© 2000 Anthony P. Tully
Enhanced Edition: May 2015
E-mail: tullyfleet - gmail.com
Initial Command Structure:
Commanding Officer: Captain Yanagimoto Ryusaku.
10 April 1941:
Assigned to 1st Air Fleet, CarDiv 2. In Empire waters thereafter.
10 July 1941:
Assigned to "FU-GO" Escort Fleet, participated in "FU" Operations from 10 - 30 July. Departed Yokosuka with HIRYU.
14 July 1941:
Cardiv 2 arrived at Mako.
16 July 1941:
Cardiv 2 arrived at Samah. Elements of Cardiv 2's air groups are flown off to operate from land bases during the landings to follow.
25 July 1941:
Departed Samah with HIRYU accompanied by Crudiv 7 KUMANO, SUZUYA, MIKUMA, MOGAMI and DesDiv 23 KIKUZUKI, YUZUKI, UZUKI. They are supporting an invasion convoy of 39 transports bound for Saigon area, covered by Third Fleet flagship ASHIGARA and Desron 5 NAGARA with five destroyers.
28 July 1941:
Landings near Saigon commenced unopposed.
29-30 July 1941:
Stop at Condor and St. James respectively.
1 August 1941:
Arrived at Samah with HIRYU.
7 August 1941:
Arrived at Kagoshima, assigned as flagship ComCarDiv 2. Thereafter in Kyushu waters till end of month.
6 September 1941:
Departed Kagoshima for Tokyo Bay.
8 September 1941:
Arrived at Yokosuka.
22 September 1941:
Transferred ComCardiv 2 flag to HIRYU. Entered drydock at Yokosuka.
8 October 1941:
24 October 1941:
26 October 1941:
Arrived at Kagoshima. Flag of ComCarDiv 2 moved from HIRYU to SORYU.
18 November 1941:
Depart Kyushu for Hitokappu Bay.
22 November 1941:
Arrive Hitokappu Bay with HIRYU.
26 November: 1941:
At 0600, Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Nagumo Chuichi's (36) (former CO of battleship YAMASHIRO) First Air Fleet Striking Force, ("Kido Butai") CarDiv 1's KAGA and AKAGI, CarDiv 2's HIRYU and SORYU and CarDiv 5's SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU, BatDiv 3, Section 1's HIEI and KIRISHIMA with Vice Admiral Mikawa's (38) Support Force: Rear Admiral Abe Hiroaki’s (39) CruDiv 8's TONE and CHIKUMA, DesRon 1's light cruiser ABUKUMA, flagship of Rear Admiral Omori Sentaro's (41) that includes DesDiv 17's ISOKAZE, URAKAZE, TANIKAZE, HAMAKAZE, DesDiv 18's ARARE, KASUMI, KAGERO and SHIRANUI departs Hittokapu Wan in the "Hawaii Operation"...the surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Refueling operations are needed during the mission and two Supply Groups join the warships: Captain Ota Masanao's (39) Supply Group No. 1's oilers KYOKUTO (F), KOKUYO, KENYO and SHINKOKU MARUs and Captain Niimi Kazutaka's (40) Supply Group No. 2's oilers TOHO (F), TOEI and NIPPON MARUs.
7 December 1941: Operation "Z" - The Attack on Pearl Harbor: (Local Hawaii Date Time)
At 0618, the Carrier Striking Force first wave is launched against Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.
9 December (local):
One A6M2 CAP fighter crashed and went overboard while landing on SORYU. Pilot lost.
13 December (local) Kido Butai re-crosses International Date line.[All times hereafter, IJN-Tokyo time, until indicated otherwise.]
16 December 1941:
1630: Detached from Striking Force Main Body with HIRYU screened by cruisers TONE and CHIKUMA and destroyers TANIKAZE and URAKAZE to participate in strikes against Wake Island.
21 December 1941:
0440: From 350 miles away from Wake, Cardiv 2 launched a strike of twenty-nine D3A1s and eighteen A6M2s. (SORYU contributed fourteen "Vals" and nine "Zekes"). They attacked Wake, but encountered no air or anti-aircraft opposition.
22 December 1941:
0900: Cardiv 2 launched strike of thirty-three "Kates" armed with two 250kg bombs and six Zeros. However they encountered opposition from the last two remaining "Wildcat" fighters, which shot down two of SORYU's "Kates" with the loss of their crews. Both F4F-3's are also shot down by Zeroes, and the last of Wake's aircraft eliminated.
23 December 1941:
In the early hours Japanese forces landed on Wake, while commencing at 0412 with take-offs from SORYU Cardiv 2 launched five supporting strikes. The fifth and last strike took off from HIRYU at 0845. All the raids encountered little opposition. That afternoon all resistence ended, and Cardiv 2 thereafter headed for the homeland.
29 December 1941:
Return to Kure.
8 January 1942:
Assigned to 2nd Air Attack Force, Southern Force (Carrier Air Force). Still with CarDiv 2, 1st Air Fleet.
12 January 1942:
Departed Kure with HIRYU, cruiser MAYA, and destroyers ARIAKE, YUGURE, SHIGURE, SHIRATSUYU, AKEBONO, USHIO, and SAZANAMI.
17 January 1942:
Arrived at Palau.
21 January 1942:
23 January 1942:
Launched strike against Ambon. However the attack had to be aborted and returned due to bad weather.
24 January 1942:
An identical strike is mounted, each carrier of Cardiv 2 launched nine B5N2s, D3A1s, and A6M2s for a total of 54 aircraft. Enemy port facilities and buildings bombed. No losses sustained.
25 January 1942:
27 January 1942:
Before departing Davao for Palau each carrier flew off nine "Vals" and nine "Zekes" each to operate from the captured Kendari airfield on Celebes until further notice.
28 January 1942:
Arrived at Palau. Remained on standby status.
SORYU's planes assigned to Kendari fly to Peleliu to rejoin their ship.
8 February 1942:
Cardiv 2 joined at Palau by AKAGI, KAGA, and ZUIKAKU, which had abandoned a pursuit of the enemy carrier task force that had raided the Marshall Islands on 1 February.
10 February 1942:
Reassigned to Southern Force Striking Force.
15 February 1942:
1400: SORYU departed Palau with HIRYU, CarDiv 1’s AKAGI and KAGA, and Crudiv 8’s TONE and CHIKUMA, screened by DesRon 1's light cruiser ABUKUMA, that includes DesDiv 17's ISOKAZE, URAKAZE, TANIKAZE, HAMAKAZE, DesDiv 18's KASUMI and SHIRANUI and DesDiv’s 27 ARIAKE and YUGURE for the attacks on Port Darwin, Australia.
0622: Raid on Port Darwin is launched. The first wave led by Cdr (later Captain) Fuchida Mitsuo (52) consists of 81 B5N2 “Kate”, to which SORYU contributes 18 B5N2s. At 0657 the second wave is launched with 71 D3A1 "Val" to which SORYU contributes 18 D3A1. Each of the four carriers also contributes 9 A6M2 “Zeke” fighter escort. The second wave catches up with the first one before arriving over Darwin.
21 February 1942:
1000: The Carrier Striking Force “Kido Butai) CarDiv 1's AKAGI and KAGA, CarDiv 2's HIRYU and SORYU and CruDiv 8's CHIKUMA and TONE, DesRon 1's light cruiser ABUKUMA with DesDiv 17's URAKAZE, ISOKAZE, TANIKAZE and HAMAKAZE, DesDiv 18's KASUMI and SHIRANUI and DesDiv 27’s YUGURE and ARIAKE arrived at Staring Bay, Celebes (now Sulawesi) to refuel. They are joined by First Section of BatDiv 3 HIEI and KIRISHIMA. Vice Admiral Kondo Nobutake (35) ) also arrives from Palau with BatDiv 3/2's KONGO and HARUNA, CruDiv 4's ATAGO, MAYA and TAKAO and DesDiv 4’s ARASHI, NOWAKI, MAIKAZE and HAGIKAZE.
25 February 1942:
Departed Staring Bay to participate in Java Operations.
27 February 1942:
While engaged in refueling received report from an aircraft of the 23rd Air Flotilla of the 11th Air Fleet of a small enemy carrier southeast of Tjilatjap. Closed to launch attack, but the allied vessel (USS LANGLEY AV-3) was dispatched by land-based aircraft before Kido Butai strike can be launched.
1 March 1942:
Operating south of Sunda Strait to intercept enemy shipping fleeing from Java.
- 1240 KAGA and SORYU D3A1 "Vals" ordered to take off and sink enemy merchant ship sighted at noon. (This is USS PECOS AO-6). SORYU launched six "Vals" to attack the oiler.
- 1718 PECOS sank. SORYU planes alleged three direct his among the twelve hits claimed.
- 1745 Enemy warship identified as light cruiser sighted pursuing and closing KdB from astern. The Support Force is ordered to turn and sink it with gunfire. (This was actually destroyer USS EDSALL DD-219, apparently seeking to come to the rescue of USS PECO's crew. However, the gunfire of the battleships and cruisers is surprisingly ineffective, and despite growing darkness it is necessary to launch air strikes.)
- 1815 CarDiv 2 planes ordered (with KAGA) to take-off for night attack to finish off fleeing USS EDSALL. HIRYU and SORYU launched nine dive-bombers armed with 250kg bomb each; KAGA launched eight. They reach the target within thirty minutes. KAGA's bombers claim five hits; SORYU's three, and HIRYU's claimed the last one.
- 1901 EDSALL heeled over and sank stern first. CHIKUMA rescued eight survivors.
4 March 1942:
Planned raid on Tjilatjap had to be postponed by one day due to unfavorable weather.
5 March 1942:
0945: Launched strikes against Tjilatjap, Java, N.E.I (now Cilacap, Indonesia). A total of 180 aircraft.SORYU contributes ....
1405: Strike recovered.
6 March 1942:
1103: CarDiv 2 is detached and with second section of Batdiv 3 KONGO and HARUNA and the four destroyers of DesDiv 17 heads to raid Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean. CarDiv 1 continues east.
7 March 1942:
Launched strike against Christmas Island. While HARUNA and KONGO bombarded the island, nine dive-bombers of SORYU sink Dutch freighter POELAU BRAS (9,278 tons)
10 March 1942:
CarDiv 2 force rejoined CarDiv 1 and all head for Staring Bay.
11 March 1942:
Return to Staring Bay , Java having surrendered two days prior.
With Striking Force (less KAGA) depart Staring Bay with BatDiv 3, Crudiv 8, and DesRon 1 for "Operation C" ---the raid into the Indian Ocean.
3 April 1942:
Enter the Indian Ocean.
4 April 1942:
At about 1900 JST (1600 local), KdB is sighted by a Catalina from by 413 Squadron RCAF. The Catalina is attacked by fighters from Cardiv 2 and ZUIKAKU, and is splashed at about 1922, but not before sending a sighting report. SORYU had launched 3 fighters, which expended 645 rounds in the melee.
5 April 1942:
Strikes launched against Royal Navy base at Ceylon. Important sinkings included the cruisers HMS CORNWALL and HMS DORSETSHIRE caught on the open sea.
- 0900 KdB launches 127 aircraft (53 B5N, 38 D3A, 36 A6M). SORYU contributed 18 B5N and 9 A6M to that total. SORYU lost one Zero in the attack.
- Because of delays arming torpedo planes, only Val dive-bombers are launched. AKAGI and Cardiv 2 send 53 D3As against the cruisers. SORYU's planes attacked CORNWALL assisted by nine of the AKAGI bombers. The other half of AKAGI's strike and all the HIRYU planes attack and sink DORSETSHIRE.
9 April 1942:
Strikes launched against Trincomalee. British carrier HMS HERMES caught at sea, bombed and sunk along with escort destroyer VAMPIRE.
- 0300 (0600 local) KdB launches the Trincomalee strike force comprised of 91 B5Ns with 41 A6M fighters.
- 0543 (0843 local) As at Colombo, only dive bombers are launched against the British carrier. A large strike of eight-five VALS and nine fighters takes off from all five carriers. SORYU contributed 18 D3A and three A6M to the strike.
18 April 1942:
Less CarDiv 5, which detaches with screen to head for New Guinea for "Operation MO" (Battleof the Coral Sea) operations, the Striking Force changed course while west of Bashi Strait in high speed attempted pursuit of the "Doolittle Raiders" - carriers USSHORNET and ENTERPRISE, which have just struck the Tokyo Bay area with aircraft on the 18th.
22 April 1942:
Return to Hashirajima with HIRYU.
Late April 1942:
SORYU carrier planes engaged in training operations at Kasanohara.
At Sasebo undergoing minor maintenance. Flag of ComCardiv 2 is transferred to HIRYU.
SORYU possibly involved in high-speed plane-ferry operation of 23rd Air Flotilla to Truk.(2)
27 May 1942:
0600: SORYU departs Hashirajima for the MI Operation (Invasion of Midway) with HIRYU as CarDiv 2 (Flag, ComCardiv 2 Rear Admiral Yamaguchi Tamon) of Vice Admiral Nagumo's First Mobile Force, Carrier Strike Force also consisting of CarDiv 1's AKAGI and KAGA, BatDiv 3/2’s HARUNA and KIRISHIMA, CruDiv 8's TONE and CHIKUMA, DesRon 10's light cruiser NAGARA with DesDiv 4’s NOWAKI, ARASHI, HAGIKAZE and MAIKAZE, DesDiv 10’s KAZAGUMO, YUGUMO and MAKIGUMO and DesDiv 17’s URAKAZE, ISOKAZE, TANIKAZE and HAMAKAZE. (CarDiv 5 is unable to participate, due to damage to SHOKAKU and aircraft losses to ZUIKAKU suffered at Coral Sea on 8 May.)
- For the first day at sea, SORYU had Combat Air Patrol duty watch.
- SORYU's air principal air group consists of eighteen A6M2 "Zeke" fighters, sixteen D3A1 "Val" dive-bombers, eighteen B5N2 "Kate" attack planes. Also aboard for the voyage were three A6M2 "Zeke" fighters assigned to the 6th Air Group to base at Midway. One, possibly two, experimental D4Y1 carrier bombers was aboard to serve as high speed recon aircraft.
28 May 1942:
At 1430 (JST), the Carrier Strike Force joined the refueling Supply Group. Cruising speed is maintained at 14 knots.
SORYU had Combat Air Patrol duty watch.
3 June 1942:
At 0307 (JST), the Supply Group concluded its refueling activities and is detached from the Carrier Strike Force. Shortly after 1025, speed is increased to 24 knots.
4 June 1942/(5 June JST) - The Battle of Midway:
Note: For convenience and familiarity local times and date east of International Date Line are used herein until SORYU's sinking as the vast majority of sources, even some Japanese ones, utilize this approach. To convert to Tokyo (JST) or Zone 9 time, subtract three hours but advance one one day ahead of a Midway Local time - (Tully)
- 0330 Battle Speed No.1, occupied position in First Screening Cruising Disposition. Destroyer ISOKAZE is SORYU plane-guard.
- 0352 Cardiv 2 on momentary standby for 24 knots, and 20 minute stand-by for Maximum Battle Speed.
- 0408 Assume momentary standby for Maximum Battle Speed.
- 0421 Rig for Battle. Battle Speed No.5.
- 0430 (0130 JST), began launch of the air strike led by HIRYU's Lt. (later KIA, Cdr posthumously) Tomonaga Joichi (59) against Midway Island with 36 B5N2 “Kate”, 36 D3A1 “Val” and 36 A6M2 “Zeke”. SORYU contributes eighteen D3A1 “Val” and nine A6M2 “Zekes.”
- 0533 HIRYU reported one enemy flying boat 8 degrees to starboard. Anti-Air combat. Battle Speed No.4.
- 0558 HIRYU sighted one enemy flying boat 50 degrees to starboard.
- 0600 Launched three fighters.
- 0607 Battle Speed No.3
- 0705 Launched three fighters.
- 0730 Commmenced landing first and second CAP watch. (six fighters)
- 0739 Recovery completed.
- 0748 CO SORYU to Mobile Force: "Sight 6 to 9 enemy planes bearing 320 degrees."
- 0750 Received blinker order to switch second attack force aircraft back to anti-ship bombs.
- 0755 Maximum Battle Speed. Opens fire. Enemy bombs SORYU. (9 or 10 bombs) No hits received. CO SORYU sends to Mobile Force: "14 twin-engined planes flew over us at 270 degrees, altitude 30,000 meters (sic)."
- 0800 SORYU lays down smoke screen.
- #0803 Sight nine enemy bombers 30 degrees to starboard. Two minutes later, open fire.
- 0807 Three heavy bombers appear over SORYU.
- 0808 Sighted 10 enemy planes.
- 0810 Enemy plane dives on SORYU.
- 0819 Many bombs being droppedin the vicinity of SORYU. SORYU and HIRYU engaging with fierce AA-fire.
- 0820 SORYU bombed. No hits received.
- 0824 SORYU being bombed.
- 0830 Reconnaissance D4Y-1 ("Judy") took off to relieve Tone-4 search plane and maintain contact with the enemy carrier group.
- 0850 Begin recovering Midway strike.
- 0910 Completed recovery of Midway strike.
- 0930 Recovered five fighters.
- 0945 Launched three fighters. Then landed three fighters.
- 0950 Landed B5Ns.(2)
- 1000 Launched three fighters.
- 1000 SORYU recon plane to ComMobileForce:"Failed to sight enemy. I am in position bearing 20 degrees, distance 290 miles from Midway (1000)"
- 1008 Opens fire.
- 1009 Large group of enemy planes closing on HIRYU. Fighters readied to assist.
- 1010 Fleet turns to port to course 330 degrees to put sterns to enemy torpedo plane group approaching from southeast.
- 1015 Launched three fighters.
- 1020 ComMobileForce orders fighters to be launched when ready. Preparations to launch CAP to be expedited; strike-wave fighters prepared to reinforce CAP.
- 1024 KAGA on fire.
- 1025-1026 while making launch preparations against a sighted enemy carrier, attacked by thirteen enemy dive bombers. Two direct bomb hits are sustained, one on the forward elevator, the other aft the second elevator, setting off furious fires and induced explosions among the armed and fueled aircraft.
- 1029 A 1,000 pound bomb hit amidships abreast the stacks, the bomb or its blast penetrating to explode on the lower hangar deck starting fires amid the dive-bombers returned from the Midway strike. The explosion also damaged the upper section of the boiler rooms and shattered steam lines. With the main supply line shattered, steam to drive the turbines escaped. SORYU's engines abruptly ceased and she lost all propulsion.
- 1040 Goes dead in the water, with steam erupting from the port side and starting to list to port.
- 1043 Attempted to rig emergency steering. Unsuccessful.
- 1045 Captain Yanagimoto ordered all non-essential personnel to Abandon Ship, especially the aviators.
- 1100 SORYU recon plane records "“sighted one enemy scout plane, followed it.”
- 1110 Radio from SORYU's recco plane to ComMobile Force (received 0840): "#2. Sight an enemy air force in position bearing 4 degrees, distance 150 miles from Midway."
- 1112 CHIKUMA approached and sent over her No.2 boat with seven men and one pharmacist's mate to assist in the evacuation. However, the cruiser then departed with HIRYU. The boat was left behind and continued to work.
- 1130: Comcardiv 2 (Rear Admiral Yamaguchi Tamon on HIRYU) orders ComCrudiv 8 (Rear Admiral Abe Hiroaki) to assign one destroyer each to the three damaged carriers, and have the damaged carriers retire toward Yamamoto's Main Body. SORYU is unnavigable by this time and cannot seek to comply.
- 1130 SORYU recon plane radioed: "Sighted enemy air force. Place Midway 5 degrees, 120 nautical miles, direction 80 degrees, speed 25 knots."
- 1137 Radio from SORYU's recco plane: "Sight enemy air force in position bearing 4 degrees from Midway, distance 150 miles."
- 1140 SORYU recon plane records "radioed enemy air force centered around 3 carriers accompanied by 22 destroyers."
- 1145 Radio from SORYU's recco plane to ComMobile Force (received 0854): "Am breaking off contact (0845)."[Started return.]
- 1147 Radio from HIRYU to TONE, AKAGI, KAGA, SORYU: "Leave one destroyer with the damaged carriers, and have the others proceed on the course of attack."
- 1216 Radio from SORYU's plane: "Am contacting the enemy. 0917."
- 1250 SORYU's recon plane arrives above HIRYU; makes message drop.
- 1330 SORYU's recon plane lands on HIRYU.
- 1435 Radio from ComCruDiv 8 to NOWAKI, KAGA, and SORYU: "TONE reports two submerged enemy submarines in position bearing 100 degrees, distance 50 miles."
- 1655 Radio from ComMobile Force to Captain of the HAMAKAZE: "#451. Together with the ISOKAZE, assume screening duties for the SORYU and at the same time retire to the northwest."
- 1732 Radio from ComDesDiv 4 [ARASHI] to ISOKAZE. "#316. Stand by in the vicinity of the SORYU until otherwise ordered. Would she be operational if her fires were brought under control?"
- 1800 Radio from ComDesDiv 4 to MAIKAZE and HAMAKAZE: "#318. Advise whether there is any danger of the KAGA and SORYU sinking."
- 1802 With all survivors believed pulled from the sea (this proved mistaken), the CHIKUMA No.2 boat is cast adrift by HAMAKAZE.
- 1830 ARASHI orders all destroyers: "Each ship will stand by the carrier assigned to her and screen her from enemy submarines and attack forces. Should the enemy task force approach, engage him in hit-and-run tactics, and destroy him."
- 1900 About this time the Acting CO Air Officer Commander Kusamoto Ikuto is assembling a damage control party to go aboard SORYU for the night to continue fighting fires to save the ship. However, he is prevented from doing so, for at this time KAGA and SORYU are apparently ordered scuttled.
- Sunk: 1912 (1612 JST) Destroyer ISOKAZE fired three torpedoes at SORYU (at least two hit), and the carrier began to sink by the stern and three minutes later upended. Bow raised high, she plunged to the bottom taking down 713 officers and men including Captain Yanagimoto Ryusaku, who had deliberately chosen to remain aboard. (Position 30 - 38' N, 179 - 13 W') (Note 3)
- 1915 HAMAKAZE radioed Nagumo and Yamaguchi: "SORYU has sunk."
- 1920 A large underwater explosion was felt where SORYU had sunk. Shorly after this, the two destroyers discovered that there had been men still aboard that went overboard when the carrier was scuttled. These were soon picked up, and among them were some of the few engineers to escape from below decks. SORYU recorded 242 engineers lost among her casualties. Aviator losses were more modest; ten were KIA.
10 August 1942:
Removed from the Navy list.