Chitose Class aircraft carrier

The two aircraft carriers of the Chitose class were the last of a series of Japanese carriers produced by modifying existing auxiliaries, in this case two seaplane carriers built in the late 1930s. Both ships served as seaplane carriers in the first months of the Pacific War, but after the battle of Midway the Japanese navy urgently needed new carriers.

As seaplane carriers the Chitose class ships already carried some of the facilities needed on carriers, and their conversion progressed rapidly. Chiyoda was completed on 31 October 1943, Chitose on 1 January 1944. They were very similar to the Zuiho, converted from a submarine support ship, and could carry 30 aircraft (21 fighters and 9 attack aircraft) in their two hangers. As with the earlier conversions, they were not given an island, and were controlled from positions in front of the hangers. The only modification made to these ships was an increase in the number of 25mm AA guns from 30 when built to 48 after June 1943.

Chitose class carrier from above
Chitose class carrier from above

The two ships had virtually identical service careers. The Chiyoda was used on two aircraft ferrying missions in March and April 1944, before the two ships came together for the battle of the Philippine Sea (June 1944), where they formed part of Admiral Kurita’s C Force. This force sailed ahead of the main Japanese fleet, in an attempt to distract the American carriers. Both ships survived the battle, although the Chiyoda’s flight deck was badly damaged during the daring twilight attack of 20 June.

Both ships formed part of part of Vice-Admiral Ozawa’s Main Body during the battle of Leyte Gulf (October 1944). Once again they were being used as a decoy, along with the entire Japanese carrier force, and this time both ships were destroyed during the battle of Cape Engano (25 October).

The Chitose was first to sink. She was hit by three aircraft torpedoes in the first American attack, and sank at 9.37am. The Chiyoda was hit by several bombs from the second American attack, before being immobilised by a torpedo at 10.18am. She remained afloat, but her escort ships were unable to rescue the crew before

Plan of Chitose class carrier
Plan of Chitose class carrier

Chiyoda as a seaplane tender
Chiyoda as a seaplane tender

she came under fire from US surface forces (one of the few carriers to suffer that fate). She sank with the loss of all hands.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed







631ft 7in max


8 5in/40 dual purpose guns in double mountings
30 25mm antiaircraft guns

Crew complement


Ships in class


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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 November 2008), Chitose Class aircraft carrier,

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