Death of the Japanese Fleet – Part IV

Death of the Japanese Fleet – continued

Redfish Records

0130 – Convoy is pulling away from us and only a miracle will bring it back.

0134 – The miracle arrives! Heard two separate explosions far enough apart to be two torpedo hits. Aircraft carrier slows down. Gives a big zig toward. He must be hurt! This attack, if made by a submarine, came as a complete surprise to us and we had been searching without success for radar interference ahead in the hopes there was someone up there to turn the convoy toward us.

0137 – Another explosion

0139 – Another explosion

0140 – Another explosion

0142 – Aircraft carrier is now dropping well astern of the other ships and we are closing fast.

0156 – Carrier has speed up to 12 knots angle on bow 110 range. 2900 commenced firing 6 air torpedoes forward, at least one of which made an erratic circular run.

0158. 10 – Heard and saw one terrific hit in carrier – also saw destroyer passing between carrier and us on opposite course. He was just coming back to screen carrier from battle-ship group when we started firing.

0159.30 – Another explosion. Flash seen from bridge, but unable to tell whether it was a torpedo hit in carrier.

Between 0201 in the morning and 0211 there were no fewer than 7 explosions heard by Redfish, and her captain began working around for more shots at this convoy. He wanted to sink the damaged carrier.

By 3 am Redfish was having difficulties. She was nearing the 100-fathom curve off Nagasaki; that would mean minefields inside, and visibility was growing much too good. also, the carrier was not hurt as badly as she might have been and still had plenty of speed. The destroyers were very, very wary.

Twenty minutes later Redfish attacked, fired 10 torpedoes, and heard 3 explosions. And then a little more than an hour later Redfish intercepted a message from the Plaice that said she had been the other submarine attacking from the other side. Whether she hit the carrier or destroyers or both was not determined just then. But what was determined was that the wofd pack had got the Junyo. Another Japanese capital ship was damaged so severely that she was out of the war.

It has been quite a night”, said the captain of Redfish. “Feel bad about not sinking that carrier, but maybe he’ll blow up before he hits port“. He did not blow up, but he did not go out again, either, and Redfish had her moment of glory a few days later off the China coast.

At about 4 pm, Redfish sighted masts.

Just before 4:30 the captain saw 2 destroyers and a carrier. He did not know it, but it was the Unryu…He moved in.

1629 – Target has zigged toward angle on bow 30 starboard – changed speed to 1/3 – flooded bow and stern tubes. Can make out 3 escorting destroyers. One ahead and one on each bow of target.

1635 – Commenced firing 4 torpedoes from bow tubes (all we had forward)…

1635.45 – First torpedo hit causing target to stop, list 20 degrees to starboard, and commence burning aft. Target opened fire just prior to being hit, with all guns on starboard side…

The starboard escort came around astern. Redfish fired several torpedoes but did not know if she got a hit. Then she was too busy to notice much because the destroyers came after her. But they milled around and did not find her, so she got into position and fired an electric torpedo, hitting aft of the carrier’s island.

Torpedo hit carrier at point of aim. The sharp crack of the torpedo explosion was followed instantly by thundering explosions apparently from magazine or gasoline stowage, probably the latter. Huge clouds of smoke, flame and debris burst into the air completely enveloping the carrier. When Executive Officer looked several seconds later he still could not see the ship due to the smoke. They began changing course to avoid the milling destroyers.

1656 – Looking through the camera of No. 2 periscope, the executive officer saw the target listing heavily, stern submerged, with many planes on deck….So Unryu, another proud carrier, had gone to the bottom with her deckload of planes.

..continued with Part V (Operation Kikusui)

Source: THE CARRIER WAR, Author: Edwin P. Hoyt – Avon Books


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