The Aircraft Carrier Hiryu: Book review


Anatomy of the Ship – Hiryū

The home-build aircraft carrier enthusiast is relatively poorly served by most publishers however Osprey’s latest in the Anatomy of the Ship series shows that at least someone is listening to this demographic. For those with the requisite hot riveting skills and supply of mild and armoured steel the Hiryū [1] is a noteworthy subject. The fastest carrier in the world at the time she entered service, and one of only two ever completed with the superstructure on the port side of the flight deck, she saw service with the Kido Butai at Pearl Harbour, Ceylon, and Midway with a mix of 64 Zero, Val, and Kate aircraft.

Stefan Draminski has done an incredible job of creating a coherent set of ship’s plans, drawing on original documents from the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, as well as providing a potted history of Japanese carrier development and the career of Hiryū herself. A recent addition to the series are 3D-renderings of both the whole ship and cross-sections through it, which will assist the novice builder in translating the plans into a full-size vessel. These renderings include recreations of the aircraft allowing the completist to accurately place their air group, either in preparation for a surprise raid on a nearby island chain or in the hangars for maintenance. The author has also provided three-view drawings of the types embarked and a number of colour plates explaining the aircraft identification markings as used by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) at the time. For those going the extra mile in their build there are detail drawings of flight deck equipment. Covering everything from the design of the tie-down points, to the chakkanshidōtō, ‘landing guidance lights’ system the IJN used in lieu of the rather Amish ‘man with flags’ system employed by the British and American navies.

The 10 Worst Carrier Aircraft here

The only minor blemish in an otherwise excellent book is the scarcity of photographs of the Hiryū herself, however, blame for this should be placed squarely on the US Navy rather than the author.

The Aircraft Carrier Hiryū (Anatomy of the Ship) is recommended for any level of home build aircraft carrier enthusiast and anyone with an interest in Japanese carrier aviation.

[1] Japanese for ‘Flying Dragon’, which is certainly a better name for an aircraft carrier than Vindex or Campania, looking at you Royal Navy.

Order a copy here

Bing Chandler is a former Lynx Observer. He has a BEng in Marine Technology, an MA in Naval History, and is on Level 3 of Duolingo’s Japanese course. Making him the target market for this book. Bing’s writing appears in The Hush-Kit Book of Warplanes.


  1. graham64

    “and one of only two ever completed with the superstructure on the port side of the flight deck”

    What was the other carrier with a port side flight deck?

  2. Jack

    Darn it. I’ve just completed a 1:1 scale model of this very ship. This book would have saved me an age.

  3. Lloyd Crawford

    Why is the superstructure usually on the right (or starboard) side of the vessel? Is it just convention or is there a practical reason for it?

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