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Osprey New Vanguard No. 109

Imperial Japanese Navy Aircraft Carriers



Mark Stille
and illustrated by Tony Bryan


S u m m a r y

Publisher and Catalogue Details: Osprey New Vanguard No. 109
Imperial Japanese Navy Aircraft Carriers 1921-1945
by Mark Stille and illustrated by Tony Bryan
ISBN: 1841768537
Media and Contents: Soft cover, 96 pages
Price: GB£8.99 online from Osprey Publishing
Review Type: FirstRead
Advantages: Informative historical, operational and technical information; sharp, clear and relevant photos; logical structure; attractive artwork.
Recommendation: Recommended

Reviewed by Rodger Kelly

 Osprey's "Imperial Japanese Navy Aircraft Carriers"
will be available online from Sq



Imperial Japanese Navy Aircraft Carriers 1921 – 1945 is the latest release from Osprey publishing and is number 109 in their Vanguard Series. 

The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) were amongst the pioneers of carrier aviation prior to World War Two and this book, as well as chronicling their carriers, advises on the differences in the IJN operational procedures from the Royal Navy and the US Navy. 

Some examples of these include the fact that all IJN aircraft maintenance was carried out below decks and that all of their aircraft were stored on the hangar deck.  Why is this significant?  Well, it explains why their carriers actually carried so few aircraft for their size. 

The book also fully explains the deck marking system used by the IJN.  Why did the flight deck carry red and white markings towards the stern?  Well, it was used by their pilots as an approach aid during the landing-on phase of operations.  It also advises on the fact that the IJN used a series of fixed lights to assist their pilots in landing during World War Two.  It is information like this that make this book so interesting. 

The book consists of ten chapters in all as well as a bibliography, a commentary for the colour plates that it also contains, and an index. 

The chapters are:

  • Introduction.

  • Japanese Carrier Development.

  • Aircraft, Aircraft Operations, and Aircraft Handling Facilities.

  • Carrier Shipboard Weapons.

  • Carrier Radar and Fighter Defence

  • Carrier Names

  • Pre-War Built Carriers

  • The Light Carrier Conversions

  • Fleet Carrier Wartime Construction

  • The Escort Carriers

  • Conclusion

The Pre-War Built Carriers, The Light Carrier Conversions, Fleet Carrier Wartime Construction, and Escort Carriers chapters list each of the appropriate carriers by class and individual name.  These descriptions include the 'how long and how heavy' statistics as well as an operational history of each ship and what their name meant – for example, HMIJS Shoho was Happy Phoenix and HMIJS Zuiho was Lucky Phoenix. 

In line with the rest of the book, the colour illustrations are also very informative and the cations to them fully explain each and all of the deck markings worn.  We have all probably seen the footage of the strike force aircraft leaving their carriers to attack Pearl Harbour.  Ever wonder why there is steam escaping from the forward edge of the flight deck?  Did you assume that it was from a steam catapult?  Well you are wrong.  S this book advises, IJN carriers were not equipped with catapults at all.  The steam was a means of telling the pilot the wind direction.  The pilots lined the escaping steam up with the white painted lines on the flight deck and hey presto, they had the degree of wind over the bows at launch and made the appropriate adjustments to trim. 

The book is illustrated with 45 black and white photographs and by seven pages of colour paintings by Tony Bryan



The book itself consists of 48 pages printed on glossy paper between thin cardboard covers and is the same size as the Aircraft of the Aces and Combat Aircraft series produced by Osprey. 

With an interest of all things World War Two Japanese, I found this to be an excellent tome.  It is logically laid out and very informative. 

Recommended for the armchair admiral and to anyone else who has an interest in the IJN in World War Two.


Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy

Imperial Japanese Navy Aircraft Carriers 1921-1945
(New Vanguard 109)
Author: Mark Stille
Illustrator: Tony Bryan
US Price: $14.95
UK Price: £8.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date: May 10, 2005
Details: 48 pages; ISBN: 1841768537
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Review Copyright © 2005 by Rodger Kelly
Page Created 12 May, 2005
Last updated 11 May, 2005

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