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IJN Carrier Kaga

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IJN Carrier Kaga

Kagero

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Kaga was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), the third to enter service, named after the former Kaga Province in present-day Ishikawa Prefecture. Originally intended to be one of two Tosa-class battleships, Kaga was converted under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty to an aircraft carrier as the replacement for the battlecruiser Amagi, which had been damaged during the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake. Kaga was rebuilt in 1933–35, increasing her top speed, improving her exhaust systems, and adapting her flight decks to more modern, heavier aircraft. The ship figured prominently in the development of the IJN's carrier striking force doctrine, which grouped carriers together to give greater mass and concentration to their air power. A revolutionary strategic concept at the time, the employment of the doctrine was crucial in enabling Japan to attain its initial strategic goals during the first six months of the Pacific War.

Kaga 's aircraft first supported Japanese troops in China during the Shanghai Incident of 1932 and participated in the Second Sino-Japanese War in the late 1930s. With other carriers, she took part in the Pearl Harbor raid in December 1941 and the invasion of Rabaul in the Southwest Pacific in January 1942. The following month her aircraft participated in a combined carrier airstrike on Darwin, Australia, helping secure the conquest of the Dutch East Indies by Japanese forces. She missed the Indian Ocean raid in April as she had to return to Japan for permanent repairs after hitting a reef in February.

Following repairs, Kaga rejoined the 1st Air Fleet for the Battle of Midway in June 1942. After bombarding American forces on Midway Atoll, Kaga and three other IJN carriers were attacked by American aircraft from Midway and the carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown. dive bombers from Enterprise severely damaged Kaga; when it became obvious she could not be saved, she was scuttled by Japanese destroyers to prevent her from falling into enemy hands. In 1999, debris from Kaga including a large section of the hull was located on the ocean floor at coordinates 28°38′34″N 176°29′16″W Coordinates: 28°38′34″N 176°29′16″W at a depth in excess of 5,000 meters (16,404 ft); 350 miles (560 km) northwest of Midway Island. The main part of the carrier's wreck has not been found.

This one hundred and forty page hardback book is much more comprehensive title than the book on the Soryū and Hiryū as she was a much older ship and there is a great deal more information available, including a larger number of photographs available. Not only is it an accurate history of the ship, but it also makes for very interesting reading, particularly on how the Japanese Navy converted the design of the intended battleship into one of a large fleet carrier. The period photographs accompanying the text show a huge amount of detail of her build, original design and after the large modernisation and refit she had to her complete her final transformation, very useful for the modeller. It is certainly great to see pictures of the ships crew and aircrew, giving them some human interest, rather than just being about the ship, which is nothing without her crew. The restrictions levied on photographers just before the war, and the destruction of a lot of photographs at the wars end doesn’t seem to have affected the Kaga as badly as most of the other ships of the carrier fleet. There atmospheric photographs of the ships flightdeck, aircraft landing and take-offs, and showing the Kaga through the flightdeck supports of the Akagi on the Pearl Harbour raid.

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Along with the various design changes of the ship there is a lot of information on the aircraft she carried, the weapons they used as well as the operations which took place. Naturally, the operations were pretty much the same as all the carriers in the 1st Air Fleet as they were used together as was the Japanese Naval doctrine of the time. So, there are the usual photographs of the Pearl Harbour raid and the Battle of Midway, although with odd exception which were new views this reviewer had not seen before. For me the Port Darwin raid photographs are the most interesting as, although I knew about the raid, I hadn’t seen decent photographs from the time.

At the end of the book the last few pages are dedicated to two sets of coloured plates, giving views from port and starboard sides, top down, plus bow and stern as the ship was in early 1941 and at the time of Pearl Harbour. Throughout the book there are additional line drawings of the ship, from the battleship design, triple deck carrier to her final configuration. There are also line drawings of the ships armament, propulsion systems and various early design concepts.

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Conclusion
This is a superb book, filled with detail and would be a fine addition to the library of the maritime historian and modeller alike. With the recent release of the new 1:350 Fujimi kit this book release is perfectly timed. For those who model in 1:700 there are several versions of the ship available and, again this book will prove invaluable. Very highly recommended.

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