (2]
In the meantime, RYUJO after this at 1405 had launched a second strike to support the landings, six attack planes armed same way as the POPE strike, bombing the port of Semarang at 1640. But there were few ships there, and just one 10,000 ton merchantman (identity uncertain) is reported left burning.The strike returns to carrier at 1845, ending RYUJO's participation in the Java Sea actions.
5 March 1942:
Arrives at Singapore upon conclusion of the "J" Operations, and immediately assumes assignment with the Main Unit Malay Force. That same phase participates in "T" Operations, doing so till 14 March.
14 March 1942:
"D": The invasion of Andamans, “T”: The mopping up phase in Sumatra and "U": The invasion of Burma, Operations are activated.
16 March 1942:
Covers the convoys for “T”, “D” and the three convoys to “U”. No offensive operations are launched.
20 March 1942:
Covers operations against Burma.
26 March 1942:
Arrives at Mergui, Burma upon conclusion of the "D" and "U" Operations.
1 April 1942: Operation "C" - The Raids in the Indian Ocean:
At 1100, Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo’s (37) (former CO of HARUNA) Second Expeditionary Fleet, Malay Force, consisting of RYUJO, CruDiv 4’s CHOKAI (F), CruDiv 7’s KUMANO, SUZUYA, MOGAMI and MIKUMA, light cruiser YURA, DesDiv 11’s FUBUKI, SHIRAYUKI, HATSUYUKI and MURAKUMO, auxiliary oilers NICHIEI, TOHO and TEIYO MARUs, departs Mergui.
5 April 1942:
RYUJO - operating directly in Ozawa's unit - after launching at 0855 a three plane search with attack planes that returned at 1110 - following a report of a cruiser floatplane of a convoy of about 10 ships launched eight attack planes in four pairs for search-shipping strike starting at 1430 flying out on search-and-bomb vectors to the northwest. Since a pair had to abort soon after take off, a replacement pair was launched at 1510.
It appears likely that the targets attacked at 1640 and 1732 was the 7,726-ton British freighter DARDANUS. ‘Abandon Ship’ is ordered but the freighter is re-boarded and later taken in tow by 5,281-ton GANDARA. (Both ships are sunk the following day by shelling and torpedo from another group) The 5,082-ton British steamer HARPASA is also bombed and sunk with 6 crewmen KIA this day, apparently a victim of RYUJO.
That evening, at 2030 5 April, the Malay Force separates into three groups to attack merchant shipping in the Bay of Bengal. CruDiv 7/1's KUMANO and SUZUYA, under Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kurita Takeo (38), form the Northern Group with destroyer SHIRAKUMO. RYUJO, CHOKAI, SubRon 5's light cruiser YURA, DesDiv 20's YUGIRI and ASAGIRI form the Center Group under Admiral Ozawa. MOGAMI, MIKUMA and destroyer AMAGIRI form the Southern Group under MIKUMA's skipper, Captain Sakiyama Shakao.(The same day, the First Air Fleet's carriers raid Colombo, Ceylon as planned. KdB's aircraft discover and sink cruisers HMS DORSETSHIRE and CORNWALL.)
6 April 1942:
S of Vizagapatam, northern Indian coast, Ozawa's center unit attacks shipping. First at 0900 RYUJO launched four bomb-armed Kates (two with one 250 kg and four 60 kg bombs and two with four 60 kg bombs each) to attack two Indian ports, Vizagapatam and Cocanada. They do little damage to the cities but cause such panic the civilians flee inshore and stay for days. Then attention turns to fleeing traffic. Against shipping RYUJO at 1220 launched five attack planes; two armed with torpedoes and three with one 250 and four 60 kg bombs each attacked Vizagapatam around 1310. Two more took off at 1330 but attacked nothing. RYUJO's emphasis than shifted to land targets. Another five attack planes armed with one 250kg and four 60 kg bombs each took off at 1433. At 1630 went five attack planes with two armed with a 800kg bomb, two with one 250 kg and the fifth with just four 60 kg bombs took off at 1510. RYUJO's sixth and last strike ranged that day took off at 1955 and was identical to the fourth wave with five attack planes armed with one 250kg and four 60 kg bombs each. They arrived over their target at dusk, and only one plane made an attack. When the strike returned at 2130 the carrier's very active day was over.
RYUJO's and the Ozawa Center group's victims are not definitely sorted out- but allegedly her planes hit and set the motor ship VAN DER CAPELLAN (2,073 tons) afire off Coconada, though she did not founder till two days later. Also sunk in the same area was the British steamship SINKIANG (2,646 tons). In harbor at Vizagapatam raid her planes severely damaged the British motor ship ANGLO CANADIAN (5,268 tons). This may have been the 8,000 ton ship claimed hit by one of the RYUJO second wave torpedo planes, though it appears the torpedo missed. CHOKAI opened gunfire at 0933 against targets in sequence; assisted by YURA and YUGIRI and even RYUJO's guns (Survivors of TAKSANG, GANGES, and BIENVILLE all mention the carrier using her guns, so this seems to be true. It is known she continued to operate directly in the midst of the column and that the fleet moved into high-angle gun range and used them, so likely RYUJO did as well. Her planes also attacked these same three ships.) Together they apparently accounted for the American SELMA CITY (5,686 tons) and BIENVILLE (5,491 tons); the British GANGES (6,246 tons) and TAKSANG (3,471 tons), and the Dutch BAJOEWANGI (1,279 tons) and motor ship BATAVIA (1,279 tons.) In all eight ships had been claimed by the Ozawa center unit's aircraft, gunfire, and torpedoes this 6 April. (Modern historians are still sorting out the victims at time of writing.)
Dusk: the Ozawa Center group sets course back southeast, heading for scheduled rendezvous point with the other two sections and then to home.
7 April 1942:
The three dispersed segments of the Ozawa `Malay Force' re-unit, and with the exception of YURA which heads for Penang, they proceed to Singapore. (First Air Fleet's carriers do not immediately follow. Nagumo's KdB conducts the next planned raid on Trincomalee on 9 April. Their aircraft in the process also discover and sink carrier HMS HERMES and destroyer HMAS VAMPIRE.)
11 April 1942:
1030 arrives at Singapore.
13 April 1942:
Departs Singapore for Indochina with CruDiv 7.
16 April 1942:
Arrives at Camranh Bay.
17 April 1942:
Departs Camranh Bay.
25 April 1942:
Captain Sugimoto is relieved by Captain (later Rear Admiral) Kato Tadao (45) (former XO of Carrier AKAGI) as Commanding Officer.
Saeki. 16 A6M2s are attached to RYUJO’s air group.
18 May 1942:
Depart for Ominato via Saeki and Tokuyama.
19 May 1942:
Arrives at Saeki.
26 May 1942: Operation "AL" - The Seizure of Attu and Kiska:
Vice Admiral Hosogaya Boshiro's (36) (former CO of MUTSU) Northern Force's Main Body's CruDiv 5's NACHI (F) and destroyers INAZUMA and IKAZUCHI accompanying Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral posthumously) Kakuta Kakuji's (39) (former CO of NAGATO) Second Carrier Striking Force's CarDiv 4's RYUJO and JUNYO, CruDiv 4's TAKAO and MAYA, Desdiv 3 SHIOKAZE and DesDiv 7 AKEBONO, USHIO, and SAZANAMI, auxiliary transport AKASHISAN MARU, auxiliary storeship TOKO MARU No. 2 GO, oiler FUJISAN MARU, collier/oiler NISSAN MARU and auxiliary cruiser AWATA MARU departs Mutsu Wan for the Aleutians.
28 June 1942:
Transferred to 1st Air Attack Force, 2nd Mobile Force Northern Force. Departs Ominato for the Aleutians in Rear Admiral Kakuta's Second Mobile Force: CarDiv 4's also consisting of JUNYO reinforced by CruDiv 5's HAGURO, MYOKO and NACHI, CruDiv 21's KISO and TAMA, DesDiv 4's ARASHI, MAIKAZE, HAGIKAZE and NOWAKI, DesDiv 7's USHIO, SAZANAMI, DesDiv 9's ASAGUMO, MINEGUMO and NATSUGUMO, DesDiv 10's AKIGUMO, KAZAGUMO, MAKIGUMO and YUGUMO and DesDiv 17's URAKAZE.
13 July 1942:
Arrives at Kure for maintenance, repairs and supplies.
14 July 1942:
As part of the great post-Midway fleet reorganization, reassigned with carrier JUNYO to Mobile Force Air Attack Force in Rear Admiral Kakuta’s (CarDiv 2, 3rd Fleet).
7 August 1942: American Operation “Watchtower” – The Invasion of Guadalcanal, British Solomons: Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Richmond K. Turner's (USNA ’08) Amphibious Task Force 62, covered by Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher’s (USNA ’06) Task Force 61 and Rear Admiral (later Admiral) John S. McCain's (USNA ’06) Task Force 63’s land-based aircraft, lands Maj Gen (later Gen/MOH/Commandant) Alexander A. Vandergrift’s 1st Marine Division on Florida, Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo and Guadalcanal opening the campaign to retake the island.
8 August 1942:
Tactical assignment transferred to Main Unit Mobile Force in Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Nagumo Chuichi’s (36) (CarDiv 1, 3rd Air Fleet) also consisting of carriers SHOKAKU (F) and ZUIKAKU.
15 August 1942:
Depart Kure for Hashirajima.
16 August 1942:
With ZUIKAKU and SHOKAKU, BatDiv 11’s HIEI and KIRISHIMA, CruDiv 8’s TONE and CHIKUMA, DesRon 10's light cruiser NAGARA and DesDiv 10’s KAZAGUMO, YUGUMO, MAKIGUMO and AKIGUMO, DesDiv 16’s HATSUKAZE, NOWAKI, MAIKAZE and AMATSUKAZE and TOKITSUKAZE, and departs Hashirajima towards Truk to participate in the "GA" Operations. RYUJO’s aircraft complement consists of 9 B5N2 “Kate” and 24 A6M2 “Zeke”.
21 August 1942:
Admiral Yamamoto cancels the fleet's scheduled stop at Truk and instructs that Nagumo refuel at sea from oilers in order to hasten on directly toward Guadalcanal. Auxiliary oilers NIPPON and KYOKUTO MARU escorted by destroyers SHIKINAMI and URANAMI join the fleet N of the Solomons.
24 August 1942: The Battle of the Eastern Solomons:
At 0200 detaches from CarDiv 5 and proceeds southeast to launch strikes against Guadalcanal, convoyed by TONE, AMATSUKAZE, and TOKITSUKAZE. At 0805, a Consolidated PBY spots the advance group. At 1030, another PBY spots again RYUJO and her escort.
At 1120 the first of two strikes are launched against Henderson Field. 6 B5N2s escorted by 5 A6M2s take off the carrier. At 1248 they are followed by 9 A6M2s loaded with 60-kg bombs. At 1215, they arrive over Guadalcanal and are engaged by 10 Grumman F4-F “Wildcat” from VMF-223 and 212 and later by 2 Bell P-400 “Airacobra”. In the ensuing air battle 2 F4-F are shot down for the loss of 4 B5N2s and 3 A6M2s. Those two strikes cause only little damage to Henderson Field.
Sunk: At 1357, RYUJO is attacked by enemy aircraft (30 SBD and 8 TBF launched at 1315 from USS SARATOGA, CV-3). The CAP manage to shoot down one TBF but the carrier receives four bombs hits, many near-misses, and one torpedo hit. The torpedo floods the starboard engine room and the ship begins to list and lose speed. At 1408, RYUJO turns north and attempts to retire as ordered by C-in-C Yamamoto. But though the fire is extinguished the list increases to 21 degrees, and flooding disables the boilers and machinery. At 1420 RYUJO stops. At 1515 ‘Abandon Ship’ is ordered. AMATSUKAZE draws close along the low starboard side to attempt to transfer the crew bodily to her by planks linking the ships. During abandonment, the carrier and screen is bombed by B-17's at 1610-1625 that are engaged by her fighters and she receives no further damage. B-17s bomb again at 1730 but again no additional damage. AMATSUKAZE completes rescue, and shortly after, about 1755 RYUJO capsizes to starboard and after floating long enough to reveal holes in her bottom, sinks stern first at 06-10S, 160-50E, bearing 10 degrees 106 miles from Tulagi. Four aircraft go down with the ship. Seven officers, including her Executive Officer, and 113 petty officers and men are lost; Captain Kato Tadao and the survivors are rescued by destroyers AMATSUKAZE, and TOKITSUKAZE, and heavy cruiser TONE. The destroyers soon transfer these survivors to the TOEI MARU and TOHO MARU. 
10 November 1942: Removed from the Navy list.
The few sources that mention RYUJO's launch against USS POPE in any detail generally give the time as 1300. However, close `eye-balling' of the carrier's kodchosho (JACAR record ref C08051585800) very, very strongly appears to be written as 1200 intended; i.e., at noon. Since CruDiv 5 sent warning to all commands of the EXETER group at 1103 that was promptly received and re-iterated by Main Force, this response interval is plausible. - (Tully)
One of RYUJO's Zeros that crashed during the Dutch Harbor attack was recovered by the Americans and studied, the first functional capture then to date.
Japanese records are oddly contradictory regarding RYUJO's destruction. Her captain's report claimed no bomb hits, and only one torpedo hit on "her port side, well aft", but other Japanese sources confirm massive fire and smoke (even visible to Tanaka's transport column on the horizon), and credit four to ten bomb and one torpedo hit. Vice-Admiral Ugaki Matome (40) expressely states that the torpedo hit was in the starboard engine room. Photograph verticals of RYUJO during the B-17 bombing appears to show the crippled carrier down at the bow with a starboard list. It is notable in this connection that the photos shows little signs of obvious bomb damage to the flight deck. A chart of the damage prompts speculation this may be because two of the four reliably attested hits were on the edge of the starboard flight deck. (-Tully)
- Anthony Tully
tullyfleet - gmail.com