IJN Shinyo, IJN Kaiyo, IJN Taiyo, etc (CVE-1943/45)


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The Japanese made their major escort carriers with too many warship features for them to be pure convoy escorts. They looked and were armed like miniature fleet carriers. The IJN Shinyo (ex-Scharnhorst) was converted from an interned German merchantmen while others from whatever merchantmen were available. The Japanese also went for oilers and merchantmen still able to provide their usual service but with a flight deck and small hangar to act as carriers. The only Shipbucket drawings are of the Shinyo and some of the MAC carriers. The Japanese should have not worried about guns and armament. Enough to duel with a submarine was all that might be required, anything else should be provided by the convoy escorts.

The sister of the Shinyo (ex Scharnhorst) in German hands (Gneisenau) was also to be converted under the name 'Jade', the Germans already having a Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in service.

Displacement 17,500 tons std, 21,000 tons full load
Length 621 feet
Breadth 85 ft
Draught 27 ft
Machinery 2 shaft, turbines, 26,000shp
Speed 22 knots
Range 10,000 miles at 18 knots
Armament 8 x 5" (4x2)

30 x 25mm (10x3)

Aircraft 32
Complement 920
Notes IJN Shinyo (1943) x 1

IJN Akitsu Maru (1944) x1

IJN Shimane Maru (1945) x 1

IJN Yamashio Maru (1945) x 1

IJN Kaiyo (1943) x 2

IJN Taiyo (1944-45) x 6

Even the Japanese Army got into the conversion of merchant ships to aircraft escorts. But with that large crane aft, flying on may have been a bit problematic. Without the crane and a slightly longer aft deck the ship would have been a bit more useful. One of those times it should have been left to the professionals.

By 1945 the Japanese were getting desperate to get aircraft onto escorts with the convoys from Singapore to Japan. The oilfields of Surabaya were the main source for oil fuel for the ships. Transporting the oil in oilers was fraught with danger from the US submarines that roamed throughout the South China Seas, ravaging the convoys. The Japanese had been slow to realise the need for defensive units for the convoys.

Both oilers and merchantmen were converted in this manner to give some aircraft cover. Unfortunately there were very few aircraft left to put aboard the merchant carriers.

Model of the escort carrier Kaiyo, which like the Shinyo was a minor aircraft carrier, more akin to the light fleet carriers than the escort carriers in other navies, with lots of armament.

Below: the Japanese Navy finally got it right with the Taiyo type as an escort carrier. No 5" in sight, just a few 25mm and aircraft. All they needed. Too little to late.


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