Asano Shipbuilding Company, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama
16 December 1920
13 November 1921
27 December 1922
31 August 1946
31 August 1946
Scrapped beginning 2 September 1946
Hōshō-class Light Carrier
7,470 long tons (7,590 t) (standard)
168.25 m (552 ft 0 in)
17.98 m (59 ft 0 in)
6.17 m (20 ft 3 in) (mean)
30,000 shp (22,000 kW)
25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)
8,680 nmi (16,080 km; 9,990 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
4 × single 14 cm/50 3rd Year Type guns
Hōshō (Japanese: 鳳翔, lit. "flying phoenix") was the first aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy, and while not the first aircraft carrier, she was the first purpose-designed aircraft carrier to be commissioned. The hull was still based on a cruiser design, but she was not a conversion. Hōshō was commissioned on 27 December 1922, thirteen months before the Royal Navy's first purpose-built carrier Hermes, which was designed before Hōshō. There is some contention over this point, however, in that Hōshō was originally conceived as a mixed aircraft carrier and seaplane tender and only during construction was her design modified to a dedicated carrier. She was the first purpose-designed aircraft carrier, but not the first purpose-designed dedicated aircraft carrier.
Being the first of its kind in the navy, Hōshō was actively used to develop the aircraft carrier operational methods and tactics of the Japanese Navy during the 1920s.
Her design was originally based on a cruiser-style hull, a flight deck with a depressed fore-part to accelerate lift-off, a starboard island, and three starboard funnels that were reclinable during flight operations. After trials she was improved by removing the island and flattening the flight deck, giving her a flush-deck design.
She served during the Shanghai Incident (bombing of Shanghai on January 28, 1932) and Sino-Japanese War in 1937. In August-December 1937, Hōshō supported land operations of the Japanese Army in China, as part of Carrier Division 1 with Ryūjō. Her aircraft complement consisted of nine Nakajima A2N fighters and six Yokosuka B3Y1 attack planes
By the beginning of World War II, Hōshō had been superseded by other models: She was too small and too slow to accommodate the newest types of carrier planes such as the Mitsubishi Zero. She saw action however during the battle of Midway in June 1942, offering modest air support to the main fleet. Her aircraft complement consisted of eight Yokosuka B4Y1 'Jean' torpedo bombers.
For most of the postwar years, the assumption was made in English language publications that the ship had been equipped with a 'modern' aircraft complement by the time of the Midway operation, on the basis of minimal translations published in English. However, beginning in the 1980s English-language researchers realized that this was a bad assumption, as Japanese official histories and air orders of battle began to appear. It has now become clear that at the time of Midway, Hōshō still carried a complement of the fixed landing gear biplane torpedo planes, the Yokosuka B4Y1 'Jean'. It was one of these aircraft which took the photos of the burning, drifting Hiryū in the late afternoon of June 4, 1942
Efforts were made to lengthen and widen her flight deck, but the overhang weakened her stability and ocean-going capability. She was relegated to training duty in Japan's inland sea after 1943
After the war, Hōshō's flight deck was reduced in size, making her once again a sea-worthy vessel and she was used as a transport to repatriate Japanese personnel from abroad until June 1946, before being dismantled in 1947. Hōshō was one of four carriers of the Japanese Navy to survive the war, but would be scrapped in 1947.