Soryu (Deep Blue Dragon)

The Soryu was the first Japanese fleet carrier to be built for that purpose from the keel up, and was the model for most Japanese carriers to follow. She was built as part of the 1931-32 Supplementary Programme, was laid down in 1934 and completed in 1937. Like most of the carriers that followed the design of the Soryu focused on speed and the ability to handle a large number of aircraft at the expense of armour. The Soryu’s two hangers could handle 63 operational aircraft and carry another eight in storage.

Midway Pictures
Midway: Soryu under B-17 attack during Battle of Midway

Soryu and the similar Hiryu formed Carrier Division Two. They took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and were then dispatched to assist in the second attack on Wake Island (22-23 December 1941). They were then used to support the invasion of the Dutch East Indies, attacking Ambon on 24 January and Laha airfield on the following day.

On 19 February the Soryu was one of four carriers under Admiral Nagumo that launched an attack on the Australian port of Darwin. The attack, launched from a position east of Timor, was actually intended to cover the Japanese invasion of that island, but caused an invasion scare in Australia. The Soryu also took part in the April 1942 raid into the Indian Ocean and the air raids on Ceylon, helping to trigger a second invasion scare, this time in India.

The Soryu was lost during the battle of Midway (June 1942). During the American attack on the morning of 4 June she was hit by bombs from the SBD Dauntless dive bombers of VB-3 (USS Enterprise).

The Soryu was the first of the Japanese carriers to sink. The engines stopped fifteen minutes after the first bomb hit, and at 10:45 the order to abandon ship was issued. Despite this the ship did not sink until 19:13, taking over 700 of her crew with her.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)




Top Speed


Armour – deck

1in (machinery)
2.2in (magazines)

 - belt



63 operational
71 maximum


746ft 6in max


12 5in/40 Dual Purpose guns in double mountings
28 25mm AA guns

Crew complement



23 December 1935


29 December 1937

Sunk at Midway

4 June 1942

Soryu, Hiryu & Unryu Class Aircraft Carriers in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II, Lars Ahlberg & Hans Lengerer. A detailed examination of the Soryu and Hiryu and the closely related Unryu class medium carriers, with good sections on the reasons for their construction, their physical layouts, their aviation facilities, where they fit in the overall history of Japanese carriers, and for those that actually had one their combat careers. Very detailed, with some very technical sections, but generally readable, and providing a good operational and design history of these important Japanese carriers (Read Full Review)
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Midway: Dauntless Victory, Fresh Perspectives on America's Seminal Naval Victory of World War II, Peter C. Smith. A very detailed and well researched account of the battle of Midway and of the historical debate that still surrounds it, supported by a mass of original documents and interviews with participants. An invaluable look at this crucial battle. [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 November 2008), Soryu (Deep Blue Dragon) ,

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