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The IJN ordered 4 Amagi class battlecruisers (Amagi, Akagi, Atago, and Takao) and 2 Tosa class Battleships (Tosa and Kaga) to form the "Eight-Eight Fleet". All ships started construction between 1920-21, but were terminated by the Washington Naval Treaty. All 6 unfinished warships had to be scrapped.

As the treaty allowed each signatory to use two existing capital ship hulls for aircraft carriers, with a displacement limit of 33,000 tons each. Japan initially chose Amagi and Akagi. However the hull of Amagi was heavily damaged due to Great Kantō earthquake, the hull of Kaga was chosen to be converted as Aircraft Carrier.

Why didn't the Japanese Navy choose the hull of Atago/Takao, and select the slower Kaga to replace Amagi as an aircraft carrier?

  • They might have already scrapped Atago, or wanted the larger size of the Kaga on second thought. – Oldcat Sep 3 '15 at 1:17
  • @Oldcat Atago/Takao started scrapping in 1924, and if IJN wanted larger size they would choose Kaga and Tosa in the beginning. – Him Sep 3 '15 at 1:19
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    @Him "on second thought": Oldcat is saying that they might have reevaluated during the years in between beginning to convert and the earthquake. Also, they had barely started building the second two Amagi-class ships; work stopped 2 months after they were laid down, while the Tosa-class ships had already been launched. Akagi and Amagi had already had a full year of work done. – cpast Sep 3 '15 at 2:25
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    @cpast - that last seems like the likely thinking - when Amagi was damaged they switched to a more completed vessel rather than virtually start over with one of Atago/Takao. – Oldcat Sep 3 '15 at 16:16
  • Usually I'm quick to VtC for the least little thing... but, can't we give this question a little bit. Maybe no records still exist, but then again, maybe there are some memoirs or other contemporary sources that might offer more than opinions offered by us. – CGCampbell Sep 3 '15 at 19:21
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The Akagi was a battlecruiser, but when the decision was made for the second carrier, the Japanese wanted a carrier that was even larger than the Akagi, that is, more like a battleship than a cruiser. When the Japanese converted the Akagi, they "supersized" it, making it almost battleship size. The new "Akagi" was much closer in size to the Kaga than to the Takeo, so it would make much more sense to convert the Kaga into the Akagi's sister ship, than the Takeo. Also, the Takeo design was considered "topheavy."

The Japanese soon reconsidered their aircraft carrier designs, and two later ones, the Hiryu and Soryu, were smaller, lighter, faster ships. But by this time, the Takeo and Atago and been "downsized" to heavy cruisers.

  • I +1'd, but then removed it. "...second carrier, the Japanese wanted...." & "...soon reconsidered..." How do you know? – CGCampbell Sep 3 '15 at 19:22
  • @GCCampbell: When the Japanese converted the Akagi, they "supersized" it, making it almost battleship size. The new "Akagi" was much closer in size to the Kaga than to the Takeo, so it would make much more sense to convert the Kaga into the Akagi's sister ship, than the Takeo. The Japanese soon thought better of carrier design with the new Soryu class, but by that time, the Takeo had gone another way. – Tom Au Sep 3 '15 at 19:43
  • This answer is seriously short of sources, and gives no reason to think the Japanese decided they wanted a larger carrier. (A larger carrier had its downside, also, leaving less Treaty tonnage for additional carriers.) I've also never seen a claim that battlecruisers were actually downsized, as opposed to their names being reused for different warships. – David Thornley Feb 20 at 17:30

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