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The Aircraft Carrier Hiryu

14 Apr 23


(Osprey – £45.00)

ISBN 978 1 4728 4026 4

336 pages

Forming part of the ‘Anatomy of the Ship’ series, published by Osprey, The Aircraft Carrier Hiryū is an impressive-looking – and feeling – book. As stated on the cover, the book includes more than 600 scale drawings and 400 colour 3D views of the carrier Hiryū, as well as its air-group, providing a deeply detailed examination of the ship. The author, Stefan Draminski, has a 20-plus year career in military history and the creation of detailed 3D models. In addition to the Hiryū, Draminski has also produced books in the ‘Anatomy of the Ship’ series on the battleships Iowa, Scharnhorst, Bismarck, and the Second World War US destroyer Kidd.

The Hiryū, laid down in 1936 and commissioned in 1939, had a brief but significant operational career, forming part of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Kido Butai, the Mobile Force or Striking Force, formed of multiple aircraft carriers, which prosecuted the attack on Pearl Harbor, the April 1942 Indian Ocean Raid, fought at the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942, and met its destruction at Midway in June 1942. The Aircraft Carrier Hiryū is divided into three sections, the first of which provides an Introduction, a technical description of the Hiryū, and an operational history. The Technical Description includes the background to Japanese carrier development in the 1920s and 1930s, and with regard to the Hiryū, its hull structure, protection, propulsion, aircraft facilities and the embarked aircraft. This section, spanning 41 pages, is well-written and provides valuable insights into both the design and construction of the Hiryū itself, and wider Japanese carrier design and naval shipbuilding.

The next two sections, Primary Views, and The Drawings respectively, provide the bulk of the book. The Primary Views are a series of 3D models of the ship, including depictions of its air-group on the flight deck ahead of the two waves of attack on Pearl Harbor. This is followed by The Drawings, including the ship’s general arrangements, schematics, and becoming increasingly granular. The detail in this book is commendable: all aspects of the ship are included. The drawings and 3D models are excellent, very clear and detailed. The Zero, Val and Kate aircraft embarked on the Hiryū are also included in The Drawings: the 3D models of the aircraft are again excellent.

The Aircraft Carrier Hiryū is an excellent book, and will appeal to a wide range of readers, including those interested in the Imperial Japanese Navy, aircraft carriers, ship design, and modellers. Draminski has ably put together a book that is highly detailed but accessible: the first section’s technical description balances analysis with clarity for the lay reader, whilst the drawings and models are detailed and clear with suitable accompanying notes. This book was a pleasure to read and is recommended.