Aircraft Carrier Hiryū Book Review

Anatomy of The Ship The Aircraft Carrier Hiryū

By Stefan Draminski

Hardcover, 336 pages, bibliography

Published by Osprey, July 2022

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472840267

ISBN-13: 978-1472840264

Dimensions:  10.3 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches

The Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryū 飛龍 (Flying Dragon) was built to a modified Sōryū design.  While the two ships are often referred to as near-sisters, the Hiryu incorporated a number of revisions intended to strengthen her structurally, improve seakeeping, and reduce top weight.  The most obvious visual difference is that her island was located on the port side of the ship.  Only one other aircraft carrier, Akaki, was fitted with a port-side island.  At the time of her commissioning, Hiryū was the fastest aircraft carrier ever built.

Hiryū was commissioned on 05JUL39 and led a very active service life.  She supported the Japanese invasion of Indochina and the blockade of China.  Then she was one of the six aircraft carriers of the Kido Butai which attacked the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor.  She and Sōryū were then detached to bolster the attack on Wake Island.  After rejoining the Fleet in Japan, they next supported the invasion of the Duch East Indies, and then attacked Darwin and Java.  The Kido Butai then raided the Indian Ocean, sinking several Royal Navy ships including the aircraft carrier Hermes.  She was one of the four Japanese fleet carriers sent to support the invasion of Midway.  After U.S. Navy dive bombers hit the Akagi, Kaga, and Sōryū, Hiryū remained unscathed and was able to launch two strikes against the USS Yorktown (CV-5) which took her out of the fight. Her reprieve was not to last long, as she was in turn hit by dive bombers from Enterprise and Yorktown which led to her sinking.

Imperial Japanese Navy warships are fascinating, and any new additions to the published works are welcome, particularly in English.  For this book author Stefan Draminski was able to access surviving copies of shipyard drawings from Hiryū’s construction. He has used these to produce detailed line drawings and 3D renders of the ship’s hull and fittings.  Several of these are useful for modelers working on other IJN subjects as many pieces of equipment were common to other ships as well.  The cover lists 600 drawings and 400 3D renders.  I didn’t count them, but that sounds about right.  Several of the drawings are sections of the ship which reveal the internal structures.  There are also several full-page renders which show the aircraft spotted on deck for each wave of the Pearl Harbor strike.

Overall, a beautiful book on an interesting ship.  For the sheer volume of information it is quite a bargain.  It is easy to get lost in this book and spend hours going through the pages.  Highly recommended for all Imperial Japanese Navy fans.

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