HIJMS Hiryu (Flying Dragon) was designed as the younger sister of HIJMS Soryu, but was modified by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) so much during construction that it became a unique aircraft carrier. Japan wanted to build sixteen more aircraft carriers, but lacked the industrial capacity of America or even Germany during World War II. Therefore, the Flying Dragon's successors numbered three Unryu-class carriers.
With eight Kampon boilers driving four steam turbines ventilated through two serpentine funnels, HIJMS Hiryu could put out 153,000 horsepower and sail faster than 34 knots, making it the world's fastest aircraft carrier when it was commissioned in 1939. It was assigned to Captain Tomeo Kaku and made the flagship of Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi, alumnus of Princeton University and former captain of the dreadnought HIJMS Ise. HIJMS Hiryu conducted air raids on Vietnam, China, and Pearl Harbor.
This Aoshima waterline model at Shizuoka Hobby Square shows HIJMS Hiryu as it appeared in 1942, its final year in service. During the campaign against Britain in the Indian Ocean, it launched the planes that sank Royal Navy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (which had helped sink the Bismarck) and other British and Commonwealth ships. Still under the command of "Tamon-maru" Yamaguchi and Tomeo Kaku, HIJMS Hiryu sailed to Midway to help the Combined Fleet grab the island from the Americans.
The carrier survived high-altitude bombings by B-17 bombers and torpedo bombings by Douglas Devastators, and sank USS Yorktown (CV-5), but was set on fire by American dive bombers. Admiral Chuichi Nagumo ordered the remaining Japanese fleet to withdraw, but Yamaguchi was too devoted to the imperial neo-Bushido, and he and Kaku went down with their ship, the fourth and final Japanese aircraft carrier sunk at Midway. Rumor has it the admiral's last words were either "Time to have a drink with the moon" or "Let us enjoy the beauty of the moon."