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By 1941 the Japanese Imperial Navy had the most capable carrier strike force in the world. During the interwar years, however, Japan’s naval development had been hampered by the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, which imposed limits on the major powers’ warship construction. The Japanese decided to convert unfinished capital ships, including battleship Kaga, into aircraft carriers. Completed by 1928 with short, multilevel flight decks, Kaga again underwent reconstruction in 1933-35, emerging with a full-length flight deck and increased aircraft capacity. It was paired with carrier Akagi to form the navy’s first carrier division. In December 1941 it was one of six carriers that participated in the Pearl Harbor attack. Six months later, at the Battle of Midway, dive-bombers from the USS Enterprise struck Kaga with four bombs, causing fatal fires that raged across the ship. Kaga, along with three fellow carriers, sank the same day.

(Jim Laurier)

this article first appeared in world war II magazine

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