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  1. IJNS Aircraft Carrier Taiho Kagero Super Drawings in 3D Taihō (meaning Great Phoenix), was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Possessing heavy belt armour and featuring an armoured flight deck (a first for any Japanese aircraft carrier), she represented a major departure in Japanese aircraft carrier design and was expected to not only survive multiple bomb, torpedo, or shell hits, but also continue fighting effectively afterwards. Built by Kawasaki at Kobe, she was laid down on 10 July 1941, launched almost two years later on 7 April 1943 and finally commissioned on 7 March 1944. Taihō was formally commissioned on 7 March 1944. Following several weeks of service trials in Japan's Inland Sea, she was deployed to Singapore, arriving there on 5 April. Taihō was then moved to Lingga Roads, a naval anchorage off Sumatra, where she joined veteran carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku in the First Carrier Division, First Mobile Force. All three carriers engaged in working up new air groups by practicing launch and recovery operations and acting as targets for mock aerial attacks staged from Singapore airfields by their own planes. On 15 April, Vice-Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa officially transferred his flag from Shōkaku to Taihō to take advantage of the carrier's extensive command facilities. Shortly thereafter, the First Mobile Force departed Lingga and arrived on 14 May at Tawi-Tawi off Borneo, where the fleet could directly refuel with unrefined Tarakan Island crude oil and await execution of the planned Kantai Kessen ("decisive battle") known as Operation A-GO. When American carrier strikes against the Marianas indicated an invasion of Saipan was imminent, the Japanese Combined Fleet staff initiated Operation A-GO on 11 June. Taihō and the rest of Ozawa's First Mobile Force departed Tawi-Tawi on 13 June, threading their way through the Philippine Islands and setting course for Saipan to attack American carrier forces operating in the vicinity. On 19 June 1944, Taihō was one of nine Japanese aircraft carriers involved in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. At 07:45 that morning, she was turned into the wind to launch her contribution (16 Zeros, 17 Judy’s and nine Jill’s) to Ozawa's second attack wave. As Taihō's planes circled overhead to form up, American submarine USS Albacore, which had spotted Ozawa's carriers earlier that morning, reached an ideal attack position and fired a spread of six torpedoes at the carrier. One of Taihō's strike pilots, Warrant Officer Sakio Komatsu, saw the torpedo wakes, broke formation and deliberately crashed his aircraft into the path of one torpedo; the weapon detonated short of its target and four of the remaining five missed. The sixth torpedo, however, found its mark and the resulting explosion holed the carrier's hull on the starboard side, just ahead of the island. The impact also fractured the aviation fuel tanks and jammed the forward elevator between the flight deck and upper hangar deck. With the ship down 5 ft (1.5 m) by the bows due to flooding, the forward elevator pit filled with a mixture of seawater, fuel oil and aviation gasoline. Taiho's captain marginally reduced her speed by a knot and a half to slow the ingress of seawater into the hull where the torpedo had struck. As no fires had started, Vice-Admiral Ozawa ordered that the open elevator well be planked over by a flight deck damage control party in order to allow resumption of normal flight operations. By 09:20, using wooden benches and tables from the petty officers' and sailors' mess rooms, this task was completed. Ozawa proceeded to launch two more waves of aircraft. Meanwhile, leaking aviation gasoline accumulating in the forward elevator pit began vaporising and soon permeated the upper and lower hangar decks. The danger this posed to the ship was readily apparent to the damage control crews but, whether through inadequate training, lack of practice (only three months had passed since the ship's commissioning) or general incompetence, their response to it proved fatally ineffectual. Efforts to pump out the damaged elevator well were bungled and no one thought to try to cover the increasingly lethal mixture with foam from the hangar's fire suppression system. Because Taihō's hangars were completely enclosed, mechanical ventilation was the only means of exhausting fouled air and replacing it with fresh. Ventilation duct gates were opened on either side of hangar sections No. 1 and No. 2 and, for a time, the carrier's aft elevator was lowered to try to increase the draught. But even this failed to have any appreciable effect and, in any case, air operations were resumed about noon, requiring the elevator to be periodically raised as aircraft were brought up to the flight deck. In desperation, damage control parties used hammers to smash out the glass in the ship's portholes. Taihō's chief damage control officer eventually ordered the ship's general ventilation system switched to full capacity and, where possible, all doors and hatches opened to try to rid the ship of fumes. Unfortunately, this simply resulted in saturation of areas previously unexposed to the vapours and increased the chances of accidental or spontaneous ignition. About 14:30 that afternoon, 6½ hours after the initial torpedo hit, Taihō was jolted by a severe explosion. A senior staff officer on the bridge saw the flight deck heave up. The sides blew out. Taihō dropped out of formation and began to settle in the water, clearly doomed. Though Admiral Ozawa wanted to go down with the ship, his staff prevailed on him to survive and to transfer his flag to the cruiser Haguro. Taking the Emperor's portrait, Ozawa transferred to Haguro by destroyer. After he left, Taihō was torn by a second thunderous explosion and sank stern first at 16:28, taking 1,650 officers and men out of a complement of 2,150 down with her. The titles in this series from Kagero are being released thick and fast. This is the 39th title in the Super Drawings in 3D, and another superb reference book for modellers. Continuing with the tried and tested format, but due to the short nature of the ships career there are only four pages of information, yet covering items such as:- The Hull Propulsion Armour The Hanger Conning Tower Armament Aircraft Radars In Service These are followed by ninety pages of the beautifully rendered drawings we have come to expect, covering all external areas of the ship, and although rather a plain ship in comparison with some of the other titles in this series there is a lot of detail provided, such as the retracting searchlights and their covers on the flightdeck edges. Something I didn’t know the ship had. Each rendering has brief annotations which give useful insights as to what the areas are and the subtle details included. There are no detailed 3D drawings of the ships equipment or aircraft, which is a bit of a shame, but you can get most of the detail from the main renderings. The drawings of the quarterdeck and the boat hangers are probably the most interesting part of the ship, just a shame that the aircraft hangers themselves haven’t been included in the drawings, probably due to the lack of accurate material available on this design. The centre pages are taken up with two full width views from the starboard bow and aft quarter and with a pair of side views of the island area showing the camouflage she most likely wore when she was sunk. Unlike the previously reviewed book on the HMS Warspite, this edition does include an A1 sheet of line drawings of the ship, with a three view on one side in 1:400 scale and slightly angled views on the reverse which aren’t to any particular scale. The fore and aft views on this side, however, are also to 1:400. Conclusion This book is certainly a lot thicker than the other titles reviewed here and if you have a set of optivisors then the detail contained therein can be put to good use if you’re building either the Tamiya or Fujimi 1:700 kits available. I just hope that Fujimi release an example in my preferred 1:350 scale one day. As with the others in the series, this book could form part of a superb library of 3D drawings that any maritime modeller will be proud of. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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